On Tap: New Notable No Longer: August 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.
Chicken + Whiskey
Open: June 20
Location: 14th Street
Lowdown: The name of this hybrid concept from Star Restaurant Group says it all: a fast-casual Peruvian chicken joint meets a craft whiskey bar. Upon entering the restaurant, there’s a counter where you can order pollo a la brasa and a host of sides, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Chef Enrique Limardo, recruited from critically acclaimed Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore, brines and then slow roasts the locally sourced whole chickens in Peruvian charcoal ovens. I devoured a platter of juicy dark meat, crispy yucca fries, seasoned black beans and bright guasacaca. Walk past the kitchen and you’ll see a silver refrigerator door that leads to the bar, which boasts more than 60 whiskies, including bottles from lesser-known American distilleries and underrepresented international destinations like India and Australia. Opt for a dram or a classic cocktail made with the spirit of your choice. Partners Kris Carr, Charles Koch, Desmond Reilly and Stuart Damon wanted the bar to feel like a true neighborhood spot with affordable prices and quality alcohol. Koch, an international DJ, has lent his personal vinyl collection to the bar and frequently invites DJ friends to man the booth. 1738 14th St. NW, DC; www.chickenandwhiskey.com
Open: July 7
Location: Barracks Row
Lowdown: Chefs Scott Drewno (formerly of The Source) and Danny Lee (of Mandu) have combined their areas of culinary expertise – Chinese and Korean cuisines, respectively – to create a fast-casual concept that’s serving some of the most innovative and delicious food in the city right now, but at a surprisingly affordable price tag. The pair, along with their third partner, Drew Kim (of Matchbox Food Group), wanted ChiKo to be a place where they could let their creative fantasies run free, and the result is dishes like chilled acorn noodles with kimchi, gochujang and egg, as well as Wagshal’s chopped brisket with a soy-brined egg, furikake butter and rice. They’ve also taken the idea of orange chicken into their own hands and created “orange-ish chicken,” crispy fried meat accompanied by a sauce that’s actually made with the namesake fruit. No reservations are needed to order a la carte, but I opted to sit at the chef’s counter, where Drewno and Lee serve nearly the entire menu for just $50. Drink choices are beer, soju, wines, build-your-own cocktails, and non-alcoholic sodas, teas and juices. 423 8th St. SE, DC; www.chikodc.com
Open: June 26
Lowdown: One of DC’s favorite sommeliers has struck out on his own with a wine bar unlike any other in the city. Brent Kroll recruited two young somm friends, Daniel Runnerstrom and Niki Lang, to be his partners in Maxwell, which is named after a park in Detroit that Kroll frequented during his childhood. The 1,050-square-foot spot has a playful vibe, with a chalkboard bar so guests can doodle or write notes about their wine. The wine list, however, is taken very seriously. The three somms all have equal say in making the 50 by-the-glass selections, which are divided into two categories: a monthly theme and a rotating list of the partners’ favorites. The intent of each theme is to help guests explore a certain category of wine. August’s is “How Big Is My Bubble?” and it’s all about non-champagne sparkling wines – perfect for the oppressive summer heat. On the menu itself, there’s one unexpected number alongside the prices. The bar’s refrigeration system has five distinct temperature zones to chill the wines, and the proper serving temperature is listed next to each glass. Kroll and his team are eager to please, so guests can always ask for a custom flight based on their preferences. In the future, winos can look forward to guided tasting classes by the Maxwell team. As for food, Maxwell will host different local chefs, like Lonnie Zoeller and Tony Conte, to create small plates for the menu. 1336 9th St. NW, DC; www.maxwelldcwine.com
Open: June 27
Lowdown: The crown jewel of Chef Yoshihisa Ota’s latest sushi spot is the omakase tasting menu, where diners let the chef steer the ship for the evening. The experience incorporates the familiar nigiri as well as more unusual styles of sushi. For a la carte dining, Ota encourages guests to order off the menu. During the grand opening celebration, I was in heaven as I made my way through Ota’s custom platters laden with dozens and dozens of rolls. Ota’s primary focus is sushi, since he has been practicing the art for over 30 years, but he is also a kikisake-shi, which translates to master of sake. This means there’s a top-notch selection of sake available. Guests may already be familiar with Ota’s sushi skills from his Bethesda restaurant, Yuzu Japanese Dining. 1420 New York Ave. NW, DC; www.gakyudc.com“
Featured photo by Farrah Skeiky.