Astoria Comes to 17th Street in Dupont

Astoria (1521 17th St. NW (b/t Q & P), 5p-2a Sun-Th, 5p-3a Mon, Instagram, Washingtonian), from Devin Gong and the folks that brought you the great cocktail + bao/dumplings/skewers H Street spot, Copycat Co., opened Wednesday, April 24th (as first reported by PoPville). This 17th Street spot, in the long-vacant space between JR’s and Agora, focuses on Sichuan food and cocktails. Surprisingly, there has been a dearth of media/PR-driven hype about this spot, despite the awesomeness of Copycat. Only the Washington Business Journal contributed any original reporting on this spot, and that was back in April 2018 (Note: Washingtonian posted a more legit opening article a few hours after this was published.  So Barred in DC swung by its first Friday in operation for a first look. In short, this place, really a fancier version of Copycat with more significant food options, is tremendous, and there may be nothing set up like it in DC.

The drink menu is comprised almost entirely $14 cocktails. Like Copycat, the base menu consists of classic cocktails (Bourbon Smash, Caipirinha, Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, Daiquris/Gimlets, Painkiller) with “Suggestions” for variations. When I visited there was an additional seven cocktails that were featured (presumably rotating on a regular basis). I got the Banana Painkiller (featured) plus a Boulevard Smash (bourbon smash with campari). Many of the drinks come in For those that prefer something cheaper to drink, $6 TsingTao and PBR cans, $8 3 Stars, and $14 Brooklyn or Anderson Valley Boont Amber (large format presumably), along with $12 wine by glass options were also available.

For the Sichuan cuisine (spicy, though some items are not traditional), 12 items (all $14) are available. Some are labeled as a “snack”, while many are labeled as a “dish” (which I think means it’s a bigger portion). The items included Dan Dan noodles, chili wonton, chimichurri, water boiled beef la-zi chicken, ma po tofu, sweet & sour ribs, walnut shrimp, veggie triple delight, basil eggplant, pork fried rice, and sober soup (borrowed from Copycat). The menu suggests 1 per person for a snack, 2 for a meal, and 3 if you’re really hungry. We had dan dan noodles, chili wonton (small size), and water boiled beef (good size). The place isn’t cheap (split a dish and 4 cocktails with Mrs. Barred and spent around $90) but it will definitely be popular.

The Banana Painkiller (left) and Pikachu No. 2

Space-wise, the very narrow establishment (sits maybe 50 people) greets patrons with a host at the door (who manages seating for the tables) and a bright, airy nook for waiting or posting up front for drinks. Around 5-6 deep blue, plush booths (4 or 6 seats) make up the first half of the establishment. A long, copper (or gold?) topped bar then extends back towards the rear (with shelving on top with bottles). This is where things get really interesting-aside from 2 stools at either end, there are NO seats directly at the bar. Instead, along the wall, pairs of stools face each other (with a table/rail running the length of the wall with bump outs for the table). When the place isn’t super busy, you still can talk to and order from the bartender, even though they are like 6 feet away. At other times when people are actually standing at the bar ordering, servers or other staff take orders (one snag so far is that it hard to figure out who exactly to order from which resulted in dropped orders for some in our group). Finally, in the back there are a couple more tables (including ones that fit a ton of people and/or are communal). Make sure you check out the ornate AF bathrooms when you visit. A 25-seat patio apparently awaits soon.

Also, the name: Astoria. A staffer told me that one of the owners if from New York, and the name is a homage to the famous bar at the Waldorf Astoria hotel as the bar was meant to be evocative of it.

More pics below:

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Philly Transplant Misconduct Tavern Coming to Penn Quarter

Misconduct Tavern is coming to Penn Quarter [707 G St. NW, website, Facebook, Twitter]. The nautical-themed spot currently has two locations in downtown Philadelphia and is taking over the Redline (and short-lived 10 Tavern) prime space right across from the Capital One Area. The bar will apparently be an upscale sports bar with craft beer, solid burgers & house-made hot dogs, and other pub food (sounds fairly similar to another Philly transplant a few blocks away-City Tap House). The original Misconduct opened near Rittenhouse Square in 2005 (“Misconduct” was apparently the name of the 1st owner’s boat); the second in 2015.

Redline was in the spot from 2010-2016, while 10 Tavern lasted just 15 months, closing back in April. Before that, lounge Indeblu was in the space from 2004 to 2009.

Emilie, New Restaurant from Himitsu Chef, Coming to Capitol Hill

Kevin Tien (chef of Himitsu)

In a massive development for Capitol Hill, Kevin Tien, the executive chef/co-owner of the critically-acclaimed Petworth restaurant Himitsu, is opening up a new restaurant, Emilie, at the corner of 11th and Pennsylvania SE (just a few blocks from the Barracks Row corridor/Eastern Market Metro) in the Penn Eleven condo building. Penn Eleven is the future site of the beloved Fragers Hardware, which was situated at the location before a cigarette butt burnt it down in 2013.

This, according to Twitter user Mark Sussman, who tweeted a copy of a sheet providing details about Penn Eleven it handed out at a public event. According to the sheet [9/14 Update: Note, a reliable source has informed me that some of the details are incorrect so I’ve removed the photo from the post and Mark has deleted his tweet, but I have not been asked to remove this quote. Multiple sources have confirmed that this restaurant is coming.], Emilie

will focus on seasonally inspired and local cuisine that will change daily. There will be two ways to dine: one is off the menu where you can order small plates, pasta, larger entrees, and desserts. As you dine, 10 or smaller plates will circulate through the dining room on carts. These nightly specials will be served tableside and be focused on the freshest ingredients served in the purest way possible.

In other words, seems like a very upscale dim sum-style a la State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. No word if Carlie Steiner, who also is a co-owner of Himitsu and is behind the beverage program behind Himitsu, will contribute to the drinks at Emilie, but wouldn’t be surprised. Tien has worked on the Hill before; he used to be at Pineapple & Pearls (the sister wine bar, Little Pearl, is just two blocks away) and did a pop-up in May at ChiKo on Barracks Row. No exact details on when this spot will be opening, but 2019 is a safe bet.

 

Idle Hands a Solid Addition to the H Street Scene

 

[NOTE: This bar closed at end of September 2018]

 

Idle Hands [Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, 1236 H St. NE, open at 6p, est. 2018] is a solid addition to H Street from Hill bar owner Erik Holzherr. Idle Hands comes to the space that was the super (overly?) chill Church & State. Erik also ran Church & State so the space is still recognizable and many of the cool church-like touches (like windows and the confessional room off the bar) and the relative lack of light remain. Think board games (available for rent for a few bucks except from 6-7:30p M-F and Sun when they’re free), a few arcade games you can sit your drink on, video games. Unlike Church & State, which offered great cocktails which took forever to make, Idle Hands menu is simplified, with a list of 7 quick and easy (but still tasty) $9-11 cocktails named after late 80s/90s movies, 2 housemade shots (“fireball” & “coffee liqueur”), about 14 types of canned/bottled beer (mostly around $7), and wine ($8-11/glass). Happy hour runs 6-7:30p M-F and Sun with a buck off wine and beer and $5 off bottles of wine.

Holzherr made the place much livelier, enlisting his friend to create speakers made out of cardboard and pumping out 90s tunes. You could call Idle Hands a more adult/less divey version of Atlas Arcade downstairs (also run by Holzherr, who appears to own the rowhouse, as he does his SE gin joint Wisdom).

Also, you may have heard the controversy stemming from marketing materials/interviews which talked about the bar being a “sexy nerd bar,” Drunken Twister (which incidentally may be hard to play since space is so tight) and infamously, the “casting couch” (Read DCist, WCP). The bar was blasted in social media and in Frozen Tropics blog comments, which led to a post by Erik on The Hill is Home blog apologizing but defending himself from the “anonymity of the Internet.” As someone who has met Erik many times (I live near Wisdom and am a lifetime member of the bar’s Gin Club), the vibe people are getting from those descriptions is different than the super chill, laid back dude I’ve met, so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, but I understand if others are not.

The 201 Bar on Capitol Hill Closes June 15th

The 201 Bar Closes June 15th (Credit: The 201 Twitter account)

The 201 Bar closes its doors on Friday, June 15th. Originally opened in 2003 as “Lounge 201” (before a summer 2012 make-over), the subterranean watering hole on Capitol Hill near Union Station has long welcomed Senate staffers and lobbyists for after-work happy hours as well as many private events over the years. An appreciation party will be held Thursday, June 14th.

For several years, the spot has hosted Nebraska Husker college football watch parties, though otherwise has been most recently closed on Saturdays and Sundays except for private events. The folks behind the 201 Bar also run the nearby Union Pub, as well as Barrel near Eastern Market, McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont, and Truxton Inn in Bloomingdale.

Barred in DC Five Year Anniversary Party – Union Trust – Tuesday March 6th

Terrible Graphic by Author

To mark, if not celebrate, a half decade of ignominy since Barred in DC was officially launched on March 6, 2013, a happy hour (and longer) celebration will be held at Union Trust Bar (740 15th Street, NW, south of H, next to Joe’s Stone Crab) next Tuesday, March 6th, with festivities kicking off at 5:30p and lasting till late, in case you don’t get out of work early. If you haven’t heard or been, Union Trust is the new spot that opened downtown in late November from Tony and Solly, the guys (“bar impresarios” is too strong) behind beloved/terrible bars The Pug and Solly’s, respectively, as well as Brookland’s Finest.

After 240+ blog posts, 260,000 hits (literally half of of that on 4 boxing posts, rest bots and family members probably, though my parents still don’t know about this thing), a whopping $220 in net ad revenue, 14,400 tweets, and (improbably) nearly 4,200 Twitter followers, it makes some sense to commemorate Barred in DC’s “contribution” to DC bar news and life as well as thank the many of you followers who have interacted with the blog and Twitter account, which makes it so worthwhile.

Reasons to come (bulleted of course):

  • Happy hour specials ($5 draft beers, prosecco, wines and Jameson) till 7p
  • Pizza (come early, limited supplies til it runs out; see above low ad revenue)
  • A prize drawing or two
  • Pitch your story idea
  • A bunch of more important reasons
  • Meet Barred in DC (updated photo below)
Not Barred in DC, but he’s an Indian dude, so probably close enough

Bar Roubaix, a New Hilton Brothers Concept, Opens Next Friday in Columbia Heights

Bar Roubaix (courtesy Bar Roubaix Facebook page)

Bar Roubaix, Facebook, Twitter, est. Dec 2017, 1400 Irving St. NW [open at 5p daily, closes at noon Mon-Wed, 1a Thu, 2a Fri-Sat] is slated to open Friday, December 8th (a previous version of this story said the 1st but this has been pushed back), in the old Acre 121 space at 14th and Irving in the heart of the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

The spot, which strives to showcase “Great Beers. European Street Food. Cycling Culture,” is being run by brothers Ian and Eric Hilton (as first reported by PoPville in late April when Acre 121 closed after nearly six years). Although the Hilton brothers own/operate many spots around the area (Marvin, The Gibson, El Rey, The Brixton, American Ice, Satellite Room, the Brighton, Chez Billy Sud/Bar a Vin, Ten Tigers Parlour, Crimson Diner/Bar/View, and the upcoming Gaslight Tavern at 9th/U), this spot will retain the same ownership of Acre 121 (and Lou’s City Bar next door). Both bars are apparently owned by the developer of the Highland Park apartment building (Donatelli) in which they are located, quite possibly the only bars in DC owned by a property developer company.

Posts on social media so far only hint at some of the European street food offered by Chef Rafael Nuñez (who once cooked at Eatonville & Busboys & Poets): house-made spanakopitazapiekanki, German potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) and doner kebab might be on the menu. Less is known about the drinks, but expect craft beers; the GM, Arturo Zaloga, recently managed the bar at the nearby Mezcalero and has been behind the bar at other Hilton brother spots like Marvin, El Rey, and The Brixton.

If you’re not Martin Austermuhle and aren’t familiar (and I wasn’t until I asked Jeeves), “Roubaix” refers to a town in France that is the terminus of a long-running bike race from Paris, as well as a name of a renowned road bike.  There will be a cycling arcade simulation game powered by Open Sprints software,  and a pool table. Bar Roubaix will have plenty of parking racks and will feature a fixing station where cyclists can perform maintenance or adjustments on their ride.

Before Acre 121, Commonwealth Gastro Pub from Jamie Leeds and the Hank’s folks (definitely don’t recall this part) occupied the space from 2008-2011.

[This story has been updated.]