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Dining Notes – July 2017

We had not tasted Swiss cuisine since visiting that Alpine nation on a European vacation long ago. Therefore, we were surprised to find this hearty cooking style at Stable, in the Atlas District. It opened a few months ago at 1324 H St. NE, in the spot vacated by the popular Peruvian chicken restaurant Acopa.

Patrons are greeted by a rustic, homey atmosphere, with rough-hewn tables, chairs, and bar. Napkins are red and white checkered; earthen-hued plates are made in Turkey. Pillows are cowhide. There’s a bright, cheery dining area in back, with another convivial bar.

Not surprisingly, proprietors Silvan Kraemer and David Fritsche come from the German-speaking area of Switzerland. Happy to share their knowledge, they often visit with diners and answer questions. When a group seated by the window asked why their spaetzli – those Germanic-style tiny dumplings – was green, chef and co-owner Fritsche explained that the color comes from ramps (wild American onions), an annual harbinger of spring. This filling appetizer is laced with melted Gruyere cheese and sprinkled with crisply fried onions.

Chicken liver pate, poised on a black slate with pink fingers of poached rhubarb, was silky smooth, not coarsely ground like some versions. It arrived with shallot confit and crusty, chewy wurtzel (twisted wheat) bread – baked in house, we’re told. Maine scallops (not often encountered in Switzerland) were moist and tender, accompanied by silly-looking, tiny bits of cauliflower. An odd addition to the plate was the appearance of short-rib-filled ravioli.

Spring risotto was unusually soupy, studded with asparagus, peas, morels, and preserved lemon. Lamb was cooked medium rare as requested (almost too rare), with asparagus, morels, and tiny potato spheres. Raclette, Switzerland’s traditional melted cheese dish, may be ordered in advance for a table of four or more. Come winter, maybe fondue?

Heading Stable’s brunch menu is roesti (coarsely grated and browned potatoes) served with two eggs cooked any style, served with Nurnburger wurst and that addictive bread. Cheese toast is layered with Black Forest ham. Stable’s brief but interesting wine list encompasses Gruner Veltliner, an aromatic Austrian white. Swiss wines are available by the bottle. We sampled Gamay, a light red vintage, but settled on an Italian cabernet sauvignon. From the dessert listing, we’ve sampled the Toblerone chocolate mousse, two varieties surrounding a dollop of whipped cream. For a grand finale, an extensive list of port, schnapps, cognacs.

Stable is open nightly, plus Saturday and Sunday brunch. Call 202-733-4604 or visit www.stabledc.com.

At long last, someone is moving into 423 Eighth St. SE, the Barracks Row spot vacated several years ago by DC-3. (The hotdog eatery moved to Dulles International Airport.) Later this year, Fried Rice Collective founders Scott Drewno, Danny Lee, and Drew Kim will open Chiko, their first culinary endeavor. The name Chiko combines “Chinese” and “Korean,” but Lee insists they are not serving fusion food. Drewno previously wielded his whisk at The Source, where he helmed the kitchen for more than a decade. Lee comes from Mandu (in Mount Vernon Triangle), while Kim was an owner of Matchbox Food Group.

Wine about It
Memorial Day marked the official kickoff of DCanter’s Summer Wine School series. For the second year in a row, proprietors Michael and Michelle are helping oenophiles explore new wines and new flavors, and meet new neighbors. But don’t fret, the only pop quizzes involve popping the bubbly. Introductory classes occur every Wednesday night, and other sessions, more in depth, focus on specific regions, grape types, and wine styles. Attend any three classes during June, July, and August and receive a free copy of “The Wine Bible” to continue your lifelong learning. DCanter is located at 545 Eighth St. SE (Barracks Row). For more information or to register call 202-817-3803.

“Coffee food and booze.” So reads the sign outside Slipstream, a coffee shop/cocktail lounge which opened in late May at 82 I St. SE. Operated by Miranda and Ryan Fleming, the newcomer is a spinoff of the Logan Circle Slipstream. Besides all sorts of java concoctions, cocktails, wine, and beer, the newcomer serves breakfast (until 3 p.m.; try the avocado toast), lunch, and dinner. There’s also a brief carryout list. En route to our fitness club pool, we stopped by to pick up a banh mi, but they were sold out. We settled on a turkey sandwich, paired with avocado on a crusty baguette. Slipstream is open daily, including weekend brunch. Call 202-560-5095 or visit www.slipstreamdc.com.

By the way, according to the restaurant’s website, “A slipstream is the area of reduced resistance behind a moving object, and similarly our cafe hopes to provide a smooth path for the coffee and cocktail experience.”

Pike Pollo
At the foot of Barracks Row, we now have two Latino restaurants hunkered side by side. Pike Peruvian Chicken has opened at 1102 Eighth St. SE, where Tandoori Night (Pakistani) used to be. You’ll find it next to Salvadoran-themed Las Placitas. Operated by Mario and Carmen Gutierrez, who come from Peru, Pike specializes in pollo ala braza (grilled whole or half chicken), beef dishes, empanadas, sides, and much more. Pike has several tables and chairs, but it appears to be mainly carryout. Call 202-308-3120.

Walk the Line
In the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, The Salt Line, the highly touted “oyster and ale house,” has slid into the Dock 79 development (79 Potomac Ave. SE). Working with a local oyster farm, executive chef Kyle Bailey is creating New England-style cooking with lots of shellfish – including a raw bar – seafood sausages, and smoked fish. The 3,500-square-foot Salt Line has outdoor seating and a riverfront bar. Expect daily dinner and weekend brunch. For reservations call 202-506-2368.

And …
Coming soon near Union Market: Pluma by Bluebird Bakery, settling into the Edison building at 391 Morse St. NE. Created by pastry chefs Tom Wellings and Camila Arango, the 30-seat cafe will also offer outdoor seating.

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