On Tap Magazine: New & Notable: December 2019
“On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.
Amity & Commerce
Open: November 1
Location: Southwest Waterfront
Lowdown: Just across the bridge from the Jefferson Memorial, the Mandarin Oriental’s new restaurant pays homage to the country’s first Ambassador to France and the only Minister Plenipotentiary for Negotiating Treaties of Amity and Commerce. It’s named after the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the U.S. and France, and invites diners to break bread in the name of friendship and business. The menu follows suit, with bistro fare influenced by both French and American culinary traditions. Chef de Cuisine Justin Houghtaling struck a balance between the two, crafting dishes like duck liver parfait, caramelized shallot and onion soup, and steak frites along with cocktail shrimp, pan-roasted Amish chicken and a burger. There’s also a selection of chops from the grill, as well as elaborate rotating plats du jour such as braised veal cheeks and marrow jus with ricotta agnolotti, sherry-braised salsify and salsify chips. Executive Pastry Chef Claus Olsen prepares artful and intricate desserts masquerading as fruits and vegetables. The high-ceiling dining room has an open kitchen and a long, wood-topped bar. In the warmer months, the outdoor patio offers additional seating. 1330 Maryland Ave. SW, DC; www.mandarinoriental.com/washington/national-mall/luxury-hotel
Open: November 16
Lowdown: For his latest restaurant project, restaurateur Hakan Ilhan is bringing back classic. Liberté embodies the French brasserie with traditional fare in a chic yet warm setting. Formerly the den-like Morton’s The Steakhouse, the space has been completely transformed with higher ceilings, modern architectural touches, and vibrant colors, patterns and textures. One booth in the back is sure to be the most requested table in the house: it’s in an ornate alcove reminiscent of a Fabergé egg. Executive Chef Jaryd Hearn – a young Alinea alum – has built a menu that delivers everything you might crave at a brasserie, starting with a hearty French onion soup or buttery escargot followed by duck confit, boeuf Bourguignon (as well as a vegan mushroom option) and steak frites. The superbly seasoned crispy frites are the product of 77 attempts at perfecting the dish. Desserts also hit all the expected notes, with profiteroles, opera cake, Paris-Brest and crème brulée. Much of the wine list is from France, and the cocktail program also goes back to basics with variations of archetypal drinks like the Old Fashioned and French 75. Bartender Zachary Faden is serving two of his creations that won top honors at Tales of the Cocktail, including the world’s best martini. 3251 Prospect St. NW, DC; www.libertedc.com
Open: November 1
Lowdown: Co-owners chef Colin McClimans and general manager Danilo Simic want you to feel like family at Nina May. They named the farm-to-table restaurant after each of their daughters and the space is old-fashioned and homey, with whitewashed clapboard siding on the interior walls and wooden bench seating like you might find on a boardwalk. The menu is intended for family-style dining, offering large and small shared plates. These dishes, which rotate often based on seasonal availability, are made with ingredients sourced within 150 miles of the city. You can order à la carte or opt for the “Chef’s Choice,” allowing the kitchen to select a variety of dishes for you to enjoy. Early fan favorites include sautéed green beans with cardoons, heirloom carrot and brown butter cavatelli, lemon and thyme roasted Pennsylvania chicken, and a playful pasta dish called green eggs and ham. The cocktail menu is organized by flavor profile, from rich and powerful to bright and crisp. In addition to brunch and dinner service, the first floor will open as a casual counter-service café in the mornings starting in mid-December serving pastries, coffee, light breakfast and lunch. 1337 11th St. NW, DC; www.ninamaydc.com
Open: October 24
Lowdown: No matter the time of day, you can stop by The Renegade. It starts early as a coffee shop, and then the kitchen opens for lunch and dinner. In the evenings, there’s live music (no cover) and the bar stays open until 2 a.m., with a late-night menu available on the weekends. Chef and owner Patrick Crump describes it as an amoeba, ready to adapt for any use. In designing the 5,500-square-foot space, he wanted to ensure that it would serve all of these purposes. There’s high-top seating throughout to encourage mingling; the walls and drink rails are lined with outlets for the remote working crowd; and the large stage is centrally located for optimal viewing. In addition to his culinary resume, which includes a stint at the Inn at Little Washington and a long tenure at Clarendon Ballroom, Crump is also quite handy. He welded the bar himself and personally handled many of the equipment repairs when renovating the kitchen. The menu reflects Crump’s personal preferences, which involves food that comes from the world’s equatorial regions. Within the categories of “goops and scoops,” “grips and stix” and bowls, there are dishes with punchy flavors and wide-ranging influences like spicy red curried collard greens, cinnamon and black pepper lamb lollipops over green rice, and shawarma-spiced chicken in a pita. 3100 Clarendon Blvd. Clarendon, VA; www.renegadeva.com“
Featured photo courtesy of Amity & Commerce.