Bloomingdale Bites

October 2018

Jerk prawns and coo coo from Spark at Engine 12’s new fall menu. Photo: Girl Meets Food

Chef Prime Sparks Michelin
Spark at Engine 12 has ben included in this year’s Michelin Bib Gourmand list; quite an honor for a restaurant that has only been open about nine months. Fast becoming a staple on the North Cap Main Street corridor, Spark at Engine 12 opened to great reviews in the old firehouse space that once housed the Number 12 Engine Company.

A relative newcomer to the North Cap Main Street corridor, chef Peter Prime and his smoked meats and Trinidadian spices have earned rave reviews, but the inclusion of the restaurant on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list is a new high for the chef, who doesn’t shy away from flavor.

“It was a nice way to start a Thursday, that’s for sure!” Prime said when asked about his feelings toward the honor. “I was just really proud to find out. It’s always nice, when you put your heart into something, to have it recognized in such a way.”

Prime was born on Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. Although he eventually studied in New York City, he spent much of his childhood in the DMV, but his roots are always present in his cooking. He recently debuted Spark’s menu, which includes Trinidadian dishes like eggplant choka, callaloo soup and jerk prawns with coo coo.

The Bib Gourmand list is part of Michelin’s revered rating system that awards stars to the best restaurants in a city. The restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list are required to serve two courses and provide wine or dessert, all for $40 or less (not including tax or gratuity). This stipulation allows Michelin to award, and thereby recommend, many different types of restaurants, not simply those at the highest price point.

Prime explained, “Food is my passion and in this instance my family heritage as well, so it’s a great honor.”

El Camino No Mas
The stretch of Rhode Island Avenue that represents Bloomingdale for so many lost a staple last month when El Camino closed its doors on Sept. 15. The restaurant, known for its margaritas and family-friendly atmosphere, has lined the busy street since November 2014.

In a statement posted on social media a week before the final evening, El Camino’s owners stated, “We are sad to announce that we have decided to close El Camino after dinner service on Saturday, September 15 … it has been our privilege to host so many of your special occasions, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, date nights, family dinners, quick-drop-ins-for-a-beer-and-taco, and everything in between. We cannot thank you enough for all the love and support these years – we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to call Bloomingdale our home.”

There is no word yet as to who will next occupy the space. The doors remain closed, and Boundary Stone’s tables have begun to migrate north into the open space as fall weather approaches.

South African food and wine pairings at Tyber Creek. Photo: Red Wolf Imports

Celebrating South Africa at Tyber
Last month, Tyber Creek celebrated Braai Day, a South African national holiday, with a three-course meal dedicated to the wine and cuisine of the country. While always looking for opportunities to introduce patrons to new wines, the menu was also a nice transition to fall for a restaurant whose menu changes with the seasons.

Owner Jordan Stahl said the idea sprang from many factors. “I have lived in South African and Tyber Creek (the restaurant) is also all about the open flame. There are also a lot of great wine that is well priced, currently coming out of Africa.” Stahl partnered with Alyssa Wolf of Red Wolf Imports & Global Wines to ensure that each wine introduces something about the terrain of South Africa or about the process of producing wines in that region.

The start of the celebratory meal was a braaibroodjies, which although the word might look intimidating can be described as a grilled cheese with chutney. It was paired with Babylonstoren Mourvedre rose, Simonsberg-Paarl, South Africa, 2017. The second course was more recognizable to a DC foodie: grilled Peri Peri chicken wings paired with Ernst Gouws & Co pinot noir, Western Cape, 2016. The final course was apricot and lamb sosaties (what we think of as kebobs) with a glass of Babylonstoren Babel Red Blend, Simonsberg-Paarl, 2016.

The word braai is actually a cooking technique of grilling meat over wood, similar to a barbeque. Braai Day is about celebrating how food brings us together and is usually spent with family and all-day eating. The holiday is celebrated all around the county on Sept. 24, and, interestingly, braai is the only word found in all 11 official South African languages.


Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch:; @rtaylorb.