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Tuesday, March 5, 2024


Shhhh! Don’t tell the cholesterol police about the decadently divine dishes we savored at Present Company Public House.

Ensconced in an historic 1855 firehouse in Mount Vernon Triangle, Present Company debuted last summer and now serves weekend brunch. Seated on the patio, we explored chef Lincoln Fuge’s weekend menu. We began with a Bloody Mary (medium spicy) and a mimosa.

Here’s what we don’t want the diet cops to discover. Nestled in a mini-skillet, Fuge’s house-made pastrami, layered with fried potato chunks and caramelized onions, was capped with a pair of easy-over fried eggs. The artery-clogging concoction was so delicious I was tempted to lick the skillet. Husband Peter’s towering cheeseburger – heaped with lettuce, tomato and smoked onions – arrived with a mountain of crunchy fries. No worries. Among healthier brunch options are Caesar salad, veggie burgers, egg white omelets, yogurt parfait.

Present Company was created by the talented team that brought The Pub and the People to Bloomingdale. Open daily, Present Company is located at 438 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Call 202-289-1100 or visit www.presentcompanydc.com.

Texas Two Step
In Truxton Circle, Republic Cantina, which dispenses jazzed up Tex-Mex standards at 43 N St. NW, has unveiled its dinner menu. (The kitchen also produces breakfast tacos.) Owner Chris Svetlik is a Houston-area native who co-founded the Republic Kolache Company that hawks Texan-Czech pastries all over town.

In Truxton Circle, Republic Cantina sports an authentic Tex-Mex decor – complete with cacti – and upbeat menu. Photo: Celeste McCall

Svetlik and biz partner Sam Lipnick have helped tweak traditional Tex-Mex recipes. Chef Antonio Burrell, who cooked at Masa 14 and helped open El Centro D.F. (14th Street NW), has developed Czech-style brisket sausage (an option on fajita platters) and a Texan classic: chicken-fried steak with traditional white cream and chipotle-based gravies.

Flour tortillas are made with vegetable shortening, not the typical lard, so vegetarians can partake. Queso blends in milk and cheese but relies on Velveeta (!) for its ideal melting texture. “It is, from a food science standpoint, an amazing substance,” Svetlik explained.

Smoked brisket from Hill Country (Chinatown/Penn Quarter) goes into beef enchiladas. Fajitas have gone international; steak is marinated in Korean gochujang; shrimp is coated in Old Bay-infused butter. Chips and salsa are on the house; refills are a buck extra. Most cocktails involve mezcal and tequila.

Open daily; for exact hours call 202-997-4340 or visit www.republic-cantina.com.

Korean BBQ
In Shaw, folks are finally getting their Korean barbecue fix with the arrival of Gogi Yogi. The Asian newcomer is the latest project from Duke’s Grocery co-founder Daniel Kramer.

Equipped with tabletop grills, Gogi Yogi is tucked inside the Shay apartment building at 1921 Eighth St. NW, a former grocery. The name translates roughly as “meat here.” And there’s lot of meat: bulgogi, American wagyu beef, duck breast, plus tiger shrimp, wild scallops, baby octopus.

DC native chef Patrice Cunningham, who learned recipes from her Korean mother, prepares grilled meats, seafood and banchan (Korean side dishes). Kramer grew up near the Los Angeles Korean neighborhood, where tabletop grills hunker on every corner. “At the lunch table I was eating Korean food and thought it was normal,” she said, adding that she hopes Gogi Yogi fills the void of local Korean barbeque options.

Open daily; call 202-525-4167 or visit www.gogiyogi.com.

New Near U
Bar Lorea has opened in the former Diet Starts Monday space at 2005 14th St. NW. Here’s the deal. Taco Tuesdays offer two hours of “endless” tacos (nine kinds) and two drinks for $28. Margaritas and daiquiris are among the four cocktails that cost $6 at happy hour (all day Monday, and 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday-Friday). For more information visit www.barlorea.com.

Thai Street Food
Alex McCoy, the chef behind Adams Morgan’s Lucky Buns, is bringing Thai street food to NoMa. McCoy has showcased these spicy vittles at various local pop-ups through the years. Nestled in a converted cinder-block-lined ATM vestibule at 111 K St. NE, the culinary endeavor should open in late fall or early winter. The menu will specialize in Isaan (northeastern Thai) victuals: salads with green papaya, fish sauce, lime; curry soup with egg noodles and beef or chicken or roasted mushrooms. “Jungle style” salad incorporates rice noodles, fermented fish, crab paste and bamboo shoots. Patrons will order at the window and take a seat on the patio. To drink: Thai coffee and milk teas; no booze yet.

Republic Cantina bartender Felix Soh squeezes limes for a signature tequila drink. Photo: Celeste McCall

Meatballs to Tacos
Later this month (hopefully), Mexicue is bringing pulled pork tacos and tequila to 1720 14th St. NW, where the short-lived Meatball Shop used to dwell. Mexicue was a former New York food truck which grew into a mini-chain. The eclectic menu blends Tex-Mex traditions with flavors from the American South. Along with various tacos, the lineup showcases jambalaya, tortillas with myriad fillings, rice bowls and overstuffed quesadillas dubbed “quesarritos.” Brunch offers huevos rancheros and cornbread French toast.

Rum – With Pizza?
In Shaw, veteran bartender Lukas B. Smith has a new gig: beverage director at &pizza, 1817 Seventh St. NW. He’s taken over bar duties at the pizza chain’s year-old, brightly appointed Broccoli Bar. For the time being (or maybe permanently), he’ll bring rum from Cotton & Reed, the distillery he oversees near Union Market, pairing cocktails with pies from &pizza at the bar, now called Rumbo Italiano. Executive chef is Erik Bruner-Yang, chef/restaurateur behind Maketto, Brothers and Sisters and Spoken English (in the Line Hotel), and Navy Yard’s soon-to-open ABC Pony.

More Pizza
Also in Shaw, Andy’s Pizza is opening later this year at 2016 Ninth St. NW, across from the 9:30 Club. Offering pizza by the slice (New York style), Andy’s is in a complex anchored by a beer bar from the Hilton brothers, who already dispense pizza across the street at Satellite Room. Andy’s will be attached to the 3,500-square-foot bar, but will have its own entrance.

Rasa Expansion
Coming this winter to Mount Vernon Triangle is a spinoff of Rasa, the fast-casual Indian eatery known for generous create-your-own “bowls.” You’ll find it at 475 K St. NW. Another offshoot is headed for Amazon’s future HQ2 in Crystal City, Arlington.


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