An Orchid Blooms on Barracks Row

June 2018 Dining Notes

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A bartender pauses to chat with guests at Orchid, Barracks Row's newest night spot. Photo Celeste McCall

Capitol Hill neighbors and friends braved endless rain on May 16 to welcome Barracks Row’s Orchid. Created by Hill Restaurant Group, the lively LGBTQ nightspot has replaced the recently shuttered Senart’s Oyster & Chop House at 520 Eighth St. SE. Inspired by the glamour of the 1920s, the glitzy (but dark!) newcomer features rich mahogany paneling, a seemingly endless 60-foot marble bar, chandeliers and a temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed wine cellar. And yes, orchids.

The elegant decor and concept were created by DC talent Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga & Timur Tugberk. “We were way overdue for an upscale, gay-friendly establishment,” said realtor John Bratton. At the jam-packed opening night, he was sipping a Blue Orchid cocktail, a concoction of Jameson Irish whiskey and blueberry syrup. “These guys have knocked it right out of the ballpark!”

A 60-foot long marble bar forms the centerpiece of Orchid, the stylish Barracks Row newcomer. Photo Celeste McCall

How did Orchid come about? “We [retrieved] our restaurants from the Boston Investment Group,” explained owner William Sport. (HRG partners are Daniel Hernandez and James Abbott.) “I hired a new management team, which came up with a new concept for the former Senart’s. They told me there was nothing (upscale) in our gay community, and they came up with a plan. They found Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga & Timur Turk and the rest, as they say, is history. I hope the community enjoys Orchid as much as we did creating it!” Sport added.

The Hill has at least one other LGBTQ bar, Bachelor’s Mill, at 1104 Eighth St. SE. Phase 1, a long-time Barracks Row women’s club, closed in 2015.

Timur Tugberk, founder of Designing the District, Twilight Tuesday and other concepts, has been bringing new ideas to the LGBTQ community for more than a decade. Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga is an accomplished retail professional turned neighborhood advocate and marketer.

Hill Restaurant Group’s executive chef is Brian Guy, who presides over the HRG’s seven restaurants. Orchid’s open kitchen dispenses divine avocado gazpacho, mushroom toast, roasted beet carpaccio, crab cakes and much more.

Orchid is open Sunday through Saturday. For exact hours call 202-544-1168 or visit www.orchidonthehill.com.

Pizza and More Pizza
With summer finally here, it seems that Washington – including Capitol Hill – can’t get enough pizza. At the Wharf, Lupo Marino has arrived at 40 Pearl St. SW. Executive chef Todd Sprik’s 1,200-pound Marra Forni oven turns out Neapolitan-style pies including a build-your-own option and specialty selections. Rounding out Sprik’s menu are carry-overs from flagship restaurant Lupo Verde (1401 T St. NW): fried artichokes, cheese and pepper noodles; Cornish hen with braised escarole; 14-ounce New York strip with anchovy butter; bar snacks and desserts. Lupo Marino is open daily; call 202-827-4752 or visit www.lupoverdedc.com.

Wiseguy Pizza, the New York-inspired pizza group with locations in Chinatown, Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn (Arlington), is planning another offshoot in the Navy Yard. Look for it later this summer at 200 M St. SE. Turkish-born Wiseguy proprietor Tony Erol has expanded his emporium from a 400-square-foot gas-station stand to an extensive empire. Wiseguy serves pizza by the slice (Big Apple-style, designed to be folded and devoured sans knife and fork). But whole pies are also available. For updates visit www.wiseguypizza.com.

Coming soon to 200 M St. SE, site of the recently shuttered Il Parco near Nationals Park: Damn Good Pizza. The latest spinoff of a nationwide chain, the pie parlor should arrive later this summer in the building behind the fountain.

Tiki Politiki
To mark the 20th anniversary of “The Avenue’s” long-gone Politiki bar, proprietor Matthew Weiss and his team are transforming the downstairs Elixir Bar into a version of the original. Located at 613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, the space now houses Stanton & Greene. As they did in 1998, bartenders will pour drinks into funky mugs resembling political figures; a limited number of the items are available for purchase. Bar snacks encompass Jamaican jerk chicken, rice and other vittles.

Two Years Old and Counting…
Here’s another anniversary: happy birthday to the Atlas District’s Pow Pow, which turned two years old in May. The Asian menu has gotten a lot greener over the months, as recipes have incorporated more plant-based and allergen-conscious ingredients. The kitchen now substitutes vegan concoctions for fish sauce and omits the eggs in dressings, and cheeses are now plant-based.

Pow Pow has also hooked up with Jrink Juicery (which operates a store in the sprawling Hine Project), launching a trio of veggie bento boxes in two downtown locations. By now, all seven Washington area Jrink shops should be carrying the bento boxes. Located at 1253 H St. NE, Pow Pow is open daily for lunch and dinner. Call 202-399-1364 or visit www.eatpowpow.com.

Pigging Out
Across the street is a total culinary contrast. Coming soon to the Atlas District is Smokin’ Pig, 1208 H St. NE. Serving smoked ribs, brisket and whiskey, the barbecue eatery will replace dive bar Kitty’s Saloon, which departed last fall.

Wine About It and Learn
Coming up on June 7, Oberon Winery joins Barracks Row’s DCanter (545 Eighth St. SE) and chef Rob Weland of Garrison restaurant (across the street at 524 Eighth) for an evening of fine food and Napa Valley wines. Chef Weland’s spring menu will be paired with wines from winemaker and Napa native Tony Coltrin.

Coltrin, along with the Mondavi family, produces vintages from Rutherford and Oakville as well as lesser known wineries Wooden Valley and Suscol Ridge. Dinner goes from 7 to 10 p.m.; price is $120 per person. For tickets and more information, see the following item.

On the following evening, June 8, DCanter will present “Sipping through Sonoma.” From 8 to 9 p.m., the seated tasting will include six wines from California’s beautiful wine country, along with a selection of artisanal cheeses. Price is $39 per person. I’ve enjoyed one of these classes and found it well worth the tab. Seating is limited. For tickets and more information call 202-817-3803 or visit

www.dcanterwines.com.

Steak on It
Arriving later this summer in the Union Market neighborhood is St. Anselm, a spinoff of the popular Brooklyn steakhouse tavern. Hooking up with James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr, founder Joe Carroll is adding a lot more space plus more wines, cocktails and “alternative” steaks like the Denver flatiron. The 150-seat St. Anselm will also have a “curbside” patio.

Hopefully, in August you’ll find the sibling in a corner lot opposite Union Market. St. Anselm will share space with the forthcoming O-Ku, the Japanese restaurant set to open soon at 1274 Fifth St. NE.

Market Watch
Among food stalls at Eastern Market’s lively outdoor scene, we’ve discovered El Piquin, hawking breakfast burritos and other homemade Mexican victuals. Le Printemps Bakery (301-256-8313) offers Mediterranean fare. My Desserts Diva, operated by Lynette Jefferies, dispenses gorgeous cupcakes most Saturdays.

Adios?
Porron by Anxo, the funky pop-up offshoot of Anxo Cidery, has apparently departed its Barracks Row outpost at 525 Eighth St. SE.

Jonathan’s Still Here!
If you haven’t seen cookbook author/chef/storyteller Jonathan Bardzik cooking at Eastern Market recently, no worries. The personable Bardzik has been busy promoting his three cookbooks: “Fresh and Magical Vinaigrettes,” “Seasons to Taste,” and “Simple Summer.” Hill’s Kitchen, 713 D St. SE, should be carrying his books, which are also available on Amazon.com.

“People have asked me if I’m cooking at Eastern Market this year,” said Bardzik. “In addition to corporate keynote speaking, team-building events and in-home teaching dinners, I’m cooking at 10 different markets in the Washington area.” He emphasized, however, that Eastern Market is still his home and he’ll be making several appearances there on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 4; Sept. 29; Nov. 17, the last weekend before Thanksgiving.

You can also find Bardzik’s recipes at Canales Quality Meats (Eastern Market) and follow him on Instagram and Facebook. For more information and to order Bardzik’s books call 202-596-1927 or visit www.JonathanBardzik.com/thebooks.