Insatiable

January 2018

371
Flakey biscuits and other delights emerge from Tyber Creek's wood-burning oven.

During the holidays – actually Christmas Eve – Peter and I were seeking Sunday brunch in Bloomingdale. Most restaurants were closed, but fortunately we stumbled into Tyber Creek Wine Bar & Kitchen at the corner of First and T streets NW. Tyber’s warm and cozy ambience, replete with exposed bricks and old-fashioned floor tiles, provided a welcome respite from winter’s chill.

For brunch, a pair of plump chicken/apple sausages accompanies Tyber Creek’s
scrambled eggs.

Open since May 2017, Tyber Creek replaced a pizza place. The predecessor’s wood burning oven has been refitted, and emerging from the flames are flakey biscuits, assorted breads and other comestibles.

Enlivened with a hint of clam juice, Bloody Marys were garnished with cheese-stuffed olives, a hot pepper and celery stalk. Chicken Cubano – a poultry take on the usually pork Cuban sandwich with bacon and pickles – was escorted with yummy house-made chips. Scrambled eggs, which screamed for seasoning, came with two plump chicken/apple sausages, delicious home fries and a coconut-covered fruit salad. Brunch for two came to $50, before tip.

Tyber’s regular menu focuses on wood-fired entrees: roasted halibut, a half chicken and assorted veggies, including charred carrots. There’s also PEI mussels and braised lamb. Catching my eye was an offbeat appetizer: deviled duck egg. We’ll try that next time.

Located at 84 T St. NW, Tyber Creek is open nightly, Tuesday through Sunday, plus weekend brunch. Call 202-827-3664 or visit www.tybercreekdc.com.

Shaw Happenings
Things keep happening in Shaw, as the neighborhood welcomes Hazel Restaurant & Bar, the newest sibling of Neighborhood Restaurant Group. The company also operates Iron Gate at Dupont Circle and Bluejacket (Navy Yard). Chef Rob Rubba, formerly with Arlington’s Tallula, oversees the 38-seat newcomer designed by Catherine Hailey Design. A patio accommodates another 38.

The menu offers shared plates: koji-brined fried chicken, crispy chickpea tofu, steak tartare and “sticky crunchy” ribs. There’s a couple of “Lazy Susan” tasting menus. One is inspired by Peking-style duck; the other is centered around the chef’s favorite dishes.

Pastry chef Naomi Gallego creates offbeat desserts; think black sesame panna cotta. Beverage directors Brent Kroll and Peter Koll have come up with a beer and wine list with a “global slant.” Cocktails are “delicate” and “complex.”

Located at 808 V St. NW, Hazel is open daily for dinner plus weekend brunch. For more information call 202-847-4980 or visit www.hazelrestaurant.com.

Seylou Bakery & Mill – located in Shaw – uses only whole grains for its breads, pastries and other goodies.

Baking in Shaw
Just in time to wreck New Year’s diets, Seylou Bakery & Mill has debuted at 926 N St. NW. Founded by Jonathan Bethony and his wife Jessica Azeez, the yeasty newcomer uses only whole grains, milled right on the premises. The oven turns out whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies, muffins, croissants and all kinds of bread, including “horse” bread, reportedly named after fodder ancient Persians fed their horses.

Seylou means “eagle” in the Mandinka language of Senegal in West Africa, where Jonathan and Jessica received their culinary inspiration. Seylou Bakery is open Wednesday through Sunday; for more information visit www.seylou.com.

New Diner
In Mount Vernon Triangle, restaurateur David Deshaies’ long-anticipated Unconventional Diner has opened in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The menu creates “modern twists on traditional comfort foods” like crab linguine, steak-and-eggs, pork shoulder “ropa vieja,” meatloaf and (the late) Michel Richard’s short ribs. The cheery setting evokes sunny southern California. Unconventional Diner is divided into two sections: a casual, 50-seat cafe/pastry shop and a 100-seat, full-service dining room for dinner only.

Open daily, Unconventional Diner is at 1207 Ninth St. NW; call 202-847-0122 or visit www.unconventionaldiner.com.

New on Ninth
The team behind Shaw beer garden Takoda is taking over the recently shuttered watering hole, 1905. Come spring, the 2,400-square-foot space will become Cortez, complete with a rooftop tequila bar, fish tacos and other Baja-inspired accents. Located at 1905 Ninth St. NW, the future bar is named after the Sea of Cortez off the Baja California peninsula.

Business Partners Ryan Seelbach and Jeff Sunderland plan a “playful and eclectic” experience at their enterprise. Exposed brick on the first floor of the two-story, ca. 1922 structure will get a white paint job, and colorful murals will be splashed throughout the azure-hued interior. Cacti will be scattered about, with funky furniture and glassware and festive fabric-covered cushions.

Cortez’s dining area will seat 40 and the rooftop bar will fit another 40. Three dozen kinds of tequilas, rums and Latin American beers will flow. The kitchen plans to focus on grilled swordfish tacos, fried mahi-mahi, carnitas, tortilla soup and elote grilled corn. Thanks to gas heaters, the rooftop will be open year-round.

Logan Cutback
Thanks to a community compromise, Dacha beer garden will open a Logan Circle spinoff, which will replace a parking lot at 14th and S streets NW. (The parent Dacha is at Seventh and Q streets NW, with another sibling headed for the Navy Yard.) Logan Circle residents had opposed the original Dacha proposal, which called for a 600-person occupancy. Locals cited an “overconcentration of bars and restaurants in the area.” So, back to the drawing board. Finally, Dacha proprietor Dmitri Chekaldin agreed to slice Dacha’s capacity by one third. Look for Dacha on 14 later this year.

Firehouse Re-fired
The century-old firehouse at 1626 North Capitol St. NW has received a new life. A casual, Caribbean-accented restaurant, Old Engine 12 Firehouse, has opened in that historic, three-level space. The firehouse itself dates back to 1897. It was converted into a restaurant in 2013, but is now under new management. Jenna Mack of Event Emissary, a local events industry vet, has assumed control of the property.

Emerging from executive chef Peter Prime’s kitchen are salmon tartare sliders, salmon burgers and avocado beignets, not usually found in Prime’s native Trinidad. More traditional dishes are grilled and jerked meats, beef patties, oxtail, fry bread and cumin-spiced pork belly. Plates come in duos and trios, meant to be shared. To (ahem) quench the fire: rum drinks, beer and wine.

Old Engine’s rustic interior encompasses communal dining tables and reclaimed wood with metal accents. Exposed brick and wooden flooring are original. To make more space, the new owners have removed the pizza oven, as well as the second floor. Come spring, diners may repair to the 50-seat covered patio. Old Engine 12 will be open six nights a week plus weekend brunch. For more information call 202-299-9128 or visit www.oldengine12restaurant.com.

New near U
Guests are drawn to the blazing fire pit at Maydan, the zesty newcomer tucked into the alley of the Manhattan Laundry Building complex off of U street NW. But founder Rose Previte – formerly of the RAMMY-award-winning Compass Rose – says cooking over open flames is universal.

“What we’re doing isn’t spectacular. It’s normal,” Previte says. She’s describing the cooking method she and Maydan co-executive chefs Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan encountered during a research trip across North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Maydan’s interior displays items Previte collected from Little Miss Pixie’s on 14th Street NW and flea markets in Los Angeles. Twin tandoor-style ovens produce warm, lavash-style whole-wheat bread similar to Turkish versions. Vegetables include a colorful beet dip, chunky Beiruti-style hummus laced with tomatoes, peppers and herbs, plus carrots sparked by fiery harissa.

Located at 1346 Florida Ave. NW, Maydan is open nightly, with weekend brunch in the works. Call 202-370-3696 or visit www.maydandc.com.