Driftwood Kitchen (Mostly) Shines in Debut

21 Oct
Exterior of 400 H Street, NE

Exterior of 400 H Street, NE

400 H Street, NE is arguably one of the most promising locations on all of H Street for a restaurant.  Occupying a large corner spot on the west end of H Street, it is within blocks of several major apartment buildings (and many potential customers) on H Street and in NoMa.  The space was completely renovated several years ago, transforming it from a falling apart music club into a beautiful two story restaurant with a large sidewalk patio and a two sided open balcony on the second floor overlooking both H and 4th streets.  Despite this great setup, Tru Orleans–the original occupants–was unable to survive after two controversial years.

New Light Fixture at Driftwood Kitchen

New Light Fixture at Driftwood Kitchen

 

Tru Orleans has largely been erased from the building.  Instead meet Driftwood Kitchen from the owners of Darna in Arlington (you may notice similarities between the logos of the two restaurants).  They have spent the last several months renovating the building and removing the previous New Orleans architecture.  The owners have labeled Driftwood Kitchen’s cuisine American, but it draws inspiration from Middle Eastern cooking (unlike Darna which is more traditional Middle Eastern fare).  Even in the first week of service, Driftwood Kitchen appears to have drawn a fairly solid crowd.

New Driftwood Kitchen on H Street

New Driftwood Kitchen on H Street

We started with a drink off of their craft cocktail list.  The Hawa combined an interesting mix of gin, egg white, cucumber juice, and elderflower.  While it sounds strange, it worked well, especially with the egg white foam on top.  In addition to their eight cocktails, they have several local beers on the eleven draught beer list.

The menu (click here to view it) is divided up into “snacks”–ranging from a few bites to medium appetizers–and “offerings”–mostly small sized entrees.  While the portions are on the smaller side, they are also priced fairly reasonably.  Some of what we’ve sampled:

Snacks: The hummus guacamole snack combined two favorites from different cuisines into one tasty bowl.  The house fries were fairly standard but were served with a spicy dipping sauce that set them apart from regular fries.  And the cayenne caramel corn mixed sweet and spicy into a very pleasant bar snack.

"Snacks" at Driftwood Kitchen

“Snacks” at Driftwood Kitchen

Offerings: the gnocchi with wild mushrooms was perhaps our favorite of the evening.  Soft gnocchi with a mix of mushrooms with a light tomato sauce helped form a comforting fall dish.

Petite Strip at Driftwood Kitchen

Petite Strip at Driftwood Kitchen

While we mostly enjoyed the food, the consistency was somewhat off.  The Roseda petite strip was half good; of the two slices on the plate, one was tender and the other was so tough and stringy that it had to be sent back to the kitchen uneaten.  The service was slow, but we attributed that to it being opening week.  Additionally, while the interior is mostly new and well kept, we would urge management to repaint the steps down to the bathroom that still expose scars from the Tru Orleans era.

Despite these fairly minor hiccups, we are very hopeful that Driftwood will become a solid option on H Street for years to come.

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3 Responses to “Driftwood Kitchen (Mostly) Shines in Debut”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. H Street’s Horizon: What’s Coming Soon (Fall 2014) | District Cuisine - October 22, 2014

    […] Driftwood Kitchen (400 H Street)–new Mediterranean restaurant that replaced the controversial Tru Orleans restaurant that closed a year ago.  Our coverage here. […]

  2. Six Months In: Our Conversation with Driftwood Kitchen | District Cuisine - March 18, 2015

    […] and dining area, and a large second floor with retractable doors for when it is nice outside. We enjoyed our early taste of the restaurant, and recently caught up with Eric Tollar, General Manager of Driftwood, to ask […]

  3. Antonio Burrell Now Chef at Driftwood Kitchen | District Cuisine - June 4, 2015

    […] Kitchen (400 H Street, read our review here) has a new chef taking over for the restaurant’s opening chef, James Duke who is now at […]

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