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Chef David Conn Bringing Country Western Cuisine to Kitty’s Saloon

4 Sep

Chef David Conn’s path to becoming head chef at Kitty’s Saloon (1208 H Street, NE) has not been the most traditional.  Initially a music professor at Cornell University, Conn decided that he was tired of academia and was ready to pursue his passion for the restaurant industry.  After several years of culinary training in Savannah, he spent the next 14 years in the Nashville restaurant scene where he developed his own spin on country and western cuisines.  Next he spent time in the New York City area where he opened additional restaurants before being attracted to the D.C. area.

Chef David Conn of Kitty's Saloon

Chef David Conn of Kitty’s Saloon

In the coming weeks, Kitty’s Saloon will replace the long closed Souk on H Street.  The interior and exterior of the restaurant have been completely redesigned.  Much of the wood on the inside of the restaurant came from an 1870s barn and has been restored for use in the space.  Currently, the restaurant only occupies the ground floor, but the owners of Kitty’s are working with the landlord to buy the upstairs and expand the restaurant (and possibly create an outdoor deck in the coming months).  Prior to opening, we caught up with Chef David Conn to discuss his plans and vision for Kitty’s.

After one trip to H Street, Conn was sold on the area.  He says that one trip to the Pug and a taste of Toki Underground’s ramen were enough to convince him that the neighborhood was the place to be.  He hopes that Kitty’s Saloon will become a neighborhood hangout that will add a unique element to H Street but that will become fully engrained in the neighborhood.  For Conn, having a strong connection to the neighborhood and a good relationship with the neighbors is essential for success.

Initially, Kitty’s Saloon was advertised as “contemporary redneck cuisine,” but Conn sees it as a blend of country and western cuisines.  The menu will feature around ten small plates at any one time as well as several larger entree plates.  Look for it to rotate significantly by season.  Conn considers his spice rack and the different blending of spices to be essential to his style.  He joked to us that his spice rack is so large that it takes up half of his storage space.  Slow braising and other styles of cooking that develop a deep spice and flavor profile are key to the dishes he makes.   Continue reading

DC Harvest Photos and Brunch Preview (Opening on Tuesday)

28 Aug
Table at DC Harvest

Table at DC Harvest

DC Harvest (517 H Street, NE) will officially open next Tuesday (September 2nd) for dinner.  You can check out our detailed preview here.  The following week they will open for brunch on the weekends.

We got a sneak peak of the tentative brunch menu when we came to take pictures of the space.  It will be arguably the most impressive brunch menu in the H Street Corridor.

Bar at DC Harvest

Bar at DC Harvest

A few brunch dishes to look forward to:

-three different egg scrambles: one with housemade spicy lamb sausage, one with a mushroom mix, and one with Maryland blue crab

-lamb burger

-turkey hash made with their freshly roasted turkey

-steak and eggs

-oysters on the half shell

-a traditional greens salad and an heirloom tomato salad

-fruit and granola

DC Harvest II

We also learned that instead of a traditional bread plate at the beginning of dinner service that the restaurant will instead offer roasted butternut squash chips.  And to conclude dinner, all diners will receive several housemade marshmallows with their check. Continue reading

Rosslyn’s Restaurant Scene Begins to Emerge: Our Discussion with Mary-Claire Burick of Rosslyn BID

18 Aug
Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn

Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn

For many years Rosslyn has been defined primarily as a large office area without any real population after 5pm. Its dining scene was similarly defined: many takeout lunch spots that were open for breakfast and lunch but closed around 3pm. Over the last year or two, that image has begun to change with the announcements and openings of several new restaurants in the area. We caught up with Mary-Claire Burick, President of Rosslyn BID, recently to discuss those changes and to look ahead towards the future of Rosslyn’s dining scene.

Mary-Claire Burick, President of Rosslyn BID

Mary-Claire Burick, President of Rosslyn BID

Ms. Burick came to Rosslyn BID last fall and says that when she took over Rosslyn’s dining scene was on the brink of emerging. While she agreed with our assessment that Rosslyn has long been known primarily for all of its office buildings, she pointed to ten different restaurant openings in the last year as a sign that change is on the way. The primary driver of this change is the growing residential population—now at 11,000 residents—with many more buildings scheduled to break ground in the coming years. As more people begin to live in the Rosslyn area, they are demanding dining options that stay open past 5pm and that are open on the weekend.

Rosslyn has many features that should attract both additional residents and new restaurants. Burick described it as a “premiere urban center” with easy access to downtown D.C. and all areas of Northern Virginia. She said that one of the greatest strengths of the area is that the major developers who are opening or planning buildings in Rosslyn are completely dedicated to investing in the neighborhood and creating a real community feel. The BID is working to develop the community by planning neighborhood events ranging from the existing outdoor movies to a jazz festival to fashion trucks to other popup events that will incorporate food.

She pointed to the success of Baltimore based Heavy Seas Alehouse, which opened last year in the upper section of Rosslyn, as a prime example of how a full service restaurant can thrive in Rosslyn. Heavy Seas has “surpassed all expectations” and has helped to create energy on its street that is helping to attract other restaurants to the area. In the past couple of months, Sip Wine Tasting and Tapas, Secret Chopsticks, and SpinFire Pizza have all announced that they will be opening locations in Rosslyn. Even restaurants that are typically viewed as lunch spots, such as the Capriotti’s that will open soon on Wilson Boulevard, are working to attract an evening crowd as well by offering drinks as well as food. Burick told us that an exciting new concept from North Carolina is planning on opening in Rosslyn and is in the final stages of negotiations.

Continue reading

Sneak Menu Preview of DC Harvest, Hoping to Open by End of August

6 Aug
Chilled Avocado Soup with Pickled Shrimp at DC Harvest

Chilled Avocado Soup with Pickled Shrimp at DC Harvest

DC Harvest, a New American restaurant specializing in fresh and local ingredients, is hoping to open by the end of August at 517 H Street, NE. Brothers Arthur Ringel (head chef) and Jared Ringel (General Manager) plan to have a seasonally rotating menu that will focus on ingredients from the Chesapeake Watershed Region (you can read more on the Ringel brothers’ impressive culinary backgrounds from our friends at the Washington City Paper). They are currently in the finishing stages of a complete renovation of the space and hope to pass final inspection and begin staff training in the coming weeks for a grand opening towards the end of August. In the coming days, the exterior of the restaurant will get a completely new paint job in addition to a brand new sign for the restaurant.

District Cuisine was lucky to get a sneak preview of the menu. A few of the items that you can look forward to trying on the opening day menu:

Appetizer – Chilled Avocado Soup with pickled shrimp. Garnished with micro cilantro and fresh radish (see picture above).

Pasta – Fresh Homemade Kale/Whole wheat Agnolotti filled with homemade Ricotta served with yellow tomato confit, eggplant and fresh marjoram.

Entree – Zatar seasoned Turkey Breast with kamut, shitake mushrooms, swiss chard, pan jus and garnished with crispy turkey skin cracklings.

Additionally, we were told that everything will be made in house and from scratch and that homemade pastas will be a staple of the menu. They chose the turkey breast as opposed to chicken because it was a healthier protein that they knew they could source locally. DC Harvest will feature several local DC brews and will be giving each DC brewery a selection on tap.

We’re very excited for DC Harvest to open up on the Western end of H Street. In the meantime, you can track their progress on their website, Facebook, and Twitter

OhZone Lounge to Replace Ohio Restaurant on H Street

6 Aug

OhZone Lounge will replace Ohio Restaurant at 1380 H Street.  Ohio Restaurant–abandoned and deteriorating for years–has quite a history (including being owned by a drug-dealer turned FBI informant who was tragically murdered in Alexandria).  The new owners are planning a bar that will have a patio and eventually a rooftop area.  It will feature jazz nights as well as karaoke on certain nights.  The owner told us that he plans on opening in October after renovations.  His wife is working on the menu that will have a wide range of food.  They hope that OhZone Lounge will be welcoming to everyone and will become a neighborhood hangout.  It appears that they are working on a website that you can view here.

IMM Thai Coming to H Street

3 Aug

Several weeks ago, a sign went up in the window of the space at 1360 H Street, NE that had previously housed Pho Bar and Grill.  The sign said that Thai cuisine was coming soon but did not offer details.  We can now confirm that IMM Thai, which currently has a location in Annandale, Virginia, will be coming to the space.  IMM Thai’s website is currently under construction, but the menu on GrubHub looks quite good and the restaurant is well reviewed on Yelp.

H Street Dining News: July Round Up

25 Jul

The past couple of days have been busy for H Street restaurant news:

  • Frozen Tropics reported that BAB Korean Fusion by the owners of Tony’s Breakfast will go in on the Eastern end of H Street.  Details here.
  • The Washington Business Journal revealed that Troy Williams will be opening two restaurants on H Street: one will be a casual deli in the middle of the Corridor and one will be a fancier restaurant on the Eastern end (this one was previously known about).  Details here.
  • H Street Great Street posted that a Thai restaurant will be going into the building where Pho Bar and Grill used to be located on the Eastern end.  Details here.
  • The Washington City Paper’s Jessica Sidman tweeted that Ocopa Peruvian Restaurant will open on August 5th.  Details here.
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