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Many local bistros giving Pride-season proceeds back to LGBT orgs

Rainbow-colored cocktails, cake, donuts and more on the menu this weekend

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pride dining specials dc 2019, gay news, Washington Blade
At Osteria Morini, pastry chef Tova Hillman and team are celebrating Capital Pride Festival with a five-layer rainbow Italian almond cake. The cake will be offered through June 9 with proceeds going to Casa Ruby. (Photo courtesy Osteria Morini)

The Pride celebrations across D.C. on this 50th anniversary of Stonewall are overflowing. Selected options for drinks, food and events are listed below. 

Drinks

Gay-owned EatWell D.C. continues its long tradition of supporting and celebrating LGBT residents for Capital Pride. Throughout the weekend (June 7-9), all EatWell DC restaurants (The Pig, Commissary, Grillfish, Frenchy’s Naturel and Logan Tavern) are offering a special L’amour C’est L’amour cocktail and donating $1 from each purchase to the D.C. Area Transmasculine Society. EatWell’s newest spot, Frenchy’s Naturel, is also hosting “Unicorn Pride” theme all weekend, in which diners are encouraged to wear tutus and other unicorn regalia. Details at eatwelldc.com

City Winery (1350 Okie St., N.E.) will donate a portion of its charity wine flights to Capital Pride. Each flight features a range of City Winery’s Washington house-made wines, including a combination of white and red wines as well as the winery’s popular rose. Details at citywinery.com

Fare Well (406 H St., N.E.), has teamed up with lesbian-owned Republic Restoratives to feature the Fare Well Mule, made with that distillery’s Civic Vodka. A portion of proceeds from drink sales from June 1-30 will be donated to TransLAW. Details at eatfarewell.com

Hotel

In coordination with Exactly, the creative agency from Brightest Young Things, seven local Hilton properties will sprout rainbow activities, cocktails and “benches” featuring floral artwork by local artist Holley Simmons of She Loves Me. The hotels will serve D.C. Brau Pride Pilsner and Absolut Vodka Pride Edition in ROYGBIV cocktails. Details at hilton.com

Food

All D.C. proper locations of Matchbox (Capitol Hill, Chinatown and 14th Street) will donate a portion of sales from each Honey Pie Punch sold between June 3-9 to the D.C. LGBT Center. Details at matchboxrestaurants.com

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (1308 G St., N.W.) on June 8 and 9 will add a special Pride Doughnut to the menu: a rainbow-glazed square doughnut. It’s also available for preorder. Details at astrodoughnuts.com

Throughout June, Brabo Brasserie (1600 King Street, Alexandria, Va.) is swirling a rainbow into their signature dessert in a rainbow baked Alaska, which is then flambeed tableside with 100 proof brandy. Brabo Brasserie will donate a portion of proceeds to The Trevor Project. Details at braborestaurant.com

During the D.C. Pride Festival, Le Diplomate’s (1604 14th St., N.W.) curbside Glaces de Diplomate ice cream cart will feature a rainbow cone of glace made in house, covered in rainbow sprinkles. All proceeds from the cone are being donated to the Capital Pride Alliance. In addition, given its location on the parade route, Le Diplomate will extend its patio from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and offer cocktail specials. Details at lediplomatedc.com

At Osteria Morini (301 Water St., S.E.), pastry chef Tova Hillman and team are celebrating Capital Pride Festival with a five-layer rainbow Italian almond cake. The cake will be offered through June 9 with proceeds going to Casa Ruby. Details at osteriamorini.com/washington-dc

Nicoletta Italian Kitchen (901 4th St., N.W.) is celebrating Capital Pride Festival with the rainbow cake-bite Pride Sundae  May 31st – June 9th. This new restaurant in Mt. Vernon Triangle will donate proceeds to the Trevor Project. Details at nicolettakitchen.com

Commissary (1443 P St., N.W.) also highlights its annual Pride food specials: two bagel sandwiches featuring the Bethesda Bagels’ Rainbow Bagel. The Pridewich, will have chicken sausage and spicy aioli; the Unicorn Bagel features blueberry cream cheese and rainbow sprinkles. Both are available all Capital Pride weekend. Details at commissarydc.com

Events

City Tap Dupont (1250 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) is ready to party with local queen Ba’Naka starring drag brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. From 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, Ba’Naka will host drag trivia, followed by a guest DJ for a ladies late-night party with happy hour specials. Details at citytap.com

For a second year, Republic Restoratives (1369 New York Ave., N.E.) is teaming up with 20 restaurants and bars District-wide to feature a specialty cocktail made with Republic Restoratives’ signature CIVIC Vodka and served throughout June. Proceeds from each cocktail will be donated directly to TransLAW. On Sunday, June 9, from noon-4 p.m., it will host the Not The White House PRIDE Party in support of TransLAW and LGBT44, the unofficial network of Obama administration LGBTQ alumni. Food is provided by gay-owned BBQ Bus. Tickets on Eventbrite. Details at republicrestoratives.com

On Saturday, the Tasting Room (1600 King Street, Alexandria, Va.) offers Pride Movie Night showing “The Birdcage,” projected onto a wall in the courtyard for an alfresco cinema with a special drink menu. 

Also Saturday, Miss United States Andromeda Peters and her fellow contestants will sign autographs and headshots during Commissary’s first Beauty Kween Brunch Party. Commissary will turn into a beauty pageant with complimentary tiaras from Day Owl Rosé, glitter cocktails and Kirsten Dunst’s cult classic film “Drop Dead Gorgeous”playing on a loop.

At Marvin (2007 14th St., N.W.), Pride with DJ Keenan Orr starts at 3 p.m. on Marvin’s roof deck on Saturday. Signature Smirnoff cocktail, Ruby Slippers, and rainbow fans will be provided; proceeds will go to Casa Ruby. Details at marvindc.com

Destination Wedding’s (1800 14th St., N.W.) patio pop-up along 14th Street is getting spritzy. On Saturday, it’s hosting a Spritz Patio Party from noon-6 p.m., with specials like the frozen fraperol spritz along with Doi Moi drinking snacks. 

Urbana ( 2121 P St., N.W.), on the parade route, is hosting its annual “Pride+Shine” party on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.  DJ Trayze will play and special guest Mike Hot-Pence will take photos and collect donations to benefit The Trevor Project. There is no entry fee; a $50 bar package includes select beer, wine, mixed drinks and unlimited pizza. Urbana’s bar team will offer rainbow Jell-O shots while the culinary team will be handing out complimentary rainbow ice cream cones. Details at urbanadc.com

Radiator (1430 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) offers “POP” (Pride On the Patio), a colorful, bottomless brunch for “popping in” and “popping out” before and after brunch. Radiator’s bar team will offer a special menu of ROYGBIV drinks celebrating Pride with all the colors of the rainbow. It runs Saturday and Sunday starting each day at noon. Details at radiatordc.com

On Sunday, June 9, DNV Rooftop (1155 14th St., N.W.) will host “Gaywatch,” a beach-themed pool party and hangover brunch, from noon-5 p.m. Special $15 large-format cocktails like the “Man-gria” and the “Bella-lini” will be served in a beach bucket. DJ Alkimist will play while guests take a quick dip in the “ocean” (i.e. the rooftop pool), and float on rainbow lifesavers. Details at donavanhoteldc.com

Milk Bar Flagship (1525 15th St., N.W.) at Logan Circle is hosting a slew of fun for Pride. June 7-9, the sweets shop will donate a portion of proceeds from all B’Day MilkShakes (a blend of B’day Truffles, rainbow sprinkles and soft serve) to The Trevor Project. Today it will host a Pride Baking Class led by local drag queen Banaka; proceeds go to SMYAL. Finally, on Wednesday, June 12, the bakery is set to host a Pride Yappy Hour with Washington Blade, where sweets for both people and pups will be available. Details at milkbarstore.com

Tico is hosting one of the longest parties of the weekend: from 2 p.m.-midnight on Saturday, June 8, catch the parade and the passing action with a margarita and taco in hand. Tickets include food and drink; proceeds benefit My Sister’s Place. Details at ticodc.com

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Dining

Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street

Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality

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(Photo courtesy of Deney Lam)

There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails. 

At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare. 

In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.” 

The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.

Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.

Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)

Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day. 

Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.

Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)

Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.

The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”

The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.

“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. 

Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says. 

Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation. 

“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”

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Dining

Seven new restaurants to try this fall

D.C. restaurant scene thriving again after rough year

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Le Diplomate, dining, food, French cuisine, gay news, Washington Blade
If you like Le Diplomate, you’ll love new concept Bread Alley in Union Market offering, you guessed it, Le Dip’s famous breads. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The fall dining scene is as hot as ever. Here are some of the top tickets to look out for:

RAMMYs: Sept. 19 marks the annual D.C.-area restaurant industry awards, the RAMMYs. Many of the categories this year are unique to the challenges restaurants faced in 2020. Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the awards “created timely categories that speak to all the ways the region’s uniquely met those challenges,” according to the RAMMYs. Such categories include “most innovative to-go packaging”, “outstanding COVID-safe redesign,” and “most impressive pivot to provision or market.” 

Jane Jane (1705 14th St. NW): 

Highly anticipated retro-chic cocktail bar Jane Jane quietly opened after more than two years in the making. Co-owned by gay men Drew Porterfield, his partner Ralph Brabham, and friend JP Sabatier, Jane Jane’s mid-century-style throwback offers classic cocktails and upgraded bar snacks. It’s located in the new Liz development on 14th Street.

Thirsty Crow (3400 11th St. NW):

Part sports bar, part cocktail bar, Thirsty Crow opened just last week in Columbia Heights. It sits in the subterranean level of Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning Makan, serving cocktails and bites inspired by Malaysian flavors, like its sister restaurant on the ground level. Chef James Wozniuk of Makan is overseeing the menu of snacks like shrimp chips and larger plates like spicy fried chicken with sambal.

No Goodbyes (1770 Euclid St. NW):

The Line Hotel previously played host to a suite of restaurants: A Rake’s Progress, Brothers and Sisters, and Spoke English. When these restaurants left this Adams Morgan hotel, the spaces sat mostly vacant until No Goodbyes slid into the ground floor. An all-day dining place that “taps the farmers, fishers, and small-time ranchers in DC’s own backyard,” according to its website, the menu sits squarely on a Chesapeake Bay foundation. Mid-Atlantic dishes, from fish to fowl, play large on the menu.

Bread Alley (1250 5th St NE):

The intoxicating tower of carbs that greets diners when they walk into buzzy Le Diplomate is getting its very own dedicated space, aptly named Bread Alley. A tiny location in the Union Market area, the shop just launched selling only the three types of bread that arrive complimentary at the start of any Le Dip meal: thick-crusted classic baguette, multigrain boules, and cranberry-walnut boules. It will eventually also sell pastries, jams, butter, honey, and other accouterments. Bakers begin their craft at 3:30 a.m. and offer their wares starting at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. or sold out, whichever arrives earlier.

Bistro Du Jour (99 District Square SW) 

Bistro Du Jour will be gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s third waterfront venue at the Wharf. A café in the Parisian style, it will lean heavily on croissants and cappuccinos during the day, moving to Champagne and larger savory dishes by night. The bistro will sell current partner Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery’s fresh baked goods and pastries, and will showcase traditional fare like coq au vin, French onion soup, steak frites, and foie gras for lunch and dinner. The bistro will display an extensive bubbly section, as well as a chic espresso bar and an outdoor patio. Brunch is in the works.

SUCCOTASH Prime (915 F St., NW)

After a yearlong hiatus, SUCCOTASH Prime recently reopened at the end of August. SUCCOTASH Prime, also run by gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design, is an updated version of the restaurant, still with Chef Edward Lee at the helm. The refreshed SUCCOTASH opened as a southern steakhouse with an Asian twist, featuring smoked steaks, fried oysters, collard greens, ham, and kimchi side dish. Live music is also planned.

Via Roma (4531 Telfair Blvd #110, Camp Springs, Md.)

Via Roma is a restaurant where you can enjoy the pies, you just can’t call it “pizza.” Just opened a few weeks ago, the restaurant serves pinsas, a pizza-like dish using dough made from a heady mixture of wheat, soy, and rice flours, and then proofed for more than a day. The spot calls itself the first Pinsa-certified restaurant in Maryland, and aims to reflect the laid-back, Mediterranean atmosphere of Naples (the owner also runs an Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana-certified restaurant in Maryland). Beyond Pinsa, it also serves Maryland crab tater tots, panini, pasta, salad, and Aperol spritzes.

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Dining

D.C. Restaurant Week returns

Celebrating a revitalized dining scene after COVID closures

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A sample of what’s available from The DC Restaurant Group, which owns spots like Shaw’s Tavern and 801 Restaurant. Entrees include lobster and grits and salmon over succotash. (Photo courtesy DC Restaurant Group)

After being confined to a to-go program for the last two iterations, Washington, D.C.’s Restaurant Week is back this summer to celebrate the revitalized dining scene in the city. Summer Restaurant Week 2021, run by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), is scheduled to kick off Monday, Aug. 9, and last through Sunday, Aug. 15. 

The signature summer dining event returns to a one-week promotion this year, though restaurants have the option of extending their promotions. Diners can enjoy three-course menus at a range of indoor/outdoor comfort levels at more than 200 restaurants, ranging from fast-casual eateries to fine-dining destinations. In addition, the to-go family-style options that were introduced last year are not gone, however, as many restaurants will also offer this off-premise option. Of course, many spots plan to include a cocktail pairing as well.

Dinner is the main event for participating restaurants, with the classic three-course dinner priced at $35 per person. Several restaurants with higher overall price points are also offering an elevated $55 dinner with exclusive items. Three-course lunches run $22, and weekend brunch is also $22. 

Finally, many restaurants will also offer “RW-To-Go” dinner meals, available at two price points: $60 or $120 for two people and $100 or $200 for four people.

These RW-To-Go dinner meal packages are available for takeout or delivery, and diners can order RW-To-Go either directly from the participating restaurant or check their delivery app for the offer.

D.C. restaurants remain open at 100 percent capacity, but Mayor Bowser last week reinstated mask mandates for indoor spaces.  

New restaurants participating in Summer Restaurant Week include Angolo, ANXO, Flower Child, Le Sel, GATSBY, Glover Park Grill, Gypsy Kitchen, and Truluck’s in D.C.; and Spice Kraft Indian Bistro in Virginia.

“This year’s Summer Restaurant Week is not only providing diners with great options at great prices for dining out, but is also the first time all restaurants across our region are able to accommodate diners at full capacity both indoors and outdoors,” says Kathy Hollinger, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. “Being fully open is a step toward recovery for the industry and also toward a return to our dynamic local restaurants in their spaces which help to elevate the dining experience.”

RAMW is the regional association representing restaurants and the foodservice industry in the D.C. Metropolitan Area. RAWM also runs the RAMMYs, the awards for the food and beverage industry. 

Restaurant operators themselves reinforced how important the promotion is to them. “Restaurant Week is an opportunity for us to showcase our resilience and commitment to serving our staff and community,” says Salwa Laaraichi of Station 4

For Eric Heidenberger, a partner at The DC Restaurant Group, which owns spots like Shaw’s Tavern and 801 Restaurant, the past year has been a challenge. But RAMW, he says, “has been very supportive to the D.C. restaurant community and a key a resource in helping us navigate the challenges of the pandemic. We’re excited to participate in the first “normal” restaurant week in almost a year and a half. Restaurant week is a great opportunity for us reach new diners and showcase new dishes to our regular/repeat customers.”

All of gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s locations are participating in Restaurant Week. Co-owners Jason Berry said that he hopes that Restaurant Week “offers a way for diners to begin dipping their toe by taking advantage of these well-priced promotions. Restaurant Week brings a much-needed lift to August revenue and is especially meaningful this year as so many restaurants have been hurting these last 16 months.” 

As for what’s going to be offered at his restaurants, which include Gatsby, The Grill, Mi Casa, Mi Vida, and Succotash, most of which debuted just this year, “each of our restaurants takes a unique approach to offering seasonal additions, fun new items and crowd pleasers so that all guests have something for them during Restaurant Week.”

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