After taking my ailing iPhone 7 to the gleaming new Apple Carnegie Library store, Peter and I sought mid-day sustenance. Our feet took us to Farmers & Distillers, 600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, in Mount Vernon Triangle. Part of Farmers Restaurant Group, this nine-month-old enterprise is probably the only eatery owned by 47,000 North Dakota farmers. Co-owners are restaurateurs Mike Vucurevich and Dan Simons, who also operate Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers.
For culinary inspiration, Farmers & Distillers looks to our country’s founding father, George Washington. Our nation’s first president was also a successful farmer, distiller and entrepreneur far ahead of his time. In fact, visitors can explore the original whiskey distillery and gristmill at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.
Following George’s example, Farmers & Distillers operates a full-fledged distillery called Founding Spirits. To accompany this house-made hooch and other potables, Farmers & Distillers’ menu travels all over the map. Among shared appetizers: a cast-iron dish of parmesan garlic knots. The little twisted rolls are dipped into creamy whipped ricotta and a zippy tomatoey sauce. Breads, pastries, donuts and other delights are produced daily in the onsite bakery, First Bake Cafe & Creamery.
A nod to nearby Chinatown offers “hand-pulled noodles” and “takeout style” dishes including drunken beef and chicken, Chinese ribs and sesame fried chicken salad. For the latter, we found the white meat was rather dry. A huge, spicy ahi tuna poke salad was mushy, with tiny cubes of tuna, avocado, beef, pepper and onion tossed together. Italy is also well represented, with handmade pastas including cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper), linguine and fresh clams. You can also order steaks or “impossible” (vegan) burgers.
Farmers & Distillers is open daily; call 202-464-3001 or visit www.farmersanddistillers.com.
Also located in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, Present Company Public House has slid into an historic 1855 firehouse. The newcomer was created by Matt Murphy, Brittany Ryan, Nick Bernel and Jeremy Gifford, the team that brought us Bloomingdale’s The Pub and the People. Emerging from chef Lincoln Fuge’s kitchen are Nashville hot chicken wings enhanced with Maine maple sugar. Subbing for the usual tortilla chip nachos are deep-fried eggplant chips slathered with melted Buffalo mozzarella, avocado, pico de gallo, jalapeno pesto and cilantro. House-smoked pastrami is stacked onto hefty Reuben sandwiches. The eclectic menu also showcases lobster half-smoke pups (Maine lobster on toasted brioche), salt roasted beets, cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper) made with fresh gnocchi. There’s also a vegan yellow curry bowl. (One of the owners is a vegetarian.)
Chef Lincoln Fuge is a Nashville native who formerly wielded his whisk at Ashok Bajaj’s recently shuttered (and much missed!) 701. Planning to stay open daily, Present Company is located at 438 Massachusetts Ave. NW. This month, Present Company planned to operate seven days; for exact hours and more information call 202-289-1100.
Rebelling Soon on U and Beyond
Over the next few months, food truck Rebel Taco is planning to unveil two brick-and-mortar eateries in Washington. Sometime this fall, truck proprietor Mike Bramson’s two-level Rebel Taco Cantina will replace his shuttered sports bar, The Prospect. Located at 1214 U St. NW (with an outdoor patio), Rebel plans to sling tacos until the wee small hours.
Next spring, a second Rebel Taco will open in the Mount Vernon Triangle area at 508 K St. NW. Menu options will – er – rebel far beyond traditional Hispanic fare. Look for Greek tacos (lamb shank, jalapeno-tzatziki sauce, pickled onions, house-made corn tortilla) and burguesa taco (cheesy ground beef, grilled onions, pickles).
Parent food truck’s El Dio de las Muertes (Day of the Dead) motifs, splashed with neon colors and skulls, will appear on its new ventures.
Along the 14th Street corridor, we can now experience a taste of Detroit. Red Light, Aaron Gordon’s five-year-old restaurant at 1401 R St. NW, has introduced Detroit-style square pizza to the menu. Leading the overhaul is pastry chef Naomi Gallego, who is ditching the kitchen’s deep fryers and installing pizza ovens. She already bakes wood-fired pies at Little Beast, Gordon’s 10-month-old Chevy Chase restaurant. Gallego recalls visiting her grandmother in Detroit, where she devoured similar deep-dish pies. “It’s something she’s wanted to do for a long time,” said Gordon, who also owns Penn Quarter’s Red Velvet Cupcakery and Bakers & Baristas.
Kevin Tien, founding chef of Himitsu, Petworth’s tiny destination restaurant, is departing to concentrate on opening Capitol Hill’s highly anticipated Emilie’s. Tien is handing Himitsu’s reins to partner/beverage director Carlie Steiner. (Emilie’s, a 100-seat culinary venture showcasing “small plates,” will be unveiled next year in the Penn Eleven complex at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.)
Meanwhile, Himitsu will close temporarily on Sept. 15 for “minor renovations and training” before reopening with a new menu developed by chef Amanda Moll. To assume her new post, Moll is leaving Shaw’s Asian restaurant Doi Moi.
Moving Asian Event
Meanwhile, Doi Moi, 1800 14th St. NW, has a new downstairs neighbor, at least for now. Due to “maintenance issues” forcing it to close “temporarily,” Shaw’s Lao bar Hanumanh has moved from Ninth Street NW to Destination Wedding, the pop-up bar underneath Doi Moi.
Since its May debut, Hanumanh has dispensed exotic bar snacks crafted by chefs Seng Luangrath and Bobby Pradachith, the mother-and-son team. At Destination Wedding, they’ll collaborate with Doi Moi chef Johanna Hellrigl, who creates Southeast Asian dishes like gaeng phet (red curry and vermicelli noodles with fermented dish-pork sauce and pickled squash).
Like Hanumanh, Destination Wedding/Hanumanh takes no reservations. Open for dinner only; closed Tuesday.