Bloomingdale will get a neighborhood restaurant packed with talent when The Red Hen opens its doors in mid-April. The restaurant, from partners Mike O'Malley and Proof veterans Michael Friedman and Sebastian Zutant, is being designed by local firm Edit Lab by Streetsense, and just about every detail is custom-made, from banquettes to ceiling details.
"It's more of a restaurant than a 'concept,'" said O'Malley on a recent tour of the space, still very much a construction site. The partners looked at locations on O Street and V Street before settling on the 2,400 square foot location, a building that has been vacant for about 30 years. "We just kept coming back here," said Friedman, who liked the neighborhood feel of Bloomingdale, even if the metro could be closer (it's still only about a 12 minute walk to the restaurant).
The restaurant, which is getting its inspections this week, will seat 54, plus 18 around the bar and about 40 in the outdoor patio along 1st St. NW. A garden growing herbs and citrus trees will face the more residential side of the restaurant. The bar, which will feature a leather top with orange accents, is in the center of the room, and feels like part of the restaurant rather than a separate entity. "The energy will be focused on what's happening in the kitchen," said Edit's Lauren Winter. Wood used in the restaurant was reclaimed from buildings destroyed by a hurricane in Nicaragua — for the flooring, the team aged it by beating it with chains, she said.
The Red Hen will be about 50 percent reservations, 50 percent walk-ins. Friedman is considering a chef's table of sorts right near the open kitchen, where diners will be able to see cooks make pasta and take advantage of the Harth oven, which has a style unique to DC (they're keeping the looks of that under wraps for now). The restaurant's menu will change weekly or bi-weekly. Expect rabbit and fresh peas in the spring, swordfish on the opening menu and wood fired vegetables.
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