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April 24, 2014

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April 21, 2014

Calendar: 10 Years of Sixth & I, Poetic Justice at Hill Center

Happy “Sixth and I Day,” Washington! To celebrate 10 years since the synagogue at 600 I St. NW was re-dedicated as the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, not just as a center of worship but a venue for music and other cultural and community events, the District has proclaimed Tuesday as “Sixth & I Day.”

Ten-year anniversary events are scheduled for later in the year, but in the meantime, the spot’s normal array of quality programming includes the Brad Mehldau Trio on Thursday night and its “Spring Brews” seasonal beer tasting on April 29. For more information on upcoming events, go to sixthandi.org.

Quite Poetic

One of the country’s most acclaimed poets, Edward Hirsch, comes to D.C.’s Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) on Wednesday night for the “Life of a Poet” series, to discuss, well, life, with Ron Charles, the fiction editor of the Washington Post. The free event, sponsored by the Post, the Library of Congress and the National Capital Bank, will be sort of a reunion. Hirsch spent years writing for the Post’s “Poet’s Choice” column.

He’s the author of eight books of poetry, with another one on the way this year, and serves as the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in New York. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the Hill Center’s Abraham Lincoln Hall. Register at hillcenter.org.

Pull Into Dock

Casey Trees is putting on its inaugural Canopy Awards on Thursday at Union Market’s Dock5 space with food, booze, bocce and music. The event aims to fete “volunteers, friends and advocates who support our work promoting, enhancing and protecting D.C.’s tree canopy,” according to a release.

It will feature food pop-ups, the aforementioned bocce, a mini-golf course, photo booths, an open bar and musical performances from The Bumper Jacksons and Andrew Lipke and the Azrael String Quartet.

Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door, and can be purchased at caseytrees.org. It gets started at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Dock5 at 1309 Fifth St. NE.

Mix Tape

Martha Redbone, a musician with a slew of musical roots steeped in funk, blue, folk and Native American sounds, plays at the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St. NE on Friday night. Her new latest album, “The Garden of Love — The Songs of William Blake,” brings it all together for a tune jambalaya.

Tickets are $28.50 in advance and $33.50 at the door; students get in for $20 with ID. They can be purchased at atlasarts.org. The show starts at 8 p.m.

April 8, 2014

Remington’s, Another Old-School Capitol Hill Bar, Bites the Dust

What in the name of Larry Craig is going on here? Remington’s, a long-time establishment on Capitol Hill at 639 Pennsylvania Ave. SE and iconic gay bar, is closing up shop, Prince of Petworth reports.

Remington’s will pour its last shot on Monday during happy hour, an abrupt ending for a place that’s been around for three decades.

The one-time country-western themed dive joins a long list of old favorites on the Hill that are going the way of the dodo, such as the Li’l Pub and Pour House, and a list of endangered spots by the bankruptcy proceedings swirling around Barracks Row Entertainment, whose holdings include the Hawk n’ Dove, Boxcar Tavern and Chesapeake Room, among others.

Make no mistake: This is the global warming of Capitol Hill drinking spots: Rapid change followed by unknown future.

By Jason Dick Posted at 4:35 p.m.
Drink, Eat

April 6, 2014

Arizona Wine: The Link Between Tool and Congress

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. | On this, the Republican congressman and the frontman for Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer agree: The Verde Valley is a great place to make wine.

Rep. Paul Gosar, the two-term lawmaker who represents central and western Arizona, and Maynard James Keenan, the Grammy-winning and platinum-album selling rock star who happens to be the hands-on winemaker/founder of Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, can’t say enough about the wine coming from the high-desert land here.

“Northern Arizona, particularly the Verde Valley, has the right climate to make some very interesting wines, and when you combine that with the natural beauty of the red rocks, the running creeks and rivers, the western vistas, and Arizona hospitality, it’s a recipe for success! I can’t wait to watch as this industry continues to develop over the next couple years,” said Gosar, whose official website is peppered with imagery of the valley and references to its viticulture efforts.

Keenan is counting on such sentiment, as his roots in the Verde Valley grow. His mission statement reads, in part, “My art and music has been described as ‘thick, dense, rich, complex, engaging, emotional, and spiritual,’ by those who are fans. And an ‘acquired taste’ for those kind others who are not. Arizona is ‘thick, dense, rich, complex, engaging, emotional, and spiritual,’ as well as being an ‘acquired taste.’ We are a match made in heaven and surely these qualities will be reflected in the wine that Arizona will present to us.”

In addition to his Caduceus and Merkin labels and their attendant vineyards, he has tasting rooms here, in nearby Jerome and Clarkdale; supports Yavapai College’s nascent viticulture program, the Southwest Wine Center in Clarkdale, and founded wine cooperative Four Eight Wineworks and co-founded Arizona Stronghold with fellow area winemaker Eric Glomski.

His efforts with Glomski were chronicled in the documentary movie “Blood Into Wine,” which, in addition to oneophiles and chamber of commerce types extolling the power of the vine, got a little star power from the likes of Milla Jovovich and Patton Oswalt, fans of Keenan’s music and now his wine.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 6 p.m.
Drink, Eat

April 4, 2014

Calendar: A ‘Naked’ Writer, a ‘Documented’ Filmmaker

A ‘Naked’ Writer’s Manifesto

Charles Wheelan, the scribe behind “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread From the Data” and “Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science” swings by for Monday’s Roll Call Book Club to talk about his latest offering: “The Centrist Manifesto.” Wheelan, a Dartmouth professor of public policy, is a bit fed up with the gridlocked shenanigans of the Republican and Democratic parties and calls for a centrist third party that can focus on the big issues, instead of just run for re-election and trade partisan snipes. If you think this isn’t exactly a novel idea, hear Wheelan out. He is, after all, the guy who successfully marries nudity and statistics. “The terminology may sound intimidating, but Wheelan handles it well and is a patient teacher. If you’re the kind of reader whose flagging interest can be revived by cracks about the Kardashians or the author’s faux self-deprecation, you’ll enjoy Wheelan’s style,” our own Randolph Walerius wrote of “Naked Statistics” last year.

“People ask me if I put ‘naked’ in the title just to sell books. The answer is, ‘yes!’” Wheelan cracked. He’ll discuss his book at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE starting at 6 p.m. We’ll serve snacks and adult beverages, and give out free copies of “The Centrist Manifesto” on a first-come, first-served basis. To register for this free event, click here.

Most Best of D.C.

The Washington City Paper’s Best of D.C. shindig is Wednesday at the historic Carnegie Library at 801 K St. NW, a block-party-worthy soiree of the city’s favorite beer, wine, burgers, oysters, bar, chocolate, gelato — you get the picture. Tickets are $80 for general admission. The $125 Very Important Person tickets are already sold out. Lots of local artists, performers and that admission fee gets you the open bar experience. For more information go to Washington City Paper’s website.

Undocumented Screening, Redux

Former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas returns to the District for another screening of his compelling documentary “Undocumented,” which chronicles his uniquely American journey as an undocumented immigrant and his push for an immigration overhaul. On Thursday, he’ll host a screening of “Undocumented,” which has been updated since its initial release last year to reflect current events, at the Newseum at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The movie starts at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion with Vargas, executive producer Janet Yang and FWD.us founder Joe Green. To RSVP, go to Eventfarm.

 

March 28, 2014

Give us Your Weary, Your Tired Convention-Goers, Phoenix Says

Phoenix 013 revised1 445x333 Give us Your Weary, Your Tired Convention Goers, Phoenix Says

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — For convention delegates traumatized by long commutes, far-flung venues and disparate hotel options, the prospect of drama-free access this time around is highly appealing.

It is perhaps with this in mind that Arizona’s largest city is touting its light rail system and dense downtown footprint to lure either party’s 2016 presidential convention, a relatively unforeseen twist for a place often associated with car culture and urban sprawl.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 2:43 p.m.
Drink, Eat

March 25, 2014

Mark Halperin Swings by Roll Call Book Club

Mark Halperin, co-author of “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” swings by the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave. NE) Wednesday in a rescheduled Roll Call Book Club event that was snowed out last month.

Co-hosted by our partners at Hooks Books, the festivities get under way at 6 p.m. with some adult beverages and nosh, and our discussion with Halperin about the 2012 race, and possibly the 2016 one, will get started around 6:15 p.m. He’ll be on hand to sign some copies of the book until around 7:30 p.m.

Come hungry, thirsty and curious. Free copies of the book are available while supplies last.

March 13, 2014

Another Capitol Hill Dive Takes a Dive: Pour House to Close

It’s about to get harder to find a grubby place for a beer on Capitol Hill. The Pour House at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE will close its doors on April 30, Tim Ebner of the Washington City Paper’s Young and Hungry blog reports.

The closure will make way for a new restaurant from the owners of Sonoma just up the block, the Washington Business Journal is reporting.

For those of who like their brews in dark corridors, this has not been a kind year. The Lil’ Pub closed up shop in January, giving way to more toilet paper storage for neighboring CVS. The closing of a Pour House, which itself displaced dive Poli-Tiki, is just another blow for lovers of quaint. Boo!

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:38 p.m.
Be Merry, Drink, Eat

February 13, 2014

Happy Two-Year Anniversary, Boundary Road!

They’re not making a big deal of it or anything, but two years in the hyper-competitive restaurant biz in D.C. is kind of an accomplishment. So congrats to Boundary Road, which celebrates its two-year anniversary tonight at 414 H St. NE.

From their website: “2/13: Boundary Road 2 Year Anniversary- regulars, neighbors, and everyone in between are all invited to celebrate what has been a magical 2 years since we joined H street! Enjoy 10% off your tab for the entire evening.”

Chef Brad Walker’s merry crew of culinary pirates and bartenders are a good bunch, willing to experiment with everything from artichoke recipes to Czech liqueurs like Becherovka.

boundary 251x335 Happy Two Year Anniversary, Boundary Road!

Boundary Road likes to mix things up with local booze, among other comestibles. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:44 p.m.
Drink, Eat

February 3, 2014

Sona Opens Doors on Capitol Hill

“It’s open! It’s open! It’s open!” the young woman yelled, stopping short in front of Sona Creamery and Wine Bar along Pennsylvania Avenue near Eastern Market last weekend. It was actual word of mouth in motion.

The establishment, which features a retail cheese operation along with a bar and sit-down dining service, opened its doors for its soft opening on Jan. 29. By the time the weekend rolled around, word had gotten out, prompting Garrotxa consumption and Bichot Macon-Villages corks to pop.

 Sona Opens Doors on Capitol Hill

Sona proprietor Conan O’Sullivan chats up a customer. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The business is the brainchild of husband-wife duo Conan and Genevieve O’Sullivan, who started construction and renovation on the old MotoPhoto and Sprint phone storefronts last year.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:04 p.m.
Drink, Eat

January 10, 2014

Calendar: Restaurant Week on Capitol Hill

It’s Restaurant Week Jan. 13-19 in Washington, and with scores of establishments to choose from, it’s important to winnow the list to a manageable number. Capitol Hill and its immediate environs have a healthy number of tables available for the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s three-course winter feed. Here’s a handy list of nearby places for that $20.14 lunch or $35.14 dinner.

523 Eighth St. SE

202-813-3039

300 Tingey St. SE

202-524-4862

415 New Jersey Ave. NW

202-393-7777

315 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

202-450-4800

525 New Jersey Ave. NW

202-628-2100

15 E St. NW

202-661-2700

320 Massachusetts Ave. NE

202-546-4737

322 Massachusetts Ave. NE

202-543-7656

101 Constitution Ave. NW

202-547-8100

400 North Capitol St. NW

202-737-0400

539 Eighth St. SE

202-546-5006

107 D St. NE

202-546-4488

223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

202-544-8088

1225 First St. NE

202-534-1350

735 Eighth St. SE

202-544-7171

By Jason Dick Posted at 2:29 p.m.
Drink, Eat

January 9, 2014

New Orleans Food Guru Weighs In on Saints-Seahawks Wager

If Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has to pay up in the football bet she’s made with Washington state’s senators, she’s got her choice of providers for the charbroiled oysters she’s wagered, but there is one restaurant that stands above all comers, according to New Orleans food oracle Tom Fitzmorris. “Drago’s is it,” he said.

Speaking with Roll Call After Dark on “The Food Show,” his daily show on 3WL 1350 AM on Thursday afternoon, Fitzmorris said that Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in New Orleans was the “gold standard” for the Louisiana dish. “They invented the dish,” he said, adding that many have emulated it since. “There’s a minimum of 200 restaurants that serve that dish, and the strange thing about it is, darn near all of them are pretty good,” he added.

Meal Ticket 4 101912 445x295 New Orleans Food Guru Weighs In on Saints Seahawks Wager

The wages of football: oysters and beer. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 4:14 p.m.
Drink, Eat

January 7, 2014

Capitol Hill Comfort Food for a Cold Day

So, yeah, it’s cold. The Arctic vortex has yet to return to the North Pole, leaving us with shivery conditions. In these cases, perhaps the best course of action is retreat and eat.

Here’s a short list of comfort foods on Capitol Hill to help you through the cold.

  • Chili cheese fries — The Tune Inn, 331 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

This is the kind of chili dreams are made of: thick, with kidney beans and beef and layered on top of potatoes that have been thoroughly fried and then blasted in an oven. The cold doesn’t stand a chance against this dish.

tune inn013 110411 445x295 Capitol Hill Comfort Food for a Cold Day

The Tune Inn is ready to serve chili cheese fries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:06 p.m.
Eat

January 6, 2014

Rose’s Luxury Gets Garden and Gun Shoutout

Is Washington, D.C., the South? Depends on whom you ask, although Garden and Gun magazine, the Charleston, S.C.-based chronicler of the Southern good life, likes the District enough to visit and file dispatches.

Most recently, the magazine named Rose’s Luxury one of the five most exciting new restaurants in the South, and its Daily Shot blog published a nice write-up of the Barracks Row standout helmed by chef/owner Aaron Silverman.

“If anyone doubted whether diners in our once-stodgy capital city would respond well to Silverman’s approach to luxury, those reservations have been all but silenced by the rave reviews and the passionate crowds that have surrounded Rose’s since the restaurant opened its doors at the beginning of October,” G&G’s Jed Portman wrote.

To paraphrase the current vice president, this is kind of a big deal. The fact that Rose’s broke through a diverse range of restaurants in a culinary-rich environment, and it’s not in a place typically thought of as the South, is quite an achievement.

Roll Call’s own Warren Rojas gave it high marks in an October Food Court feature.

By Jason Dick Posted at 6:09 p.m.
Eat

December 20, 2013

Zest Vets Go Modern Mexican at Aqua 301

David E. Bonior cast his last vote in the House of Representatives more than a decade ago.

DB121713 Zest Vets Go Modern Mexican at Aqua 301

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But the Michigan Democrat remains a player in Washington thanks to a family-run catalog of neighborhood restaurants that’s poised to widen with the debut of Aqua 301.

The new Mexican-themed restaurant (301 Water St. SE), which is taking up residence in the bustling Yards Park complex, will open to the public for dinner on Dec. 21.

Much like its predecessor, Zest American Bistro (735 Eighth St. SE), Aqua is the brainchild of Bonior (primarily an investor), and his stepson and his stepson’s wife, Stephen and Amanda Briggs, who serve as co-owners and managers of the burgeoning dining portfolio.

The trio tapped Antonio Burrell, a seasoned toque who’s spent years filling local bellies with daring south of the border specialties during stints at El Centro D.F. and Masa 14, to craft a cost-conscious but creatively inspired menu.

Fired Up

After doing a bit of soul searching, Burrell said he decided it was high time to flaunt the flavor combinations that continue to gnaw away at him.

“It was a chance to … explore some of the dishes that I didn’t get a chance to do before and reprise some of the better dishes that I liked,” he said of a carte composed of modified greatest hits and experimental constructs.

ABpbap 445x296 Zest Vets Go Modern Mexican at Aqua 301

(Courtesy Fredde Lieberman)

Yes, he’s paying tribute to the pork belly al pastor (both in tacos and as a standalone entrée) he previously shared at Masa 14. Yes, he’ll be dishing out the multi-pepper powered chichilo mole short ribs (expect less cinnamon and less clove in this 2.0 version) he fell in love with at El Centro.

But he’s most excited about items such as an updated street salad tossing together fruits (watermelon, green mango), vegetables (chayote, jicama) and spicy stuff (red onion, hot peppers) in an agave-lime dressing, and a mushroom-covered fried masa dish he always felt others went a little overboard on.

“Our huarache here is going to be like a thin crust pizza,” he said of the split from the status quo. “Now that I have anyone telling me that I can’t, I’m going to.”

Burrell is also smitten with grilled oysters he’ll be doctoring with chorizo, chile butter and Parmesan breadcrumbs. And he’s looking forward to perhaps sneakily broadening patrons’ palates by exposing them to a host of carefully cultivated ingredients.

“Most people don’t know what epazote is,” he said, citing the leafy green he uses to tweak a red snapper dish. “So it’s a very different flavor than most people have had.”

And Burrell’s got big plans for the future, including adding lunch into the mix (on Dec. 28) and rolling out brunch (think: pumpkin pancakes, chilaquiles and migas) on Jan. 1.

Another possibility: a twist on queso fundido, wherein the crumbled chorizo and sautéed peppers are blasted with molten cheese foam.

“We’ll keep it in a canister, hot, and then we shoot and it so it makes a big espuma. And then we’ll flame mescal on it and serve it like that,” Burrell said of his dream appetizer.

He’s also got a few other showstoppers up his sleeve.

“I want to put the pig head tacos on there. But I can’t — yet,” he said.

Sticking Close to Home

Bonior, who said he moved into Capitol Hill Tower in 2006, marveled at how much the area has blossomed in recent years.

“It just pops at night. It’s quite specular, actually, down here with the water and the lights and the landscaping and the park,” he said of the waterfront location he and his partners secured for their second hospitality project. “So we’re very hopeful.”

Although he noted that had attended cooking school while stationed at Fort Lee in Virginia (“I know how a kitchen works,” he quipped) during his Air Force days, Bonior is quite comfortable leaving the day-to-day operations of the business to Team Briggs. An Aqua 301 spokeswoman confirmed that, prior to becoming restaurateurs themselves, Stephen was a general manager at M&S Grill, while Amanda climbed the ladder at Café Deluxe and Tortilla Coast.

All of which leaves Bonior, who handles investments for EnTrust Capital as part of his day job, in charge of relationship building.

“I try to bring people in,” he said of his role within their close-knit dining network.

To wit, Bonior said he bumped into Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., on Dec. 17 and invited her over to Aqua. Per Bonior, his former colleague promised to pop by with her husband in the near future.

Back when his first restaurant popped onto the scene, Bonior walked the halls of Congress to get the word out. “I want door-to-door in every office on the House side,” he said of his one-man lobbying effort.

Bonior doesn’t expect to make the rounds this time around.

“I had my time. It was a wonderful gift and opportunity,” he said of the quarter-century he spent in Congress. In fact, he said the last time he visited was to pay his respects to former Speaker Thomas S. Foley.

Meanwhile, don’t expect to see Bonior lending his name to just any food outlet coming down the pike.

“I’m a firm believer in one at a time. If there’s an opportunity down the line and it’s all in the stars, you might look at it and go for it,” he suggested. “We want to do what we do and do it well.”

Aqua 301: 301 Water St. SE; 202-484-0301; aqua301.com
Average entrée: $13 to $20 ($$). Open for dinner daily.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:21 p.m.
Eat

December 6, 2013

Dolcezza Gelato Tasting Room’s Grand Opening

Creamy dairy products maven Dolcezza Gelato is opening a combo “gelato factory + coffee lab” near Union Market at 550 Penn St. NE on Saturday, from noon to 7 p.m.

The latest entry in the turnaround of the Brentwood/Ivy City area will include a spot to taste gelato and coffee, surely two of the greatest human creations to grace the planet. Seriously, could anyone have foreseen 10 years ago that a gelato joint would take up residence in this neighborhood?

The tasting room has a bar that will look out onto the production floor for the gelato. They’ll offer tasting on a daily basis from here on out from noon to 7 p.m.

By Jason Dick Posted at 4:53 p.m.
Eat

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