We had intended to visit Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, in Mount Vernon Square. We finally found an opportunity when we took our ailing cellphones to the “phone doctors” at the Carnegie Library Apple Store across the street. While our “patients” were being treated, we retreated across the street to Yardbird (901 New York Ave NW).
Yardbird’s handsome decor is replete with glittering light fixtures, comfy banquettes and a bustling open kitchen. Perched at the marble-topped bar, we gave our order to Tamika, the pleasant and competent bartender. Yardbird’s specialty is, not surprisingly, chicken ‒ fried, roasted whole, escorted by house-baked biscuits or paired with waffles. Among other options are lobster mac and cheese, wild-caught grilled rockfish and a 32-ounce porterhouse steak.
Smoked trout roe enlivened the artistic deviled eggs. The fried green tomato BLT was a trio of open-faced sandwiches crowned with pimento cheese and delicious house-smoked pork belly. Smoked salmon avocado toast was another winner. The kitchen starts with quality multigrain bread, slathered with lots of avocado and smoked salmon and showered with pickled shallots, fennel and radish.
Yardbird’s extensive wine list offers foreign and domestic vintages (including Virginia) and inventive cocktails. I dipped?? the zesty Bloody Mary, served in a spice-encrusted glass. There’s also an amazing bourbon selection.
Yardbird is an upscale place, part of a high-end international chain. Lunch for two with one drink came to $80 with the (included) tip. Yardbird is open daily and also provides takeout and delivery. For more information, visit www.runchickenrun.com/dc.
Good news! DC Dosa has reopened in Union Market, after a pandemic-related hiatus. Fans may again enjoy Priya Ammu’s dosas ‒ crepes stuffed with choice of goodies including spicy lentils, eggplant, curried potatoes and roasted veggies. They make the crepes right in front of customers, who may also order soups and lassi (a refreshing yogurt-based beverage). In South India, dosas are a popular street food. Located at 1309 Fifth St. NE, Union Market is open daily. For a full DC Dosa menu, visit www.dcdosa.com.
Folks are getting antsy in Midtown. We’ve been sampling grasshopper tacos and worm-and-salt-rimmed cocktails for several years. But a new edible insect has flown into town. Chicatana, 3917 14th St. NW, takes its name from a flying ant indigenous to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Chef Marcelino Zamudio roasts the insects whole. Then he arranges them atop gorditas (flatbread made from cornmeal with various fillings), sprinkled over ceviche, perched on cocktails or burrowed into bunuelos (like fritters) for dessert.
Chicatana majority owner Emily Vasquez told Eater DC that ants are a pre-Hispanic food still prepared in Mexican home kitchens. Renowned Mexico City restaurant Pujol has prepared the bugs, and Masienda, a purveyor that has helped make Mexican heirloom corn widely available stateside, sells the ants online. Visit www.masienda.com/shop.
Along with the ants, Zamudio and Vasquez employ a custom-built trompo (vertical spit) for roasting spiced pork and pineapple to be tucked into pastor tacos. Chicken is splashed with mole made with guajillo and ancho chiles, chocolate and other ingredients. Finger-sized molotes, pastries made from corn or sweet plantains, arrive in a ceramic bowl.
Mexican-born beverage director/partner Hector Flora concocts his own syrups for pomegranate margaritas and tamarind Chicatana sours, garnished with ‒ you guessed it ‒ yet more ants. For more information, call 202-516-4924 or visit www.chicatanadc.com.
In Shaw, Quattro Osteria has flung open its 18th-century double doors, bringing the neighborhood fresh pastas from a chef (as yet unnamed) who’s cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Tuscany. You’ll find the 1,673-square-foot newcomer at 600 Florida Ave. NW, the former Bistro Bohem space. Designed to resemble an Italian sidewalk cafe, Quattro Osteria’s outdoor terrazzo seats 70 diners.
Quattro Osteria co-owner Louie Hankins also operates the jungle-themed rooftop bar El Techo and taqueria Rito Loco next-door. Brothers Giovanni and Salvio Ippolito, who hail from Naples, are partnering with Hankins on the new restaurant.
The seasonally changing menu might encompass Italian meats and cheeses, cod with pea puree and shaved black truffles; a deconstructed eggplant Parmesan; prawns from Sicily; squid ink cappellacci stuffed with zucchini. Desserts: tiramisu, gelato, cannoli. For an “alternative Italian experience,” Quattro Osteria offers prix-fixes in three courses ($50) or five ($75).
Available by the glass and bottle, an array of (mostly) Italian wines complements the innovative menu. Cocktails involve fresh herbs and seasonal produce. For now, Quattro Osteria is open Tuesday, 5-10 p.m., and Sunday, 5-9 p.m. For more info including menus, go to www.quattroosteria.com. For reservations, please visit www.resy.com.
Japan Comes to Shaw
The Tokyo Olympics are history, but Japanese cuisine is thriving in Midtown. In Shaw, the wine bar Maxwell Park has been a popular drinking destination since it opened four years ago. (There’s another Maxwell Park in the Navy Yard.) But the Shaw location has struggled to settle on what kind of foods to permanently pair with its award-winning wine list. Looks like Maxwell Park has found a solution, hiring Masako Morishita to take the kitchen in a completely different direction: Japanese comfort food.
Tapping childhood memories in Japan, chef Morishita is creating a McDonald’s inspired teriyaki burger snuggled in a potato bun, savory cabbage pancakes, a zesty taco rice bowl and the same grilled sardine recipe her mom still makes back in Kobe, Japan.
Maxwell Park is located at 1336 Ninth St. NW. For more information call 202-792-9522 or visit www.maxwelldcwine.com.
Congrats and best of luck to Shaw and Mount Vernon Triangle restaurants and individuals named as 2021 RAMMY Awards finalists. Winners will be announced at the 39th Annual RAMMY Awards Gala Sunday, Sept. 19, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Shaw finalists are ‒ Employee of the Year: Adrian Godinez (RPM Italian) and Alicia Ramos (Convivial); Manager of the Year: Autumn Harriger (Espita Mezcaleria) and Tylyn Mallon (Right Proper Brewing); Formal Fine Dining in a Box: The Dabney; Most Innovative To-Go Packaging Game: Oyster Oyster; Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign: Half Smoke; Outstanding Ghost Kitchen: Ghost Burger (Espita); Coolest Cocktails and Beverages to Go: Capo Delicatessen, Service Bar and Tiger Fork; Standout Family Meal Packages To-Go: Oohs and Aahs and Unconventional Diner; Good Neighbor: Rob Rubba (Oyster Oyster, Bakers Against Racism); Technology Trailblazers: DC To-GoGo and Rumi’s Kitchen.
Mount Vernon Triangle finalists are ‒ Employee of the Year: Rosa Martinez (Alta Strada and Nama); Good Neighbor Award (Individual Honors): Danny Lee (Mandu), Support of Immigrant and AAPI Community and Tim Ma (Lucky Danger and Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate); Good Neighbor Award (Company/Organization Honors): RASA.