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Monday, May 20, 2024


In the (French) Heights

Things are looking up in NoMa, literally. In this bustling neighborhood, Nicholas Stefanelli has unveiled Upstairs at the Morrow, 222 M St. NE. The celeb chef has already brought us Michelin-starred Masseria (near Union Market) and French-themed Le Clou (next door to the Morrow), among others.

Upstairs offers a chic rooftop venue to sip Champagne, tequila, espresso martinis and other upscale libations. To accompany these potent potables, the innovative chef has created whimsical tidbits like duck confit-stuffed taquitos, Lyonnaise deviled eggs, za’atar-spiced grilled chicken sandwiches and jazzed up sushi. And—while savoring all these delicacies–guests can ogle panoramic vistas of the US Capitol, Union Station and—in the distance—the Washington Monument. Naturally, we had to check it out. Since the Upstairs didn’t open until 4 p.m., we lunched at Stefanelli’s Le Clou brasserie.

Another favorite Gallic appetizer is Le Clou’s pate campagne, with assorted garnishes.

Le Clou (French for “the nail”) is ensconced in a former nail factory. Seated in the serene, cutting-edge dining area, we considered the Petite and Grand seafood towers: The “grand” was stacked with an entire Maine lobster, a dozen oysters, shrimp and more. Next time.

Instead, we settled for coquilles Saint Jacques—raw marinated Taylor Bay scallops presented in their shells, adorned with lemon, chives and even a tiny bottle of Tabasco (not that the yummy mollusks needed further embellishment). I went for the house-made pate campagne, served with tiny toast points and preserved prunes. Absolutely delicious, but we were still hungry. Therefore, we ordered dessert, choosing a trio of French cheeses escorted with jam, marmalade, and house-made preserves. From the French wine list, we sipped a dry rose and mellow Cote du Rhone. Lunch for two came to $90, including tax and tip. Our excellent server, Shavon, was friendly and knowledgeable.

Later, we were escorted to Stefanelli’s Upstairs dining area/bar and admired the view. For more information on Upstairs, visit www.themorrowhotel.com. For Le Clou, visit www.lecloudc.com.

Summer at the MVT Market

It’s official: The winter market season is finally over and spring/summer has arrived in Mount Vernon Triangle. That means FRESHFARM MVT (and Biergarten), located at the corner of Fifth and I Streets NW, has reinstituted its spring/summer hours: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Spotlighting a rotation of local brewers, the Market’s popular Biergarten will operate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every second Saturday from April through October.

At Ivy City Smokehouse market, Smoked Salmon Jerky is ideal
for a snack or mixed with cream cheese.

The Market also welcomes a number of new vendors, including Boso Foods. After popping-up several times during the winter market, Boso Foods is hawking its specialty roasted nuts and vegetarian soups. New to the market this spring are Filipino specialties like Ube Donuts from Cocoi’s Sweets and Pastries. Taco Loco continues to dispense breakfast and brunch tacos, burritos and more.

Unfortunately, FRESHFARM MVT bids adieu to Call Your Mother, Sexy Veggie & Just AJ’s. For a complete list of Market vendors and other information, visit www.freshfarm.org.

More good news from MVT: Congrats and best of luck to MVT establishments which have been named finalists for the 2023 RAMMY Awards:

Rising Culinary Star: Chef Elias Taddesse (Melange, now closed);
Favorite Best Bites: Rasa, Stellina Pizzeria;
Pastry Chef of the Year: Teresa Velaquez (A Baked Joint).

In Mount Vernon Triangle, dLeña, by Richard Sandoval Hospitality, is presenting its Luxury Chef’s “Table Experience,” a lavish eight-course repast. Photos: Richard Sandoval Hospitality

See this month’s Shaw Streets column for 14 Shaw neighborhood RAMMYs nominees.

Winners will be announced July 9 at the RAMMY Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For tickets and more information, visit www.therammys.org.

Wine About It

Here’s something fun in Shaw, ideal for early summer relaxing (and imbibing): Lulu’s Wine Garden, 1940 11th St. NW. This casual, communal, al fresco venue is like a beer garden, only it specializes in wine. Oenophiles will find 50 affordable bottles to choose from, plus wine by the glass. (Yes, you can also order a snazzy cocktail.)

Dreamt up by local husband-and-wife team Paul and Brittany Carlson, Lulu’s also dispenses wine-friendly fare created by chef and partner Cable Smith.

Among crowd pleasers Smoked whitefish, whipped feta, crab tostada, chili-mango wings, roasted beet salad, whole (or half) rotisserie chicken, sweet fry bread. Visit www.luluswinegarden.com for details.

More from MVT

Here’s something for a special occasion: dLeña by Chef Richard Sandoval, located at 476 K St. NW, is presenting his “Luxury Chef’s Table Experience,” a lavish eight-course repast. For the dinner, seasonal delicacies include charred avocado with green apple relish (how’s that for a culinary marriage); scallop ceviche with smoked trout caviar; wagyu tartare with preserved lemon and scallions; Chilean sea bass with chipotle miso; cordero a la leña (grilled rack of lamb); platano a la leña (crème fraiche ice cream with salted caramel sauce and other goodies). You get the idea. Offered Tuesday through Saturdays with two seatings per night, the dinner is $160 per person, with $75 optional beverage pairings. The tab is exclusive of tax and gratuity. Guests may also order a la carte from the regular menu. Reservations are available through Open Table. For more information, visit www.dlenadc.com.

Market Watch

While purchasing smoked whitefish salad at Ivy City Smokehouse, 1356 Okie St. NE, manager Gator pointed out Smoked Salmon Jerky. Ideal for a snack or mixed with cream cheese, a 1.7-ounce packet is just $5.99. Visit www.ivycitysmokehouse.com.

Bon Anniversaire!

Le Diplomate, 1601 14th St. NW, is celebrating 10 years of dispensing fabulous French cuisine to Logan Circle diners and beyond. 

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