Washington DC restaurants are closed for dining-in during the Covid-19 crisis. Fortunately, many places are providing carryout and/or delivery service. Be sure to call or check restaurant websites beforehand.
Shortly before the Covid-19 scare shuttered restaurants for dining-in, we savored a marvelous dinner at Emilie’s, Kevin Tien’s charmer which opened last fall next door to Frager’s. The space hummed with high energy, but unfortunately, the hard-edged interior does not muffle sound. Our server, Arash, first brought crusty focaccia escorted by Sichuan butter, eggplant puree, and pickled veggies.
The brief menu is divided between a half dozen “small plates,” and a few entrees. While tempted by the Ora King salmon crudo, I settled on steak tartare, which arrived layered with horseradish and mustard, raw minced beef, and topped with grated pecorino. “A roast beef sandwich,” our server quipped. Very rare, he could have added. Mediterranean-sourced branzino was crisp on the outside and moist and flaky inside. No bones. (We take them all out,” Chef Tien assured me, as he displayed large, deboning tweezers.)
Champon noodles—similar to Italy’s classic cacio e pepe pasta dish—was scented with miso (instead of traditional cheese), laced with mustard greens and showered with breadcrumbs. I could have licked the bowl.
Among family-style offerings: Fried chicken with Texas toast and a 25-ounce pork blade steak. We didn’t make it to dessert, which might be pb&j panna cotta, or cookies and “fancy” milk. Emilie’s wine list is divided into “bubbly, white, orange, pink and red,” plus a beer, cocktail and non-alcoholic list. Dinner for two came to $121, including a 4 percent “employee wellness” fee. Located at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Emilie’s was open nightly before the virus struck. For carryout call 202-544-4368 or visit www.emiliesdc.com.
Barracks Row Happenings
Meanwhile, Barracks Row is undergoing changes. Ambar, 523 Eighth St. SE, is renovating and doubling its capacity; a spring re-opening is planned….At nearby Matchbox, look for a facelift soon, when the eatery will be briefly shuttered….Call Your Mother, an offshoot of the popular bagel shop at 3301 Georgia Ave. NW, will slide into the 701 8th St, SE space formerly occupied by Spring Mill Bread.…At the foot of Barracks Row, Ti Coffee has arrived at 1116 Eighth.
And…after lying vacant for four years, the space housing Nana Thai at 406 Eighth St. SE is finally getting an occupant: Dunkin’ Donuts is planning to move into that space, expanding from around the corner…Jaju—showcasing Japanese cuisine—will arrive this spring or summer at 525 Eighth, where Porron by Anxo used to be…..
Maryland Meets Lebanon
And…two years after winning honors for his Mediterranean cooking, Michael Rafidi has launched Albi, a “modern” Middle-Eastern restaurant at 1346 Fourth St. SE. Rafidi uses regional produce to create recipes from his Palestinian roots and culinary journeys through Lebanon. An open kitchen—equipped with a Barcelona-made Basque Grill, is fueled with charcoal and pecan wood. Sizzling on the grill is Ora King salmon, barbecued pork ribs, smoked chicken, lamb and even pineapple. The latter is perched on an upside-down cake drizzled with caramel.
At Albi, Rafidi has joined with longtime DC sommelier Brent Kroll. Next door, the two are also opening Maxwell Park, an outpost of Kroll’s, a popular Shaw wine bar. Plans also include a coffee and pastry cafe called Yellow that will occupy Albi’s private dining area during the day.
Rafidi formerly wielded his whisk at Mike Isabella’s now-defunct Arroz and Requin. Speaking of Mike Isabella: the disgraced DC chef recently resurfaced at Blasé Café, a funky bistro on Siesta Key (Florida), where we vacation each February. We dined at Blasé in February but did not encounter Isabella, who is reportedly a “consultant.”
On the Wharf
Later this spring or summer, look for NaRa-Ya, a casual Japanese bar at 88 District Square, near the Mediterranean lounge, La Vie. Consulting chef is Kaz Okochi, known for melding East and West with his innovative sushi creations at Foggy Bottom’s Kaz Sushi Bistro for two decades.
The Grill, a Florida-style steak and seafood palace, is arriving near the Anthem, on the Wharf. Located at 99 Market Square SW, The Grill is the creation of chef Roberto Santibañez and KNEAD Hospitality + Design — the same team that operates Mi Vida nearby.
Atlas Brew Works has hooked up with Andy’s Pizza for the Ivy City brewery’s Half Street site, slated to open this spring at 1201 Half Street SE #120. Andy’s is a New York-style eatery offering pizza by the slice. The dough is cold fermented for 72 hours and cooked in a “deck” oven, creating a crisp crust with a soft and chewy interior. Among other menu offerings are salads, wings, and fries, paired with Atlas’ brews. For more information visit www.atlasbrewworks.com
Meanwhile in the Atlas District: This past January, nightclub operators Wayne Johnson and Tony Perry–longtime friends of rapper Pusha T—unveiled Kitsuen, a two-level ramen, hookah, and cocktail bar at 1362 H St. NE (202-914-2465). Their chef, Tokyo native Munehiro Mori, with 30 years of experience making ramen, simply responded to Johnson and Perry’s Craigslist post. Kitsuen opened with a compact menu of fried shrimp, chicken gyoza, and karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken), and five kinds of ramen.
Also new: Butter Chicken 2, part of Asad Sheikh’s local group of Indian eateries, was due to open at 500 H St. NE. Sheikh’s restaurants include Barracks Row’s Bombay Street Food. For updates visit www.usabutterchicken.com.
Horace & Dickie’s, the homespun seafood carryout, has closed. Located off H St. NE—H&D dispensed fried fish sandwiches for 30 years…Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE has closed…..Barracks Row’s Subway sandwich shop has departed from 430 Eighth St. SE….Navy Yard’s Gordon Biersch outpost, often jam-packed with Nats fans, is gone, due to the brewpub chain’s chapter 11 bankruptcy….
Meanwhile, please patronize carryout and delivery services at our now-shuttered restaurants, and don’t forget to tip generously. Stay safe!