Slated to open in mid-June 2021 in the former site of Finn McCool’s, Crazy Aunt Helen’s (713 Eighth Street SE) will serve American comfort food prepared with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients on Barracks Row.
This is the first project from DC restaurant vet Shane Mayson, who is aiming for a homey, eclectic vibe with Southern flair.
Co-owner of the two-level newcomer Mary Quillian Helms, whose family has owned Mr. Henry’s for 50 years, told the Hill Rag there was much that was new to get enthusiastic about. “I’m very excited about having a second restaurant on Capitol Hill,” she said. “And something new for me, serving breakfast.”
You know it’s going to be an interesting place to visit. Miss Pixie Windsor of the eponymous and legendary 14th Street home furnishings store is designing the restaurant interior, showcasing her signature vibrant colors –including a purple staircase– and funky tableware.
The two-story restaurant seats 76 on the first floor, including 26 at the bar, as well as 53 seats upstairs. The outdoor patio will accommodate 12, with an additional 12 seats in the Streetery.
Crazy Aunt Helen’s menu is under the direction of Mykie Moll, formerly known as Amanda Moll, who was most recently the Executive Chef of Pom Pom. A DC native, he cooked stints at Doi Moi, Mintwood Place and Shaw Bisou.
Moll wants the dining experience at Crazy Aunt Helen’s to feel like you are eating at your
grandmother’s house, where love and care is put into every dish. His menu will include his takes on classics, including a version of his grandmother’s traditional Jewish style brisket, house cured corned beef for Reuben sandwiches and corned beef hash, as well as shepherd’s pie and a half roasted and brined chicken.
Moll also plans on including an array of vegan options to the menu with the same comfort flair, including a vegan crab cake and vegan hollandaise.
Mayson has tapped Jo-Jo Valenzuela, local food and beverage consultant and chef/owner of The Game Sports Pub and Tiki on 18th to build out the cocktail program. Mayson tasked Valenzuela to create a cocktail list inspired in part by classic favorites found in an old lady’s candy dish.
With that inspiration in mind, he created the Crazy Aunt Helen’s Lemon Drop with Civic Vodka, honey, lemon juice and citric sugar rim and the Kiss My Sassafras with Macchu Pisco, Don Ciccio Cerasum Aperitivo, Embitterment Sassafras Bitters, orange peel and mint.
Valenzuela put together the beverage program using as many local spirits as possible.The Rooty Old Fashioned with Filibuster Bourbon, Embitterment Aromatic bitters, Cane Sweet Potato Syrup and lemon peels is an example of a local cocktail representing the area: Embitterment Bitters is from DC, Cane Syrup is from MD, and Filibuster from VA.
For the beer list, Mayson’s turned to friend Thor Cheston of Right Proper Brewing Company to put together a list of well thought out local varieties, which in addition to beer include seltzer, cider and mead. A Prosecco, white wine and rosé will be available on tap as well.
Crazy Aunt Helen’s will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the future, the plan is for a variety of entertainment-themed nights will be offered upstairs.
Business hours are Wednesday through Monday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
With additional reporting from Celeste McCall