We finally got around to having brunch at City Winery, an Ivy City hotspot. Since it was Sunday, our trio supped upstairs on the rooftop. Saturday brunch is served downstairs in the appropriately named Barrel Room.
City Winery sports a lively vibe and handsome decor. The downstairs dining area is handsomely appointed with wine barrels, an attractive bar and a vintage Yenching Palace sign gleaned from a Chinese restaurant in Cleveland Park that closed in 2007.
City Winery’s brunch does not accept reservations, so we queued up for the 1:00 p.m. opening. Around 1:20 we crammed into the elevator. The spacious, breezy roof has communal tables and a few high-topped ones. We ordered a pleasant rose and a sauvignon blanc squeezed on site from California grapes. Avocado toast – rye bread topped with avocado and a poached egg – arrived cold, but we realize that servers must schlep the food from the kitchen downstairs.
We also sampled the “beyond (vegan) burger.” Since our friend ordered it well done, the patty was dry and crumbly but nicely seasoned. My prosciutto/mozzarella omelet needed seasoning, the ham was tough and the cheese rubbery. The best dish we tasted was Peter’s pork belly hash, presented in a cute little cast iron skillet and laced with onions and mushrooms. This was crowned with a poached egg. Brunch entrees came with tasty, diced home fries. Other options: kale Caesar salad, poke salad (tuna, quinoa, veggies), chickpea hummus. Brunch for three came to about $100 including tip. Service was friendly and accommodating.
Located at 1350 Okie St. NE, City Winery offers weekend brunch from 1 to 4 p.m. City Winery also serves dinner nightly. You can purchase wine at the City Winery retail store. I bought a bottle of rose for $18. The clever label reads: “Stop and Smell the Rose.”
For dinner reservations, winery tours, tastings and other information call 202-250-2531 or visit www.citywinery.com.
More Lao Cuisine
Our neighborhoods are getting more and more Southeast Asian restaurants. Latest to arrive is Hanumanh, which debuted last month at 1604 Seventh St. NW, in Shaw. Mother-and-son-duo chefs Seng Luangrath and Bobby Pradachith proudly planted a Lao flag in Shaw. The moniker refers to a monkey deity mentioned in Hindu and Buddhist texts. That explains the wall-to-wall murals of cartoon monkeys preparing dishes with a mortar and pestle and a traditional Lao cooking pot. The simian character is known for courage and mischief, traits that Pradachith attributes to his mother, a Lao refugee. She sparked the exotic cuisine’s emergence in Washington when she introduced a “secret” Lao menu at Bangkok Golden, the family’s Thai restaurant in Falls Church.
Bangkok Garden’s pungent, chili-packed dishes proved so popular that the family changed the restaurant name to Padaek, the word for Laos’s potent fish sauce. They subsequently opened two more Lao venues: Thip Khao in Columbia Heights and Sen Khao, a noodle stall, in Tysons Galleria. Hanumanh is open nightly except for Tuesday, when it’s closed. Hanumanh does not accept reservations. For more information visit www.hanumanh.com.
Tapas and Oysters
Max Kuller, who owns the stylish Spanish tapas bar Estadio, is forming a new restaurant group. His enterprise, called In Living Kuller, will oversee two openings scheduled for this summer: the sustainable Oyster Oyster, 1440 Eighth St. NW, right in Shaw, plus an Estadio outpost in Charleston, South Carolina.
When Kuller’s father, Mark, died in 2014, he left behind a company that controlled Proof (in Penn Quarter, now closed), Asian-accented Doi Moi (1800 14thSt. NW) and Estadio, nearby at 1520 14th. Kuller carried on his father’s legacy as part of a partnership with his uncle, Jason. Kuller split with the company in 2017. He held onto Estadio, while Jason Kuller got the other two restaurants. The name for Max Kuller’s new group honors his dad’s memory.
For Oyster Oyster, Kuller teamed up with former Hazelchef Rob Rubba and 2 Birds, 1 Stone barman Adam Bernbach. The 35-seat space is lined with subway tiles, hanging plants and mint-hued banquettes. Kuller visited Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, to scavenge colorful mosaic tiles that washed ashore. The Oyster Oyster team is also working with Grizform Design Architects, a DC-based firm that is also designing Charleston’s Estadio.
Awesome Aussie Java
Australian-based coffee chain Bluestone Lane, beloved for its “avocado smash” toasts and hearty breakfast bowls, has unveiled its sixth local cafe, this one in Scott Circle. Java lovers (including moi) will find the caffeinated newcomer in the Darcy Hotel, 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The tiny space formerly housed Lil’B, the cozy, New Orleans-style cafe operated by chef and TV personality David Guas. Lil’B departed in February, due to the Darcy’s ownership change. (David, who plans to open another cafe in Washington sometime this year, also ran the much-missed Bayou Bakery next to Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital on Capitol Hill.)
Yet more java: this summer, Bluestone Lane will open its largest area cafe (2,270 square feet) nearby at the base of the mixed-use Liz complex. That’s the former site of the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center on 14th Street NW.
Not all our neighborhood news is good. In Shaw, Policy, 1904 14thSt. NW, shuttered its doors on June 22 after 10 years in business. Peter and I dined there shortly after it opened and loved it.
Policy’s closing announcement was the third that week. Latin-Asian restaurant and lounge Masa 14 said it will end its own 10-year runby the end of August.
Drafting Table, a low-key spot to quaff affordable beer and watch soccer, has also departed.
No word yet on the Policy space, but we’ve heard that a New York-based wine bar, Vin Sur Vingt, will replace Drafting Table. An Atlanta-based tapas spot is reportedly sliding into Masa’s slot. Rapidly rising rents are a major culprit; some say rents have soared as high as $120 per square foot.