On Tap: New Notable No Longer: May 2017
“On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town, the top culinary news of the month, and recent closings. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new, notable and no longer in the DC area.
Open: March 20
Lowdown: The team behind the Balkan-inspired Ambar restaurants has opened a chic café-bar hybrid in the basement of their Clarendon location. Baba, which is Serbian for grandmother, begins each morning as a spot for early risers to fuel up on coffee, pastries and oatmeal bowls. As the day goes on, it transitions to lunch fare with seasonal veggie bowls and sandwiches, and then to a dimly lit cocktail den with Balkan small plates, which turns into a lounge with a DJ and colorful lights as the night continues. This is one hip, versatile grandmother. The welcoming hospitality that Ivan Iricanin’s concepts are known for carries over to this dynamic space, with servers eager to share their favorite rakia flavor or a story from their childhood in Eastern Europe. Fitting, since the bar aims to evoke the nostalgia and comfort of visiting grandma. Baba: 2901 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.baba.bar
Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.
Open: April 15
Lowdown: This growing local biscuit company traded in their Union Market stall for a brick-and-mortar drive-thru location. They’ve renovated a former fast food spot and turned it into a space reminiscent of an old-fashioned diner or ice cream parlor, with vintage furniture and a retro color scheme. The family-friendly joint seats 32, so patrons can choose to grab their meals to go at the drive-thru window or order inside at the counter and linger. Chef and owner Jason Gehring has expanded the menu to include biscuit sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, as well as fried chicken by the box or bucket. They’ve also launched an ice cream program in partnership with Milk Cult. The offerings include ice cream by the scoop, ice cream sandwiches and hand-spun “Cultshakes.” The entire menu breaks the fast food mold by eschewing preservatives and hormones in favor of fresh, local ingredients. Mason Dixie: 2301 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.masondixiebiscuits.com
Open: April 6
Location: Penn Quarter
Lowdown: Poke is approaching peak popularity in DC, and restaurateur Kerry Chao is feeding the frenzy. Poké Papa follows the fast-casual model, with customizable poke bowls as well as signature combinations. Chao’s menu offers authentic, raw Hawaiian options, like a simple ahi tuna, along with more diverse cooked proteins like Thai-style minced chicken. Diners can choose how many scoops of protein they’d like on their bowl. The counter is stocked with fresh, high-quality fish and proteins, plus a rainbow of toppings, ranging from traditional (seaweed salad, edamame, pickled ginger) to unconventional (pineapple, watermelon radish, spicy Thai fish sauce). Located in the heart of Penn Quarter, the space is already bustling during the lunch hour as office workers line up for fresh, flavorful poke bowls. Poké Papa: 806 H St. NW, DC; www.pokepapa.com
Open: April 4
Location: H Street
Lowdown: After cooking in kitchens around the world, two native Swiss hospitality pros decided it was time to bring a taste of their home to the District. Swiss cuisine, much like the country itself, is a melting pot of flavors from France, Germany, Austria and Italy. Chef David Fritsche’s menu reflects this diversity, with a blend of bona fide Swiss dishes, like Zürich-style veal, and dishes found across Europe, like vol-au-vent and spätzle. Of course, the iconic raclette is offered year-round (for parties of four to 12, with a reservation). The space is also an amalgam, as industrial accents from exposed brick and corrugated metal are juxtaposed with marks of a chalet or farmhouse in Switzerland, including reclaimed tin from a barn and Swiss military blankets as upholstery. Silvan Kraemer, the general manager, is the mind behind the beverage program, which features Swiss schnapps, European wines and cocktails inspired by Switzerland using local spirits. Stable: 1324 H St. NE, DC; www.stabledc.com“
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