Dining Notes – November 2017

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Some outdoor tables at Ana are equipped with fire pits. Photo: Celeste McCall
First-day customers prowl the produce aisles at Capitol Hill’s Trader Joe’s. Photo: Celeste McCall

Trader Joe’s opened at the end of September, inviting in hundreds of people for a first look at our newest grocery asset. The 11,000-square-foot outpost of the California-based company will be joined by another Trader Joe’s near Union Market–hopefully next year.

“It was exciting to open the doors at 8 a.m. and see the crowd waiting outside,” said manager Rebekah Eagle. She was “on loan” from the Clarendon store for the day. Added customer Stephanie Shultz, with 3-month-old Henry in tow: “I’m excited, it’s great for the community.”

But some folks voiced concern. “Let’s not forget Eastern Market and Chat’s (liquor store),” said neighbor Mia Grosjean. “We need to shop locally. However, we hope Trader Joe’s will encourage Eastern Market to be more competitive.”

Others were not too worried. Over the frozen veggies, we encountered local potter Susan Jacobs. “I think Trader Joe’s will help Eastern Market, which does not carry some Trader Joe’s items like frozen foods,” she said. “I think the two markets can complement each other.” (And, since Trader Joe’s does not offer fresh seafood, we remain loyal to Eastern Market’s Southern Maryland Seafood.)

Real estate agent Kitty Kaupp agreed: “I think Trader Joe’s will help Eastern Market,” she said. Trader Joe’s has free underground parking, so people can park there and shop at both places.”

Located at 750 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Capitol Hill’s Trader Joe’s is open daily from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Beautifully arranged nigiri selections include salmon roe and sea urchin roe.

Sushi Arrives on Barracks Row
Last month, Hachi Sushi quietly rolled into Barracks Row. The handsome brick-lined newcomer is a spinoff of Arlington’s Sushi Rock; both restaurants are operated by Steve Yoon. Tokyo-born executive chef Mori Munehiro oversees the cooking. All ingredients in the “scratch kitchens” are fresh, never frozen, we’re told. The moniker “Hachi” is Japanese for the number 8, considered lucky in Asia. It also refers to the restaurant’s Eighth Street location.

Husband Peter and I found the menu almost overwhelming, but our Ukrainian-born server skillfully guided us through nigiri (on rice), sashimi (sans rice), hand-rolls and a pair of tasting menus. We decided to share the $75 premium multi-course option. The magic began when we dunked a tiny white tablet into water; voila! The tablet blossomed into a gauzy napkin. Sake arrived in a handsome terra-cotta jar.

Our meal started with artfully presented appetizers: Spanish mackerel, seaweed, smoked duck and a tiny wedge of cream cheese. This was followed by a delicate seafood broth studded with more mackerel, a mushroom slice and fish cake. Then came premium tuna, salmon and a scallop; after that a smoking tower of amberjack and shrimp.

The dinner’s piece de resistance was thinly sliced, butter-tender wagyu beef, which we cooked on a hot stone surface along with sliced vegetables. After polishing off the nigiri course of salmon roe, sea urchin roe, eel and a tiny sweet omelet, we ended with Asian-style ice cream surrounded by tropical fruit. Whew!

Located at 735 Eighth St. SE (where Zest used to be), Sushi Hachi is open nightly from 5 to 10 p.m., with lunch and brunch coming soon. For reservations call 571-208-5188 or visit www.sushihachidc.com.

Coming Soon to Hill Center
We still miss David Guas’ cozy Bayou Bakery at the Hill Center’s carriage house. But sliding into that spot–hopefully this month– is Little Pearl, a casual spinoff of Aaron Silverman’s award-winning Pineapple and Pearls, located nearby on Barracks Row. Little Pearl will dispense sandwiches, pastries, gelato and other tidbits to enjoy with wine.” Little Pearl will be at 901 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; for updates visitwww.pineappleandpearls.com.

Union Market: Then and Now
After attending an informative lecture at the Hill Center about Union Market, Peter and I reminisced about the historic, 10-acre complex, constructed in 1929-1939. We’ve been shopping there for decades; I remember buying a Christmas goose from a poultry vendor at the old Florida Avenue Market (another name was DC Farmers Market) in the early 1970s. Over the years, the market deteriorated, and was eventually redeveloped by EDEN. Reopening in 2012 as a gleaming (and pricy) food hall, Union Market now houses almost 50 vendors, who hawk olive oil, cheeses, wine, spirits, coffee, seafood, produce, plus restaurants, a foodie gift shop and a knife stand with a sharpening service.

Besides the aforementioned Trader Joe’s, to be built at 1240 Fourth St. NE, future plans for the area involve St. Anselm, a steakhouse operated by restaurateurs Stephen Starr and Joe Carroll. The original St. Anselm’s is in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, and Starr also operates Le Diplomate on 14th Street NW.

Sometime next spring, at 540 Penn St. NE, look for the 3,000 square-foot Coconut Club. Chef Adam Greenberg plans “island-inspired small plates,” puu puu platters, jerk chicken, whole grilled dish and Kalua pork swathed in banana leaves. Guests will sip tropical fresh juice cocktails from pineapples. Lauren Winter and Megan Capo of Edit Lab at Streetsense will handle décor.  They have also designed Tail Up Goat, Tiger Fork, Whaley’s, Daikaya, and other eye-catching restaurants.

Our long-time favorite near Union Market is still A. Litteri, the delightfully cluttered, 91-year-old Italian deli/wineshop where we buy Italian subs, pasta, Sicilian wine and olive oil. In recent years, Litteri has devoted more and more space to the fruit of the vine, and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly purchased his vino there. Closed Sunday and Monday, Litteri is at 517-519 Morse St. NE; call 202-544-0184 or visit www.alitteri.com.

At Restaurant Ana, tender charred octopus is anointed with pineapple and mint. Photo: Celeste McCall

Ana on the Anacostia
The other night we dined at Ana, District Winery’s stunning restaurant. We were seated outside, where we gazed at multi-colored lights shimmering on the Anacostia River, Ana’s namesake. Some tables were appointed with fire pits.

Presiding over the “new American” kitchen is executive chef Michael Gordon, who wielded his whisk at top New York restaurants. Chef de Cuisine is Benjamin Lambert (formerly with 701 and Restaurant Nora). Apparently they know their way around a smokehouse and charcoal grill. We considered sharing the crab beignets, but decided on grilled octopus, which tasted of smoke and char-grilling. The tender cephalopod tentacles were anointed with spicy pineapple, dhana dal (roasted coriander seeds) and mint. Peter’s pastrami-spiced monkfish—fork tender but not mushy—was escorted by sesame potatoes, charred cabbage and carrot mustard jus; the latter added a sweet touch.

The highly recommended rabbit sausage cappelletti—resembling large ravioli—did not disappoint. Butter, tiny onion petals and a hint of basil completed the hearty fall dish. For our next visit—hopefully soon—I will explore the smoked duck and other plates.

Since Ana’s own wines will not be ready to drink until next spring, current selections come from other U.S. regions. Peter chose a California Sauvignon Blanc, and my wonderfully smoky Cabernet Franc was squeezed from Long Island (NY) grapes. Management also poured us a sample of Fortitude—Ana’s port-like dessert wine. Open nightly, District Winery and Restaurant Ana is located at 385 Water St. SE; call 202-484-9210 or visit www.districtwinery.com.

Mussel Mania
After attending an amazing opera about Frank Lloyd Wright at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, we scurried down the street for a late supper at Granville Moore, 1238 H St. NE. Last month, neighboring restaurateurs Ryan Gordon and Roneeka Bhagota joined chef Folkman to create a new ownership team. Chef Teddy Folkman’s mussels are as wickedly delicious as they were a decade ago, when the restaurant debuted. Peter and I plowed into a bowl of Moules Bleu—mussels swimming in a bowl of blue cheese broth studded with pork belly, spinach, red onions and white wine. For more decadence, we dunked twice-fried frites into truffle mayo. Dinner for two with a drink apiece was $53.90 before tip; service, rendered by Jason, was excellent.

And–check out Mussel Monday, when the tasty bivalves are just $12 (normally $19) from 5 to 10 p.m. Granville Moore is open nightly plus Sunday brunch; call 202-399-2546.

Here ‘n’ There
Kyle Bailey, executive chef at the riverfront’s Salt Line Oyster & Ale, has added two items to his (mostly) fishy lineup: Cobia crudo (raw fish) with griddled peaches; and squid stuffed with Italian sausage, cheese, peppers and garlic breadcrumbs. Open nightly plus weekend brunch, Salt Line is at 79 Potomac St. SE; call 202-506-2368 or visit www.thesaltline.com…..Saturdays at Eastern Market’s farmers line, you’ll find Boso Kitchen. Operated by Cameroon-born Rosalie Essimi, the outdoor stand dispenses homemade soups, legume salads and roasted nuts. Call 571-721-0552 or visit www.bosokitchen.com.

We will sorely miss Melvin Inman who has operated Eastern Market’s  Market Poultry for as long as we can remember. Melvin, 66, is retiring; the business will continue with Susan Mendoza, whom you’ll recognize from Canales Quality Meats across the aisle.