Dining companion Peter and I recently savored a lovely brunch at Ammathar Thai Cuisine, 1326 14th St. NW, in Logan Circle. The place seemed familiar, and we soon learned why. The spiffy, 23-year-old Asian restaurant was once called Thai Tanic. We’d visited there several years ago and liked it—both for the zesty cuisine and the catchy moniker.
During the Covid shutdown, Thai Tanic folded, only to rise again under a new name. This time we were seated by the window, which was graced by a lovely potted white orchid. Hovering overhead was a chandelier-like light fixture; walls a shimmering blue.
We found the extensive menu almost overwhelming: garden (veggie) rolls, coconut shrimp, assorted soups including tom yum (spicy lemon grass), shredded green papaya salad, grilled chicken satays, the familiar pad thai and pad kee mao (drunken noodles with choice of protein), red and green curries, crispy deep-fried salmon and a scary-sounding “Bird’s Nest on Fire.”
We settled on the papaya salad, a refreshing mélange of shredded green papaya, carrots, green beans, and scented with ginger. Tiny sundried shrimp were too tough to eat, but crushed peanuts added a pleasant crunch.
Chicken satays, white meat threaded onto four skewers, were very moist. The crowning touch was savory/sweet peanut dipping sauce.
I decided on drunken noodles with seafood—billed as “two red peppers” hot. I asked the kitchen to knock the heat down to “one pepper” and they complied. The result was delicious, delivering just the right of firepower. The seafood was a combination of mussels, calamari and shrimp; all were tender and plump.
The bar offers a comprehensive cocktail listing, plus a smaller wine selection. I settled for a glass of pleasant $9 Pinot Grigio, while designated driver Peter sipped Thai iced tea, which came in a handsome glass. Service, rendered by Tanya, was friendly and knowledgeable. Lunch for two came to a reasonable $51 before tip. For hours and more information, visit www.ammathar.com.
Ivy City Fun
Here’s something cool, if you have kids, or even if you don’t: In Ivy City, we stumbled into The Lane at Ivy City, 1408 Okie St. NE. This place is amazing, where you can entertain your children or simply indulge your inner child.
“We love DC,” said Lane proprietor and Capitol Hill resident Jennifer May. “We wanted a place where we can all hang out, with or without kids. I have two of my own,” she added. Downstairs is a sprawling playground, where children were romping on slides, teeter-totters, climbing net and playing with other toys. They were also engaged in educational activities, including exploring the cuisines of various nations including Mexico and Canada. Books abounded.
Meanwhile, parents and other grownups can visit the full bar on the sunny roof deck, which provides an impressive view. (By the way, all “glassware” is made of sturdy plastic.)
Adult attractions include a Wine & Autobahn beer garden, Whiskey Wednesdays, and Yappy Hour on the Patio, where guests may bring their dogs while noshing on snacks like Goldfish crackers, popcorn, fruit. More substantial fare includes croissants, bagels, sandwiches (cookie butter and jelly), personal pizzas and “the best burgers around,” says May.
The Lane at Ivy City is open daily. For fees and more information, visit www.thelaneivycity.com.
From China to Japan
Bar Chinois, 455 I St. NW, which dispenses creative dim sum, dumplings, wonton soup and “Frenchified” cocktails in Mount Vernon Triangle, is expanding to Logan Circle. Don’t rush over there right away; biz partners Dean Mosones, Mark Minicucci, and Margaux Donati won’t be unveiling their stylish spinoff—Bar Japonais —until early next year. You’ll find the future izakaya (literally “casual stay-drink-place”) at 1520 14th St. NW, site of the departed Estadio. Stay tuned. For updates, visit www.barchinoisdc.com.
In the Atlas District, James Beard-nominated chef Jerome Grant and wife Sophia have parked their Mahal BBQ pop-up on 1351 H St. NE, on the patio of the popular Maketto. Mahal, which means “love” in Tagalog, showcases Afro-Filipino flavors in slow-smoked plates, including lemongrass marinated chicken, tocino-cured pork belly, whole fish with red chili coconut adobo and Sichuan peppercorn beef. Cooling diners’ palates is refreshing papaya slaw. The special barbecue pop-up is offered Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
On a dreary, rainy Friday night, Peter—a barbecue afficionado—and I decided to check it out. Because of the bad weather, the barbecue pop-up was moved from the patio tiki hut to Maketto’s upstairs dining area. From the special menu we ordered: Lorna’s OQ lumpia (Philippine-style egg rolls stuffed with shredded pork, carrots and cabbage), a delicious smoked half chicken, the afore mentioned papaya slaw and cornbread.
Here’s Peter: The overall experience exceeded expectations. I especially enjoyed our BBQ entrée, the succulent smoked half chicken accompanied by four zesty dipping sauces: banana ketchup BBQ, calamansi white BBQ, scotch bonnet hot mustard and chili vinegar. The sauces enhanced the chicken. The white sauce was my favorite, reminding me of the condiment used with BBQ chicken in Alabama.
For Mahal’s exact hours and more information, visit www.maketto1351.com.
Also in the Atlas District, look for a Sticky Rice spinoff at 802 13th St. NE—just off H—where DC Diner used to be. The future Asian eatery will reportedly serve Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. (Sticky Rice is located at 1224 H St. NE.) Watch for updates. Nearby, also in the works is Dumpling Hot Pot, a casual Chinese restaurant coming to 1216 H St. NE.