Belga Café Celebrates 10th Anniversary
This October, Chef Bart Vandaele’s first restaurant, Belga Café at 514 8th St. SE celebrates its 10th anniversary with several special events.
“This is a celebration not only for me and Belga Café, but for the neighborhood as well,” Vandaele said in a press release. “Over the last 10 years, I have watched Belga Café grow along with Barracks Row. It is amazing to be able to say I was there in the beginning, as many people wouldn’t even think of opening a restaurant here 10 years ago. Now it’s a beautiful, family friendly neighborhood, and I am proud of the role the restaurant has played in the transformation of the area.”
When Vandaele opened Belga Café in 2004, it was not only the first Belgian restaurant in the District, but also one of the first restaurants on 8th Street in Barracks Row.
“I like to say Belga Café is a Belgian bistro with attitude, and I love being able to infuse this attitude into the neighborhood,” Vandaele said. “It is the embodiment of everything that I love about my home country and it has been a joy to bring Belgian cuisine, beer, art and culture, with my special twists, to D.C. for people to enjoy.”
Saturday, Oct. 11: See and taste cooking demo
From 1-3 p.m. at The Fridge, 516 1/2 8th Street SE, attendees are invited to pull up a chair and watch Vandaele in action at this special demo. He will prepare a three-course tasting with beer parings in front of guests while walking them though each step of the process. Reservations are required. Cost is $45 per person.
Tuesday, Oct. 14: Thank you from Belga Café and Chef Vandaele
From 6-9 p.m. at Belga Café, Vandaele hosts a special reception for guests and the neighborhood featuring Champagne and Belgian bites. The event is free, but reservations are required.
Wednesday, Oct. 15 -Friday, Oct. 31: Anniversary menu
Guests can enjoy special menu highlighting some of Vandaele’s favorite dishes from the last 10 years at Belga Café available during dinner service.
Saturday, Oct. 18: Belga’s beer market
From 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at The Fridge, this one day-only market offers guests a unique opportunity to taste their way through Belgium at this showcase of beers and paired bites. Tokens will be available for purchase at the door and used at the event for food and drinks.
Thursday, Oct. 23: 10 for 10 tasting menu
Vandaele guides guests on an exclusive 10-course journey through Belgium’s culinary landscape. The evening begins with a special reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a seated dinner at 7 p.m. Limited seating available and reservations are required. The cost is $125 per person with wine pairings.
Tuesday, Oct. 28: Anniversary beer dinner
Starting at 6:30 p.m., Belga Café will serve a seven-course beer dinner featuring rare Belgian Trappists including Westvleteren Trappist beer, which is not available anywhere else in the country. Limited seating available and reservations are required. Cost is $79 per person.
For more information or to make a reservation to any of the 10-year anniversary celebration events, please call Belga Café at 202-544-0100.
Commissary donates to PFLAG on National Coming Out Day
Today is National Coming Out Day, and Commissary at 1443 P St. NW has partnered with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to support the LGBT community.
On Oct. 11, 100 percent of sales of the “Red, White & You” sangria cocktail ($8) made with grapefruit, vodka and white wine sold will go to support PFLAG help to advance equality and full societal affirmation of LGBT people.
GRK Fresh Greek launches late night hours
GRK Fresh Greek at 1140 19th St. NW is now open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The fast casual Greek restaurant, which opened in July, will cater to the late night Dupont Circle crowd. Also, starting Oct. 10, GRK’s beer will be half price from midnight-2 a.m.
The menu includes gyros, with seasoned meat seasoned marinated in yogurt and slow roasted on a rotisserie grill. Diners can choose from lamb and beef combination, chicken, pork, Portobello mushrooms and fresh vegetables served on a classic pita baked in a wood stove oven or served on a plate. Top it with GRK’s three distinct yogurt-based tzatzikis: zesty classic, fire-roasted habanero pepper Kaftero or garlic and basil infused Prassino. The restaurant will also serve its salt, pepper and garlic seasoned fries.
GRK will also offer a selection of entree salads, fresh and frozen Greek yogurt with sweet and savory toppings, crispy Aegan slaw and a tzatziki sampler. The savory Simi yogurt specialty includes olives, tomato, pepper, cucumber, basil, pita chips and extra virgin olive oil, while the Corfu comes topped with basil, apples, figs, lentils, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Cava Grill opens in Chinatown Tuesday with free food
Cava Grill’s newest location at 707 H St. NW in the former Capital Q BBQ in Chinatown will open Oct. 14. To celebrate, the restaurant will be giving away free rice bowls, salads and pits from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with a donation to community non-profit partners MicroGreens and City Blossoms.
The restaurant’s sixth location will feature new menu items and enhanced design features. The menu will feature pitas made from scratch by D.C. baker Optimal Grains and baked in a stone-fired oven in the store. The pita is preservative free and made from organic flour. The location will also have local been and wine on tap, a open kitchen layout, rotating seasonal menus with soups, juices and teas made in-house daily. The new items will be rolled out to other location throughout the fall.
In addition to Chinatown, Cava Grill will open a store in late October Gaithersburg, Montgomery Mall in Bethesda in November, and Fairfax, Reagan National Airport and Ashburn next spring and summer.
The restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesday then begin regular hours of 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Wednesday.
Mama Rouge opens Tuesday in Georgetown Waterfront
Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan and her husband, Mel Oursinsiri will open their newest restaurant, Mama Rouge at 3000 K St. NW at the Washington Harbour on the Georgetown Waterfront on Tuesday. It is in the space that formerly housed their Bangkok Joe’s restaurant. The pair also own T.H.A.I. and Tom Yum District in Northern Virginia.
Mama Rouge will serve Southeast Asian and French cuisine in a contemporary French bistro setting, It will begin regular lunch, dinner and brunch service beginning Oct. 14.
As they approached the 12-year mark of Bangkok Joe’s, Bunyarataphan and Oursinsiri felt that their guests and area diners were ready for something new. Renewing their lease in the same location, they hired Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group for concept, branding, menu and operations development to create their vision for a more contemporary, unique restaurant. It is named for Bunyarataphan’s grandmother, the original ‘Mama Rouge,’ and the inspiration for many of the recipes that appear on the Southeast Asian sections of the menu.
The entire space, kitchen, bar, and menu are new, and Bunyarataphan will oversee the kitchen and direct the culinary team to execute day-to-day service. The menus at Mama Rouge are divided into sections and categories, with traditional styles of Southeast Asian dishes, listed next to classically French plates. The food is not about fusion or melding of the different cuisines; they’re presented to encourage mixing and matching the separate flavor profiles of individual dishes and across menu sections for a different type of dining experience.
“We wanted to create a restaurant and menus that evoke connections to Southeast Asian and French cuisines, but in a very approachable and different way,” said Bunyarataphan in a press release. “My Thai grandmother had a wonderful recipe collection that she shared with me when I was young, and I’ve adapted many of those recipes and cooking techniques for the American palate with the items we’ve chosen for the menu, and included some of my personal favorites from classic French menus.”
“We want Mama Rouge to be seen as a neighborhood restaurant, just as Bangkok Joe’s was, as a place that draws guests back for more,” added Oursinsiri. After a recent four week trip to Southeast Asia in preparation for the restaurant opening, the pair honed their vision for Mama Rouge and how it would fit into the DMV’s dining scene.
The menu includes popular Southeast Asian food categories, such as pho, noodles, BBQ and banh mi, and is balanced by the richer flavors found in French cuisine. French wines and a variety of European-inspired cocktails complement menu selections, while weekend brunch is from the French perspective, offering crepes, omelets, breads and pastries. Diners are encouraged to mix and match dishes from the different categories. The menu includes appetizers of pommes frites and Myanmar shrimp dumplings, entrees of steak au poivre, lemongrass pork or a spicy curry, and desserts such as Parisian style pastries paired with a Thai tea or Thai coffee made to order.
Washington, D.C.-based Collective Architecture in collaboration with VSAG designed the interior décor, which includes a bold color scheme of Asian influence with a mix of textures, patterns and more elegant features one might find in French bistros like stylized tables and chairs, the authentic zinc topped bar and tin ceiling tiles. Millwork detail, tufted booths and banquettes combine with chandelier lighting for an intimate setting. The dining room seats 100 with 14 seats at the bar and seasonal patio dining for about 30.
Mama Rouge is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 11 a.m.-midnight. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
DMV restaurants offer pumpkin dishes and drinks
Pumpkins aren’t just for carving, they’re also a mainstay on any fall menu. Restaurants throughout the DMV are serving the favorite fall gourd in a variety of creative ways.
BLT Steak, 1625 I St. NW, offers a creative take on fall’s favorite dessert, pumpkin pie, fusing it with cheesecake. BLT Steak’s pumpkin spice cheesecake is topped with maple anglaise, candied pecans and served alongside homemade cream cheese ice cream for $10.
The Fainting Goat, 1330 U St. NW, is featuring pumpkin in its roasted pumpkin mussels with lemongrass and chilies, a Thai-style dish. Executive chef Nathan Beauchamp, who took over the kitchen in June, roasts Amish pumpkins with traditional Southeast Asian ingredients like galangal and lemongrass. He makes a curry-type broth with chilies, shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, turmeric and shallots, and adds fresh PEI mussels, garnishing the dish with lime zest, scallions and Thai basil. The mussels ($14) are served with a side of grilled bread to soak up the delicious, warming broth.
Jack Rose Dining Salon, 2007 18th St. NW, has created a Halloween cocktail named after the “pumpkin king” himself: the Jack Skellington. The cocktail is straight out of The Nightmare Before Christmas‘ “Halloween Town” combining Pumpkin King Cordial made from fresh-roasted pie pumpkins, gin and spices, with Absolut Elyx, fresh lemon, apple bitters, simple syrup and Jerry Thomas Decanter bitters. The Jack Skellington is $13.
Vinoteca, 1940 11th St. NW, is serving a cocktail inspired by the pumpkin spice latte. Bar manager Horus Alvarez infuses Atlantico Reserve rum with in-house roasted pumpkins, combining the infused rum with coffee, milk and fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, topped with fresh cream. The pumpkin spice latte cocktail is $12.