Stanton & Greene to Open on Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill will soon have a new destination for classic American cocktails and cuisine, with the early 2015 opening of Stanton & Greene at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE in the former Pour House space. It is owned by partners Eli Hengst and Jared Rager of Sonoma and August Paro of Beuchert’s Saloon. The new restaurant could open as early as the end of this month.
The three story, the 180-seat Stanton & Greene will evoke the feeling of the city’s bars of the early- to mid- 20th century. The ground floor is home to a traditional American bar and brasserie with period details: a classic thick-edged marble bar top, handmade brass sconces, a custom-milled oak bar rail, hand-stitched cognac leather booths, the original tin ceiling pattern, honed tobacco-colored floor tile and vintage crackled porcelain wall tiles. The bar and restaurant will be open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, brunch and drinks.
A restored oak staircase leads to the second floor with 16-foot ceilings with original skylights, an Art-Deco bar hand hewn from American ash and three huge windows overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. The second floor bar and lounge will be open to the public and also available for private events. Like its downstairs counterpart, the upstairs bar will offer a classic cocktail menu and draft local craft beers.
The restaurant is named after Capitol Hill’s Stanton Park and the statue of Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, which sits in the park.
The focus of Stanton & Greene is cocktails and a carefully-curated classic cocktails, although seasonal and artisanal specials will be available. Its spirits program will have a distinctly American imprint featuring an expansive selection of local, regional and national distilleries balanced between gins, whiskies, vodkas and other craft spirits.
Mixologist Erik Holzherr, proprietor of both Wisdom and Church & State, designed the cocktail program and has partnered with Stanton & Greene to develop a selection of early to mid-20th century classics, along with a signature cocktail menu. The bar will also offer a small selection of American and Old World wine selections and highlight the best local and East Coast wineries, as well as local draft and bottled beers from breweries like DC Brau, 3 Stars and Port City.
The restaurant menu, developed by executive chef Josh Hutter and chef de cuisine Damian Brown, will offer American classics updated to reflect a commitment to local and naturally-raised ingredients.
Z-Burger Mobile food truck to launch Jan. 20
Z-Burger’s Peter Tabibian plans to launch the Z-Burger Mobile food truck on Jan. 20. The truck will serve the brick and mortar locations’ regular and vegetarian burgers, hot dogs and 14 different flavors of hand-spun milkshake. However, the fries and onion rings will be missing from the menu.
The Z-Burger mobile plans to hit the streets in D.C. neighborhoods and around Montgomery County, eventually targeting areas with heavy night life traffic in the evenings. Customers will be able to pinpoint the truck’s location via Z-Burger’s Twitter accounts @zburger and @zburgermobile.
To celebrate the truck’s launch, it will offer groups supporting the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day on Jan. 19 by serving lunch to a group of volunteers on-site of a community service project in D.C. Interested groups and organizations are urged to request the new truck to feed their team by sending an email to email@example.com. Entries should include the type of project, location, number of participants and timeframe. One group will be served lunch with a choice of burger or hot dog with a side of Z-Burger’s new signature potato chips and a drink. Entries are required by Jan. 14.
Tabibian, who opened the first Z-Burger in 2008 in Tenleytown, is in the process of suing his business partners, Mohammad and Ebrahim Esfahani, over ownership and trademark infringement. Tabibian claims the brothers never paid him his share of the profits. Tabibian claims in his lawsuit that Mohammad Esfahani has essentially locked him out of the businesses, “informing Z-Burger employees, suppliers, accountants and agents that Tabibian was no longer involved with Z-Burger.”
His partners have counter-sued him, claiming he was never an owner of the burger chain, but a manager. They also claim he trademarked the logo without their knowledge or permission.
Tabibian doesn’t expect that case to affect the operations of the truck, though he also is optimistic about the case’s outcome.
Mio Restaurant adds Chef’s Counter Tasting Experience
Mio Restaurant, 1110 Vermont Ave. NW, began a new Chef’s Counter Tasting Experience last Wednesday. Two guests per seating will be treated to sitting at the elevated chef’s counter looking into the working kitchen so they can interact with executive Roberto Hernandez as he prepares a nine-course, prix fixe tasting menu for them.
The tasting portions will showcase the best of Puerto Rican cuisine. Two seatings are available every Wednesday through Saturday at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
The prix fixe tasting menu is $95 per person or $135 per person with four suggested cocktail, beer or wine pairings. Dietary restrictions must be announced when booking a reservation and a vegetarian menu is available upon request.
Isabella to open Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda
Chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella announced plans this week to open a new Greek restaurant in the 5,200 square-foot space at 4900 Hampden Lane, Bethesda, in the Bethesda Row development. Kapnos Kouzina, set to open in summer 2015, is a sister restaurant to Kapnos, his Northern Greek-inspired eatery, which opened in D.C. in July 2013, and the forthcoming Kapnos Taverna, set to open in Arlington later this month.
“We’ve had our eye on Bethesda for a long time,” Isabella said in a press release. “When we began preparations to move into Virginia, we knew Maryland couldn’t be far behind. We are so excited about the spot in Bethesda, we see a real opportunity to build something that the neighborhood has been lacking: casual, chef-driven dining that is as good for after-work get-togethers as it is for special occasions. Those familiar with the original Kapnos are going to find something different in Bethesda, it’s a little more casual, a little more traditional and a little more neighborhood-y.”
While Kapnos draws inspiration from inland Greek flavors, and Kapnos Taverna will focus on coastal and island cuisines, Kapnos Kouzina will serve a homestyle take on regional Greek cooking that is more traditional and classic than its sister restaurants. Kapnos executive chef/partner George Pagonis will draw heavily from his experience growing up in a big Greek family and working at his father’s Greek diner in Alexandria to build a menu of comforting Greek classics.
While still a small plates concept like its sister restaurants, Kapnos Kouzina will also feature a section of large-format platters meant to be shared by two to four guests. Signature dishes will include Greek spiced crispy chicken with attiki honey; braised lamb top round served with lentils, eggplant, tomato and harissa; and whole roasted branzino in a spicy clam broth with tomatoes, peppers and pearl onions. The Kapnos Kouzina menu will also include some signature dishes from the original Kapnos, notably the stone bread and Greek spreads. Unlike the original, the Bethesda location plans to open for weekday lunch.
Kapnos Kouzina will boast an expansive bar program, similar to the original with cocktails on tap and a large wine list highlighting a diverse selection of new and old world wines with a particular focus on the wines of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The décor will be washed in deep, earthy tones with natural wood and olive green and grey accents. Natalie Park Design Studio and Eimer Designs are behind the interior design, which features approximately 160 seats, including a 14-seat communal table, a 31-seat bar and chef-counter seating for 12, and an additional 94-seat patio.
Zengo debuts Test Kitchen: Mexico to Korea
Zengo, the Latin-Asian inspired restaurant at 781 7th St. NW, has introduced its next “Test Kitchen” series. Every few months owner Richard Sandoval and his culinary team research and develop new recipes featuring the cuisine and spirits of one Latin and one Asian country. The result is a special menu featuring small plates and cocktails that feature some of the bold flavors and techniques from each region.
From Monday through Mar. 31, chef de cuisine Jason Streiff is preparing Test Kitchen: Mexico to Korea with dishes inspired by a recent trip by the culinary team to Guadalajara. The specials are offered during dinner service beginning at 5 p.m. Menu items are marked with the “TK” symbol on the menu, noting that they are exclusive and available for a limited time.
The menu for this Test Kitchen will feature four dishes including achiote mahi mahi tostadas with chile morita salsa, black bean puree, avocado, pickled onion and cabbage slaw; Roseda Farms beef cheek albóndigas, Mexican-style spicy meatballs, chipotle tomato sauce and cotija cheese, served with a warm baguette; kimchi and tofu soup with pozole, cabbage, guajillo broth and tortilla strips; and spicy Korean-style Rhode Island squid with rice cakes, dried shitake mushrooms, scallions, gochujang and sesame. Item range from $8-$14.
To complement the dishes, Rob Day, Richard Sandoval Restaurant’s national beverage director, is crafting new cocktails, priced at $13 each, with the flavorful fruits, spices and spirits of Mexico and Korea. The special cocktails are the watermelon soju margarita with Agavales Tequila Reposado, Korean charm soju, watermelon juice, sour mix and serrano pepper, and the Dimelo with Korean Jinro 24 soju, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Patron citrónge, thyme simple and grapefruit juice.
Blue Duck Tavern Lounge introduces warm raclette
The Blue Duck Tavern Lounge in the Park Hyatt Washington at 24th and M Streets NW, is serving an artisanal Vermont raclette cheese starting at 6 p.m. nightly at the marble cheese display table.
Raclette is indigenous to parts of Switzerland and is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese. The raclette will be heated table side and served with traditional warm sour dough bread and house made pickles. It is priced at $18 per serving and perfect for two people to share.
Blue Duck’s cheese specialist Sophie Slesinger will be on hand to answer questions about the raclette and other winter cheeses and charcuterie, which are sold by the ounce and served with house-made seasonal chutney and jams.
To pair with the cheese, the lounge is featuring a Wimmer-Czerny, Gruner Vetliner, Wagram, Austria 2012 priced at $15 per glass and $60 per bottle.
Daikaya offers whiskey “bottle keep” program
Daikaya, the izakaya and ramen shop at 705 Sixth St. NW, has launched a Japanese whiskey “bottle keep” program. Bottle keep is a common practice in Japan where customers can buy a bottle at a discounted price, and the bar will keep it for three to six months.
At Daikaya, diners wishing to purchase a bottle of Japanese whiskey to enjoy at their leisure in the restaurant can choose from six to 12 rotating selections each month with prices ranging from $160 for a Nikka Taketsuru 12 year-old whiskey to $600 for the Suntory Yamazaki 18 year-old whiskey. Most of the bottles are 750 ml, which provides 12 two-ounce pours.
Patrons will buy a bottle and Daikaya will label it with a display tag containing the owner’s name written in both English and Japanese with the date of purchase. Information will also be kept on a master list for cross reference, and Daikaya will keep the bottle for up to six months from the date of purchase, stored behind the bar on display shelves. The owner will need to present ID to be able to access his or her bottle on return trips to the restaurant.
Anyone purchasing a bottle during February will get a free raffle ticket with every purchase of a 40 ml pour of the “Nikka from The Barrel” priced at $35. One winner from the drawing held on Saturday, Feb. 28, will receive a prize bottle of Nikka Taketsuru 21 year-old whiskey, valued at $410, for the bottle keep shelf at Daikaya.
Japanese whisky tends to fall, stylistically, somewhere between Lowland and Speyside malts, typically having characteristics of being floral with light peat and delicate smoke. Because of the diversity in climate in the northern part of Japan, there tends to be more interaction with the wood through the aging process, setting Japanese Whisky further apart from American or Irish whiskeys.
Will Artley takes over kitchen at BLT Steak
BLT Steak, 1625 I St. NW, has named Will Artley its new executive chef.
Artley’s blackboard menu will emphasize his healthful lifestyle, accenting the BLT Steak menu with more health-conscious vegetable-based options. New dishes could include a grilled mushroom fricassee with sunflower root and cauliflower or a roasted monkfish with eggplant BBQ and carrot caramel. Artley will also add more high-end A5 Wagyu and other premium cuts.
He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and staged at restaurants such as Aquavit in New York City under chef Marcus Samuelsson and worked under chef Seth Bixby Daugherty at his renowned D’Amico Cucina Minneapolis. After graduation, he joined chef Bob Kinkead at the newly opened Colvin Run Tavern in Tysons Corner and cooked at restaurants such as Butterfield 9, Indebleu and Kinkead’s.
He then moved to the Evening Star Café, where he won several awards, which included being invited to serve as guest chef at the White House, and showcased his locally-sourced, refined American comfort food. Artley oversaw Evening Star for almost six years, before he was tapped to head the kitchen at Pizzeria Orso, where he became certified by the VPN and the Italian government as a Master Pizziaolo.
John Melfi replaces Tony Conte at Oval Room
John Melfi was recently named executive chef of the newly renovated The Oval Room, 800 Connecticut Ave. NW. Melfi brings 12 years of experience to his new position having previously worked at restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C.
Conte was executive chef at the eatery for nine years. He left to open Pizzeria Inferno in North Potomac, Md., which is expected to open in March and feature a Neopolitan cuisine as well as small plates similar to what he created at The Oval Room. Last summer, The Oval Room underwent a $1 million renovation.
Prior to joining The Oval Room, Melfi was the opening executive chef of Fiola Mare under Fabio Trabocchi. Prior to that, Melfi served as chef de cuisine for 2.5 years at Blue Duck Tavern. Previously, he worked as executive sous chef at Vidalia from April 2008-May 2011.
Before moving to D.C., Melfi lived in Charleston, where he served as sous chef at Slightly North of Broad, a low country bistro. His culinary career also includes working as executive chef of Charleston’s Island House Restaurant. He also spent time in Naples, Fla. cooking at the Hideout Country Club, Audubon Country Club and Quail Creek Country Club.
Melfi graduated from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in February 2002, earning top honors as class salutatorian. Melfi lives with his family in Arlington.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.