H Street Life – August 2017

The downstairs bar at Vendetta in 2014

While the steamy August weather in the District may make venturing out on unnecessary treks a daunting proposition, there is good reason to brave the heat. With many locals out of town for vacation, it may be a bit easier to snag a weekend table at one of our popular local spots. Perhaps a visit to Granville Moore’s to help them celebrate ten years of Belgian brews and tasty mussels on H Street NE?

Bar Elena to Replace Boundary Road
The note on the door at Boundary Road (414 H St. NE) blamed malfunctioning air conditioning for the locked doors, but a summer besotted by restaurant closings across the District meant rumors of the eatery’s demise began swirling early. The casual bistro opened in early 2012 with a menu driven by local and seasonal foods, lending fuel to those who viewed the western-most stretch of the H Street NE Corridor as the more grown-up restaurant-focused counter to a boozy nightlife oriented east end. Not many weeks after Boundary Road opened, the restaurant found itself serving the First Couple, as Barack and Michelle Obama sat down to dine with supporters.

It was a reliably good brunch spot, and the cocktail, wine, and beer menus always offered intriguing options. Over the past five years Boundary Road has hosted many memorable events, including a late night pop up tasting of food from Sally’s Middle Name (http://sallysmiddlename.com, 1420 H St. NE) before they opened, and a night of Colorado beers and Rocky Mountain oysters.

The rumors would prove true, confirmed by a press release announcing that Boundary Road had indeed served its last patron and would reopen as a different venue the following month. Boundary Road’s successor comes in the form of Bar Elena, a decidedly different concept.

Bar Elena is the work of Karlos Leopold, an owner of Boundary Road, and chef Adam Stein. Stein has spent his share of time living along the H Street NE Corridor and cooking up interesting fare in the kitchens of many of its restaurants. He’s currently also working on a large bar and restaurant project called the Eleanor, set to open in Ivy City early next year.

Stein says “[t]he aim of the transition to Bar Elena is to focus on all of the strengths that made Boundary Road successful, but with fresh updates that reflect a changing

neighborhood and city.” Bar Elena will serve a full menu of New American food, with a continued focus on local and seasonal ingredients. You’ll find appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and shellfish, as well as large plates, with prices ranging from $11 to $26. Share a head-on shrimp cocktail, or dive into a plate of clam chowder poutine, or a burger made with dry-aged beef.

The new spot will also feature an expanded bar. Leopold and Stein plan to continue to offer the interesting beers and craft cocktails that drew patrons to Boundary Road, but want to expand their partnerships with local breweries and distilleries. Nestled behind the dining area, patrons will find a smaller section filled with arcade games and nostalgic pinball machines. Bar Elena will be open evenings Monday through Saturday and from 11 A.M. to 11 P.M. on Sundays.

Whiskers & Whiskey Returns to One Eight Distilling Sept. 14
Ivy City’s One Eight Distilling (http://www.oneeightdistilling.com, 1135 Okie St. NE) welcomes pups and owners to the annual Whiskers and Whiskey casual cocktail party Thursday, Sept. 14 from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. Tickets for those bringing four-legged guests are limited, but are the same price ($15) as tickets for humans who plan to arrive sans canine companion. The ticket covers the cost of your first cocktail, plus a donation to the Washington Humane Alliance (http://www.humanerescuealliance.org). Food trucks Swizzler, and Pepe (from José Andrés), will be on hand selling gourmet hotdogs and flautas, respectively. Treat yourself to some One Eight infused gelato from Dolcezza (http://dolcezzagelato.com, 550 Penn St. NE). You and Fido can pose for photos and enjoy the music while you sip your drink. In the spirit of an event celebrating and supporting our animal friends, you will also find pet adoption information and opportunities. Leave the kids at home, as humans must be at least 21 years old to attend. Ticket information is available on One Eight’s website.

Learn to Swim or Improve Your Stroke at Old City Swim School
Did you know that Old City CrossFit, 1007 H St. NE) has a swimming program? It’s called Old City Swim School (http://oldcityswimschool.com) and they offer classes for beginners of all ages from toddler through adult, as well as courses for those interested in fine tuning their skills, or even in competitive swimming. Classes are held on the campus of Gallaudet University (https://www.gallaudet.edu, 800 Florida Ave. NE).

Granville Moore’s Toasts Ten Years
It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since Granville Moore’s (http://www.granvillemoores.com, 1238 H St. NE) made a splash serving up mussels and Belgian beers on H Street NE. In 2007 Granville’s was one of few sit-down dining options along the corridor and certainly offered the largest beer selection on the strip.

To mark the bistro’s ten-year anniversary chef Teddy Folkman has brought back some favorite menu items from past years, including a brisket steak and cheese ($14) and moules navigateur (mussels in a coconut milk broth with tomato, chipotle, and lime, $19), and added a new and improved veggie burger (mushroom, black bean, tomato, caramelized onion, avocado puree, $13). They’ve also added a section to their menu for American Belgian-style brews and local beers, alongside the restaurant’s rotating Belgian selections. Stop by Aug. 3-10 and snag a bowl of mussels for just $10.

Vendetta Closes Its Doors
Vendetta (http://www.vendettadc.com, 1212 H St. NE) started off in 2013 as an Italian restaurant where you could order prosecco on tap and play a round of bocce with friends. The bocce courts remained, even as the menu shifted to Southern-inspired fare. In early 2016 the team behind Vendetta announced plans to convert into a brew-pub, but the dream never came to fruition. Recently, Vendetta sold to new owners. Late last month Kyss Kyss, which bills itself as the District’s “first dessert bar with a twist,” opened in the space.

For more on what’s abuzz on, and around, H Street NE, you can visit my blog at http://frozentropics.blogspot.com. You can send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.