Calico – as in the pretty cat breed – is tucked away in Blagden Alley in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. But this Calico does not purr; instead it offers food and drink. The team behind the nearby Tiger Fork and the Fainting Goat (U Street NW) has created this convivial restaurant/lounge. A monumental feline image overlooks a 3,000-square-foot outdoor space festooned with communal tables, lights, grape vines and a vintage greenhouse. An early peek at chef Nathan Beauchamp’s menu reveals eggplant Parmesan, roasted squash, veggie burgers, roast pork platters, and – a nod to the 1950s – fish sticks.
Ian Fletcher of Tiger Fork and J.D Quico (of the Fainting Goat) honcho Calico’s bar, dispensing draft and canned beers from local breweries, wines by the glass and huge cocktails designed for sharing.
StreetSense’s EditLab, which also designed Tiger Fork, went for an exposed industrial look. Exceptions are the flowery, globe-shaped light fixtures. Located at 50 Blagden Alley NW, Calico is open daily except Tuesday. For more information call 202-791-0134 or visit www.calicodc.com.
In Shaw, hop an elevator for a quick ride down to the neighborhood’s latest hot spot, Nocturne, situated below the popular Sugar Shack. A spinoff of Alexandria’s Captain Gregory’s, Nocturne accommodates barely two dozen people. A trio of bartenders, including head drink maker Chris Jakubowski, create exotic cocktails, while executive chef Brandon McDermott and chef de cuisine Kyle Knox concoct innovative victuals. Yes, Sugar Shack goodies will be available.
Located at 1932 Ninth St. NW, Nocturne is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Closed Monday. For more information call 234-567-8901 or visit www.nocturnebar.com.
Drink Company, which brought Shaw such themed popups as Game of Thrones and DC’s Cherry Blossom festival, is plunging into the holiday season with Miracle on Seventh Street. You’ll find it spread over a trio of bars at 1839, 1841 and 1843 Seventh St. NW. The festive takeover continues through Dec. 31. This year’s backdrop features five wintery scenes and nostalgic odes to favorite holiday movies, music and childhood indulgences for grownup tastes.
Guests enter through an explosion of Christmas decorations and may pose for photos in a 19th-century sleigh. There’s also a toy train, a Christmas tree and a gingerbread house. Guests may slurp eggnog shots and buttered popcorn Manhattans and similar concoctions.
Hanukkah (which begins at sundown on Dec. 12) is honored with a “Chinese and a Movie” room packed with menus, fortune cookies, takeout containers, Chinese lanterns and a giant menorah.
More Holiday Cheer
Here’s something for the foodies on your holiday gift list. Through Dec. 31, Lupo Verde, 1401 T St. NW, is offering Christmas baskets filled with housemade Italian goods created by executive chef Matteo Venini. Guests may choose a pre-packed basket or may customize their own. Pre-packed baskets include homemade marmalade, black truffles, artisanal pasta, ragu, a bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella, Italian olive oil, Don Ciccio & Figli products, cured meats and cheeses from Lupo Verde’s cheese shop. Priced from $60 to $200, baskets may be purchased in the restaurant during brunch and dinner service. Or call 202-827-4752 or visit www.lupoverdedc.com.
Logan Circle has become more caffeinated. California-based Blue Bottle Coffee, which has local outposts in District Wharf, Union Market and Georgetown, is opening another cafe at 1515 15th St. NW, in the Metropole Condo building. The national chain was recently acquired by Nestle USA.
New in Shaw
Shaw has another cocktail lounge, this one called 600t (no, that’s not a typo), near the Howard Theatre. To ward off winter chill, the rustic, 25-seat watering hole has a fireplace. The decor features refurbished wood, and there’s an 80-year-old butcher’s knife. Proprietor Stephen Lawrence also owns the adjoining building which houses Rita Loco and rooftop bar El Techo.
Lawrence, who also has a demolition company, did most of the work in 600t himself, knocking down drywall to expose original, 200-year old bricks and building tables and chairs. He’s been working on the space for two years. His brother, who works at a Maryland youth facility, is responsible for the artwork, including the Picasso-like paintings and an unusual chandelier crafted from rifles.
The bar focuses on beer, wine and a dozen cocktails poured into antique glassware. Bar snacks include mixed nuts, fresh breads and cheese-and-olive plates. About that vintage knife: bartenders use it to chop up ice.
Located at 600 T St. NW, 600t is open from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday; closed Sunday but that can change.
Last month, cocktail lovers got a sneak peek of what they’ll sip at Morris American Bar. The modern speakeasy has been in the works in the Walter Washington Convention Center for two years. Due to open (hopefully) this month, the sibling of Dupont Circle’s Sheppard will be almost twice as large, with two levels. But the vintage soundtrack and “bordello” decor will be similar.
Morris partners include top chef alum Spike Mendelsohn, David Strauss and Vinoda Basnayake. The combined names “Sheppard” and “Morris” are a tongue-in-cheek reference to Texas Senator Morris Sheppard, who authored the Prohibition amendment. While Morris continued to take shape, Strauss previewed potential libations at the Ivy Room at Ivy City’s distillery Republic Restoratives. Cocktails had zany monikers like East New York Flip, American Trilogy, Ivy City Swizzle and Feminist Gent.
Strauss, who has developed bar menus at Petworth Citizen and Le Diplomate, told DC Eater that Washington is “greatly lacking” the types of “unassuming cafes” found in Europe. He plans to remedy that by building a daytime coffee component into the bricks-and-mortar Mount Vernon Square bar. Simple nibbles will encompass pickled vegetables and cheese plates.
More Delicious Bread
Logan Circle’s Le Diplomate welcomes a new head baker, Cody Brandon. A protege of restaurateur Stephen Starr of Philadelphia’s Parc restaurant, Brandon plans to enhance Le Diplomate’s renowned bread baskets by introducing oatmeal-fruit muesli bread, polenta-based creations and various seed-studded breads. Le Diplomate is located at 1601 14th St. NW. Call 202-332-3333 or visit www.lediplomatedc.com.
Coming up on Dec. 9-10: the 12th annual MetroCooking DC Show at the Walter Washington Convention Center. The two-day event – from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. – features cooking demos at popup cooking schools and book signings with celebrity chefs. More than 50 local restaurants will dish out samples, along with beer, wine and spirits tastings. James Beard Award-winning chefs will whip up specialties on the James Beard Stage, and the exhibitor marketplace will hawk gourmet goodies. For tickets call 1-866-840-8822.
Last month, Shaw lost a popular restaurant/bar, 1905, at 1905 Ninth St. NW. The nine-year-old eatery/watering hole was beloved for popping bottles of Beaujolais nouveau at midnight on the third Thursday of November.