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More October restaurant openings: Birch & Barley, and Kellari Taverna.


Kellari Taverna Main Dining Room

Kellari Taverna – Owner Stavros Aktipis and Partner Gregory Zapantis have brought their authentic Greek fare and fresh-from-the Mediterranean fish to the nation’s capital from New York City. Executive Chef, Anthony Acinapura will oversee the authentic Mediterranean fare menu featuring specialty appetizers designed for sharing and fresh seafood.  Kellari, Greek for “wine cellar“, will feature an extensive collection of Greek and international wines. In the space formerly occupied by Restaurant K by Alison Swope, the 7,500 sqft space has been re-designed by New York designer, Yianni Skordas of Skordas Design Studio to create a warm and inviting European feeling.  Kellari boasts a new ambient lounge and bar, a chef’s table, and a wine cellar.


Kellari Fish display focal point

Since opening last week, the restaurant reports that the fish display has been a fabulous hit. The fish display, which is the focal point of the restaurant, features the daily market catch from the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans. Guests can choose from over fifteen varieties of fresh seafood including Barbounia, Fagri and Turbot that is then grilled whole and simply dressed with Greek olive oil, oregano, capers and lemon that intensify the natural flavors of this remarkable fish. Diners choose their meal straight off the ice—a tribute, Zapantis says, to traditional, menuless Greek dining. Other popular dishes are the octopus, Madagascar shrimp, grilled whole Lavraki and some of the wonderful traditional spreads and starters such as spanikopita and Greek salad (with the most delicious feta from Dedonis). Any of the fish that is from the Mediterranean is imported especially for Kellari and is the product of a very special relationship between the chef and the fisherman in Greece.

Kellari Taverna is located at 1700 K Street, NW in Washington, D.C. 20006. Hour of operation are lunch Monday through Saturday from 11:30 AM to 4 PM; dinner Monday through Saturday 4 PM to 11 PM and Sunday 4 PM to 10 PM and Sunday Brunch 11 AM to 4 PM.  Valet parking is available for $10 starting at 5 PM. For more information visit (202) 535-5274 and visit www.kellaridc.com.   
Red Curry – The family-owned Mai Thai restaurant on King Street in Old Town, Alexandria has opened a new 200+ seat pan-Asian style restaurant in the former 100 King space a so-called cursed location.  Red Curry will offer fine dining establishment with a sushi bar, and dishes representing the best of all Asian countries–Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Vietnam. On the menu includes: Sushi — selections include nigiri/sashimi/maki, plus signature rolls like the spicy tuna/crab/avocado/fish roe “Union”, the salmon/squid/fried yellowtail/Tobiko “Shogun” and the “Sumo”, stuffed with lump crab. Heartier fare includes “Asian Grill” items like the salmon/shrimp/scallop/pineapple Coconut Curry Seafood and the asparagus/zucchini/peppers Laos Steak, as well as house specials including the lemongrass/leek/okra/tumalie chili sauce Chicken Peppercorn, and Korean-style “Incheon Bulgogi”. Location: 100 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia; tel: (703) 739-9600

Birch & Barley and Churchkey


Birch and Barley Dining Room. Photo by Metrocurean.

Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG) has really been brewing. After the opening of the Columbia Firehouse in Old Town, the NRG has hopped to it again. After over a year and a half of anticipation, the beer-centric dual concept part American dining room part bar/lounge Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, are finally open for business as of October 22 in the old Dakota Cowgirl/Ramrod space near DC’s Logan Circle. One of the causes for delay in opening included, Rustico’s Chef Frank Morales, also slated to open Birch & Barley suddenly resigning. (He was spotted unexpectedly by City Paper’s, Tim Carmen at Jackie’s in Silver Spring late October.) Sure while there are restaurants opening every week, these two openings happen to be the first venture into the District for the Virginia-based NRG, which operates Buzz bakery, Evening Star Café, Planet Wine, Rustico, Star Catering, Tallula, EatBar, Vermilion and Columbia Firehouse, all located in Northern Virginia. While opening an establishment in DC may be new for this group, a concept focusing on beer is not new. Churchkey will be an expanded version of Rustico’s beer program, which which opened in Feb. 2008 with Beer Director, Greg Engert, heading up his hand-picked list of over 300 beers, including 30 on tap. Greg says, “I plan on offering 50 draft beers all served at the appropriate temperatures (we will have 3 temperature zones to ensure that each style is drank at the temp that will most duly accentuate that particular style’s flavors) and all served in the proper glassware (to highlight the nuances of aroma and flavor that each brew possesses). Each draft will be craft-brewed and there we will rotate about half from week to week.  While we will offer more mainstream beers, we won’t have them on draft and they will be in addition to 500 craft bottles representing nearly 100 styles and over 20 countries. And we will have 5 cask beers available at all times.”


ChurchKey "Beer Organ" Photo by Metrocurean

Upstairs, the 3,250 square-foot ChurchKey governed by Engert will serve 555 different beers, including 500 bottles representing 100 styles and 30 countries. 50 drafts are available, all of which are unique, many of which are rare and exclusive, and half of which will rotate weekly. The beer selection is rounded out by five authentic, hand pumped, cask-conditioned beers; these will rotate continuously in order to showcase a huge variety of delicious domestic ales and international standouts. With 130 seats, the ChurchKey Bar is outfitted with plush yellow couches, cast-iron chandeliers, and a long wooden bar serving 500 bottled beers, 50 taps, and 5 cask-conditioned ales.
ChurchKey also offers its own menu, featuring artisanal pizzas and flatbreads, fresh from the wood-burning pizza oven, along with Foie tots and Panini filled with prawns, housemade soft chorizo and Manchego-paprika aioli – foods that highlight and accentuate the extensive beer program. 15 different types of beer vessels have been purchased in order to utilize the appropriate glassware for each style of beer. Engert is careful to note that all beer is stored and served according to brewers’ specifications, thanks to a five-zone temperature control system employed at ChurchKey.
The ground floor of this new rustic split-level, houses the 80-seat, Birch & Barley which is headed by husband-and-wife team Executive Chef Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac. Chef Bailey most recently served as the Executive Chef of Allen & Delancey, a Michelin-star restaurant in Manhattan. His modern American menu for Birch & Barley showcases fresh, local products, such as the Char Tartar with Yuzu, ginger, basil and sesame chips; the Vialone Nano Risotto with beets, beet greens, and whipped goat cheese; and the Braised pork cheeks with stoneground white grits, parsnip, and pearl onions. The dining room décor includes woodgrain, columns, a large garage-door, and stiff table cloths.
The pastry program is headed by Tiffany MacIsaac, also from Allen & Delancey, where she created imaginative desserts and was responsible for the in-house bread program. MacIsaac’s menu for Birch & Barley offers guests a variety of decadent treats, such as a Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart, served with a milk sorbet and paired with a whiskey-vanilla milkshake; a playful take on breakfast – Sweet Cream French Toast with oatmeal ice cream, pecan granola and applewood bacon-infused caramel sauce; and a Roasted Apple Beignet served with cinnamon chantilly, golden raisin purée and mulled cider sorbet.
Birch & Barley and ChurchKey are located at 1337 14th St, NW, near the McPherson Square metro stop on the Red line. For more information, please call 202-567-2576 or visit the websites at www.birchandbarley.com and www.churchkeydc.com


One Response

  1. […] Another new kid on the block, with its recent opening in October but has been around long enough to work out some if it’s initial opening kinks. RW is a great […]

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