Dining Notes

February 2019

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Charbroiled oysters with herbed butter and parmesan is a delicious favorite at the District Wharf's Rappahannock Oyster Bar.

A lot has been happening at the District Wharf. Since husband Peter and I are fans of Union Market’s Rappahannock Oyster Bar, we decided to check out the Wharf’s outpost, which opened late last year. Ensconced in a circa-1912 oyster shed, the newcomer is cleverly incorporated into the spiffed- up Municipal Fish Market. Chef Autumn Cline, who also heads the Union Market kitchen, is an alumnus of Rose’s Luxury.

The weather was unseasonably warm for early winter, and people were actually sitting outside. But we opted for the handsome, sunny indoor rectangular bar. We found prices a little higher than those at Union Market. (However, a bargain happy hour goes from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.) Since the kitchen is farther away than at Union Market, service was slower. But we were in no hurry. My New Zealand Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc kept me happy and was worth the $12 tab.

Colorful seafood displays tempt customers at the Municipal Fish Market, adjacent to the Rappahannock Oyster Bar.

I then ordered a half dozen charbroiled Rappahannock oysters with herbed butter and parmesan cheese, similar to the way they prepare them in New Orleans. Delicious! Our server accidently brought me a dozen, and I’m glad she did; I could have eaten a dozen more. Moreover, we were only charged for six. Peter’s Barcat oyster chowder, thick with plump mollusks, leeks and smoky Benton bacon, was delicious. Among other options: shellfish towers, lambs and clams (my favorite at Union Station), fry baskets and crabcakes. Luscious burgers satisfy carnivores.

Lunch for two came to $53.55 including tax and tip. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Rappahannock Oyster Bar is at 1150 Maine Ave. SW; call 202-484-0572 or visit www.rroysters.com.

After lunch, we wandered around the adjacent seafood market, the oldest continuously operating fish market in the United States. We were tempted by colorful displays of crabs, lobster, king crab legs, crawfish, and all kinds of finfish. We finally succumbed and purchased a half pound of Carolina shrimp.

Then we browsed around Officina’s Market, which we found less expensive than we had anticipated. Wines, pates, olive oils, vinegars, mustards, breads, pastries, prosciutto, duck confit, goose and other upscale victuals beckoned. A refrigerated glass case held aged meats and an entire pig. Officina Café/Restaurant/Market is at 1120 Maine Ave. SW; call 202-747-5222 or visit www.officinadc.com.

Whaley’s/Fuyu server pours savory broth into a bowl, where customers will cook proteins and veggies.

Hot Pot Pop-up
Here’s something appropriate for winter: Fuyu, a pop-up usually called Whaley’s, in the Navy Yard. This winter, Whaley’s has morphed into Fuyu  (Japanese for “winter”). Until mid-March, co-owner Dick Wiseman and chef Daniel Perron are offering their take on shabu-shabu, when customers “swish-swish” (hence the moniker shabu-shabu) beef, pork, vegetables and seafood into simmering broth. While Perron says he has no formal training in Japanese cuisine, he’s been incorporating such Asian traditional ingredients into his cooking for a long time.

Fuyu looks the part. Japanese paper lanterns festoon the space; tables are set with lovely blue and white, including fish-shaped chopstick rests. Our helpful, knowledgeable server Brandon, explained the shabu-shabu process. (He and fellow servers spent a week in training.)

Brandon steered us toward the spicy red miso broth, which he poured into a bowl set atop an electric burner. When the broth reached a gentle boil, we immersed thinly sliced mushrooms, radishes, carrots and cabbage. Then we added paper thin big eye tuna, pork and monkfish. Lastly, we slurped the concentrated broth laced with hand-cut, chewy udon noodles.

No worries; Whaley’s popular seafood towers, raw bar and other regular favorites remain. Located at 301 Water St. SE, Whaley’s/Fuyu is open daily; call 202-484-8800 or visit www.whaleysdc.com.

Brunch Bunch
On Barracks Row: Matchbox, 521 Eighth St. SE, now offers “Brunchbox” unlimited brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 3. For $31.50, you may select from umpteen small plates like yogurt parfait, scrambled eggs, avocado toast, chicken-and-waffles, brunch pizza, mini-burgers and more. Cocktails are just $3, fancier drinks and bubbly are $10. Call 202-543-0369 or visit www.matchboxrestaurants.com.

Worth the Hype
Hype Café, 1129 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, SE, is more than a coffee shop. Located in the redeveloped Frager’s Hardware block, the nine-month-old enterprise is operated by Sammy Mengistu and Hanna Tesfamikael. Besides all kinds of coffee, tea (hot and cold), hot chocolate, pastries and muffins, the kitchen dispenses a few vegetarian Ethiopian dishes including tikal gomen (cabbage and potatoes), shiro (mashed up spicy chick peas, and gomen (collard greens). The kitchen was out of several items, so we settled for the cabbage/potato mix and chickpeas. The combo arrived on a bed of injera, the spongy, fermented bread for scooping up food, and a nice spinach salad. Hype also makes excellent paninis filled with choice of beef, chicken, turkey or prosciutto/mozzarella. You can also order breakfast items like veggie or ham and cheese croissants, steel-cut oatmeal, bacon and eggs.

Bags of Ethiopian coffee beans are available for purchase. And, on the first Saturday of every month at 2 p.m. is a traditional coffee ceremony. Hype Café is open daily; call 202-629-3040 or visitwww.hypecafedc.com.

H Street Happenings
At last, Ledo Pizza, the Maryland-based chain known for “cutting no corners,”  opened its umpteenth outlet at 814 H St. NE. I hold fond memories of Ledo’s original pizza parlor (it opened in 1955) in Adelphi Maryland. As a student at the nearby University of Maryland, I spent a few evenings gobbling Ledo’s inexpensive, signature square pies. Since then, the menu (including that of the Atlas District newcomer), has expanded to encompass calzones, strombolis, pastas,  subs, cheese steaks, kids menu. Ledo’s is open daily for lunch and dinner; call 202-849-6897 or visitwww.ledopizza.com.

Coming Soon (sort of)
As the Hill Rag website reported last month, an Italian restaurant is sliding into the spot formerly occupied by Lincoln Wine Bar at 106 13th St. SE, on the east side of Lincoln Park. Don’t rush over right away; the trattoria-style eatery is slated to arrive next fall after an extensive renovation.

Adios for now!
As we do every winter, we’re off to the sunny (we hope) climes of Florida, and we’ll see you again in April!