Friday, December 31, 2010

WP Weekend: New Trends touts Toki Underground

Today's Weekend section features H Street's own Erik Yang on the cover, with his coming soon Toki Undergroud as the highlight of the Food trends section.  The story by Lavanya Ramanathan and Fritz Hahn touts the "New York-ification" and growing diversity of the DC dining scene, noting that DC residents "have an insatiable appetitete for all of it, as long as it is new, as long as it is novel."  They go on to discuss Yang's time in Taiwan getting ready to open Toki Underground in February.  The full piece is worth a read, but here are the main details they offer on this long coming venue.  
hopes to fill its 30 seats with diners hankering for just two dishes: ramen and dumplings. (The small kitchen will crank out five kinds of each, including hakata-style ramen swimming in a pork broth reduced for 28 hours and a mushroom-based veggie noodle bowl.)
"Toki Underground for me is Taipei in one 700-square-foot space," explains Erik Yang, the chef and the face of Toki. But it's obviously D.C., too: One wall, behind the bar, is covered with graffiti by a local artist, while vintage skateboards hang like shingles on another.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sticky Rice closed for weekend, Smith Commons opens

Sticky Rice is closed tonight and this weekend.  More details to come, but do not plan on spending your NYE at Sticky Rice. 

There are lots of great events happening tomorrow at other H Street spots, including Liberty Tree, Atlas Room, Little Miss Whiskey's, Red Palace, and Granville Moore's and more, along with the greatly-anticipated opening of Smith Commons.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Link roundup

UrbanDaddy takes a quick peek at Toki Underground -- the ramen and dumplings spot long slated to open above the Pug (1234 H St).  Toki Underground should be one of a handful of big openings on H Street in the coming month along with Smith Commons (1245 H St), Church and State (1236 H St), and the grand full reopening of the Argonaut (1433 H St).

THIH's Nichole Remmert has the scoop on Church and State (1236 H St) opening above Fruit Bat and bringing a new cocktail concept to H Street soon.

THIH also rounds up all the NYE happenings on the Hill with lots of great options on H Street.

DCMud has this 2010 development roundup stating that "H Street swelters" noting in particular the Rappaport redevelopment of the H Street Connection, the Clark Realty breaking ground on its mixed use building at the eastern end, and the official announcement that Giant will break ground at 4th & H St this spring.

UrbanDaddy has this piece that the opening of Biergarten Haus (1355 H St) was one of the 7 top important happenings in DC last year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Link roundup

Young and Hungry is looking forward to Smith Commons (1245 H St), which wont open tonight, but hopes to open within days.  Urban Daddy and Thrillist have short pieces as well.  The Urban Daddy piece has some great photos from the second floor.  Nice work on the renovation and decor, guys!

Greater Greater Washington reports on bike lanes and/or bike boulevards for the H Street Corridor, possibly along G and I Sts.
DCTheatreScene recommends Black Nativity at the H Street Playhouse (1365 H St).  The show runs through January 2.

Frozen Tropics has begun rounding up New Year's Eve options on H St.  H Street Country Club (1335 H St) has a dinner date plan for two, while the Red Palace (1212 H St) a Variety Blowout Bash planned.  Little Miss Whiskeys (1104 H St) and Jimmy Valentine's (1103 Bladensburg Rd) have fun plans as well with "Double Whammy 2010" a night hosted by One Love Massive and 5 great DJs lined up.  They'll also provide patrons with shuttle service to Union Station at the end of the night.
Rock and Roll Hotel’s (1353 H St) has A Rattler New Year's Eve with Rattler, Villains DJ Crew and more. Tickets are $25 general admission, $50 for open bar.

Tim Carman, now of the Washington Post, has this response to a recent NYT article about so-called 'junk food' (really comfort food) on Capitol Hill and H Street.  Carman's thoughtful critique follows the same path as a recenty reply post on THIH and includes this impassioned defense of some outstanding new restaurants in the neighborhood, which do far more than offer quality comfort food.  Carman cites Ethiopic and the Atlas Room in noting how the Times failed to tell the story of:

how a husband and wife are dragging Ethiopian cuisine (disgusting finger food!) into the arena of modern American dining. (Tom Sietsema: "If you think all Ethiopian restaurants are cut from the same cloth, you have yet to visit Ethiopic" in the Atlas District.) No one needs to know that Ba Bay on Pennsylvania Avenue SE has hired a fine-dining chef to put a modern twist on Vietnamese cooking, complete with themed craft cocktails. And no one can stand another word about that Florentine import, Acqua al 2, let alone another sentence about those two accomplished toques who just launched the daringly original Atlas Room on H Street NE where the chefs have cast aside the concept of a standard appetizer-entree menu.

Monday, December 20, 2010

X9 Express Bus serve begins running along H Street

Starting today, a new limited-stop express bus route will operate between Capitol Heights Metrorail Station and Metro Center (New York Avenue & 12th Street NW) -- running along the  H Street corridor, through Chinatown, and into downtown along H Street NW.  Service will operate in both directions at a frequency of every 15 minutes. Westbound trips will leave Capitol Heights between 6:15 and 9:00 a.m. and between 3:43 and 6:19 p.m. Eastbound trips will leave New York Avenue & 12th Street between 6:30 and 8:50 a.m. and between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Westbound buses from H Street will run with stops on H Street at 14th St and 8th St NE to into NW Washington with stops at Chinatown and 13th Street NW before turning around.

This should be welcome news for H Street commuters and hopefully the hours will be expanded, particularly later into the evening, before long. 

Eastbound buses will begin at south side of the 1200 block of New York Avenue NW to H Street NW with stops at 7th St NW, North Capitol Street, 8th St NE, and 14th St NE, before continuing down Benning Road, to Minnesota Avenue, and out to the Capitol Heights Station.

Westbound and eastbound buses will serve only the following stops: Minnesota Ave Station, Minnesota Avenue & Benning Road NE, two stops on Benning Road NE at 19th Street and at 16th Street (westbound)/15th Street (eastbound), two stops on H Street NE at 14th Street and at 8th Street, four westbound and three eastbound stops on H Street NW at North Capitol Street, 7th Street, 11 th and 13th Streets (westbound) and 9th Street (eastbound), and at New York Avenue & 12th Street NW.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Church & State (1236 H St, 2nd Fl) opening in January

When Erik Holzherr took over 1236 H Street, he planned to open Fruit Bat on the first floor and said he hoped to open something special on the second floor this winter.  True to his word, Holzherr is nearly ready to open Church & State on the second floor at 1236 H St.  This speakeasy-style cocktail emporium is what Holzherr has previously dubed "his baby" and should be a very exciting addition to H Street's burgeoning cocktail scene.  Although, Church and State wont open until next month, the space will be open as part of Fruit Bat's New Year's Eve festivities in two weeks. 


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Link roundup

Tasting Table checks out the new brunch at Granville Moore's (1238 H St).  It sounds great. 

DCTheatreScene recommended Swingtime at the Atlas (1333 H St).  That shows run has ended, but Black Nativity is still playing at the H Street Playhouse (1365 H St) and is also getting great reviews.  It runs through January 2. 

The New York Times finds a number of good comfort food options on Capitol Hill, including Liberty Tree's (1016 H St) "Pigs in a Blanket" featuring linguica, macaroni and cheese (recently served as a special with lobster), and fried brussels sprouts.

The Washington Post has this piece on Tacos Impala (1204 H St).  The Post likes the tacos and recommends that you add the homemade rojo salsa.  Tacos Impala opens for lunch daily and is open late on the weekends. 

We reported that Smith Commons (1245 H St) opens December 21, the Argonaut (1433 H St) fully reopens January 15, Kitchen on K Street (3rd & K Sts) is opening in the spring courtesy of Chef Gillian Clark, and Angelico Pizza is coming to 1421 H St.  With the Washington Post's nice first bite review for the Atlas Room (1015 H St), and the news that streetcars on H Street in 2012 is moving ahead with full DC Council support, it was truly a great week for H Street.

Living Social is running half off at Sticky Rice (1224 H St) today.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Angelico H Pizza & Tapas (1421 H St)

Angelico's Pizzeria was slated to open at 1387 H Street until the concept for that location went a little less pizza delivery and a little more sit down restaurant/cafe and the name became Desperados and later Home Slice, which is the current plan.  Construction work is ongoing at that site. 

Now comes news that the team behind that concept plans to bring an Angelico H Pizza to 1421 H Street, NE.  Deniz Eroglu and Mustafa Misirci -- business partners of Musa Ulusan -- have filed an application for a liquor license for this location.  The application describes the business as a "new restaurant with pizza, appetizers, salads, and sandwiches" with seating for 48 and patio seating for an additional 16.  The partners are scheduled to present their plans to the ANC6A Alcohol and Beverage Licensing Committee next week.   

Drink for a cause at the Pug tonight, tomorrow, and next Friday

Via Frozen Tropics, the Pug (1234 H St) will donate 10% of their sales tonight and tomorrow to local school, Watkins Elementary School (420 12th St SE) and next Friday, December 17, 10% goes to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which supports injured veterans as they return home.  Stop by the Pug this weekend or next to support these good causes.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kitchen on K Street from Chef Gillian Clark coming to 3rd & K St NE

A great food week for the H Street Corridor continues with this news that Chef Gillian Clark is going to open a restaurant this spring at 3rd and K St NE (inside the Loree Grand Building at 250 K St NE).  Chef Clark is a bit of a legend from the since-closed Colorado Kitchen and especially well-known for her fried chicken, biscuits, roast chicken, pork chops, shrimp and grits, and donuts.  Her brunches, in particular, were the stuff of legends on the Colordo Kitchen thread over on, so this is another very good bit of restaurant news for the neighborhood.  Kitchen on K Street will be open for three meals a day.

The full NoMa BID press release follows:

Smith Commons (1245 H St) Opening December 21

Smith Commons (1245 H St) is set to open on Tuesday, December 21.  They will be open daily at 5 p.m., closed Mondays.  They will do a "Smith Hour" happy hour weekdays from 5 - 7 p.m. with a selection of beer, wine, cocktails, and small plates for $5 each.  It's going to be an exciting and busy winter on H Street.  Congratulations to the Smith Commons team who have been hard at work putting together a great menu, beer, wine, and cocktail list to go with their fully renovated historic building! 

The full press release follows after the break.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Argonaut Grand (full) Reopening: January 15

The Argonaut announced they will officially reopen their full dining room area on Friday, January 15.  Congratulations to all the great folks behind the Argo! 

Check out some photos of they've posted on their website of the great restoration and other work they've done as they rebuild.  We can't wait to see the finished product and see it fully open soon.     
Expanded patio with new paint job on building
New patio features indoor/outdoor bar via those windows

New indoor/outdoor bar is a boat and is alongside the Maryland Ave side of the property in the old main dining room.  It's built from salvaged wood from the old dining room floor.

The Argonaut remains open with a limited food menu and full bar offerings in the interim. 

Streetcars update

The DC Council Transporation Committee unanimously approved two bills last week to advance streetcars on H Street.  First, it passed a bill to address overhead wires.  Second, it approved a resolution to authorize the use of the additional funds it set aside in the budget to fund the completion of the streetcar line along H Street, so that it can begin running in Spring 2012. 

Yesterday, the Council passed a budget without cutting funding for the program.  It also passed the overhead wires bill and the resolution approving the plan for the H Street line, so it appears that the final legislative hurdle may have been cleared.   

DDOT also released an RFP for the completion of the H Street/Benning Rd segment (power, maintenance facility, and bridge work) and announced that they will issue an RFP for two additional streetcars on December 22nd.   

Thanks to DDOT Director Gabe Klein, Streetcar Director Scott Kubly, Transportation Chair Jim Graham, and Ward Six Councilmember Tommy Wells and all the others who have worked to move this ahead.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WP's @tomsietsema @AtlasRoom (1015 H St) is "a chic addition to H St"

Tomorrow's Washington Post will have this favorable initial review from Food Critic Tom Sietsema.  Congratulations to the Atlas Room of which we are big fans too!  Some higlights of the First Bite review are below:

The dining possibilities on H Street NE now run to German, Ethiopian and Japanese plus gimmicks as offbeat as indoor miniature golf (on the second floor of H Street Country Club, which serves tacos, black bean soup and tres leches cake). Until recently, however, a diner looking for a sophisticated plate of food and serious cocktails under the same roof was more or less obliged to head to another neighborhood.

Then the Atlas Room crept on the scene last month, tempting customers with an intimate 30-seat dining room, a Sazerac that summons New Orleans and not one, but two chefs whose resumes add up to a pocketful of stars.


The Atlas Room is dressed with shimmering green curtains, handsome maps and a gently lit bar with a slate-stone veneer. The start of the fancification of bohemian H Street? "We're not trying to change the neighborhood, just give it another option," says Beard.

The chefs' menu is novel. Instead of grouping dishes by course, it lists food types. Under the heading "Pork," for instance, you'll find a flatbread arranged with shredded pork, another plate featuring pork loin, and a stew made with the meat. The dishes are priced at $9, $13 and $19, respectively (think snack, appetizer and entree).

The early hits include a meatless pot au feu chockablock with chickpeas, lentils and other beans, enlivened with a pesto made with the herb savory and crushed walnuts; juicy pan-roasted chicken with herbed gnocchi; and beef loin served with a fine mush of eggplant and yogurt and a rim dusted with toasted cumin and other zingers. That flatbread was underbaked yet nicely chewy, and it gained more flavor with a slather of butternut squash puree and glossy parsley. In all, the food makes me eager to return.

Link roundup

Tim Carman says goodbye from the City Paper as he moves to the Washington Post.  Carman's farewell piece tracks what's happened in Washington during his five years as host to the Young and Hungry column.  Carman highlights the developments on H Street noting "No strip has changed as much as this patch of Northeast. . . . These (and others yet to come) are turning the street into a dining destination. Imagine what the area will be like once the city completes that goddamn streetcar project."

Zagat and Ontaponline check out the Atlas Room (1015 H St).  Zagat says it "uplifts its namesake neighborhood’s dining scene with creative moderately priced New American eats" while On Tap says "It’s almost enough to make us consider a move."

DCUrbanTurf has a nice one bedroom condo just south of H Street (730 11th St NE) as its best new listing.

DCFoodies gets serious about beer with Granville Moore's (1238 H St) Matt LeBarron.

Eater announced they are coming to DC and put together a map of hotspots with help from Tom Sietsema and Metrocurean.  Ethopic (401 H St) is featured alongside some of DC's best restaurants.  Toyland (421 H St) and the Atlas Room (1015 H St) were also named as honorable mentions.  Sure sounds like Sietsema likes the Atlas Room almost as much as we do.

CNN highlights Dangerously Delicious Pies (1339 H St) as one of five tasty new pie shops in America. Remember you can get a discounted gift certificate to DDP via So What's the Deal this week.

The Washington Post Going Out Gurus have this on the fun plans at Star and Shamrock (1341 H St) to celebrate their jewish heritage this hannukah with a special running through Thursday night.  For $13.25 you can load up on a platter of latkes, matzoh ball soup and a house-roasted brisket sandwich.  They're also offering $1 off Hebrew brews.

The Washingtonian's Readers chose Taylor Gourmet (1116 H St) as DC's best sandwiches.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Water Ice Update: Rita's & Philly Water Ice are closed for the season, Taco Impala stands in for PWI at 1204 H St

Rita's Water Ice closed for the season last month.  They will reopen with the warmer weather this spring. 

Philadelphia Water Ice recently closed as well.  The owner reports that they will reopen in April.  In the interim, she has subleased the space to a taco shop operating under the name Taco Impala (1204 H St).  They also plan to continue to serve Philadelphia Water Ice's popular cheese steaks.  Frozen Tropics reports that this business opened earlier today.

Unfortunately, when the business closed its product melted and as the trash bags containing it were dragged to the corner of 12th & H and left a trail of melted water ice along the new sidewalk.  In other news, we hear it is increasingly likely that the wooden locker in front of the property that was deemed to be illegally on public space will be removed soon.

Early Impressions of The Atlas Room (1015 H St) @atlasroom

It is difficult to overstate how excited we were when the newest addition to H Street, the Atlas Room, officially opened their doors at 1015 H Street last month. Despite our lofty expectations, the Atlas Room has managed to exceed our high hopes and has positioned itself to become the finest dining experience on H Street.  You are likely to hear more about it from Washington Post Food Critic Tom Sietsema soon, but here are our early impressions, recommendations, and more.  In short, the Atlas Room is a fantastic addition to H Street, offering an ambitious menu, diverse wine list, and excellent craft cocktails.  It is already H Street's best restaurant and its opening continues a trend of nicer restaurants opening on H Street that was started when Souk, Liberty Tree, and Ethiopic last year and that continues with the upcoming openings of Smith Commons (1245 H St) and the new cocktail temple from Erik Holzherr above Fruit Bat (1238 H St). 

Atlas Room Chef-owner Matt Cordes (previously of Vidalia, 701, and Gerard's place) and Chef de Cuisine Bobby Beard (previously of Citronelle, Pesce, and Vermillion) crafted their menu to encompass flavors from around the globe while using local, seasonal ingredients.  The menu is designed a la carte to feature smaller “nosh” plates and larger entrĂ©e size portions.  The smaller plate serving sizes are relatively generous and diners tempted by the breath of the menu should not hesitate to make a meal out of a few small plates.  The seafood salad features calamari, bay scallops, and shrimp tossed in a light vinaigrette over a bed of plump Israeli couscous that left us wanting more.  The butternut squash flatbread and short rib pasta are other good small plate options.  The flatbread is satisfyingly salty-sweet with a delicious puree of squash topped with crispy shredded pork and creamy goat cheese.  The short rib is as tender as it is rich and is surrounded by a thick homemade pasta wrap.  If something fried catches the eye both the chicken and lamb fritters are cooked to perfection with crisp outer shells and creamy rich centers.  And while the field green salad with sherry vinaigrette may not sound as interesting as the other offerings, it proves just as delicious with a satisfying crunch from the crisp onions sprinkled throughout. 

The larger plates do not disappoint either and include enough variety and variation in preparation from night to night to keep even the most frequent visitors satisfied.  The Indian spiced beef loin is a star and is served with roasted cauliflower and a creamy, rich yogurt sauce.  The pan roasted chicken breast is perfectly juicy due to the brine preparation and served with root vegetables and gnocchi which would be beautiful even on their own.  The lamb duo of saddle and top round is another favorite.  Lastly, a perfectly prepared gratin is hard to beat, and Chef Cordes hits the mark with a sizzling oval dish of creamy yet firm layered root vegetables topped with Gruyere and bread crumbs.

The wine list is also H Street's best to date, and the program stems from a partnership with Tannic Tongue LLC, a local distributor that works with some of DC's best restaurants and offers an eclectic selection of smaller producer wines, which are not heavily distributed in our area.  From the by the glass selections, our favorites are the columbard (a lighter, dry white), the cabernet blend, and the Coyote Canyon Sangiovese from Washington State.  The Chinon Blanc is a bit off dry for most palates, unless you prefer sweeter wines. 

The cocktail program here is suprisingly strong and joins SOVA, Toyland and Fruit Bat as a go-to spot for a great craft cocktail.  The list comes from Chris Surrusco, who H Street fans will remember from Granville Moore's early days and others may recognize from his recent stint at Marvin.  Surrusco features a series of classic cocktails, including a great Cosa Nostra manhattan-like cocktail made with Capano Antico Formula vermouth.   Surruco makes many of his ingredients from scratch, including orgeat syrup and grenadine.  Atlas Room serves perfect cube ice cubes in all their drinks, which cocktail afficionados will appreciate as they melt more slowly and thus are less likely to dilute your drink.  That attention to detail is one of a number of ways Atlas Room sets itself apart of your typical neighborhood restaurant. 

Atlas Room is a good spot for pre or post-show eating and the dessert menu is small, but refined and enjoyable.  It's fills the need for a finer dining experience on H Street and is without a doubt the best special occassion spot on the stretch, but does so without pretention and is the kind of place you can drop by in jeans after work for a beer and fritters or after a night of drinking for a cocktail and dessert. 

The Atlas Room has plans to eventually offer a brunch menu. In the meantime, cozy up to the bar and enjoy all the Atlas Room has to offer the ever-expanding H Street corridor.  It's already a great addition to our developing dining scene. 

The Atlas Room
1015 H Street
Closed Mondays
Reservations not necessary, but are encouraged for large groups.

WTD: $19 for $35 to spend at Dangerously Delicious Pies (@DangerousPiesDC)

What's the Deal has a good deal on Dangerously Delicious Pies running currently.  For $19, you get a $35 certificate to spend on your favorite pies with 10% going to charity.  Stock up and stock up on some delicious pies for the holiday season.

Friday, December 3, 2010

WP: Fruit Bat has great cocktails and concept and good food too

Today's Washington Post has this nice review of Fruit Bat (1236 H St).  The Post also has this blog post on their vegetarian offerings and use of soy milk in some cocktails.  Fruit Bat recently added some new cocktails to their fall menu and they are working away on bringing a new concept to their second floor soon.

@CityGalleryDC (804 H St) opening Sat, 6-9 p.m.

City Gallery (804 H St) will show the work of Capitol Hill resident Wally Szyndler who passed away this summer. Wally’s award winning gourd sculptures will be on display. Proceeds from the sale will go to Art Enables, a studio and gallery for emerging artists with developmental and/or mental disabilities.

Courtesy of Phil Hutinet is the Editor-in-Chief of East City Art.

6th & 8th Sts to be closed south of H Street on Saturday for construction work

One-Day Closure Set for 6th and 8th Streets, NE 
Closures in Place for H Street Reconstruction Project  
(Washington, D.C.) The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will be closing 6th and 8th Streets, NE between H and G Streets on Saturday, December 4 for construction work. The 700 blocks of 6th and 8th Streets will be closed between 7:30 am and 4 pm, weather permitting, to accommodate concrete pours across the 6th and H Street intersection and the installation of streetcar tracks at the 8th and H Street intersection. 
Local access will be maintained on 6th and 8th Streets for residents only.  
3rd Street will remain open and may be used as an alternative for northbound 6th and 8th Streets. 10th Street will remain open and may be used as an alternative for southbound 8th Street. 
Temporary signs and traffic control measures will be in place to alert and guide the traveling public through this area. 

The Metrobus 90 and 92 lines will be detoured from their regular routes and stops in the 700 block of 8th Street. At the 8th Street intersection with G Street, northbound buses will be re-routed west on G Street to 3rd Street, north on 3rd to H Street, east on H Street to 8th Street, and north on 8th Street to resume their normal route. The northbound buses will make a stop at the northeast corner of  8th and H Streets, instead of at the regular bus stop on 8th Street just south of H Street. 

Southbound 90 and 92 buses will be detoured at K Street, where they will be re-routed to go east on K Street to 10th Street, south on 10th to G Street, and west on G to 8th Street where they will resume their normal route. During this period, the southbound buses will make a stop at the southwest corner of 10th and H Streets, instead of at their regular stop on 8th Street just south of H Street. 

The work is part of DDOT’s H Street Reconstruction Project. More information about the project is available on the DDOT website, under the Ward 6 Projects Link. You can also contact the project office at 202-388-3081. 


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Get in the holiday spirit @AtlasPACDC

Singtime! runs from tomorrow, December 3 - the end of next weekend, December 12.    The show features great songs, swing, and jazz from the fabulous 40s.  This weekend and next only.  Friday at 8, Saturday at 7, Sunday at 3 and again next weekend starting on Thursday night.  Showtime! is written and directed by Tom Mallan and part of the inseries.  Get your tickets here.

The Atlas is also home to a Holiday Market each of the next three weekends on Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to 8pm, featuring great local craftspeople, including:

Lanyapi Designs:
Scents by Sassee:
Beth’s Stuffed Animals:
Raine Studios:  Unique Handcrafted Jewelry:

 Check out this The Hill is Home post from Atlas Performing Arts Communications Director Jen Demayo for more details.