Kevin Tien Leaves Hitmitsu for Emilie’sHitmitsu co-owner and founding executive chef Kevin Tien will leave Sept. 15 to open his previously announced new restaurant in Capitol Hill neighborhood this September.
Tien’s last service at the tiny Japanese-inspired restaurant, which he opened with Carlie Steiner in November 2016 at 828 Upshur St. NW, will be Sept. 15. He plans to open the much larger Emilie’s, a 5,175-square-foot restaurant at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SW in September in the new Penn Eleven building on the site of the former Frager’s Hardware.
“I can’t thank our loyal guests and the Himitsu family enough for making Himitsu the incredible success that it is today,” Tien said in a press release. “While this was a very difficult decision to make, I’m looking forward to writing the next chapter and sharing my passion with the community on a larger scale and a different service style.”
Tien is giving up his ownership stake and turning over full control to Steiner, who will continue to own and operate Hitmitsu with chef Amanda Moll, former executive sous chef at Doi Moi, as executive chef.
“I am confident that Himitsu will continue to deliver the exceptional experience that our guests have enjoyed over the last 2 ½ years,” said Tien.
Emilie’s will be a 100-seat restaurant will server a globally-inspired menu that focuses on seasonal and local ingredients, and will feature large family-style plates with a small a la carte menu. Diners will be able to choose small plates circling the room on carts. Some of the rotating carts will be themed, such as the raw bar featuring oysters and crudos, while another cart will have pickled and fermented items. The carts will also give diners the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes.
The menu will change often and the food will be more contemporary than at Hitmitsu.
A Lafayette, Louisiana, native with a Vietnamese heritage, Tien began as a sushi chef working in Louisiana then Texas. He later came to D.C. and worked at Pineapple and Pearl, Momofuku CCDC, Oyamel and Uchi before opening Hitmitsu where he melded flavors and techniques from Southeast Asia, the American South and Latin America, which landed the restaurant on Bon Appétit magazine’s list of 50 best new restaurants nationwide shortly after opening, and Food & Wine named Tien one of its best new chefs. Tien was also a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef award in 2018. He also competed on Food Network’s Iron Chef Gauntlet that same year.
Earlier this year, Tien opened Hot Lola’s, a restaurant specializing in spicy chicken, in Ballston Quarter’s food hall, Quarter Market, in Arlington.
Emilie’s will initially be open for dinner, then expand into lunch and brunch after its opening. Emilie’s will seat approximately 100 guests in the main dining room and at the bar.
Bibiana to be replaced by Modena
Knightsbridge Restaurant Group will close Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca restaurant, 1100 New York Ave. NW, on Aug. 31 and reopen it on Sept. 8 as Modena on Sept. 9 with a new menu and new executive chef John Melfi.
Melfi comes from a short time at Robert Wiedmaier’s restaurant group. He previously was executive chef at Knightsbridges’ The Oval Room. He has moved around often with other stints as executive chef at Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola and Fiola Mare. He has also worked at the shuttered Vidalia and Blue Duck Tavern. Bibiana’s former executive chef Loris Navone has left the company.
Once Bibiana closes at the end of the month, the restaurant will undergo a refresh with a new color scheme, new artwork and the addition of planters filled with greenery. Melfi’s new menu will showcase Italian-influenced seasonal cuisine driven by sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.
There will also be a new antipasti trolley from Italy with food served on vintage china made by Villeroy and Bosch. The antipasti will be served family-style with six to eight selections daily available until they run out. Items will range from chilled octopus salad, artichoke scafatta, marinated peppers and other local seasonal items like fresh beets.
“Bibiana has been a landmark restaurant since it opened in 2009, receiving recognition both locally and nationally, but it is time for a change,” owner Ashok Bajaj said in a statement. “We are pleased to have John Melfi back in the kitchen and Modena is going to bring a fresh, new approach that is not mired in only traditional Italian cooking. We want to provide guests with a more playful and creative menu that has a nod to Italian’s most cherished flavors and seasonal profiles on the plate. Modena will give us more freedom to showcase seasonal bounty without limitations.”
Modena will feature items from specific regions such as prosciutto di Parma, balsámico of Modena and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Dishes will include crescia, a rich dough made with lard that will be grilled and served with toppings that range from prosciutto and mascarpone cheese, to tuna crudo with olives and basil cream. Crudo will be served on 1,500-year-old Himalayan red rock salt. Melfi’s signature dish is chitarra pasta with Calabrian chili, sea urchin and jumbo lump crab. Additional highlights will include the veal ribeye, crispy sweetbreads, pancetta and a castelmango fondutta. There will also be pasta fagioli with pipe pasta, local coco rubio beans and Mount Vesuvio tomatoes, a dish from Melfi’s grandmother. Dessert will include amaretti cookies, a mainstay throughout Italy.
Modena will be open from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for lunch and and 5-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday fo dinner. Happy hour will be from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Astro Doughnuts, Tin Shop partner on Astro Beer Hall
Elliot Spaisman and Jeff Halpern of Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken are partnering with Geoff Dawson and Peter Bayne of Tin Shop, a bar and restaurant development group that owns Penn Social and Franklin Hall among others, to open Astro Beer Hall, a two-level beer hall and full-service coffee shop located in the Mackey’s Public House space, 1306 G St. NW, adjacent to the original Astro Doughnuts.
Astro Beer Hall will be an all-day counter service bar, coffee shop and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner with an expanded menu of Astro’s fried chicken and doughnuts alongside bar snacks, salads, made to order cake doughnuts and more. In addition, it will offer a full-service coffee program using La Colombe beans and serve a variety of beers from 20 taps. Chef Chris Kujala from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken will oversee the menus at both locations.
The 11,000 square foot space has been redesigned featuring imagery with astronauts and space exploration, a game room with Asteroids, Ms. Pacman, pinball and more. Guests will be able to watch sports and special events with additional TVs in the downstairs seating area.
The space is set to open in late summer, with next door’s Astro Doughnuts remaining fully operational throughout the remodel. Once Astro Beer Hall opens, Astro Doughnuts will remain take-out only, with the expanded ability for diners to eat next door.
Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks opens in Vienna
Great American Restaurants’ Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks, named for owner Randy Norton, opened at the end of July at 8051 Leesburg Pike, Vienna.
It joins Great Americans’ newest development in the Tysons Corner area, which also includes Patsy’s American, named for Norton’s wife, and Best Buns Bakery & Café.
Randy’s interior is illuminated by traditional and modern lighting. Green mohair booths offset the mahogany tabletops. Five distinctive paintings by John Gable portray some of Norton’s favorite celebrities and dignitaries
With a focus on contemporary American fare, Randy’s offers a seasonal, balanced and fresh approach. Lobster bisque with sherry glazed lobster, baby beets and goat cheese, and Ahi tuna tartare with Grand Marnier aioli are among the appetizers, along with a chopped BLT salad. Seafood selections include Ora king salmon, miso sea bass, Georges Bank scallops and a lobster-crab cake. USDA Prime and Snake River Wagyu beef premium cuts, ranging from five to 24 four ounces, can be finished with unique and traditional sauces like Great Hills blue cheese butter and béarnaise. Sides include honey roasted rainbow carrots and corn brûlée topped with bacon.
The lunch menu features sandwiches like Billy’s French dip with slices of prime rib served on a Best Buns butter roll topped with gruyere, caramelized onions and truffled béarnaise aioli served with hand cut duck fat fries and au jus. Lighter fare includes entrée salads like roast chicken served on a bed of baby kale and rainbow quinoa topped with pecorino romano and seasonal fruit.
Desserts include Patsy’s carrot cake, a five-layer carrot cake with walnuts and cream cheese frosting; chocolate cake, Pavlova or the ultimate sundae served with vanilla ice cream and a choice of nearly a dozen toppings from grilled Myers’ rum pineapple to almond marshmallow.
Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks is open from 4-9 p.m. Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and 4-11 p.m. Saturday.
Oceanaire celebrates National Sandwich Month
August is National Sandwich Month, and Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1201 F St. NW, celebrates by featuring a favorite classic, the lobster roll.
Through Aug. 31, the restaurant is serving its lobster roll — freshly picked North Atlantic lobster served on twin petite buttered rolls — for lunch and dinner for $20 at the bar.
Pizzeria Paradiso Old Town adds more salads
Pizzeria Paradiso’s Old Town location, 124 King St., Alexandria, has added new salads for diners interested in non-pizza options.
The new offerings include a caprese salad and a smoked chicken salad, plus the piccolo panini prosciutto with prosciutto di parma, roasted eggplant and spicy garlic spread, and the piccolo panini bruschetta with marinated cherry tomatoes, red onion, ricotta and baby arugula.
The salads are $11 and the paninis are $8. The restaurant is also serving blackberry sage sangria, a fruity red wine with fresh blackberries, lemon and sage, and peach tarragon sangria, a white wine with ripe peaches, lemons and a hint of tarragon. Both are $9.
Mastro’s offers summer food and whiskey pairings
For those who enjoy an occasional warm weather adult beverage, warm weather doesn’t mean it has to be a “white” spirit like gin or vodka, or the stereotypical chilled rosé.
Mastro’s Steakhouse, 600 13th St. NW, features more 300 brown spirits. In the summer, the restaurant features exclusive whiskey flights with special food offerings for lovers of whiskeys and those interested in trying new and different varieties of this spirit from all over the world.
Flights include an ounce of each variety in a choice of Glen Moray: classic, chardonnay cask and port cask ($42); Isle of Islay: Ardbeg An Oa, Laphroaig Lore and Lagavulin distiller’s edition ($37); and Japanese: Kaiyō 7 Year; Hibiki Harmony and Fukano sherry cask ($33).
The whiskey bar at Mastro’s also serves exclusive bites designed to pair well with this brown spirit including Nueske’s BLT trio with steak bacon, heirloom tomato, arugula, and bourbon mayonnaise ($17); blackened sea scallops with smashed peas and bacon dust ($22), and Asian-inspired Wagyu beef sliders with Asian slaw, pickled ginger and soy sauce.
Rasika Penn Quarter showcases flavors of southern India
Today through Saturday, Rasika Penn Quarter, 633 D St. NW, will offere a special dakshini menu (southern in Sanskrit) featuring flavors of south India during dinner service.
The dakshini menu is a four-course tasting menu featuring vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes typically found in India’s five southern states. South Indian dishes are based around rice, lentils and stew. The region is famous for a wide range of spicy foods with each state differing from the others, predominantly from the spiciness of food, its different varieties and method of cooking.
The menu will feature a modern expression of the region’s traditional dishes such as bezule, dosas and kozhambu. The four-course non-vegetarian menu is priced at $65 per person and the vegetarian menu is $60 per person.
The non-vegetarian dinner includee an amuse of asparagus bezule with green chilies, mustard seeds and lemon juice, and lemon rasam with lentils and Meyer lemon. The first course is Dover sole pollichattu with onions, black pepper, curry leaves and upma, followed by the second course of ghee roast goat dosa with caramelized onions, fennel, spicy tomato chutney. The entrée is shrimp kozhambu with tomato, chili and tamarind; lamb stew with coconut milk, cinnamon, black pepper and cloves; kori sukka with chicken and ground spices; tomato pappu with lentils, garlic and mustard seeds; and carrot bean poriyal with ginger, green chilies and fresh coconut served with appam, malabari paratha and lemon rice. Dessert is black rice payasam, paniyaram, jackfruit ice cream and coconut jaggery pudding.
The vegetarian menu includes asparagus bezule and lemon rasam. The first course is yam and plantain tikki with black pepper, vermicelli and ginger chutney, followed by ghee roast eggplant dosa with caramelized onions, fennel and spicy tomato chutney. The main dish is vegetable stew with coconut milk, cinnamon, black pepper and cloves; paalkati pattani korma with cottage cheese, green peas and cashews; vendakkai manga with okra, yogurt and mango; tomato pappu and carrot bean poriyal served with appam, malabari paratha and lemon rice. Dessert is the same as the non-vegetarian menu.
Hay-Adams’ author series features Barbara Kingsolver
On Friday, Aug. 30, the Hay-Adams, 800 16th St. NW, will host its next author series luncheon from noon-2 p.m. with New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver to discuss her latest work, Unsheltered.
The ongoing author series includes food, drink and conversation in the Hay-Adams Room. Tickets are $90 per person, which includes a three-course, prix fixe lunch with wine pairings: The menu will be themed around the book
Kingsolver has won many awards including the National Humanities Medal, the country’s highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Orange Prize and multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association.
Unsheltered interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval. It is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, N.J., navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, the characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.
Kingsolver was born and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985. She has two daughters. Her husband teaches environmental studies. At various times in her adult life, she has lived in England, France and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico and South America. Kingsolver spent two decades in Tucson, Ariz., before moving to southwestern Virginia. She currently resides on a farm in southern Appalachia, where she and her family raise an extensive vegetable garden and Icelandic sheep.
Kramerbooks will be selling copies of Unsheltered, which published Oct. 16, as well as other books by the author. Kingsolver will be available to sign and personalize books after the luncheon.
Tickets must be purchased by Aug. 23 and will not be available at the door.
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.