East meets West in Mount Vernon Triangle with the recent unveiling of Bar Chinois at 455 I St. NW. Created by co-owner Dean Mosones and chef Tim Ma, the snazzy newcomer showcases Frenchified cocktails and innovative dim sum. Foodies will remember chef Ma, co-founder of the Chinese-American Lucky Danger pop-up at the same address. Before that, the space housed Prather’s on the Alley.
On a balmy fall evening, we dined there al fresco. The place was humming, and we were grateful for our 7:30 p.m. reservations. From general manager Margaux Donati’s French wine list, we sipped a lovely Cotes du Rhone. There’s also pinot blanc and pinot noir from Alsace and lots of champagne. Snazzy cocktails include a Chinois mule (vodka, creme de cassis and more), and a Martinez made with gin and Dolin Rouge (French vermouth). Plus a brief beer listing.
Complementing these potent potables are dim sum offerings including gossamer-light Beijing pork dumplings; you may also opt for ginger chicken or “beyond” (vegan). Shrimp ‒ or veggie ‒ spring rolls are not shaped like cylinders. Instead, they are fashioned into square packets presented in a Chinese carryout carton. A holdover from predecessor Lucky Danger? Served in a similar container is the duck bao ‒ moist, melt-in-your-mouth duck confit snuggled with pickled ginger and cabbage slaw. “Crispy” chopped chicken is not crisp, but the generous white meat chunks are delicately perfumed with five-spice powder.
Service, provided by Rami and Emily, was pleasant and professional. For hours and more information, visit www.barchinoisdc.com.
Egging Us On
We had been hearing good things about the deviled eggs at Etabli, 84 T St. NW (Bloomingdale), where Tyber Creek Wine Bar used to be. Husband Peter and I love this southern delicacy. So, on a recent Sunday, we decided to check out the eggs. Problem: the highly touted appetizer is not on the brunch menu. But we begged chef Antonio Alfaro to provide it anyway, which he did. We were not disappointed; the eggy quartet was richly enhanced with pork belly morsels and bleu cheese and sprinkled with dainty little radish sprouts.
After considering the smoked salmon bagel and shrimp-and-grits, we proceeded to the shakshuka. Presented in a cast iron vessel, the Israeli-inspired concoction of onions and bell pepper strips was topped with a runny poached egg and feta cheese. The accompanying baguette was ideal for sopping up the yummy juices. My breakfast burrito was a generous tortilla wrap crammed with scrambled eggs, sausage, salsa and home-fried potatoes. The last also appeared as a side dish, along with herbed sour cream.
Among innovative cocktails, my lip-tingling Bloody Mary was laced with horseradish and crowned with an olive, pickled pepper and dill pickle. You can also find beaucoup kinds of beer and wine, including flights.
Etabli’s dinner menu showcases whole branzino, pork loin chops, duck confit, wood-fired veggies and sourdough pizza with assorted toppings. If you save room for dessert, try the challah bread pudding or peanut butter cheesecake.
Operated by Kathleen Davis and Thomas Boiswert, Etabli (French for “established”) is open daily, including weekend brunch. Prices are moderate, but there’s a 20% service charge. For exact hours and more information, visit www.etablidc.com.
More in Bloomies
Not far away, the Bloomingdale Farmers Market, 100 R St. NW next to the Big Bear Cafe, will operate Sundays through Dec. 19. Hours are 9 a.m. ‘til 1 p.m.
Maiz64, a high-end Mexican restaurant, has arrived at 1324 14th St. NW. The handsome Logan newcomer is richly appointed with glass cubes, gold-encrusted corn complete with husks and a wooden table that weighs more than a ton, we’re told. Chef Alam Mendez Florian’s charcoal-burning Spanish oven is visible from the dining area. Tucked behind a small bar is the squat white chimney of a gas-fired comal, the flat-top stove used to cook tortillas. That’s where the 31-year-old Oaxacan native showcases Maiz64’s namesake ingredient: corn masa, and lots of it, prepared in amazing ways.
Maiz64’s a la carte menu transforms Midatlantic produce into traditional and innovative dishes. But corn is king here, hence the restaurant’s moniker: Maiz64. The number refers to the number of Mexican corn varieties.
A six-seat bar surrounding the comal serves as a theater for seven- to eight-course tasting menus. Chef Mendez Florian taps four different colors of corn, grinding whole kernels into masa with an enormous molino (mortar and pestle). The resulting tortillas form the base of beautifully presented tacos filled with terrine of pressed suckling pig, charred broccoli with cashews, chicken breast with potatoes and fennel and mint marinated fish.
Also emerging from the kitchen are quesadillas, tostadas and oven-roasted octopus al pastor with eggplant and pineapple. Lobster and mussels are seared in butter and draped over a mussel tamal.
Mixologist Arturo Rojas does marvelous things with spirits, incorporating them into margaritas, mojitos, pandas (gin, lychees, coconut water) and something called Kentucky Punch.
Maiz64 is open six nights a week, closed Mondays. For more information, visit www.maiz64.com.
More Dressy Mexican …
This time in Shaw. Mexican-born Alfredo Solis has unveiled Mariscos1133 at – where else? ‒ 1133 11th St. NW. Foodies might remember Solis’ other local culinary enterprises: El Sol (nearby), Mezcalero and Anafre (both on 14th St. NW). His newest restaurant focuses on coastal cooking from California to South America. The menu includes Brazilian moqueca (fish stew), several kinds of ceviche, crab cakes and other dishes that will likely call back to Solis’s days cooking for Passion Food Group’s now-defunct Ceiba.
Food with a View
An elegant rooftop bar, Lady Bird, has arrived at 1315 16th St. NW, near Scott Circle. Named after a former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, the newcomer sits atop the new Kimpton Banneker Hotel. While gazing at the Washington Monument and the White House, guests nibble on chef Laurent Hollaender’s “rooftop bites,” like heirloom tomato tartine, goat cheese and cornmeal beignets, cheese and charcuterie plates with chicken truffle pate, soppressata (Italian dry salami) and lingonberry jam, as well as baba ganoush, grilled lamb sausage on naan and boneless chicken thigh “bites” with crushed olives.
Hollaender, a native of Strasbourg, France, also presides over the Le Sel kitchen, downstairs in the Banneker’s lobby level. For hours and more information, visit www.thebanneker.com.
New Plant Life
MITA has popped up inside La Cosecha market at 1280 Fourth St. NE, near Union Market. Heading the plant-based Latino kitchen are acclaimed chefs Miguel Guerra and Tatiana Mora. For more information, visit www.mitaplantbased.com.