Tag Archives: Restaurants

Barracks Row Starbucks Removes Sidewalk Café

Gone!

Gone!

Barracks Row Starbucks Removes Sidewalk Café

by Larry Janezich

Yesterday, Starbuck on Barracks Row removed the tables, umbrellas, and chairs which formerly occupied the space in front of the coffee shop.  When asked why, an employee said, “Oh, they took them away for the winter.”

A better bet is that the seating attracted a large contingent of semi-permanent non-customers – some waiting for the buses which stop in front of the shop and some just waiting.

The action comes in the wake of comments made to the ANC6b ABC Committee last August 29th by Matchbox Food Group vice president Fred Herrmann.  Herrmann cited several issues troubling Barracks Row restaurateurs and merchants, including “panhandling” in front of Starbucks and 7-11, the unsafe condition of the sidewalks – particularly the uneven surfaces presented by the one foot square pieces of slate which augment the herringbone brick sidewalks – and lastly, the conditions in the alley backing up to 7th Street between E and G Streets, SE.   See CHC’s report on the latter issue below.

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Barracks Row Neighbors Mobilize Against “Out of Control” Alley

The Seamier Side of the Barracks Row Restaurants Backing Up to 7th Street

The Seamier Side of the Barracks Row Restaurants Backing Up to 7th Street

7th Street Alley Between E and F Streets, SE, on October 2, 2013, looking South

7th Street Alley Between E and F Streets, SE, on October 2, 2013, Looking South

7th Street Alley Between E and F Streets, SE, October 2, Looking North

7th Street Alley Between E and F Streets, SE, October 2, 2013, Looking North

Barracks Row Neighbors Mobilize Against “Out of Control” Alley

ANC Commissioner Asked to Broker Meeting with Restaurateurs, City

by Larry Janezich

Barracks Row neighbors along 7th Street, backing up to the alley which services numerous popular Barracks Row restaurants between E and G Streets, including The Chesapeake Room, Ted’s Bulletin, Fusion Grill, Las Placitas, Matchbox, Ambar, Cava, and Lavagna, are asking ANC6B  Commissioner Phil Peisch to organize a meeting including restaurant owners, 7th Street neighbors, and city officials, to address the deplorable and unsanitary conditions of their common alley.

Both residents and restaurateurs are unhappy with the alley.  On August 29, Matchbox Food Group vice president Fred Herrmann told ANC6b’s ABC Committee during a liquor license renewal hearing, that much of the problem stems from the surfacing of the alley itself which collects stagnant water.  He cited problems with rats, grease and odors, saying “it stinks.”  Hermann said he had asked the DC Restaurant Association to intercede with the city to address the problem.

Nevertheless, two weeks after Herrmann’s appearance before the ANC Committee, an investigation by the city’s Environmental Crimes Unit prompted by a complaint regarding a grease spill in the alley resulted in a fine to Fusion Grill and a warning to every other restaurant in the block; all of them had grease containers not up to code and were an attractant to rodents.

The idea for a summit grew out of a suggestion from a city inspector who offered to make herself available on any of six days between October 21 and 31 to meet with all of the restaurant owners on the alley to review with them, as a group, what they need to do to comply with city code.  Neighbors subsequently appealed to ANC6b commissioner Phil Peisch to organize such a meeting, in hopes that a unified approach to the problems and a demonstration of cooperation from restaurants plus input from the Restaurant Association will spur the city to resurface the alley and resolve the drainage problems.

Contacted for his reaction yesterday, Peisch said, “I just heard about this idea a few hours ago, but I think it’s a great idea.  The alley behind the west side of the 500 block of 8th Street SE is out of control, and the restaurants that use that alley need to take ownership of the problem.  I think a meeting with the restaurants is a step in that direction.  In addition, DDOT needs to step-up and fix the condition of the alley.  The alley is not designed to withstand the large commercial vehicles that use it, and it is riddled with potholes.  The potholes create standing water – and also fill with grease and run-off from the dumpsters – which exacerbates the rodent problem.  I’ve been reaching out to DDOT since July about this issue and, although they’ve finally committed to repaving, they’ve provided no timetable for when that repaving may occur or any further detail about what they plan to do.”

Asked how he intended to proceed, Peisch said he was “not sure about logistics for setting up the meeting.”  He also said, the “timetable for getting this situation resolved is asap, but (realistically) I expect this to be a long-term effort to really get the meaningful changes that are necessary.”

Alley surfacing aside, there are other issues which need to be addressed – primarily by the restaurants.  The most critical problems, in addition to alley surface and draining according to one neighbor who has devoted considerable time and effort to identifying the main alley issues:

  • Food waste dumpsters are not being closed
  • Many restaurants do not have inside garbage storage (Krazy Burger and Rose’s Luxury do have inside garbage storage)
  • Restaurants do not all use compacting dumpsters

Below is a contact list for government agencies for complaints about specific outside rat, trash, and food safety issues which being circulated among 7th Street neighbors.

OUTSIDE RAT AND TRASH ISSUES

Mr. Gabriel Curtis, Supervisory Pest Controller for the Rodent Control Division, Department of Public Works, 202 724-8540 gabriel.curtis@dc.gov

USED GREASE ISSUES

Ms. Anita Chavis, Environmental Crimes Investigator, Department of Public Works,

202 576-9404, Office: 202 645-7190 anita.chavis@dc.gov

FOOD SAFETY (Trash, rats, grease, stagnant water, etc., that may be affecting the safety of the food inside an establishment)

Ms. Jacqueline Coleman Supervisory Sanitarian, Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division, Department of Health, 202 442-5928 jacqueline.coleman@dc.gov

Lenard Harrison, Supervisory Code Enforcement Inspector with the Department of  Health, 202 442-5864 Lenard.harrison@dc.gov

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Capitol Hill District Taco Opens – Photos

District Taco at 656 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

District Taco at 656 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Mid afternoon diners

Mid afternoon diners

The line

The line

008

Capitol Hill District Taco Opens

Taco Competition Gets Tougher

by Larry Janezich

After two days of a soft opening, District Taco’s Capitol Hill location at 656 Pennsylvania Avenue – the space formerly occupied by Yes! – opened for real today.  It joins the recently opened Chipotle and Pacifico Café a block or two away, which are themselves newcomers to a market already served by restaurants like Las Placitas, La Plaza, and the Banana Café.  District Taco prides itself on the freshness and quality of its ingredients.  Hours for the restaurant are 7am – 10pm Monday thru Friday and 10am – 9pm Saturday and Sunday.

 

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Controversy Over Mural Proposed for Barracks Row

Proposed Mural for Tash/Nooshi on Barracks Row

Proposed Mural for Tash/Nooshi on Barracks Row

The Side of 524 8th Street Is the Site of the Proposed Mural

The Side of 524 8th Street Is the Site of the Proposed Mural

Neighbors Question Taste and Appropriateness of Proposed Barracks Row Mural

by Larry Janezich

Tash and Nooshi co-owner Vanessa Lin will make a presentation on the proposed mural, pictured above, at Tuesday night’s ANC6B meeting at 7:00pm in Hill Center.  Nearby residential neighbors have expressed their displeasure about the mural to their ANC6B representative, Kirsten Oldenburg.  “Taste aside, we believe the mural is ill-suited for our historic Capitol Hill neighborhood,” said one concerned neighbor. 

The building at 524 8th Street, SE, formerly occupied by Chateaux Animaux, currently houses Tash House of Kabob, run by Lin’s husband, Nariman Modanlou, on its first floor.  A second floor restaurant, Nooshi (noodles and sushi) will be run by Lin and is scheduled to open at the end of March.  The couple owns two other similar restaurants – the original Nooshi downtown, and Moby Dick House of Kabob in Ashburn.

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New Feature: Gluten Free Gourmand – A Visit To Barracks Row’s Lavagna

Lavagna Ristorante Italiano

Lavagna Ristorante Italiano

New Feature: Gluten Free Gourmand – A Visit To Barracks Row’s Lavagna

by Larry Janezich

As diners increasingly request gluten-free options by necessity or choice, more and more restaurants are accommodating the demand by offering dishes free of the protein contained in wheat, barley and rye. 

Lavagna, which opened in 2011 in the space formerly occupied by the Starfish Café on Barracks Row, is a step ahead of the 8th Street competition in this regard, providing numerous gluten-free options on its menu.

 The house-made pastas at Lavagna include gluten-free options which are handmade from scratch on a daily basis, the whim of the chef deciding whether the day’s offering will be penne or rigatoni.  The dishes which would accommodate the gluten-free pasta include the meatball and marinara sauce; Bolognese house meat sauce; and the pesto with basil, pine nuts and house Italian sausage. 

A non-pasta gluten-free option is the risotto with crimini and hen of the wood mushrooms and mascarpone.  The restaurant also serves the northern Italy staple, polenta, in the form of a parmesan polenta cake that can be ordered in place of the pasta.  In addition to gluten-free salads, the starters include a free-range grass fed short rib served with horseradish cheese polenta.  There is also an impressive list of house cured meats and cheeses for the charcuterie board served with house preserves, olives and pickled vegetables – hold the crostini, though. The crème brulee dessert is gluten-free.  The menu changes frequently with new offerings or modifications of dishes already on the menu, “depending on how it’s working” according to our server.    

Ingredients are sourced from local farms which are listed on chalkboards (lavagna, meaning chalkboard, but also the name of a fishing village on the Italian Riviera) on the walls of the restaurant. 

The bar offers $9 craft cocktails many featuring in house made infusions such as raspberry vodka, lemoncello, orangecello, basil tequila, and pineapple rum.  Local craft beer is $6.  Wines by the glass are $7-$11, by the bottle $26-$94. 

Owner Steve Cheung’s family also owns Fusion, just down Barracks Row. 

Hours:

Lunch, Tuesday – Friday 11:30 – 2:30

Dinner, Tuesday – Sunday 4:30 – 10:00

Brunch Saturday – Sunday  11:30 – 2:30

Closed Monday

539 8th Street, SE

202 546 5006

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Ninnella Italian Restaurant on Lincoln Park Opens Tonight – Photos

Ninnella on Lincoln Park

Ninnella on Lincoln Park

Chef Simeoni on left; Angelo Forte makes final preparations before opening

Dining room features a winter fireplace

Dining room features a winter fireplace

Ninnella Italian Restaurant on Lincoln Park Opens Tonight – Menu Below

by Larry Janezich

Ninnella, the new Italian restaurant on Lincoln Park, formerly the Park Café, opens tonight.  Chef Emanuel Simeoni from Frioli in northern Italy joins brothers Angleo and Alessalandro Forte from Campania in southern Italy in the new joint venture.  Simeoni comes to Ninnella after 15 years of experience in Italian cooking in New York City at several restaurants, including his own.  Simeoni pledges at the minimum, a soft opening tonight, and offers a glass of wine on the house and maybe some appetizers when the door opens.

Although the menu currently does not feature gluten free pasta, Simeoni says that it will be offered in the future and notes that polenta is available. 

The menu is as follows:

Antipasti

Mediterranean sea bass tartar, capers, citrus dressing for $12

Fried calamari, rock shrimp with Marinara sauce for $14

Buffalo mozzarella with roasted tomatoes and basil oil for $14

Barolo Marinated Rabbit Liver Pate served with crostini for $12

Baby spinach salad with walnuts and balsamic reduction for $12

Organic mixed green salad, radishes, herbs, lemon citronette for $8

Baby Rucola salad with shitake mushrooms and shaved Grana cheese for $12

Frisee salad Caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan cheese and crostini for $12

Pasta

Hand made angel hair pasta sautéed with clams, cherry tomato and zucchini for $16

Hand made Tagliatelle in classic tomato and basil sauce for $13

Hand made tagliatelle in classic Bolognese sauce for $14

Home made Pappardelle in Bolognese sauce for $14

Lasagna with lamb ragout, butternut squash, tomato sauce, grana cheese for $14

Pesce

Pan seared filet of Mediterranean sea bass with fennel creme and Beluga lentils for $26

Roast wild salmon filet, salsa verede, roasted tomatoes for $22

Roasted lamb rack served with mashed potatoes and balsamic caramelized onions for $26

Beef filet mignon served with asparagus flan, vin santo, thyme and beef sauce for $26

Dessert

Pannacotta for $10

Valrona chocolate mousse for $10

Classic Tiramisu for $10

A range of Italian wines will be served as well.  A gas fireplace will provide atmosphere to the front of the restaurant during the winter months.

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When Rats Win: What Recourse Do Residents Have When Restaurants Make Bad Neighbors?

Neighbors At Odds With These Food Service Venues

Neighbors At Odds With These Food Service Venues

Rat Holes In Yard of Resident Behind Restaurant

When Rats Win:  What Recourse Do Residents Have When Restaurants Make Bad Neighbors?

City Is Unable or Unwilling to Regulate Health Concerns Effectively

by Larry Janezich

Pizza-Iole Pizza by the Slice, the B Spot and “il Capo di Capitol Hill” (the re-named Mi Vecindad) all contribute to an ongoing trash, rat, and noise issue distressing residential neighbors near 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. 

Neighbors have a long and well-documented history of efforts to resolve issues concerning properties owned by Mahmoud Abd-alla at the above location, including 14 calls to the city between October 2011 to August 2012 concerning the trash issue and six calls since March 2012 complaining about noise or late night construction work.  Neighbors have also reached out to ANC 6B and Councilmember Tommy Wells.

The city has responded by dispatching inspectors on a regular basis to address the neighbor’s concerns about food trash which contribute to an infestation of rats in nearby yards.  Baiting with poison has ameliorated but not eliminated the problem. 

But despite the strenuous efforts of residents, problems continue.  Recently the trash dumpsters that are the likely culprits for attracting rats were moved – not to mitigate the rat problem, but to place them out of view from neighbors’ windows so they could no longer take pictures of them.  In fact, the dumpsters were moved closer to residents’ homes. 

Most frustrating, according to one neighbor, is the failure to get city officials to say what the city has required the venues to do and how the city is following up to ensure compliance.  The answer to what the consequences will be for failure to comply appears to be that there are none.  Because of off and on temporary compliance, and casual monitoring by Department of Health Code Enforcement, neighbors will bring the issue to ANC6B next Tuesday. 

Capitol Hill restaurateur Henri Mendoza has leased former Pacific Café Vietnamese restaurant from Abd-allah – reportedly, a 15 year lease.  Initially opened as a Cuban restaurant, the place has recently converted to an Italian menu.  The liquor license for the establishment comes up for renewal this spring and will be on the ANC agenda in April or March, which may provide neighbors with some leverage with respect to a voluntary agreement. 

Meanwhile, the former proprietor of Pacific Café has re-emerged as a manager Pizza-Iole adjacent to the restaurant.  Above the fast food is The B Spot described on their website as “a multi-purpose Art Gallery, Juice Bar and Tea Room located in the cultural corridor of Eastern Market.”  The event space is available for catered events, and noise from that space has spilled out onto a rear deck, contributing to the neighbors’ unhappiness with the commercial strip.  As readers of local city news know, spaces that are catered do not operate under the same regulatory burden as spaces that are established bars or restaurants serving liquor.

Much of the problem seems to be unwillingness on the part of these establishments to be good neighbors – a problem that is by no means restricted to this particular strip.  Recently, neighbors brought the issue of non-compliance with a voluntary agreement by Chipotle on Barracks Row before the ANC.  Similarly, residents of 8th Street, SE, point to the differences in food trash existing among three restaurants on 7th Street opposite Eastern Market:  Tunnicliff’s being among the worst, and BoxCar and Acqua al Due among the best.  As the photos below illustrate, there is a wide disparity between what the city will tolerate and what a good restaurant-neighbor will voluntarily provide, and it is unrealistic to place the entire burden on residents to become de facto regulators, willing to cite each and every infraction, in order to bridge the gap.

Rats continue to be a problem for residents bordering the 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue strip.  Neither the ANC nor Councilmember Wells’ office has as of yet stepped in to demand, devise, or mediate a satisfactory and long-term solution.   

Alley View of Boxcar

Alley View of Boxcar

Alley View of Acqua al 2

Alley View of Acqua al 2

Alley View of Tunnicliff's

Alley View of Tunnicliff’s

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Hawk & Dove Set To Open Thursday, January 17

What You See As You Enter

What You See As You Enter

The Elevated First Floor Bar to the Left

The Elevated First Floor Bar to the Left

First Floor Seating to the Right Looking Out Toward Pennsylvania Avenue

First Floor Seating to the Right Looking Out Toward Pennsylvania Avenue

Upstairs Bar Looking Toward Pennsylvania Avenue

Upstairs Bar Looking Toward Pennsylvania Avenue

Upstairs Seating Area Looking toward Rear of Building, Bar on Right

Upstairs Seating Area Looking toward Rear of Building, Bar on Right

Chef Magnanelli

Chef Magnanelli

Hawk & Dove Open Kitchen.  Above, The Original Exterior Sign Circa 1967

Hawk & Dove Open Kitchen. Above, The Original Exterior Sign Circa 1967

The Hawk & Dove Set to Open Thursday, January 17

by Larry Janezich (with thanks to Maggie Hall)

The Hawk & Dove expects to open on Thursday, January 17, according to manager Jack McAuliffe.  The restaurant was originally scheduled to open in February, but moved its debut up, in part, to take advantage of Inauguration traffic.  McAuliffe, until recently the general manager at Boxcar, another Xavier Cerveras enterprise, said, “we want to bring a totally different experience to the block – try to do something new with a fun feel.”

One of the innovations McAuliffe brought to the new Hawk & Dove is an original cocktail menu, some of which feature specialty infusions made in-house.  Eight original specialty cocktails are featured as either “Dove Tails” or “Hawk Tails.”  Among the former is “The Mexicana,” built around hibiscus and lime infused tequila; among the latter, “The Godfather,” based on espresso infused scotch.  The restaurant’s two bars will serve 18 beers on tap, including two from local breweries; Heavy Seas’ Loose Cannon IPA, and Chocolate City’s Cornerstone Copper Ale.

Chef Jeremy Magnanelli says the menu aspires to modern American pub fare “a log-cabiny feel incorporated into the food,” with flatbread and pizza from their open flame oven, visible to patrons in the restaurant’s open kitchen.  Menu options include Guinness battered brie, and the intriguing three cheese polenta served in a cast iron bowl topped with bacon and an egg and served with a splash of truffle oil.  Entrees will include Sicilian eggplant ragu with polenta, salmon, steaks, and roasted chicken.

Magnanelli says the Hawk & Dove will rely on locally or regionally produced products, including bacon from Benton’s Farm, pork from Duroc pigs locally produced, steaks from Creekstone Ranch, poultry from Freebird Ranch and produce from Lady Moon farm.  The chef comes from Cerveras’s Senart’s Oyster Bar and has a background in Italian, classical French, and American cooking.  Before Senart’s, he worked at Marcel’s, The Inn at Little Washington, and Bluepoint in North Carolina.

The Hawk & Dove will be open at 4:30pm initially (including Inaugural Day) but will start serving lunch on Friday, January 25th.  According to McAuliffe, live blue grass music upstairs could be a part of future weekend brunches, but “that’s a ways off.”

 

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