February 2019

Fried chicken nuggets and waffles are a customer favorite at Bloomingdale's Crisp Kitchen and Bar.

While driving around Bloomingdale the other day, we stumbled upon a downhome neighborhood pub, Crisp Kitchen and Bar. We found it perched on the corner of a side street housing old-timey barbershops and modest shops, across the street from the better-known, and pricier, Red Hen. Crisp Kitchen opened about two and a half years ago.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon during the holidays, and few people were around. Therefore, parking was easy for a change. We had the cozy upstairs bar area to ourselves, as we chatted with our personable server/bartender, Mahogany. We noted a small patio out back which will offer seating come spring.

Sipping a lip-tingling Bloody Mary, we considered tempting menu options like salmon sliders, wings or a “diner-style” Burger Royale. Peter finally decided on fried chicken nuggets and waffles, a popular dish these days. White meat nuggets were nice and crisp; waffles were enhanced with maple syrup.

I’m usually not a fan of catfish, but I loved Crisp’s crispy catfish nuggets, accompanied by an enormous portion of cheesy grits. The crisp, moist morsels were delicious, even better when dipped into spicy aioli.

Crisp Kitchen claims one of the area’s longest happy hours: Seven days a week, from 5 to 9 p.m., you get two drinks for the price of one. There’s live music every other Thursday evening, plus occasional comedy. Located at 1835 First St. NW, Crisp Kitchen and Bar is open nightly plus Saturday and Sunday brunch. Call 202-853-9115 or visit

While Spark at Engine 12 is now offering only catering and special dinners, the kitchen retains its Trinidadian flair.

Spark Switches Gears
Spark at Engine 12, the Bloomingdale Trinidadian smokehouse-restaurant we’ve been raving about, has switched gears. Ensconced in a three-story, century-old firehouse, chef Peter Prime is now limiting his kitchen to special catered events and four to six tasting dinners per month. Yes, he’ll retain his Caribbean flavors.

Entrepreneur Jenna Mack, who purchased the property at 1626 North Capitol St. NW about a year ago, will oversee the business. For more information and tickets for events, visit

Chef Prime, meanwhile, is also focusing on opening his own restaurant, Cane, at 403 H St. NE, in the Atlas District. (See January Dining Notes.) Due to open soon, if not already, the 40-seat restaurant will replace Uni Bistro.

Logan Lowdown
Slated to arrive this month is Rooster and Owl, 2436 14th St. NW. Located in the former Creme space off U St. NW, the stylish newcomer offers four-course dinners of “shareable New American small plates” that will change frequently. Examples: scallop crudo with caramelized nori, New York strip steak with broccoli and limoncello cheesecake. Owners are husband and wife team Yuan (executive chef) and Carey Tang.

Besides cooking at two New York Michelin-starred restaurants, Yuan Tang was sous chef at Ashok Bajaj’s now-defunct 701 Restaurant before beginning a series of Rooster and Owl pop-ups in 2016. The Rooster and Owl moniker? Carey Tang, who works in nonprofit development, is the early-rising “rooster” while chef Yuan is the nocturnal owl. Despite their opposite schedules, they often find time to dine together.

More Logan News
Homegrown gelato/sorbet and coffee group Dolcezza is adding downhome diner fare – formerly available only at its District Wharf location – to its other outlets. First on the list is the Logan Circle outpost at 1418 14th St. NW. Thanks to culinary director Victor Vasquez, Logan Circle customers may soon, if not already, start their days with Southern-style breakfast items like egg and cheese biscuits and egg breakfast bowls. Dolcezza is open daily; call 202-817-3900 or visit

Flipping the Bird
Nearby at 1337 11th St. NW, the Bird has flown the coop, reopening as Frenchy’s Naturel, a “modern French bistro.” The Bird, now Frenchy’s, is part of the restaurant group EatWell.

Speaking of feathered friends, executive chef Eric McKamey’s kitchen will dispense more beef than poultry. Heading the revamped menu is Virginia Devon sirloin steak served with a small salad, choice of three sauces with an option for unlimited fries or seasonal vegetable. You’ll also find steak tartare, mussels, spaetzle gratin and chocolate pot de creme.

Principal owner David Winer told Eater DC, “I thought the best course of action was to wipe the slate clean (hiring a new chef and beefing up the menu) and start fresh.”

Meanwhile in Shaw
Oaxacan-style Espita Mezcaleria has introduced Espita Lonchería (roughly translated as “snack bar”) for mid-day. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., guests choose from chef Robert Aikens’ dinner menu: chorizo tacos, fried yuca with pasilla pepper crema, churros with coconut ash and passionfruit caramel. Espita Mezcaleria is located at 1250 Ninth St. NW. 

Heading South in Mount Vernon
Fast-casual chain Sol Mexican Grill has unveiled its latest outpost at 655 K St. NW, in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. Heading the south-of-the-border menu are tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos. Other offshoots are in the Atlas District and Foggy Bottom. Sol – with its spacious kitchen – also offers catering.

Nearby, veggie-oriented Chaia opened its second area location at 615 I St. NW, bringing us creamy kale and potato tacos, tortillas cooked on a large comal (flat, Mexican-style griddle), carrot-kohlrabi slaw, lots of grains. The 38-seat spot hopes to evolve into a bar at night with cocktails served until 10 p.m.

Warm and Cheesy
This time of year, thoughts turn to warming comfort foods. Tops on many lists are grilled cheese sandwiches paired with soothing tomato soup. Just a few local restaurants offering this childhood combo are Stoney’s, 1433 P St. NW (a cup or bowl of roasted tomato basil soup paired with a grilled cheese sandwich, served with fries); American Ice Company, 917 V St. NW (tomato soup or chips are complimentary with a grilled cheese sandwich; pulled pork, buffalo chicken or brisket are extra); Prather’s on the Alley, 455 I St. NW (wonderfully gooey cheddar is snuggled between rustic bread slices slathered with Dijon mustard and heaped with arugula and pickled onions and served with a bowl of tomato soup). 

Adios for now!
As we do every winter, we’re off to the warm and sunny (we hope) climes of Florida. We’ll see you again in April!