Global Spring Beginning
Hang on, fellow foodies. Spring is coming!
Marking our vernal equinox will be the arrival of Atlanta-based Gypsy Kitchen at 1825 14th St. NW. Located in the former Masa 14 space, the 217-seat, Mediterranean-themed newcomer will showcase “small plates” with Greek, Moroccan, Middle Eastern and Indian flavors. The 6,400-square-foot communal dining space will include a 1,100-square-foot rooftop deck.
Treats emerging from the global kitchen (local chef to be announced) will include masala and green chili chips; tarama (Greek fish roe); bissara (North African split pea dip); butifarra (Catalan pork sausage with white beans); Majorcan-style whole branzino; summer ptitim stew (ramps, snowpeas and curry). Desserts encompass the traditional Spanish flan, as well as churros (sugar and cinnamon-dusted doughnuts similar to beignets). Plus oceans of wine, of course.
Heading the local enterprise is Alex Curley, Gypsy Kitchen CEO. The Washington, DC, native has worked for Sandoval Hospitality, the company behind the now-defunct Masa 14. He also helped launch Barcelona Wine Bar, the popular tapas palace at 1622 14th St. NW.
Gypsy Kitchen hours have not been announced yet, but the newcomer will be open for dinner and, hopefully, lunch and weekend brunch. For updates visit www.gk-atl.com.
Revisiting a Favorite
Peter and I had not visited Union Market’s Bidwell restaurant for several years. (It’s been there for five.) So, we decided to have lunch there on a snowy afternoon. We started our repast with a trio of crispy deviled eggs – a play on Scotch eggs sans sausage – hard-boiled egg halves deep fried to a golden brown. Peter ordered the tummy-warming Irish-American onion soup; in Bidwell’s version, Irish Knockanore Irish smoked cheddar subbed for the usual Gruyere. The “clam jam pizza” caught my eye. Presented on a raised plate, the 10-inch pie was topped with Benton bacon, mozzarella, kale and clams in their shells. The chewy mollusks were barely steamed open. Garlic butter (for dunking the clams) arrived separately.
Another pizza is named Moon Pie. No, not Chattanooga’s marshmallow and graham cracker concoction, but a Chicago-style pie heaped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and mozzarella. Choose from four kinds of dough, including vegetable, charcoal-activated and gluten-free. Other “sharing bite” options encompass drunken bean dip; roasted Brussels sprouts with shallots; oysters on the half shell or fried, or roasted; mussels, salads; burgers, grilled king salmon; fish and chips.
Bidwell’s wine list includes several vintages offered by the glass, such as a pleasant Malbec from Argentina’s Mendoza region. A generous pour was only $10. And here’s something to look forward to. Come spring, the chef will glean produce from the rooftop garden.
Located at 1309 Fifth St. NE (Union Market), Bidwell is open daily, including weekend brunch. Call 202-435-0172 or visit www.bidwelldc.com.
From Greek to Mexican
Coming this summer to the bustling 14th Street corridor: Lolita.
No, we don’t mean Vladimir Nabokov’s sensational novel and the 1962 movie. Rather, a Boston-based Mexican restaurant at 2201 14th St. NW. Lolita will replace Kapnos, Mike Isabella’s departed Greek enterprise. Lolita’s Boston-based hospitality group COJE’s portfolio also operates (all in Boston) Yvonne’s supper club, Peruvian-Japanese fusion spot Ruka and Havana-themed Mariel.
We’ve also heard that the former Kapnos space will get a facelift under COJE’s careful watch. The detail-oriented group’s second Lolita – sprawled along the waterfront in Beantown’s Fort Point neighborhood – won Eater Boston’s 2017 award for Design of the Year. Judges were impressed by luxurious leathers, flashy artwork and flourishes like a stained-glass angel and plenty of skulls. For updates and more information visit www.coje.com.
A Mexican restaurant bearing a similar name – Bar Lorea – is located just one block south of the future Lolita. Located at 2005 14th St. NW, Bar Lorea dispenses guacamole, sweet potato tacos, queso fundido, ceviche and lots of beer, tequila and more than 20 kinds of cocktails. The narrow, cozy space formerly housed a cocktail/retail combo called Diet Starts Monday.
Along with Richard Sandoval’s El Centro DF, the 14th Street strip’s now-competitive Mexican and Latino scene also includes Tico and Mexicue, the months-old replacement for failed New York import, The Meatball Shop.
How Sweet It Is
This winter, NoMa has become more caffeinated – and sweeter. Sweet Science Coffee has unveiled its first stand-alone shop at 35 N St. NE. The buzzy newcomer differentiates itself from other coffee houses by slow-brewing craft coffee using eight distinctive devices. The 1,100-square-foot, 25-seat Sweet Science occupies the base of the posh Belgard apartment complex.
The former pop-up Sweet Science first gained positive reviews when it occupied the basement bar underneath Lapis in Adams Morgan (now Lapop). At its new NoMa digs, Sweet Science employs an array of old-school and modern gizmos: AeroPress, Karlsbad brewer, V60, Chemex, French press, syphon, Kalita Wave dripper, and a Beehive dripper. Customers select the coffee they want, and baristas use recipes from founding partner Sandra Wolter showcasing various coffee beans from around the globe. Don’t be in a hurry; wait time for your java is about seven minutes.
Wolter hired Jenny Shutan, a former sous chef at Chef Geoff’s in Tyson’s Corner, to run a pastry program that turns out buttermilk biscuits, elderflower pear muffins, scones, cookies, banana streusel muffins and more treats, all baked on-site. For hours and more information, visit www.sweetsciencecoffee.com.
Ciao for Now
As always, this time of year, husband Peter and I head south for the warm and sunny (we hope!) climes of Florida. Therefore, we won’t be writing a March column. See you in April!