Insatiable – November 2017

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A vintage bicycle from Tour de France hovers over Le Diplomate's lively bar. Photo: Celeste McCall
Le Diplomate’s lovely setting transports us back to Paris. Photo: Celeste McCall

OMG! Were we back in Paris? Having spent part of our summer vacation in the City of Light, we thought we had been teleported back to a Parisian brasserie. Instead, we were savoring brunch/lunch at Le Diplomate, the Logan Circle Gallic charmer.

Although Le Diplomate has been around for four years, a recent Sunday was “fully booked” – all 260 seats. We were lucky to snag two stools at the convivial, zinc-topped bar. A brainchild of Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr, “Le Dip” counts Michelle Obama and other notables among its myriad fans.

Gazing at Le Diplomate’s traditional white floor tiles, brass accents, charming “plein air” (outdoor) seating, and marble restroom fixtures, we felt transported. A vintage bicycle from the 1903 Tour de France hovered over the bar. We were tempted to fill up on the divine bread (baked on the premises, naturellement) but restrained ourselves (somewhat) as we sipped a lovely rose de Provence and Trimbach (Alsace) pinot gris. We chatted with a fellow customer, a bartender from another hotspot, Mirabelle, who was sampling Le Diplomate’s myriad cocktails.

We were glad the extensive brunch menu offers far more than eggs, eggs, eggs. However, I opted for quiche Florentine, a generous, fluffy wedge replete with fresh spinach and assertive gouda. The crust tasted richly of butter. The quiche arrived with a crisp, lightly dressed green salad. A compatible side dish was an order of crisp, Applewood-smoked Nueske’s bacon.

Heading the extensive fruits de mer listing is a chilled half lobster for $19, briny Belon oysters, moules frites (mussels with fries), Alaska crab legs (not exactly French, we realize). A hearty entree is beef bourguignon, another French staple. A warming meal in itself is the crock of French onion soup gratinee – rich broth laced with onions and crusty bread and crowned with wonderfully gooey cheese.

Lunch for two with a drink apiece came to $65.45, before tip. Service, rendered by our frazzled but amiable bartender, was excellent. Open nightly and for weekend brunch, Le Diplomate is located at 1601 14th St. NW, between Q and R. Reservations are almost a must, unless you luck out like we did and score a spot at the bar or on the patio. Call 202-332-3333 or visit www.lediplomatedc.com.

Not THAT Georgia
No, you won’t find shrimp-and-grits or barbecue, but how about walnut-sauced chicken and cheese-stuffed bread? To be located near Shaw/Mount Vernon Triangle, Supra (“feast”) will showcase the cooking of Georgia (the Eurasian nation, not the US state). The 4,600 square-foot Supra reportedly will be the District’s first Georgian restaurant. But we seem to remember a short-lived Georgian eatery in Adams Morgan years ago. Mari Vanna on Connecticut Avenue NW also serves the exotic yet homespun cuisine.

Due to arrive sometime this fall (Peter is already excited), Supra will be located at 1201 11th St. NW. Proprietors are Jonathan and Laura Nelms; presiding over the kitchen is Malkhaz Maisashvil, former executive chef at the Embassy of Georgia.

As a teenager, Jonathan Nelms befriended a Soviet Georgia exchange student and later spent a year in the Soviet Union, sponsored by the American Field Service. He eventually traveled throughout central Asia and other former republics including Georgia. He was hooked and eventually took his family there.

Chef Maisashvil’s menu – sort of a cross between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean – will encompass khacha puri (cheese-stuffed breads), khinkali (dumplings), satsvivi (garlic/walnut-sauced chicken), chesnok (vegetable pate). A floor-to-ceiling glass wall will be devoted to Georgian wines, which some eonophiles consider the best on the planet. Alongside sculptures and artifacts, a collage will depict Eurasian horsemen from a century ago. The custom piece, created by an artist friend based in Moscow, will be constructed of tiny pieces of cut-out Georgian newspapers, books, and magazines. 

More Wine Will Flow
As we mentioned briefly last month, City Winery is coming right here to Ivy City. Due to arrive early next year, the winery will encompass a 175-seat restaurant and 320-seat concert space. (City Winery joins another winey newcomer: District Winery in the Capitol Riverfront’s Yards.)

Ivy City’s outpost will be City Winery’s sixth location; the flagship is in New York City, where City Winery was born a decade ago. Sister wineries are in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, and Boston. Most grapes will come from vineyards in California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys, City Winery’s long-standing partners.

“I have had my eye on DC since 2013, following our successful opening in Chicago,” said founder Michael Dorf. “Ivy City has the same energy and is teeming with potential … it’s shaping up to be a perfect location to complement the outstanding beer, spirits, coffee, and makers [located] nearby.”

Diners (and concertgoers) will be able to select from more than 400 wines, plus housemade selections flowing on tap. The kitchen will create locally sourced dishes with Mediterranean influences. The rooftop will provide sweeping views of Washington, including the US Capitol. On the ground level, the working winery will be separated from the performance space by glass walls, allowing customers to watch the action.

City Winery will also offer its signature VinoFile memberships for individuals interested in joining the winemaking process. Members will help select grapes, participate in the crushing (not stomping), aging, blending, bottling, and labeling.

City Winery Washington DC will be located at 1350 Okie St. NE. For more information visit www.citywinery.com/washingtondc.

Art of the Drink
Here’s something fun for art lovers who like to try new things. Inspired by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s current exhibit, “What Absence Is Made Of,” an artsy cocktail menu has been unveiled at the Columbia Room, the popular Shaw “drinking den.”

Offered in three and five courses, each dish and drink reflects art. A concoction brewed in a weighted coffee siphon recalls German artist Hans Haacke’s “condensation cube,” playing on the ideas of absence, nostalgia, and change. “Close to Nothing” is composed of rum, cachaca, white vermouth, squash, maple, lemon, balsam, and milk.

“The exhibition contains many intriguing ideas and challenged us in putting together a thematic menu,” said Columbia Room beverage director JP Fetherston. Last summer, Columbia Room took home the coveted title Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2017 Spirited Awards during Tales of the Cocktail.

Paired with appropriate victuals, the artsy potables will be poured until early next year. Closed Sunday and Monday, Columbia Room is located at 1224 Ninth St. NW. Call 202-316-9396 or visit www.columbiaroom.com.