Photo: Rey Lopez

New and Notable: Mama Chang, Rooster & Owl, TallBoy, and More

NEW

Mama Chang
Open:
March 8
Location: Fairfax
Lowdown: Ask almost any local diner if they know Peter Chang, and you’ll get nods of recognition. The names Ronger Wang, Lisa Chang and Lydia Chang may not be as familiar. Chef Peter Chang wants that to change with his newest restaurant. Mama Chang pays homage to the women of the Chang family: Peter’s grandmother, mother, wife and daughter. The restaurant celebrates home-style cooking, with many family recipes from their home in the Hubei province. Peter’s mother, Ronger, visited from China for the opening of the restaurant and her influence is seen throughout the menu, which features simple and comforting dishes like a farmer’s stir fry, stir-fried rice cake with homemade fish cake and braised pork belly with lotus root. Peter’s wife, Lisa, is known as a pastry chef, but is the star of the kitchen at home according to their daughter Lydia. Favorites from the Changs’ other restaurants like dry-fried eggplant are changed up slightly – here you’ll find dry-fried cauliflower. There are also the expected fiery Szechuan dishes like hot chili oil tofu with flounder, plus more unusual options like Chinese barbecue pig feet, dry chili pork intestines and a sweet caramel rice with thin pork belly. 3251 Old Lee Hwy. Fairfax, VA; www.mamachangva.com

Rooster & Owl
Open:
February 7
Location: Columbia Heights
Lowdown: A restaurant offering a market-driven tasting menu doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary. But Rooster & Owl is intriguing and satisfying in a way that very few places are. In fact, it’s something of a sleeper hit. The restaurant is the passion project of husband-and-wife duo Carey and Yuan Tang. Their opposite but complementary roles in the business inspired the name. Carey has a 9-to-5 job at Children’s National and manages the restaurant operations, and Yuan works late in the kitchen. Despite the inverse hours, the Rooster and the Owl have always made time to share a meal together. Their first restaurant together honors that commitment to communal dining with an experience that blends shared plates with tasting menus. The menu is divided into four courses, and each guest chooses one small plate for each course. When the dishes arrive, sharing is highly encouraged. The food is imaginative, taking simple ingredients – especially vegetables – and transforming them into something that makes you think twice. Carrots are seasoned with barbecue spices and served with cornbread ice cream. Sunchokes masquerade as wings with a “buffa-no” sauce. Light and fluffy Parisian gnocchi is bathed in a tarragon butter sauce. Pastry chef Olivia Green sweetens the meal with desserts like a delicate hazelnut éclair and a parting gift of a little chocolate robot. 2436 14th St. NW, DC; www.roosterowl.com

TallBoy
Open:
March 7
Location: Shaw
Lowdown: After the beloved Smoked & Stacked closed, Tin Shop partners Geoff Dawson and Peter Bayne decided to go in a different direction with their space. They realized 9th Street was in desperate need of an affordable neighborhood bar that stayed open late and felt nostalgic and playful. TallBoy was born with that goal in mind. The concept is simple: grilled cheese sandwiches, wings and tall boy (16 oz.) beers. Fans of the pastrami from Smoked & Stacked will be thrilled to hear that the house-made meat is still available in a grilled cheese sandwich with Swiss, pastrami, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Other sandwich options include the Kim Cheese with pepper jack, kimchi and bacon and the Cuban with Swiss, bread and butter pickles, ham, and Dijon. Any of the sandwiches can be ordered with vegan cheese, and of course, each grilled cheese is accompanied by a cup of smoked tomato soup for dipping. The wings are available in various flavors, from a Memphis dry rub to a lemon pepper wing with butter and lemon pepper sauce. There’s a full bar but tall boys are the hot sellers, with nine to choose from including the OG Schlitz Lager as well as the Guinness Stout, Bold Rock Cider and Union Duckpin Pale Ale. There’s also a rotating tall boy of the week. 1239 9th St. NW, DC; www.tallboybar.com

Zeppelin
Open:
March 4
Location: Shaw
Lowdown: The meaning behind the name of this sushi and cocktail bar is twofold. The space is designed to look like the famed airship, and there are references to the legendary rock band hidden throughout. Zeppelin is the latest project from beverage bros Ari and Micah Wilder and their partner Adrian Williams of Chaplin’s, in addition to Tokyo native and chef Minoru Ogawa of Sushi Ogawa. The new Japanese concept offers two experiences: a lively bar and dining room for sushi, charcoal-grilled yakitori, cocktails and karaoke, as well as a secluded omakase counter with top-quality seafood hand-selected from Toyosu Market in Tokyo. The à la carte offerings range from shrimp dumplings and various tempura to skewers of chicken meatballs or beef and maki made with cucumber and plum paste or fatty tuna. The cocktail program is built around a highball machine that adds “baller bubbles” to drinks inspired by the Japanese highball. Wine, beer and 80 premium sakes are also available to complement the à la carte and omakase menus. 1554 9th St. NW, DC; www.zeppelindc.com 

NOTABLE

Georgian Wine Wednesdays
Location:
Supra
Lowdown: Since opening, DC’s first Georgian restaurant has been lauded for introducing Washingtonians to the little-known world of Georgian wine. Now they’re making it a little more affordable to explore the country’s wine regions and grape varietals with themed specials on Wednesdays. Each month, they’ll offer a $20 discount on select bottles. This month, they’re channeling the element of surprise in honor of April Fools’ Day. Every Wednesday, guests can try three of the restaurant’s most unexpected bottles, including an amber wine that isn’t what it seems and a sparkling wine that combines 8,000-year-old Georgian techniques with the champagne method. 1205 11th St. NW, DC; www.supradc.com

Hank’s Cocktail Bar in a New Home
Location:
Dupont Circle
Lowdown: Jamie Leeds’ cocktail bar, formerly located in Petworth, has a new home in Dupont Circle. It sits right above the flagship Hank’s Oyster Bar and has an extensive menu of more than 40 different cocktails. The drinks are divided into five categories: Market Fresh (seasonal creations), We Invented the Remix (twists on the classics), New Fashioneds (what it sounds like), Size Matters (large and small options like shareable drinks and shooters), and Food Production (starring ingredients from the kitchen). In addition to these themes, there’s also a very useful diagram that plots each of the drinks based on flavor and booziness so you can find your perfect match depending on where your tastes fall on the cocktail spectrum. You can feel good about ordering one of the most interesting selections because it repurposes kitchen waste into a delightful cocktail. Revisionist History is a rum milk punch made with leftover tea, coffee and citrus rescued from the kitchen and bar at the end of the night. 1624 Q St. (second floor) NW, DC; www.hankscocktailbar.com

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.