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.

 

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Idle Hands a Solid Addition to the H Street Scene

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.]

Hill Prince: The Best Bar in DC Right Now.

Hill Prince

Hill Prince, website, Facebook, Instagram, 1337 H St. NE, opens at 5p (weekdays), noon (weekends), HH until 7p everyday, closed Mondays, est. March 2017 [Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Washingtonian, Eater DC]

Hill Prince is the best bar in DC right now. I’ve been to the newish H Street spot (opened back in March) at least 10 times since it opened (I’m not a regular anywhere-gotta perform research, ya know?). Although it exudes cool and charm, Hill Prince also feels like a neighborhood bar thanks in part to the much-ballyhooed budget-friendly (and excellent) $10 classic cocktails but also largely due to friendly service from folks like Tony Lawson (ever-present beverage director), Eve (who hosts recurring “Friday Eve” parties on select Thursdays)-even the door person/bouncer greets you warmly. The crowd, unlike many of the other spots on the 1300 block of H Street, skews a little bit older, and it often feels like an oasis of chill when it gets “lit” (as the kids say) on the Atlas Corridor weekend nights. Crowds do come at times on weekends, but there’s more an ebb and flow that adds positively to the vibe.

The cocktail menu varies a bit, but expect around six classic cocktails (awesome Daiquiri, French 75, Sidecar, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Negroni, and New York Sour have been on the menu) and a few more specials ($12 or $14). Around 4 rotating beers are on tap (beers from local breweries like RAR are often available, Narragansett Lager was on tap for much of the summer), along with around 10-12 bottles/cans (you’ll see $4 High Life or Natty Boh often being drunk). There’s a choice of wines as well.  Whistle Pig seems to be often highlighted as the fancy whiskey of choice. Recently, Hill Prince just kicked off a great happy hour, going everyday until 7p – many drinks are roughly $3 off.

Space-wise, it’s bigger than you think , and there’s a lot of pine flooring, exposed brick/wooden ceiling, and even a floor-to-ceiling wooden beam or two. The front section of Hill Prince is occupied by the long main bar as well as a table with a few chairs. Stairs, off-limits to patrons, are kind of mysterious (I’ve heard that some dude lives up there, unaffiliated with the bar). The next room has a long-ass drink rail, which is a nice perch if you can’t catch a spot on the nearby couch or at the bar. Currently, a DJ sets up shop there starting at 10p on Fridays and Saturdays (don’t worry, it doesn’t turn into a dance club). Back further is a small covered patio that overlooks a super-chill hipstery courtyard (strung lights, sandy surface, tables); in warm times, a mini-bar with separate menu (think a couple canned beers an $9 G&T and Dark & Stormy) has been open weekend nights. In the carriage house on the other side of the courtyard is an under-construction bar (possibly 30 seats and a more permanent DJ set-up); owner Nick Wiseman tells me that it’s on track to open in early 2018.

Hill Prince comes from Nick and his cousin David Wiseman, the folks behind the upscale Jewish deli DGS Delicatessen in Dupont and Whaley’s in Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront (in fact, I’ve hung out with staff from both spots on multiple occasions at Hill Prince). The bar has a fairly subtle equestrian theme (other than the fake stuffed horse head), as Hill Prince is the name of the horse that won the 1950 Preakness and the building used to house horse stables. Not surprisingly, the bar hosted watch parties for the horse racing Triple Crown series in May-June (I met DC bar extraordinaire Derek Brown there watching the Belmont). During the summer, crab boils were held on select weekends, and recently the bar started serving waffle brunches on weekends (noon-4p).

In full disclosure, one reason I extoll the virtues of Hill Prince to all who I encounter is that it’s less than a twenty-minute walk from my house, but I legit would love this bar even if it was in Park View. Go.

Bar at Hill Prince
Back Room at Hill Prince
View of Bar from back room
Bar at Hill Prince
Hill Prince is named after the 1950 winner of the Preakness
Hipstery Courtyard

Multi-Concept Establishment From Neighborhood Restaurant Group Coming to Hill East

1401 Pennsylvania Concept Drawing (Source: DC Office of Zoning)

[Note: The headline and post have been revised on 6/26]
[8/23 Note: I’ve updated the headline to note that this project has been confirmed to open in 2019 and 2020. See if this story warranted retraction by reading the Washington City Paper, Washingtonian, and Eater. Clearly, NRG doesn’t want people to think it’s “like Union Market,” but tough, people are going to anyways.]

Tentative plans have emerged in which the Neighborhood Restaurant Group would develop an ambitious multi-concept establishment in Hill East across the street from the Potomac Avenue Metro Station, Barred in DC has learned, although no deal has been officially signed. Described by one source familiar with the tentative plans as akin to a “smaller scale Union Market,” if it comes to fruition, it would occupy 13,000 square feet on the first floor of the soon-to-be-under-construction 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE residential building (7 floors with around 170 apartments) being constructed by CAS Riegler.

The tentative plans reportedly include the following concepts in the space (I told you it was ambitious):

  • Coffee/sweets shop
  • Beer hall
  • Cocktail/Wine bar
  • Food Market
    • Possible concepts include tacos, pizza, burgers, Asian fusion stalls/stands
  • Sit-down restaurant

For comparison, the possible space is a little more than half the size of Union Market, which is around 25,000 square feet. As the building just recently held its official groundbreaking, don’t expect any new establishment to open until late 2019 or early 2020 and obviously, plans may change drastically from now until then. Currently, the location is a NY Pizza and parking lot, and about 300 feet from the Potomac Ave. Metro entrance and a Harris Teeter.

NRG has almost 20 different businesses under its umbrella throughout the DMV region, most notably Churchkey and the Bluejacket Brewery, as well as Birch & Barley, The Partisan, Red Apron Butcher, Iron Gate, Eatbar, Red Apron Burger Bar, The Sovereign, and Hazel in DC.

NRG representatives, including beer director Greg Engert, were present at the groundbreaking on Saturday, June 24th, but NRG and CAS Riegler representatives took pains to not confirm the nature of the project or that NRG is even involved.

NRG’s PR rep sent Barred in DC a statement the morning of 6/26 asking for a retraction, stating:

I wanted to let you know that NRG has no deal with Cas Riegler and no plans to open a “mini Union Market.” As such, I would like a retraction on the post that ran this weekend.

You are welcome to reach out to me in the future should you ever get a tip about NRG that you’d like to confirm, but in the meantime, if you’d like to reach out to Kevin Riegler to confirm that NRG has in fact not finalized a deal to work on this project, you can reach him [at his email address]
 
We’re happy to keep you updated if something does come to fruition. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Notably, as part of the building developer’s agreement with the neighborhood and DC, CAS Riegler has agreed to spend around $50,000 to beautify the metro entrance plaza, $95,000 to improve 2 local playgrounds, and $20,000 for improved security for nearby Potomac Gardens housing project as well as $5,000 for neighborhood trees.