Historic Pub Grub
We recently enjoyed a tasty, moderately priced brunch at Boundary Stone Public House, 116 Rhode Island Ave. NW (in Bloomingdale). Besides savoring better-than-usual pub grub, we also absorbed some interesting and important Washington history.
The popular neighborhood watering hole/eatery is named after the 40 boundary stones laid out between 1791-92 along the lines marking the border between Washington, Virginia and Maryland. Customers can view and touch an original stone in front of the pub. Sibling restaurants are nearby Red Hen and All-Purpose Pizzeria (Shaw and Riverfront).
More history: The 11-year-old Boundary Stone pub is housed in a former movie house, reportedly the first integrated DC theater. Liv, our well-informed server, filled us in on these fascinating facts.
Our trio perched at high top tables in the bar area. Sipping excellent $5 Bloody Marys, we launched our repast with a quintet of deviled eggs, a montage of mashed egg yolk and cherry pepper relish. Tongue-tingling, fried jalapeno circles crowned each egg.
I decided on the honey-hot chicken sandwich. Nestled in a potato bun, the deep-fried white meat was crunchy and delicious, but almost too spicy. Peter’s corned beef hash was “The best I’ve ever tasted.” Nan loved her veggie burger, a flavorful mixture of chickpeas and quinoa. Among other vegan options are an “eggless” Caesar salad and honey hot seitan (wheat-based meat substitute). You will also find a breakfast burger stacked with a patty, fried egg, onions and cheese. There’s also a spinach and goat cheese quiche. Lunch for three, including a 20-percent service charge, came to $76.
We’ll have to return for dinner, when we can choose from fish-and-chips, beer-braised mussels and chorizo, or maybe steak frites. If we have space, we might conclude with Guinness cake or crème brûlée. For hours and more information, visit www.boundarystonedc.com.
Union Market welcomes Yasmine, where Rappahannock Oyster Bar formerly reigned. The lively Lebanese-style restaurant dispenses “street foods” like lamb kebabs, beef shawarma, falafel, pita-wrapped sandwiches, salads and platters. The latter includes meshawi (lamb kebabs, shish taouk and beef shawarma with grilled onion and tomato). There’s also a veggie platter.
Chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison reunite with beverage director Said Haddad to create this zesty newcomer. They both formerly cooked at Michelin-rated Maydan. Yasmīne, named after Haddad’s beloved grandmother, also pours arak, a fiery Middle Eastern distilled spirit similar to ouzo. The full bar also offers wines, beers and cocktails.
Located at 1309 Fifth St. SE, Union Market is open daily. For individual kiosk hours visit www.unionmarketdc.com.
Return to Big Bear
It had been a while since we visited Big Bear Café, 1700 First St. NW, in Bloomingdale. The 15-year-old Big Bear is a neighborhood favorite, especially among millennials. On an unseasonably warm Sunday, we queued up and placed our orders at the busy counter: Peter’s falafel wrap was chock full of curried chickpeas, cucumbers, and pickled red onions. Tasty, but messy.
My chicken fajita wrap was a medley of white meat cubes, roasted red bell peppers and greens. Both of our dishes arrived with a mixed green salad. Among other options were grass-fed beef burgers, breakfast burritos and pizza. However, Big Bear is best known for breakfast, slinging all kinds of coffee and tea drinks, lox-and-bagels and eggy sandwiches. There’s also a brief listing of “natural” wines (we liked our crisp Spanish white), champagne, beer, ciders and mimosas.
We’re happy to relate that Big Bear generally eschews plastic, instead using “real” wine glasses and coffee cups. Ditto for silverware. Food arrives in cardboard cartons. Big Bear hours vary. For more information, visit www.bigbearcafe-dc.com.
To Shaw’s Tavern, 520 Florida Ave. NW. As MidCity DC previously reported, the Shaw neighborhood watering hole has celebrated its first decade in business. Shaw’s Tavern is known for its hefty burgers, chicken and waffles, “taco Tuesdays,” sassy cocktails, lively happy hours and bottomless weekend brunches. Shaw’s Tavern is open daily. For more information, visit www.shawstavern.com.
Melding American soul food with Ethiopian zest, award-winning chef Elias Taddesse has unveiled Doro Soul Food at 1819 Seventh St. NW, near Howard University. For now, the newcomer only offers carryout and delivery, with catering in the works.
The menu, please: fried doro chicken plates with black cumin-drenched cornbread and doro wat-spiced macaroni and cheese. Among other takes on American soul food are turmeric-spiced coleslaw, mashed potatoes drizzled with timiz peppercorn gravy and collard greens braised with smoked turkey and Ethiopian spices. (Timiz pepper is a traditional ingredient in Ethiopia’s berbere spice blend.) For Doro Soul Food hours and more information, visit www.dorosoulfood.com.
Chef Taddesse, who was born in Ethiopia and trained in France, also operates Melange, 449 K St. NW, in Mount Vernon Triangle. Melange is especially known for its hefty burgers.
“When do you open?” Susan Qin, proprietor of Chinese Street Market, 1117 10th St. NW, often gets this query from would-be diners. Instead, her Shaw business is a pop-up food shop with a website devoted to Chinese food and culture. Qin, who comes from Chengdu (Sichuan), hosts cooking classes, workshops and weekend pop-up offering dumplings, noodles, dim sum and much more.
Her business aims to educate Washingtonians (and others) about Chinese food and culture, through events, products and educational blog posts. For more information, visit www.chinesestreetmarket.com.
Ambar, the lively Barracks Row charmer showcasing exotic Balkan cuisine, is hatching its second spinoff. Any day now, look for the Shaw outpost at 1547 Seventh St. NW. The sibling comes with a second-story rakia cocktail bar complete with a retractable roof. (Rakia is a fruit-based spirit popular in the Balkans.) This is Ambar’s third enterprise; others are at 523 Eighth St. SE and in Clarendon (Arlington).
For updates, visit www.ambarrestaurant.com/shaw.
The Pig, 1320 14th St. NW (Logan Circle), has closed after a decade of nose-to-tail barbecue and other porcine-based victuals. The Pig was a member of the EatwellDC restaurant group, which still operates nearby Logan Tavern and other local eateries. For more information, visit www.eatwelldc.com.