‘Tis February, and new restaurants are cropping up, and kitchens are adding interesting choices. On Barracks Row, Ophelia’s Fish House, 501 Eighth St. SE, has introduced a new menu. Peter and I had to check it out. On a chilly winter evening, we ventured into the “outdoor” terrace, where we were seated near a heat lamp. As we thawed out, we perused the new menu. Presiding over the kitchen was Jay Doss.
Tummy warming cocktails include hot toddies, spiked apple cider, boozy hot chocolate and mulled wine. Oysters prevail including vodka (or bloody Mary) oyster shooters. We eyed the oysters Rockefeller, bivalves usually crowned with spinach, bacon and breadcrumbs. The retro-dish, reportedly invented in the kitchen of New Orleans’ famous Antoine’s, seems to be staging a comeback. However, we decided on simple fried oysters, escorted by an aioli sauce and a lemon wedge. Ophelia’s sandwich menu also offers oyster po’boys, another Big Easy classic.
Cold weather calls for hot soup, and Peter ordered a hearty shrimp and crab bisque. The richly delicious potage arrived with a toasted baguette, ideal for sopping up.
From the entrée lineup, I considered an 8-ounce lobster tail, whole fried snapper, Atlantic salmon, Maryland crab ravioli and Valencia paella. However, I could not resist the coconut Massaman (Thai curry) seafood boil. Simmering in a pot of tongue-tingling lemongrass broth, the pot contained mussels, scallops, shrimp, king crab leg, corn-on-the-cob and topped with bok choy.
Carnivores can choose from burgers, New York strip steak, and chicken Alfredo. Desserts—if you save room—include turtle cheesecake and Key lime pie. There’s also a kids’ menu. Dinner for two with a glass of wine apiece came to $84.70. Service, rendered by Dara, who comes from Mongolia, was excellent. For more information, visit www.opheliasdc.com.
New Pool Bar
Winter weary folks (including us) might want to check out Royal Sands Social Club, 26 N St. SE, across from Nationals Park. Owners Fritz Brogan and Reed Landry give the term “pool bar” a whole new meaning at Navy Yard’s 700-seat Florida-themed bar.
Guests quaff local brewskis, Royal rum punch and frozen peach belinis while munching on conch fritters, ‘gator bites, blackened ahi tuna and assorted sushi. Come evening, there’s dancing on what resembles a (fortunately water-less) swimming pool. The “pool” is decorated with aqua-blue tiles and portholes. A 30-foot-tall “lifeguard tower” DJ booth adorns the floor-level bar.
The 14,000-square-foot, two-story newcomer joins other nearby rooftops including Silver Social (upstairs from Silver Diner), Takoda, and Mission, also operated by Brogan and Landry. Royal Sands’ sun-splashed décor is inspired by Brogan’s Florida roots. Rooms are outfitted with hanging plants, colorful wallpaper, wood accents, and huge TV screens. For hours and more information visit www.royalsandsdc.com.
Nearby, at 521 Eighth St. SE, Matchbox welcomes Southern-themed Milk & Honey Cafe’s breakfast/brunch popup, available all day, every day. (Milk & Honey is located at 1116 H St. NW, with other area outposts.) While I devoured Matchbox’s pepperoni pizza, Peter savored Milk & Honey’s crab hash (with extra crab). Among other brunch creations are smothered chicken and biscuits, blackened salmon and grits, French toast. Plus mimosas, Bloody Marys and other cocktails. Meanwhile, dinner for two at Matchbox with a $52 bottle of Black Girl Magic red blend came to $106.70 before tip. Service, rendered by Jazz, was friendly and helpful. For more information visit www.milknhoneycafe.com or www.matchboxrestaurants.com.
Here’s something fun, especially for party-going night owls. New at District Wharf is Live-K, a karaoke bar/nightclub at 730 Maine Ave. SW. The 6,000-square-foot, marbled venue comes from real estate investor Chris Zhu. Zhu also owns and operates dim sum chain Han Palace (Barracks Row, Woodley Park and Tysons Corner). Live-K’s eclectic menu focuses on “street snacks” like gyoza, honey barbecue wings, grilled meat skewers, noodle soups, truffle fries, mochi ice cream. Complementing the Japanese-leaning fare are king-sized cocktails including a white Negroni, mezcal Old Fashioned, and Passion-K (Bacardi, passion fruit, lime) wine and beer. For Live-K hours (open late on weekends), visit www.live-k.com.
More Tropical Fizz
Maxwell Park, the nifty Navy Yard wine bar at 1346 Fourth St. SE, is unveiling Pop, a fizzy outpost in Shaw. The newcomer joins another Maxwell Park, also in Shaw. At Pop, 2108 Vermont Ave. NW, every drink—50, we’re told– is canned and carbonated. Guests may choose from over a dozen half bottles of Champagne, beer, cider, hard kombucha, sparkling sake and seltzers. There are also fizzy canned cocktails, sparkling wine, and pet-nats (unaged sparkling wine). For hours and more information visit www.maxwelldcwine.com.
Market Watch–Soup’s On
To ward off winter’s dismal chill, many of us turn to warm, soothing soups. And we need look no farther than our beloved Eastern Market. In the South Hall, Thomas Calomiris & Sons is best known for fresh produce and Greek olive oil and honey. But lately we’ve been savoring his prepared Greek specialties, especially soups.
So far, our favorite is avgolemono—egg, lemon, rice and chicken soup–which rivals most Greek restaurant renditions. We also enjoyed the hearty Navy Bean soup, which reminds us of the popular U.S. Senate bean soup. White beans and ham hocks are simmered low and slow to make a savory soup. Another option is the veggie lentil soup.
Calomiris has been selling hot homemade soups for several years. Each morning Leon Calomiris prepares at least three varieties which go for $6.50 a pint or $11.50 a quart at the family’s market stand. They also make spanakopita and baklava.
Across the way from Calomiris, Canales Deli makes two types of savory chicken soup: ginger and rotisserie chicken. We ordered both and were impressed. The ginger chicken soup includes rice, while the other includes noodles and veggies along with the deli’s rotisserie white meat. Eastern Market is closed Mondays; for more information visit www.easternmarket-dc.org.
Ciao for now!
As we do this time every winter, we’re forsaking winter’s cold and heading for the sunny (we hope) climes of Florida. See you in April!