Silver Charm Shines at Silver Diner

Capitol Cuisine

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The venerable Silver Diner chain, which boasts 19 suburban locations, has landed in the Navy Yard. You’ll find the hip, two-level newcomer at 1250 Half St. SE, across from Nationals Park. “Chopped” winner Executive Chef Ype von Hengst melds classic American road food with con-temporary cooking. The 139-seat lower level is called Silver Diner; the dressier upstairs terrace—which opens later for dinner only—is Silver Social.

A lunchtime Silver Diner special is the soup and half-sandwich. Seen here is a “junior” turkey club with spicy crab-and-corn chowder.

Peter and I went on opening day, which we don’t normally do. The place was hopping, with a high energy buzz. The gleaming, $9-million Art Deco space was designed by CORE Architects Inc. It’s gorgeous. Catching my eye was the huge mural depicting DC’s long-gone Griffith Stadium, home of the old Washington Senators. 

We settled at a spacious table and perused the menu, which included omelets, pancakes, sandwich-es, burgers, chicken pot pie and meatloaf. Executive Chef Ype von Hengst’s kitchen highlights lo-cal ingredients and caters to dietary restrictions with gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Quinoa coconut pancakes are piled with fresh fruit and agave; meatloaf is made from local Black Angus beef. Some shakes are dairy-free. 

I decided on the $10.99 “blue plate” special: A half junior turkey club was stacked with lots of white meat, bacon and cheese on sourdough. The generous “kickin” crab/corn chowder was tasty with just enough heat. But it was long on corn with little crabmeat.

In the Navy Yard near Nationals Park, the Silver Diner sports a handsome $9-million Art Deco interior.

Peter went for a diner classic: chicken pot pie, accompanied by soup or salad (Peter chose a side Caesar). Von Hengst’s beautifully presented rendition—chock full of breast meat—tasted of tarra-gon and sweet potatoes; the latter delivered a surprising sweetness. Lunch for two with a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc came to about $50. Service, delivered by Bree, was first rate–pleasant and knowledgeable. Silver Diner is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more infor-mation, visit www.SilverDiner.com/ballpark.

Coming Soon

Duke’s Grocery, the British-style pub, is coming to 1201 Half St. SE, across the street from Silver Diner. Other Duke’s outlets are located at Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom’s Western Market and Woodley Park. For updates, visit www.dukesgrocery.com.

Dim Sum Palace

The Capitol Hill restaurant scene is heating up. Joining Barracks Row’s Asian culinary family is Han Palace. Located at 522 Eighth St. SE, the 60-seat Han showcases Cantonese-style dim sum and other traditional dishes. You’ll find it at the former Frame of Mine space, which moved across the street.

At Han Palace, artful presentation is important, including this beautiful tea set.

Han proprietor Chris Zhu also operates the original Han Palace in Tysons Corner, with a second location in Woodley Park, plus China Garden in Rockville.

Barracks Row’s Han Palace offers two unlimited dim sum menus—priced at $38 and $48– which offers soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, steamed pork buns, Han style Peking duck, and crispy beef. Tea is included, and bottomless mimosas are $18 extra per person. No Hong Kong-style pushcarts here; dim sum items are made to order by Chef David Xie. His menu also includes sev-eral kinds of congee, the soothing gruel that Chinese often eat for breakfast. Congee choices are seafood, abalone/chicken, lobster tail and plain.  

Specializing in dim sum, Barracks Row’s Han Palace is especially busy on week-ends.

Han Palace is hot! When we showed up for Saturday lunch, the small space was jam-packed, with a three-hour wait. When we returned on a rainy Monday, we were seated right away. Sure, we found glitches; management was unable to (temporarily) accept credit cards, and the bar had no sake, which would have been welcome on such a cold, dreary day. But Han was still new.

We decided to go ala carte rather than prix fixe. From the congee listing, I chose the medley of scal-lops, octopus (rubbery, unfortunately), and Chinese clams. The tummy warming dish arrived in a handsome black pot with a lid, plus matching bowls and spoons. 

From the dumpling lineup, Peter ordered pan-fried chicken with vegetables. The half dozen plump crescents were arranged on a traditional bamboo steamer, escorted by a variety of dipping sauces presented in lovely porcelain cruets. Other dumplings are filled with shrimp, lamb-and-carrots and pork. Presentation is big here. Flower tea—enough for three– arrived in a handsome glass pot, along with a pair of beautiful teacups.  

The International Fresh Produce Association recently hosted a Joy of Fresh promotion at
Eastern Market.

Lunch for two with hot tea and a glass of Malbec came to $47.14 plus tip. Service was excellent, in spite of the snags. Han Palace is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more infor-mation visit  www.hanpalacedc.com. 

Yet More Pizza

Also due to open—if not already—is Della Barba Pizza, 1382 East Capitol. For the long-awaited pie palace, expect classic New York style (“light and airy”); thicker, richer Sicilian; Chicago deep dish; rectangular Detroit style. Among toppings are crushed tomato, pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, spinach ricotta, fresh mozzarella. Della Barba also operates a pop-up at 1369 New York Ave. NE (Ivy City). 

Long time Hill dwellers like us might remember Al’s Gourmet Pizza, which departed the East Cap-itol space years ago. Back then, Al’s was one of the few pizza options on the Hill. How things change. For Della Barba updates visit www.dellabarbapizza.com.

Eat Your Veggies

There was a fun and healthy promotion at Eastern Market recently as the International Fresh Pro-duce Association (IFPA) was winding up a three-day conference. In addition to meetings with Congressional offices and other powers-that-be, the green gathering included the “Joy of Fresh” on Capitol Hill.” The festive event decorated Eastern Market’s north end with bountiful seasonal pro-duce, colorful floral displays and lots of freebies. There was also flower braiding, a happy hour and other community activities.

The IFPA overall goal is to provide solutions for the world’s health and economic challenges, im-proving the appeal of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets, and supporting the development of infrastructure and supply chain issues. IFPA is headquartered in Newark, Delaware. For more in-formation, visit www.freshproduce.com.  u