Restaurant Happenings

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

By DowntownDC

When it comes to all things culinary, there’s never a dull moment in Downtown. What’s new here, what’s coming, and what’s gone changes as old concepts fade and fresh ones emerge. Who would have guessed, for instance, that dessert and poultry would make a compelling treat? Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema says a new concept, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, will open a block from Metro Center in January, in time for Inauguration Day. The carryout will offer about a dozen donut flavors, ranging from peanut butter and jelly to crème brulee, and fried chicken served either with buttermilk, a rub of dry spices or a sriracha glaze.

On the other side of spectrum, restaurateur and celebrity chef Jose Andres is planning to reopen his critically acclaimed Minibar restaurant tomorrow in new digs at 505 9th Street, the former home of Zola Wine & Kitchen. With the expanded space come expanded prices: the tasting menus will be $225 per person, up from $150. Before closing, the restaurant ranked No. 8 on's toughest reservations in the world list—and the national restaurant, bar and nightlife blog expects the small menu-tasting restaurant will likely remain there when it reopens.

Speaking of Minibar, Andres and his company, Think Food Group, sold the building at 405 8th Street that once housed the restaurant and two others—the unique, pop-up restaurant America Eats Tavern and Café Atlantico. Belgian chef Frederik De Pue and his backers purchased the building and might open an as yet unnamed restaurant there this year. Also coming: Chix DC (1121 14th Street), the green restaurant with a Latin flair, will offer healthy fare in 2,200 square feet of space. Taylor Gourmet, the Italian deli and market specializing in authentic hoagies and market goods, will replace Meatballs, the short-lived casual eatery, at 624 E Street.

Point Chaud Café & Crepes’s second Downtown location opened for business last month at 1100 New York Avenue (the entrance is located on 11th Street).  The open kitchen offers sweet and savory French pancakes, illy—the authentic Italian espresso coffee—fresh gelato, smoothies and other fare. Embers Grill (80 F Street), serving up kabob, burgers, and side dishes such as chickpeas and hummus, also opened last month and is located near New Jersey Avenue.

Remember Wagamama? It’s final—the pan-Asian noodle restaurant is not coming to Downtown after all. The chain signed a lease three years ago but never moved into 418 7th Street, despite several suggestions that it might. The waiting game is now over.