Photo: Courtesy of Sababa
Photo: Courtesy of Sababa

New and Notable: May 2018

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.

NEW

Fancy Radish (Photo - Courtesy of Fancy Radish)

Fancy Radish
Open: March 20
Location: H Street
Lowdown: Vegans and omnivores alike rejoiced when Vedge Restaurant Group out of Philadelphia planted their first restaurant in DC. While everything on the menu is completely vegan, owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby aren’t trying to push an agenda. They’re just serving vegetables. It’s the way they serve them that makes a splash. Each dish takes a humble piece of produce – like a radish – and elevates it with artful techniques and vibrant flavors. Digging in to small plates like the Chioggia beet picnic, the trumpet mushroom “fazzoletti” and the spicy dan dan noodles, I would have easily believed they were laden with butter and cheese. The menu strikes a balance between the refined cuisine at their Philly flagship, Vedge, and the edgy street food at V Street. The restaurant’s namesake fancy radishes are adapted from the menu at Vedge. At the bar, vegetables also shine in drinks like the Peridot Meteor with gin, celery and olive oil or the Raphanus Shade with rye, radish, black vin and amaro ferro-kina. There are also a variety of natural wines and a handful of draft beers. The space has an industrial vibe, which is softened by earth tones and a mural spanning the restaurant that depicts a vegetable’s life cycle from seed to sprout. 600 H St. NE, DC; www.fancyradishdc.com

Kaliwa (Photo - Courtesy of Kaliwa)

Kaliwa
Open: March 28
Location: The Wharf
Lowdown: Restaurateur power couple Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, known for Alexandria hot spots Society Fair, Hummingbird and more, opened their latest restaurant at The Wharf. The pair are serving three Asian cuisines that are near and dear to their hearts: Filipino, honoring Meshelle’s heritage; Korean, as an ode to Chef Cathal’s Taekwondo training; and Thai, because it’s their family’s food of choice. The menu is divided into sections for each country, with milder flavors in Filipino dishes like Kalderetang Cordero, slightly spicier funky notes in Korean Jae Yuk Gui and super hot spice levels in Thai Nuer Pad Prik. Most dishes are heavily sauced and meant to be eaten with rice, but there are also a few noodle dishes, hearth-roasted proteins and other classics like lumpiang. With minimal descriptions on the menu, the restaurant provides a glossary of commonly used terms (gochujang, calamansi) and servers are always available to elaborate. The pamphlet also offers some conversational phrases in Tagalog, Korean and Thai. The name Kaliwa means left, which Cathal promises is not a political statement, but rather a nod to his left-handedness and to the restaurant’s departure from the norm. Meshelle designed the space, featuring woven basket light fixtures, rope netting and bright blue hues to emulate a night street market. 751 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.kaliwadc.com

Sababa (Photo - Courtesy of Sababa)

Sababa
Open: March 15
Location: Cleveland Park
Lowdown: After a quick set change, Ashok Bajaj opened Sababa in the space formerly occupied by Ardeo. The new restaurant’s menu focuses on modern Israeli cuisine, which has roots in both Jewish and Arab traditions. Dishes display influences from the Middle East, Turkey and Greece. Meals often start with salatim – small portions of salads and spreads to share – and then progress into hummus and small plates. I couldn’t get enough of the vegetarian dishes, from charred eggplant and roasted halumi to fried cauliflower and Israeli salad. Kebabs and large plates are also available, like sumac- and onion-marinated steak, shakshuka and braised lamb shank. The restaurant’s name comes from the Hebrew slang for cool, and the design reflects this, evoking the port of Tel Aviv with Mediterranean tiles, canvas sails on the ceiling and wood paneling to represent a grape arbor adorned with string lights. The beverage program consists of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean wines, plus house cocktails that showcase Israeli spices and flavors.  3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.sababauptown.com

Spoken English (Photo - Courtesy of Spoken English)

Spoken English
Open: March 30
Location: Adams Morgan
Lowdown: Erik Bruner Yang’s second project within the LINE Hotel is now open for business, and it’s unlike any restaurant you’ve visited in DC. Spoken English is modeled after the Japanese Tachinomiya – a standing-room only restaurant where people stop by for snacks and drinks after work. The casual, communal concept is situated in the kitchen with two counters facing a wood-fired Grillworks oven. It can only accommodate between 12 to 16 people at a time, and the close quarters encourage guests to socialize with their dining companions and strangers. The menu provides a choice between having a few bites, like skewers and small plates, or enjoying a full meal of whole roast duck and chicken yakitori. The whole chicken yakitori consists of eight courses, each a different cut of the bird such as thighs, stuffed wings, crispy skin, bone broth, liver mousse and more. To drink, there’s a selection of sake and beer, as well as a few cocktails. Reservations are not accepted. 1770 Euclid St. NW; www.thelinehotel.com/dc

NOTABLE

Truckeroo (Photo - Courtesy of Georgetown Events)

Truckeroo
Dates: May 11, June 15, July 13, August 10, September 14
Location: The Bullpen
Lowdown: Once a month throughout the summer, a flock of food trucks converges at The Bullpen fairgrounds in Navy Yard for a massive festival. The event offers live music, cold drinks, games and a full lineup of food trucks to choose from. At the May event, guests can enjoy mac and cheese from CapMac, crêpes from Crepe Love, empanadas from DC Empanadas, frozen custard from Goodies, lobster rolls from Red Hook, and more. It’s open to all ages until 9 p.m., at which point it shifts to 21 and over. Admission is free. 1201 Half St. SE, DC; www.thebullpendc.com/truckeroo

Wines Over Washington
Dates: May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20
Location: BLT Steak
Lowdown: The rooftop of this downtown steakhouse has stunning views of the city, the Potomac River, the Washington Monument and the White House. This makes it a prime location to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset. BLT Steak’s Wines Over Washington gives winos a chance to explore new wine varietals al fresco paired with classic fare by Chef de Cuisine Michael Bonk, as well as live music. The series takes place one evening per month through the summer. The first event will feature selections from Lanterna Wines. Tickets are $65 per event, or $275 for the entire series. 1625 I St. NW, DC; www.bltrestaurants.com/blt-steak/washington-d-c/winesoverwashington

Lani Furbank

Lani Furbank is a freelance food, drinks, and lifestyle writer based in the D.C. area. She was born and raised in Northern Virginia, but stays true to her Welsh-Taiwanese heritage by exploring new places and experimenting with recipes from around the world. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lanifurbank or read her work at www.LanisCupOfTea.com.