Enjoying a prelude to spring, Peter and I recently shared a pleasant experience in Shaw. Ambling down Seventh Street NW, we stumbled upon a delightful French wine bar/bistro, La Jambe. Created by French/Corsican Anastasia Mori, La Jambe is a cozy place, with a small bar, dining area and wine room. Settling at the bar, we perused the menus. Many items are made in-house: chicken liver mousse, rillettes, pork/pistachio terrine, assorted charcuteries, French onion soup and pastas. The pasta is laced with braised pork, bacon and tomato sauce.
The brief sandwich listing includes lots of cheese. Being French, the menu offers a delicious quiche; the generous wedge is replete with chunks of butternut squash, caramelized onions, Swiss chard and Emmental cheese. The crisp green salad, lightly dressed with a mustard-enhanced vinaigrette, complements the rich pie. Nestled in Peter’s crepe saumon is lox, red onion, capers and creme fraiche, all crowned with a runny fried egg. Customers can also purchase freshly baked baguettes to go.
La Jambe’s wine list is entirely French, with many regions represented. Bloody Marys come in red and green, really! The latter, which resembles iced coffee, is flavored with herbs and green veggies. Believe me, the drink tastes better than it looks. Cremant a l’orange is a marvelously fresh-tasting mimosa. In fact, La Jambe is known for its Saturday and Sunday brunches, and even takes reservations for them.
Located at 1550 Seventh St. NW, La Jambe is open daily except for Monday, with weekend brunch. Call 202-627-2988 or visit www.lajambedc.com.
Last month, the former Smoked & Stacked space at 1239 Ninth St. NW switched from a daytime sandwich operation to a nightclub called Tall Boy. Until the wee small hours of the morning, the newcomer offers 16-ounce cans of beer (plus draft), chicken wings and grilled cheese.
How did this come about? Tin Shop, the development group behind Franklin Hall near U Street NW, led the transformation after parting company with Smoked & Stacked founding partner Marjorie Meek-Bradley. She wanted to concentrate on overseeing the busy kitchen at St. Anselm near Union Market.
Also in Shaw, Zeppelin, a karaoke bar that purchases its seafood directly from the famous Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo, has opened at 1544 Ninth St. NW. As many as 30 varieties of wild-caught fish are carved into sushi, sashimi, nigari and maki rolls. They can also be threaded onto yakitori skewers and grilled over Japanese charcoal.
Business partners Adrian Williams, Ari Wilder and Micah Wilder also own Chaplin’s Ramen House & Cocktail Bar located down the street. They teamed up with sushi chef Minoru Ogawa for the new two-story project. A minus-100-degree freezer preserves fish while Ogawa ages the cuts on-site. It’s the same kind of freezer used to ship seafood from Japan. Zeppelin is open nightly; call 202-506-1068 or visit www.zeppelindc.com.
Meanwhile, Red Bear Brewing Company has opened in the NoMa neighborhood. Beer fans will find the 7,000-square-foot brewery and tap room at 209 M St. NE, ensconced in the former Uline Arena space. Some beer descriptions read like they were written by a comedian. For example, the blurb for the Swamp Poodle, an imperial oatmeal stout brewed in collaboration with Gill Brewery in Sligo, Ireland, says the brewers added a cup of Lucky Charms, and, “at 9.1 percent ABV you’re sure to see rainbows!” Red Bear is starting with just 10 beers; eventually, all 24 tap lines will be filled by West Coast-style ales, ciders and wine.
La Betty Arrives
In the Mount Vernon Triangle, the Velazquez family, which also owns Georgetown’s Baked & Wired, has unveiled La Betty, 420 K St. NW. The kitchen dispenses multicultural American staples, in a warm, wood-lined space next door to A Baked Joint. “An important concept for us is a simple menu and drink menu,” said Tessa Velazquez, who co-owns the businesses with her parents, Teresa and Tony, and brother Zak. “Everyone makes so many decisions throughout their day. You don’t have to look through a menu that’s three pages long.”
The menu has a Teutonic bent, with dishes like “Curry wurst” and “not yo’ Mama’s chicken schnitzel.” There are also glazed ribs and the ever-popular deviled eggs appetizer. A Baked Joint provides fresh bread. The group has tabbed Pablo Catalan as chef de cuisine.
As for the name, Tessa Velazquez explained that the family was trying to capture “this American woman that we can all relate to” rather than any one individual. However, Teresa Velazquez did have a great-grandmother named Betty. La Betty is open nightly except for Tuesday, when it’s closed. Call 202-408-8000. Or visit www.la-betty.com.
Cherry Blossom Pop-Up
For the third straight year, Drink Company’s Cherry Blossom Pop-Up pub has returned to Shaw. The shape-shifting bar that previously channeled Christmas, royal weddings and “Game of Thrones” will again feature cherry blossom decor, Japanese-inspired cocktails and a ramen room dominated by Godzilla-size, eight-foot chopsticks. The noodles are created by chef Hiro Mitsui, who also operates Uzu, a popular ramen stall at Union Market. For that perfect Instagram, there’s also a photo booth. Located at 1841 Seventh St. NW, the cherry blossom pop-up runs through April 21.
BBQ to Burgers
In Shaw, Sloppy Mama’s barbecue operation inside Solly’s tavern, 1942 11th St. NW, is switching gears. No more barbecue. Instead, owner Joe Neuman is dispensing Butters’ Burgers, formed from simple, ground brisket. “Specialty burgers” are topped with smoked meats.
Early favorites? The Classic, a single- or double-stacked burger with grilled onion and special sauce, and the MVA, a bratwurst-style patty lathered with spicy beer mustard and chow-chow relish. The Western Bacon Chee comes topped with smoked brisket, bacon jam, shaved onions, pickles and Kansas City barbecue sauce. The veggie “impossible” burger is topped with a “special sauce,” pickles, arugula and sweet onions. Butters’ also offers a fried chicken thigh sandwich. There’s also a Sloppy Mama’s stall at Union Market.