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Dining Notes

As baseball gives way to football tailgate parties, things are happening on Barracks Row. Coming soon to the neighborhood: Valor Brewpub at 723 Eighth St. SE. The 2,500-square foot brewpub will replace the Ugly Mug, which has moved upstairs. As its name suggests, Valor supports “veterans, by veterans,” says proprietor Gaynor Jablonski.

Jablonski’s mission for boosting the military is three-fold: hiring local veterans (he’s already contacted D.C.’s Office of Veterans Affairs); purchasing products from veteran-owned businesses including wineries, breweries, and distilleries; and hosting frequent events supporting veteran charities.

While Jablonski never served, he comes from a military family. To pay tribute, Jablonski named one of his other restaurants–Jake’s American Grille–after his grandfather who  developed the fire suppression system used on Naval ships worldwide to extinguish fires.  Jablonski’s father was a Marine (Jablonski grew up in Annapolis, where his family sponsored 15 Midshipmen.)

Heading the kitchen is executive chef Ryan Hackney, a Washingtonian who has cooked at Bibiana (Penn Quarter), The Bird (Shaw), and Lucky Buns (Adams Morgan). In keeping with the all-American theme are enormous burgers stacked with smoked cheddar and bacon; oysters Rockefeller dusted with Old Bay seasoning; chilled seafood bisque with shrimp and Maryland lump crab. Rotisserie ovens will turn out pork shoulder, Peruvian-style chicken and Korean fried chicken wings, adding international flair. Hackney will also honcho the kitchen for The Ugly Mug.

Eventually, local veterans will operate Valor’s future brewery, starting with three Northern Virginia brews: Heritage Brewing (Manassas), Brew Republic (Woodbridge), and Fair Winds Brewing Company (Lorton). In addition to beer and wine, guests may  quaff cocktails poured into oversized French presses for groups.

Another ChiKo favorite to probably make the Dupont Circle kitchen is “Orange-ish” chicken with candied mandarins and crispy garlic.

ChiKo Growing and Growing…
Just up the street at 423 Eighth, Chinese/Korean hot spot ChiKo is unveiling a Dupont Circle offshoot at 2029 P St. NW. There customers will enjoy customer favorites like “Orange-ish” chicken–chunks of white meat tossed with candied mandarins and crispy garlic; cumin-lamb stir fry with plump wheat noodles and caramelized shallots; pork and kimchi pot stickers. Portions are generous; entrees are big enough for two. Moreover, ChiKo is traveling even farther from home, opening another branch in co-owner Drew Kim’s hometown of Encinitas, California.

Also…Located nearby at 505 Eighth, Ted’s Bulletin is expanding yet again, opening its umpteenth outpost at 5532 Conn. Ave, NW. The Upper Northwest space was formerly occupied by the American City Diner, which closed this past spring after 30 years.

Navy Yard Happenings
The Nationals might have departed for the season, but the ball park area will soon be hopping. But not right away. Due to arrive in 2019 or even later is Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery at the Commons. Located at 1221 Half St. SE, the two-story restaurant will combine Ahmad’s New York bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr with an upscale diner created by Knead Hospitality + Design. Founded by Jason Berry and Michael Reginbogin, Knead also operates our two Succotash restaurants (Penn Quarter and National Harbor) and Mi Vida, the Mexican charmer at the District Wharf.

For breakfast, Ahmad’s will offer gourmet granola made with rolled oats, dried cherries and extra virgin olive oil, and vanilla cream-filled brioche doughnuts. Handling lunch and dinner fare will be Knead’s kitchen. We don’t have an exact menu yet, but expect Southern staples like deviled eggs, shrimp ‘n grits, blue catfish, pimento cheese burgers, smoked beef short ribs and butter pecan chocolate bourbon pie. Plus some Asian flourishes. While wining and dining, guests will peer down at nearby Nats Park from the Commons’ spacious 300-seat roof top.

Red Boat Sails to H Street
Docking soon at the Atlas District: The Red Boat, serving “Vietnamese fusion” cuisine at 500 H St. NE. The space formerly housed Micho’s (Lebanese cooking).

Owned by Minji Seo and John Ngyen, Red Boat has two locations in Baltimore and is preparing to open outlets in Glen Burnie and College Park, as well as Boca Raton, Florida.

Vietnamese fusion?  Think traditional dishes with international flourishes; phở, bánh mi sandwiches; various kinds of fried spring rolls; “dogs” topped with banh mi ingredients including the K-Town (draped with kimchi and toasted seaweed). You’ll even find Asian-style tacos.

Italian to Indian
Recently shuttered Toscana Café,  601 Second St. NE, will soon be replaced by an upbeat Indian restaurant, Duet. The new owner is Atul Bhola, creator of Masala Art, with locations at 1104 Fourth St. SW and 4441 Wisconsin Ave. NW (Tenleytown). After nearly 10 years, Toscana Café went dark in early August.

How Sweet it is
Magnolia Bakery is rolling into Union Station. Based in New York, the newcomer will dispense sugary selections like rhubarb pie, key lime cheesecake, red velvet cake and salt caramel cookies, and coffee, of course. You’ll find Magnolia at the station’s mezzanine level.

Founded in the East Village in 1996, Magnolia  became a household name thanks to appearances in “Sex and the City” and “Saturday Night Live.” The cupcakery now has locations across the globe: Mexico, Korea, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, plus domestic outlets in Chicago and Los Angeles. Located at 50 Mass. Ave. NE, Union Station’s Magnolia will be open daily.

It Takes a Village
Coming soon to the Union Market neighborhood: The Village Café. Located at 1272 Fifth St. NE, the café will be next door to Politics and Prose bookstore.  According to its website, the newcomer’s goal is to “create economic opportunity through food, entrepreneurial and social innovation.” Operated by Washingtonians, the Café will offer healthy and affordable food and drink, crafted mainly from local ingredients. For more information visit www.thevillagecafedc.com.

A Steak (and fish) in the Community
Practically next door, St. Anselm is arriving at 1250-1274 Fifth St. NE. A joint effort by Anselm founder Joe Carroll and award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr, the spacious, 150-seat newcomer—which has a parent, same-name restaurant in Brooklyn–will focus on grilled steaks, seafoods and “classic cocktails.” Watch for a mini-review soon.

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