Explore The Roost Food Hall

A life-sized pink pig greets Pete McCall and other diners at Shelter, in the Roost.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Neighborhood Restaurant Group has unveiled The Roost, an ambitious food hall adjoining the posh Blackbird apartment building. You’ll find it at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, across from the Potomac Avenue Metro station.

Nathan Anda, of Red Apron Butcher, has unveiled an outlet at the Roost, at 14th and Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Photos: Celeste McCall

Inside the sprawling 12,500-square-foot space are Shelter Bar and Cameo, serving coffee and all-day light fare, a small selection of groceries and a nifty Made in DC gift shop. Then there’s Hi-Fi Taco (from Nathan Anda’s Red Apron Butcher); The Slice Joint, which sells pizza by-the-slice New York style, 20-inch round pies, and square ones, with myriad toppings. Soon to open (if not already): Show Of Hands, a wine and cocktail bar; State Fair (frozen custard); Leni (German/Swiss cafe); AKO by KENAKI (sushi) and Caruso’s Grocery, a “red sauce joint.”

At Shelter Bar, husband Peter and I were greeted by a life-size pink pig perched on the counter.  Besides gawking at and posing in front of the porcine figure, we found lots to see and do. Start with the amazingly stocked bar. Flowing from Shelter’s 50 tap lines are lagers (including Czech, German and domestic brews) plus a wide range of cocktails and interesting wines available by the glass or bottle. Seated in the indoor bar area, since it was raining, we had menus—paper versions or down-loaded from our phones–from several Roost eateries. We had to pay in advance, including a well-earned 20 percent service charge.

I ordered avocado toast from Cameo—sourdough bread topped with sliced avocado, paprika aioli and lots of quinoa crunch. Cameo’s light, all-day menu also showcases a heartier breakfast version with egg and Muenster cheese. Tangy vinaigrette dressing arrived on the side, as requested. Peter considered the burger selection but chose dan dan poutine—East meets West—a mélange of Szechuan beef gravy, peanuts, scallions and garlic, all piled atop a mound of fries. This Canadian inspired dish came from Nate Anda’s Red Apron. Anda also operates a sister eatery in Union Market. From Shelter’s extensive beverage lineup, we sipped Gruner Veltliner (Austrian white) and a German light beer.

Lebanese at District Wharf
Coming next spring—we hope–if negotiations with landlord Hoffman & Associates pan out:  Ilili, a massive Lebanese restaurant headquartered in New York’s Flatiron District, is moving into the space vacated by Mike Isabella’s Requin nearly two years ago. You’ll find Ilili’s–hopefully by next June–at 100 District Square SW.

For Cameo’s avocado toast, sourdough bread is topped with avocado slices, paprika aioli and crunchy quinoa.

The 5,000-square-foot space is about the same size as Ilili’s flagship restaurant. Part of the future Wharf space renovation involves extending the glass partition to cover more of the patio area overlooking the waterfront.

Emerging from chef/co-owner Philippe Massoud’s kitchen will be such Mediterranean classics as hummus, kebab kerez (lamb and beef meatballs), “black iron” shrimp with garlic and cilantro, doner kebabs (lamb or chicken),  lamb shanks, meat or veggie moussaka. For updates visit www.illilinyc.com.

Winterizing Barracks Row
It looks like Barracks Row, like other parts of the city, is gearing up for cold weather while offering safe accommodations for in-house dining. At 723 Eighth St. SE, Valor Brewpub is expanding its outdoor seating by installing a tented “parklet” on the sidewalk (hopefully equipped with heaters). Nearby at 715-719 is Rose’s Luxury’s similar parklet. Across the street, Belga Café, 514 Eighth, has erected an attractive, clear plastic enclosure, which resembles a greenhouse, for additional, safely distanced tables.

More from Barracks Row
Coming soon: Yaju Ramen and Izakaya, 525 Eighth St. SE, where Porron Anxo operated a pop-up. Izakaya is the Japanese term for small plates, similar to mezze or tapas…Souk, a ModernMarket, 705 Eighth, has instituted “Pizza Night” every Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Order the house-baked pies at the walk-up window or online: www.dcsouk.com. Dunkin’ Donuts has moved from 801 Pennsylvania Ave. SE around the corner to 408 Eighth St. SE, the former Nana Thai space. The new digs has outdoor tables and umbrellas, no indoor seating.

Stretching It
For the time being, Joselito de Comida, 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, is stretching its outdoor seating around the corner to 327 Seventh St. SE. Located on the patio of the former Montmartre (which closed last May), the extra space is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Call 202-930-6955 or visit www.joselitodc.com.

Here’s something fun and tasty: Jerk at Nite, a popular Jamaican/Mexican food truck, will soon morph into a bricks-and-mortar restaurant at 1100 H St. NE. The future space is already festooned with the red-green and red Jamaican colors and thatched “roofs. The truck is brightly decorated as well.

Founded by Howard University students, Jerk at Nite, a Jamaican/Mexican eatery, is coming soon to H Street NE.

Jerk at Nite started in a Howard University dorm, where hungry students demanded more than fast food and take-out Chinese. Thus, Jerk at Nite was born. Among menu favorites are jerked chicken with rice-and-peas and cabbage; jerk tacos (and nachos), oxtail stew, veggie items, homemade rum raisin bread pudding. For now, Jerk is takeout only; to order call 202-840-0723 or visit www.jerkatnite.com

Cusbah, a “curry house” and cocktail bar at 1128 H Street NE is slated to depart November 15. Known for North Indian and Pakistani cuisine, Cusbah had been in business for eight years.

And…Dolcezza, the gelato shop with cafes scattered all over the DC area, closed five of its nine locations last month: Logan Circle, CityCenterDC (Penn Quarter), District Wharf, Dupont Circle, Bethesda.  Dolcezza’s Factory and Coffee Lab, which opened near Union Market in 2014, has apparently been spared the chopping block. Not surprisingly, proprietors Rob Duncan and Violeta Edelman cited the pandemic shutdown for the closures.