Friday, December 30, 2011

Kidnapping at 7th and F

The Police need your help in reference to a kidnapping and sexual assault which occurred last night around 7:30 pm on F Street NW between 7th and 8th.  From the release:
"On Thursday, December 29, 2011 at approximately 8:30 pm, officers assigned to the Fourth District responded to the 400 block of Farragut Street, Northwest for a sexual assault.  Upon arrival on the scene, the officers were approached by the victim who reported that she was driving in the 700 block of F Street, Northwest at approximately 7:30pm with her 15 month old son in the back seat.  While stopped in the area, a male subject entered the passenger side of the victim's vehicle and forced her at gunpoint to drive out of the area.  The victim was ordered by the assailant to park her vehicle in an unidentified area in Washington, DC.  The victim was then sexually assaulted by the subject.
"The suspect is described as a black male who spoke with a Southern accent.  He is further described as having a medium complexion, a mustache and was wearing all dark clothing."
This horrific crime occurred right in the heart of Penn Quarter, just after an event at the Verizon Center (the WWE Raw Holiday Tour) began.  There were certainly lots of people around.  If you saw anything, please contact the police:
"Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746).  Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department's TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411."

Library Book Sale

Today is the last day to buy books from MLK Library's BooksPlus store. Books had been priced at a dollar each, but today, you can fill a whole bag of books for just $1.00.

Hours today are 11-3.  BooksPlus will be closed permanently thereafter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gym Specials for the New Year

Want to get a headstart on those New Year's resolutions?  If you don't have a gym in your building (or even if you do), you might be interested in some of the specials the local gyms are running to help you tone up or slim down in 2012.
  • Vida Fitness has outposts at the Verizon Center, the Renaissance, and soon City Vista (opening in mid-January; we'll keep you posted).  If you join in January, you get a 40% discount.

  • Bar Method is offering a 12% discount for 2012 to both new and existing customers.   If you're still not sure that Bar Method is for you, they are offering a free class at 6AM tomorrow (Thursday) so you can check it out for yourself.  (You can also take a quick glance at PQ Insider's review here.  For what it's worth, we are still loving it!) 

  • Washington Sports Club at Gallery Place is having an open house today so you can check out the facilities.  They also offer a 30 days for $30 promotion which you can take advantage of at any time.  
It's never too early to get started - now get a move on!

Riot Act Coat Drive

Wanted to pass along a great deal and a chance to give back tonight at Riot Act:
You can get more information here.

Update on Fuel Pizza

Fuel Pizza, a New York style pizza chain coming to 6th and F, will be opening just a bit later than we expected.

We reached out to a representative from Fuel Pizza who told us:
"We are looking forward to opening sometime late February.  We are opening at 16 and K at the end of January we hope to see you there!"
Fuel Pizza on K St.
Indeed, Fuel has posted progress of their K Street location on their Facebook page, and it's looking great.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Celebrity Italian Spot?

A quick survey of our neighborhood's restaurants would imply that we're moving (even further) away from Chinatown and closer to Little Italy - and a new celebrity restaurant may push us even closer in that direction.

The Washington Times is reporting that Chazz Palminteri (of Usual Suspects, A Bronx Tale and Analyze This fame) is considering expanding his Baltimore Italian restaurant Chazz: A Bronx Original to Penn Quarter.  Too much Italian?  We'll admit there's a lot - the pizza market seems to be saturated  (District of Pi, Ella's, and Fuel Pizza to open in just a few weeks), Fiola has perfected upscale Italian, Vapiano's got the "self-serve Italian" thing down - there's even an entire restaurant dedicated to Meatballs.  The most obvious competitor would be Carmine's, which also has a New York flare.  Still, the mix of célébrité and Italian food often proves to be an alluring combination for tourists.  We'll keep an eye on it and let you know if Palminteri packs up the prosciutto for Penn Quarter.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Farmer's Market

Here's what in season this month.
Today marks the season's last Fresh Farm Market on 8th Street between D and E.  To mark the occasion, they'll be giving away more free cider and pecan diamonds.

No word on when the market will reopen for the season.  Last year it was fourth Thursday in March.  We'll let you know once spring rolls around!

Fiola, Fiola, Fiola

It seems the Washingtonian has fallen in love with Fiola (and who can blame them!?).
This month, the magazine awarded Fiola the number one spot on "Top 10 Restaurant Openings," and now, according to the fabulous Maria Trabocchi (Chef Fabio Trabocchi's wife and Fiola's PR extraordinaire), it's been listed as Washington's 8th best restaurant for 2012.

Our experiences at Fiola have been nothing short of fantastic - the accolades are well deserved. Congratulazioni!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Renovations On and Off the Mall

You may have noticed a good deal of construction both on the mall and just off it.  The good news: our "backyard park" (and our backyard art galleries) are getting some serious improvements.  The bad news: the projects are long-term and it will be years until the dust begins to settle.

First - the Mall.

We've noted that the Mall will be redesigned, but in the meantime, the National Park Service is rehabbing it one bit at a time.  Phase One is the center panels between 3rd and 7th Streets.  Their intent is to "provide more sustainable lawn panels through use of sandy soil, irrigation and curbs delineating the edge of the grass panels," as well as provide for better irrigation and drainage.  The dark pink areas on the map note where the Mall is closed for public access.  Anticipated completion of this phase is late 2012, though all three phases will bring us into Fall 2016.

Second - the National Gallery of Art.  

The folks over at Architect's Newspaper have the full story, but in short, the I.M. Pei-designed East Building (completed in 1978) isn't holding up as well as the West Building (completed in 1941).   You might remember the fences around the building in recent months - those were to prevent large chunks of marble falling and injuring the locals (so we thank them for that temporary stopgap, at least).  Now, 16,200 slabs of marble will be removed and replaced.  Lest you think it's an easy job - each panel weighs 450 pounds.  The building will remain open throughout the duration of the construction, but certain entrances may be closed.  Check the National Gallery's renovation information page before you head over.  Construction is expected to be complete in Spring 2014.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hot Shoppes Will Make a Comeback

The Convention Center Marriott Marquis, due to open at 901 Massachusetts Ave. in Spring 2014 will have a decidedly retro element even though it hasn't even opened yet.  In an interview with the Washingtonian today, Bill Marriott revealed that he personally was overseeing the resurrection of Hot Shoppes, a cafeteria-style restaurant which focused on old favorites like hamburgers (in particular, the signature triple-decker "Mighty Mo," which many cite as the inspiration for the Big Mac) and root beers.   The last Hot Shoppes closed in 1999, but Marriott is excited for its return: "you can't mess around with the Mighty Mo."

Happy Hanukah!

Hanukah begins tonight at sundown - and we wish a very happy holiday to you all.  The menorah will be lit tonight on the Ellipse at 4PM, and the Marine Band; Dreidelman and the Macabees; and of course hot latkes and donuts will be on hand.

If you can't make it to the lighting this afternoon, we did a little research on where you could pick up some latkes in and around the neighborhood.  We mostly found things outside of Penn Quarter, but we'd be interested to know if you have any other ideas!

  • Your closest bet is probably Cafe Mozart at 13th and H NW.  Latkes with sour cream and applesauce will run you about $7.
  • Star and Shamrock is at 13th and H NE and also serves latkes with sour cream and applesauce for about $7.  If you haven't been, Star and Shamrock is a New York style deli and a traditional Irish pub.  Their motto?  Slainte and L'Chaim!  They're also running a Hanukah special each night (after 7PM).  Tonight is a $1 jumbo pickle, you can check the rest out here.  
  • Firefly in Dupont Circle is preparing a special trio of latkes for $12 - you get chicken liver pate and salted radishes on one; smoked sablefish, pickled shallots and scallion cream on another and spiced-poached pear with ginger chips on the last.
  • Dino, in Cleveland Park, is doing a full Hanukah meal - latkes, chicken, olive oil cake, the whole bit.  $45.

Live Broadcast from Carmine's

It's a few weeks away, but we thought we'd give you a heads up that WTOP's Foodie and the Beast will be broadcasting from Carmine's on January 15th as part of their inaugural remote location show - and you can be a part of it.  With your $35 ticket (available here), you can see the guest celebrity chefs and mixologists, and more importantly partake in the mountains and mountains of Carmine's famous Italian food and bloody marys and mimosas.  Some may say that 10:30a is too early to start housing multiple meatball heros and massive platters of ravioli.  We say: challenge accepted.

SoberRide - Free Taxis Now through New Years Day

One of the joys of Penn Quarter is our great nightlife scene (and the ability to safely walk home from said nightlife scene).  That said, if you stray too far off the Penn Quarter bar tour and need a ride home this holiday season, fret not.  
Together with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program SoberRide initiative, AT&T is proud to provide free taxi rides (up to $30) to anyone over 21 in the greater Washington, DC area nightly from 10pm until 6am through New Years Day.  
AT&T customers can call #TAXI to get a safe, free ride home, while others can dial 800-200-TAXI.  
Stay safe this holiday season: don't end up like this poor snowman!

More Development on Sixth Street

We've been saying that 6th Street will soon be the new 7th Street for awhile now.  In the last year, it's seen Corner Bakery and Graffiato move in, and we expect a new ramen shop soon.  Now there's news that Townhouse Restaurant and Wine Bar will be moving in to 700 6th Street, right next door to the back of the Verizon Center.  Not surprisingly, Restaurants-America, the group behind the venture, expects a good deal of foot traffic from the arena.

We perused the Chicago location's menu (there are three Townhouses in existence already - two in Illinois and one in California) and it looks to be bar food with both Spanish and Asian influences.  For example, you can start with an order of sangria poached pears or crabcakes a la plancha, and move on to the miso glazed cod, or the Thai barbecue salmon.  Townhouse targets Spring 2012 for their opening.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happenings at Harman

Looking to get some (free) culture in during your lunch break?  The Shakespeare Theatre can help:

Sidney Harman Hall hosts performances and discussions every Wednesday at noon, entirely free of charge.  The full schedule is here, but some of the 2012 highlights include:

They invite you to bring your lunch, and promise that each performance will be one hour or less, making sure you can get back to work happy, fed, and with a dose of culture.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Washingtonian's Best of Penn Quarter

Every so often, The Washingtonian puts together a pretty extensive neighborhood guide for Penn Quarter.  Since we've seen such amazing growth here even in the last twelve months, we were glad to see they updated to include some of our new favorites, like Fiola, Luke's Lobster, and Graffiato.
  • Restaurants. Penn Quarter has emerged as an unparalleled neighborhood for good eats.  See what the Washingtonian recommends for everything from burgers, desserts, theater menus, and everything in between.
  • Cultural Locations.  A nice roundup of local theaters and art museums.
  • Cocktail list.  Fun idea for a night out: take a Best of Penn Quarter Cocktail Tour using this as a guide!  100% walkable so you don't have to worry about who's driving home...
  • Agendas for a day out in PQ.  We locals probably already have this down to a science, but it's nice to see some of the pairings the magazine came up with for Girls' Day, Weekend Guests, Day Out with the Kids, Date Night, and Guys Night out.  
  • New apartment guide.  Highlights some of the new residential development in the area, like CityCenter and some buildings in NoMa.  None of the new apartments are in what's traditionally referred to as Penn Quarter, but as other blogs have noted, the definition is pretty amorphous.  A good resource if you're thinking of moving in the next year or two.
Did they miss any of your favorites?  Let us know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Farmers' Market

It's the second-to-last Farmers Market, and FRESHFARM Markets has a treat for you today:

As always, the market runs until 7p (but no promises they'll still have cider that late!)

Wagamama Tests a Menu

According to the "Bring Wagamama to DC!" facebook fan page (a cause we can get behind!), a few weeks back Wagamama ran a focus group to ready themselves for their entry into the DC market (here on 7th Street).  They even tested a menu:

All this to say: Wagamama is still coming.  Spring 2012 will be here before we know it - and it sounds like Wagamama is finally making plans in earnest to join Penn Quarter.

See our March 9th update here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Navy Memorial Prank

Here's something we missed from the weekend: Yeas and Nays is reporting that last Friday night, Army fans pranked their rivals by putting up two Army flags at the Navy Memorial here in our neighborhood.

The flags were taken down by Navy fans, who of course got the last laugh: Navy Midshipman beat the Army Black Knights 27-21 on Saturday.

Anyone see the hijinx go down?

Eataly Closes in on a Space!

Washington's relationship with Eataly has been a roller coaster ride.  Back in July, we reported that Eataly was coming to town.  September brought us the news that it wasn't - that proprietor Mario Batali simply couldn't find the right space.  Well, we're back with more news now: Eataly still wants to come to DC and has narrowed the search to three or four locations.

We don't have info on where these locations are - just that they are in the District proper - but we do know that Batali has upped his request to sixty thousand square feet.  New York's gargantuan establishment is only 42,500 square feet (plus the 4,500 square foot beer garden).  DC's Eataly could well eclipse New York's in size and potentially popularity, given the response we've already seen to the idea.

Jonathan O'Connell at Washington Post's Capitol Business has the full story here, which reports that we can expect Batali to choose between the locations in the next sixty days.  We'll be keeping an eye out around here for Batali and crew.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Year's Eve in Washington, D.C.

With all there is to do for the holidays, New Year's Eve plans usually fall to the bottom of the barrel.   But it's time to start thinking about it before things sell out!  We know, for example, that the party at Church Key is sold out.

We thought it'd be helpful if we compiled a list of parties in the area for you to choose from for New Year's Eve.  If you know of others, please leave them in the comments section!  Here is what we have come up with:

- The Downtown Countdown.  The classic huge party being held this year at the Washington Hilton.  More details here.

- New Year's Eve at George.  A younger crowd in a fairly small space - but being around the young keeps you young.  Go party at George.  More details here.

- Make the trek to National Harbor for the largest party at the Gaylord Hotel featuring 15 party areas, 5 dance floors, live bands, and DJs.  More details here.

- You're going to dress up and pretend to be James Bond anyway, so you might as well go to Washington Plaza Hotel's 007 Party.  More details here.

- James Bond isn't cool anymore and you want to pretend to be a member of the Mad Men cast?  Fine.  Go to Hudson.  Details here.

- Most convenient is the pricey (starting at $195) party at the Newseum.  the party will feature food by Wolfgang Puck and music by Round Midnight and DJ Scientific Beats.   You can also stroll through all the exhibits.  Details here

- The rooftop of the W is sure to be fun, albeit crowded, and even more expensive ($200).  Details on that event are available here.

- Lower key events include the party at Public in Dupont Circle.  Open bar only lasts from 10:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., with happy hour prices before that.  But tickets are only $80.  More details here.

- The classic event at the Kennedy Center, featuring guitarist Pepe Romero and the National Symphony Orchestra followed by dancing and a balloon drop.  More details here.

Don't forget your drinking vitamins, patches, drinkin' mate, and hangover cures.  You'll thank us later.

Happy New Year's!

Restaurant Week

The details on DC's restaurant week have been released.  Two things you need to know:
1.  Restaurant week is now January 9-15, not the week after as they had indicated earlier (though, as you may recall, many extend the discount to the week after anyway)
2.  All of the participating restaurants (and reservation links) are available here.

Get booking!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Free Dinner at Graffiato

Want to win free dinner for 2 at Graffiato?

To enter, book a reservation for two at Graffiato for any future date on (remember, that's now the only place you can book online reservations for Graffiato).  Include "Gratis Graffiato" in the special request field of your reservation.  You'll automatically be entered into a drawing and Graffiato might pick up your bill.  Graffiato will be selecting one winner per day.

Free prosecco on draft is never a bad thing... until the next morning.

Plans for the Mass Court Restaurant Fall Through

Sad news, Mass Courtians: plans for the Italian restaurant Caldo, which we reported on back in October, seem to have fallen through.

The folks over at the great MV Triangle Blog have the full story.  In short: they just couldn't get everything done in the time frame they wanted to get it done in.  Chef Alfio still plans to open his other restaurant in just four weeks: Zuppa Fresca, in the Loree Grand Building in NOMA over at 3rd and K NE.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Niceties for Nachos

Tomorrow (Thursday) from 11a-2p, Austin Grill will be hosting a toy drive for Dreams for Kids' Holiday for Hope - which is the largest toy drive in the United States.  If you bring in an unwrapped toy or make a donation, you'll receive one free appetizer!  Doing good can taste good too...

Grand Trunk: ALSO open 24/7!

Much has been made of The Hamilton being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (for the record, they'll be closed on Christmas Day, though).

Well, Penn Quarter is going to be graced with two 24/7 restaurants come this winter:  Grand Trunk, the "South Asian American fast food" restaurant at 7th and Indiana announces "THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS, WE NEVER CLOSE!"  

Grand Trunk is expected to open later this winter.

The Hamilton Gets Ready to Open

Long-awaited 24-hour restaurant and live music venue The Hamilton has indicated it will open on Sunday, December 18th.  The Washingtonian got an early look yesterday - you can check out their slideshow here.

It's apparent that the 37,000 square foot restaurant is from the Clyde's Restaurant Group, borrowing some design elements from Clyde's and Old Ebbitt Grill.  The Hamilton has an avian flare, with authentic Audubon paintings from Chicago's Field Museum, among other interesting touches.

The website is still not all the way there yet, but there's a lot more to see.  The menus will be posted here shortly.  More importantly, The Hamilton has already booked live music.  Check out their schedule, and if anything catches your eye you can buy tickets here.

The staff (300 members strong!) is busy training now.  We're looking forward to checking it out once it opens.  OpenTable shows the first reservations as Tuesday, December 20th, but we have to imagine the first day or so is a "soft opening" and not booked solid, particularly since the restaurant seats eight hundred people!

(UPDATED 12/8 to reflect the opening getting pushed back from December 15th to December 18th)

Winter Restaurant Week

The dates for Winter Restaurant Week have been announced - January 9-15, 2012.

Penn Quarter houses many of the hottest reservations, and though participating restaurants haven't been announced yet (they'll be announced here), might we suggest squatting on something on OpenTable if you're absolutely dying to try it at a discount?

UPDATED 12/9 to reflect the new dates.

Del Frisco's Grille Coming to Penn Quarter

A new restaurant has set its sights on Penn Quarter - Del Frisco's Grille, which will take the old Les Halles space at 12th and Pennsylvania.  The concept is a bit more casual and about half the size of the Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse you may already be familiar with.  The chain is relatively new (New York got the first one back in August, and Dallas quickly followed) but the menu reveals most of your old standbys, with a few standouts like ahi tuna tacos, clam flatbreads, and veal meatloaf.  The steakhouse will of course be offering several cuts of meat as well.

The idea for each Del Frisco's Grille is to be "wine-centric," according to Del Frisco's Restaurant Group's CEO Mark Mednansky.  Indeed - the New York location offers 700 wines.  Cheers!

The restaurant hopes to be open by next summer, and we'll be keeping an eye on it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Minibar for New Year's Eve

No New Year's Eve plans yet?  Still haven't gotten that coveted reservation at minibar?  If you and five friends are each willing to pony up $350 (or more), we might be able to help.

Head on over to eBay, where Jose Andres is auctioning off all six seats at the table on December 31st.  You and five pals will ring in the New Year in style starting at 8:30p - if you can front the cash.  Bidding starts at $2012.00, and one lucky soul (who obviously got their Christmas bonus a bit early this year) has already opened the bidding.

Six seats at minibar usually run $900 total (not including alcohol, tax or tip), but the listing promises "special touches unique to New Year's Eve."  While we appreciate that Andres is donating any amount above the $2012 listing to DC Central Kitchen, by our math, that means Andres owes you and your guests $1100 of these special New Year's treats.  Here's the kicker - we know it's not alcohol, since Andres explicitly notes  that "an extensive wine and cocktail list is available as an additional purchase."

The auction ends December 9th at 10:58a.

UPDATE: The reservation for six went for $2,037.00.

Presented without comment: Minibar gets $337.50 a head ($2012.00 total) to serve New Years dinner (with no drinks, so unless it's a teetotaling New Years celebration, likely much more); DC Central Kitchen, which is listed as benefiting from the evening gets $25.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

At the Market

It's a beautiful day for the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market.

As always, the market is open from 3-7p today.

You can check out the vendor map here to see who's selling today.

We'll point out that Anchor Nursery, out of Galena, Maryland, has seasonal wreaths, swag and pine roping.  Also in attendance is Red Apron Butchery, which was just nominated for the "Good Food Awards" for their Creme de Cochon.

Additionally, teens from the New Community for Children will be on hand, selling herbal soaps, lotion bars & salt scrubs (all handmade by the teens).  Proceeds will benefit the New Community for Children and City Blossoms, an urban gardening organization for children.

Happy Birthday, Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud would have turned 250 today - and the folks at her eponymous museum want you to celebrate with her.

Today, you can tour the museum for only $13 (usually $21) -- and on the odd chance today is your birthday, you'll get in for free.

One sculpture you won't see at the museum itself is William Shakespeare -- but he's not far.  As of yesterday, the old bard is keeping watch over Sidney Harman Hall in celebration of another event - the Shakespeare Theatre Company's 25th season.