On Tap: New Notable No Longer: July 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: June 1
Lowdown: While going to college in Boca Raton, Andy Seligman got hooked on the sandwiches at V&S Italian Deli. So he and his partner in A&B Hospitality, Brian Vasile, decided to team up with the V&S owners, Vinny and Sal Falcone, to bring the concept to Shaw. Capo Deli is modeled after the Falcones’ deli, including the most important detail: the bread. Sal flew his deli’s signature Italian bread, still warm, from Florida to Lyon Bakery so they could replicate the recipe. It makes all the difference in the sandwiches, which are artfully stacked with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, sliced to order. The Capo Special, with sopressata, mortadella and provolone, was a winner in my book. The deli cases display a medley of pastas and antipasto, and behind the counter, there’s a selection of imported Italian products for sale, from biscotti to olive oil. If you know the right people, you might be able to get in to the invite-only BackRoom bar. 715 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.capodc.com
Open: June 5
Location: H Street
Lowdown: You’d be hard-pressed to find people who are as passionate about poultry preparation as Dan Koslow and Andrew Harris. While working in New York, the pair ate a lot of not-so-great chicken from fast casual restaurants and figured there had to be a better way. Koslow went down the poultry rabbit hole when he brought a massive commercial oven into his 400-square-foot apartment. The high humidity cooking contraption turned his bedroom into a sauna, but the end result was a perfectly moist, flavorful piece of chicken. That chicken is the star of Farmbird, a fast-casual joint with a laser focus. The meat comes from Bell & Evans and Coleman Natural, farms that humanely raise birds on vegetarian feed with access to the outdoors, and never give antibiotics (this is a step up from “antibiotic-free”). The plates, salads and sandwiches feature chicken that is brined, roasted, and seared for optimal flavor and moisture. Signature sauces include avocado basil, barbecue ranch and spicy roasted Fresno, which was my favorite. 625 H St. NE, DC; www.farmbird.com
Five to One
Open: June 2
Location: U Street
Lowdown: Cocktail authority Trevor Frye has made his first foray into bar ownership with Five to One, an homage to the 9:30 Club. He says this concept has been brewing for a while, but he was waiting for the perfect location. “I grew up attending shows at the 9:30 Club, and when the building became available, it felt like all the stars aligned,” he says. Named after The Doors’ song, the bar has a music-inspired menu with the cocktails broken into categories: Originals (house creations), Covers (drinks from bartenders around the country), Throwbacks (classics) and Freestyles (staff choices). The offerings change regularly to match the artists playing at the neighboring concert venue. It’s not just about cocktails though – Frye says he wanted to give equal attention to beer, wine and spirit offerings. There will also be small bites available, like jerky, pickled vegetables, olives and kolaches. 903 U St. NW, DC; www.fivetoonedc.com
Location: Old Town Alexandria
Lowdown: Chef Cathal Armstrong and Eat Good Food Group are expanding their Alexandria empire with a waterfront restaurant within the Hotel Indigo. Hummingbird’s crown jewel is the spacious outdoor patio benefitting from a gentle breeze off the Potomac River. Inside, the bar and dining room have a subtle coastal theme, with navy and white splashes on the furniture and walls, as well as copper weathervanes adorned with the namesake bird. Soon to open to the public, the kitchen will serve a bounty of seafood, from Chesapeake blue crabs to Dublin Bay prawns. Also expect cherished summer traditions like clambakes, crab boils, fish fries and oyster roasts. I’m definitely planning to spend more than a few afternoons on the patio with Todd Thrasher’s sparkling slushies and the daily fish special. 220 South Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.hummingbirdva.net
The Salt Line
Open: June 1
Location: Capitol Riverfront
Lowdown: Situated a stone’s throw from Nationals Park with a front row view of the Anacostia River, The Salt Line is a veritable people magnet. The New England-style oyster and ale house is the latest from Chef Kyle Bailey and Long Shot Hospitality. The menu has all the expected seafood classics like lobster rolls, clam chowder, Johnny cakes and clam stuffies, but there are a few breaks from tradition, like a Nashville hot chicken soft shell crab and seafood charcuterie. The stocked raw bar also features out-of-the-box oyster shooters. Turf is not outshined by surf – I found the Boston roast beef sandwich to be the most crave-worthy offering. Bailey is dedicated to sustainability in the kitchen, so he’s become the area’s founding member of Dock to Dish, which connects fishermen and chefs in a supply-driven sourcing system that often highlights underutilized fish. The nautical motif runs through the dining room, and outside there’s a sprawling patio with a dedicated bar. 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC; www.thesaltline.com“
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Featured photo by Greg Powers.