Dining Notes

Photograph By
Celeste McCall

A tiger mural greets customers at Pow Pow, a recent Asian addition to H Street NE. 

Spring Fling

A rainy spring has arrived at Garrison, on Barracks Row. Located at 524 Eighth St. SE, the farm-to-table endeavor has uncovered its outdoor seating (in spite of a wet May) along with Rob Weland’s lineup of fresher-than-springtime victuals, wine, beer, and cocktails. Innovative appetizers encompass poppy seed gougeres, feather-light puffs filled with parmesan and dusted with poppy seed; Virginia bison tartare, paired with grilled brioche and crowned with a tiny quail egg. The dishes are specially priced, Tuesdaythrough Friday,on the patio and at the bar between 5 and 7 p.m. Since we visited at dinnertime instead of during happy hour, we paid full price.

Husband Peter, who usually eschews any meat cooked less than medium-well, eagerly scooped up the raw, hand-minced bison. He also scarfed local radishes paired with house-made kefir butter and sea salt. We did get to an entree, blue catfish, presented with spinach and seasonal fiddleheads and drizzled with rhubarb vinaigrette. Fiddleheads, along with other local produce, are preserved in jars displayed throughout the dining area. 

Among libations are Grüner Veltliner (a sprightly Austrian white wine); sauvignon blanc (also from Austria), grenacha /tempranillo (Spain), interesting local beers, and creative cocktails. This place is not cheap; dinner for two came to $100 before tax and tip. (Our server, Maureen, was personable and helpful.) Garrison is open Thursday through Sunday (dinner only except for Sunday brunch), closed Monday. Call 202-506-2445 orvisit www.garrisondc.com.

Raw Deal

Whaley’s has settled into the sprawling Lumber Shed at The Yards, near Nationals Park. A brainchild of Nick and David Wiseman (of DGS Delicatessen fame), the raw bar/restaurant showcases scallop crudo with sea urchin, jumbo lump crab salad, shellfish “towers,” crispy softshell crabs, and other delights. Overseeing the kitchen is Daniel Perron, who has wielded his whisk at Fiola Mare, Blue Duck Tavern, and the Oval Room. Creating the cutting-edge design is Edit Lab of Street Sense, which incorporates the historic building’s 35-foot-high glass facade. Located at 301 Water St. SE, Whaley’s is open for dinner only, with lunch and brunch in the future. For more information visit www.TheYardsDC.com.

New from the Orient

Yet another Asian eatery has joined the Atlas District restaurant ranks. Local restaurateurs Stephen Cheung (who owns Lavagna on Barracks Row) and Shaun Sharkey (a musician) have joined forces to open Pow Pow, a fast-casual place at 1253 H St. NE. Helping to create the eclectic menu, tapping fresh, local ingredients, is Sticky Rice proprietor John Yamashita. (Sticky Rice is located across the street at 1224 H.) Inspired by the cooking of Japan, Korea, and China, the casual eatery focuses on fresh salads, hearty bowls, humongous egg rolls, and gluten-free fried chicken. Check out the huge tiger mural by the entrance. Pow Pow is open daily, dinner only. Call 202-399-1364.

Al Fresco Delights

Down the street from Pow Pow, Copycat Company, 1110 H St. NE, has unveiled a patio, complete with picnic tables and a bar, which pours beers and shots to be quaffed with such Asian victuals as potstickers and skewers. Near Nationals Park, Top of the Yard Lounge, perched atop the Hampton Inn, 1265 First St. SE, offers a birdseye panorama of the stadium and the Anacostia River. While admiring the view, customers may nosh on hotdogs, burgers, and other summertime fare. Call 202-241-1952 or visit www.copycatcompany.com.

East Meets West

Peter and I are regulars at Nana Thai (formerly Old Siam), two blocks from our house. One of us usually orders basil duck – crispy, deep fried fowl paired with rice and veggies. But the other night a new item caught my eye: Drunken Italian ($18), a variation of another Siamese favorite, drunken noodles. The former is a compatible marriage of East and West – spaghetti-like pasta tossed with shellfish. Nana Thai has a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., when wine is $5 per glass, beer is $5. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Nana Thai is at 406 Eighth St. SE; call 202-544-7426 or visit www.NanaThaiRestaurant.com.

Middle Eastern Newcomer

Shouk, a Middle Eastern-style eatery and market, has arrived in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. Shouk (market) is the first restaurant for founder Ran Nussbacher. But he’s an experienced traveler and market-goer and knows about food. His biz partner is Jessica Bufford, Richmond-based restaurateur best known for her critically acclaimed restaurants Toast, Hutch, Talleys, and Shoryuken.

Leading Shouk’s menu of Middle Eastern-inspired dishes are vegetable- or legume-stuffed pitas, salads, and soups. All is plant-based, we’re told. Even the labneh (a Lebanese dairy spread) is made from cashews. They're also serving craft beer, wine, and made-to-order “market sodas.” The adjacent market offers Arabic coffee and Shouk's hamsa spice blend, also available in the restaurant. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Shouk is located at 613 K St. NW; for more information visit www.shouk.com.

Coming Soon?

Nearby, Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup is reportedly eyeing 600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, for another Beefsteak outpost. The Spanish-born celeb chef operates other Beefsteaks in the Washington area, along with umpteen other restaurants in the United States and overseas. In spite of its carnivore moniker, Beefsteak is a vegetable-oriented “fast casual” eatery.

Viva Cuba (and Puerto Rico)!

On a rainy Cinco de Mayo, Peter and I ventured to Barracks Row’s Banana Cafe. Yes, the cooking there is mainly Caribbean, but nearby Tex-Mex options were jam-packed. After scanning the Banana menu and sipping on a margarita, Peter settled on fajitas, and I decided to try Thursday’s special, ajiaco, a robust stew composed of chicken, sausage, beef, corn-on-the-cob, pumpkin, plantains, yucca, and other veggies. In Puerto Rico the similar dish is called sancocho, said Cuban-born proprietor Jorge Zamorano, who was raised in Puerto Rico. I loved the savory dish, even though the beef was kinda tough. The $16.95 portion was overly generous, so we took home the leftovers. Open daily, Banana Cafe is at 500 Eighth St. SE; call 202-543-5906 or visit www.bananacafedc.com.

Picnic Fare

Hill’s Kitchen, 713 D St. SE, is stocking all sorts of fun picnic items. Among them: a blue and white, star-studded picnic blanket with a waterproof underside ($39.95); Steady Sticks, which stick in the ground (or sand) while holding stemmed wine glasses, with a pack of two going for $11.99; umpteen kinds of napkins, plates, utensils; barbecue spice rubs; pickles; and a nifty cookbook, “Campfire Cuisine,” by Robin Donovan ($15.95). Hill’s Kitchen is closed Monday; call 202-543-1997 or visit www.hillskitchen.com.

Super Sunday Supper

Culinary stars will shine on June 5 at the Fifth Annual Sunday Supper. The setting for this year’s gala event is Union Market. Among umpteen nationally known top toques cooking up a storm are Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar, Nick Stafanelli of Masseria, and Violeta Edelman and Robb Duncan of Dolcezza. Numerous breweries, wineries and cocktail creators will pour their potables, including Gina Chersevani of Union Market’s Buffalo & Bergen. There will be live music as well. The fun starts at 4:30 p.m., and tickets are $250 a pop, partially tax-deductible. Proceeds go to the James Beard Foundation and the Executive Education Program for Women in Culinary Leadership. To purchase tickets and for more information visit www.unionmarketdc.com/sunday-supper.

Bison tartare is a favorite on Garrison's new appetizer menu.
Garrison, on Barracks Row, has uncovered its outdoor seating.

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