clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Early Word on Mike Isabella's Kapnos

New, 4 comments

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Photo: R. Lopez
Missy Frederick is the Cities Director for Eater.

Fans of Top Chef alumnus Mike Isabella were psyched to see him turn to the kind of Greek-inspired cooking he was known for at Zaytinya at Kapnos. This latest addition to the chef's empire is known for its grilled meats and Mediterranean classic dishes. Here's what the first bloggers, Yelpers and others had to say about the new spot.

The Not Just Food But Artistry News: Kapnos is currently earning 4 stars on Yelp, with 22 reviews in. One is from Steven W., who says, "Kapnos continues to shine the light on Mike Isabella's talent as a flavor artist.  If you've seen my review for Graffiato, you know how much I appreciate his abilities at that restaurant to stimulate your taste buds.  He has taken a different medium (greek influence vs Italian influence) to create a very different, yet equally exciting array of flavor compositions!" [Yelp]

The Overpriced Hummus News: William B. on Yelp says, "Overall, everything was fine, but when going to a Mike Isabella restaurant, and paying $7 for hummus, I want more than fine. I want to be blown away. Graffiato is much better, but again, I'm sure in a few months this place will be great too. I can go to many other restaurants in the area and get better service and equal food, for much cheaper. I don't really see a reason to return here, when I can go to The Greek Spot just down the street at get a Gyro for the same price as the Hummos." [Yelp]

The Aggressive Upsell News: E.A. on Yelp says, "What a hilarious yet ultimately annoying dining experience. Our fireball of a waitress did everything short of turning my husband upside down to shake the spare change from his pockets to up-sell us on our meal. When she frowned and huffed off after we told her we did not want the $65 tasting menu (we had eaten 2 appetizers at the bar), we laughed. Then my husband and I bet each other which wine she would recommend to us - and sure enough, as predicted, she pointed to the most expensive one (by far) without any explanation why." [Yelp]

The Can't Believe It's Opening Day News: Gregg M. on Yelp says, "Kapnos had no business being this flawless on its opening day, but it was!  Our service we received from Taha Ismail and the bar staff was friendly, informative, and attentive. The food and drinks were well conceived and sharply executed.  After pushing away from the bar very fat, dumb, and happy, I had to wonder why it took Mike Isabella so long to open a Greek place...perhaps a non-compete clause after he moved on from Zaytinya? No matter, he's got one now and it is EXCELLENT!  Look out Zaytinya, there's a new sheriff in town!" [Yelp]

The Tender Goat News: CityEats writes, "Kapnos is Greek for "smoke," which just happens to be the first aroma to greet diners. Two rotisserie grills cook whole suckling pigs, lambs, lemony chickens and spiced goats all day, until the meat falls from the bone. The meats are then served with an ancient-grain salad, homemade harissa and yogurt. Given a day's notice, the kitchen will also salt-bake a whole black bass." [CE]

The New Favorite Restaurant News: GreekDC checks in, and says, "Friday night's dinner at the newly opened Kapnos on the corner of 14th & W Streets NW was, in a word, outstanding.  The online customer reviews I browsed earlier in the day led me to believe that we were in for a good time; an overwhelming majority of reviewers raved about the food and service, many of them noting that everything seemed to be going unusually well for a restaurant's opening week. Our experience mirrored these sentiments, and at one point my dinner companion, who is one of the "foodiest" people I know, remarked that this might be her new favorite restaurant in DC." [GDC]

The Stellar Service News: Been There Eaten That shares some thoughts: "You shouldn't expect a restaurant to be this good right off the bat, and yet Kapnos is already surprisingly great.  Mike Isabella is expertly balancing exotic Greek flavors in dishes both familiar and new.  And when it comes right down to it, that's my kind of home run." [BTET]

The Helpful Waiter News: District Cuisine hits up opening night and says, "Despite it being opening night, the service at Kapnos was flawless and very knowledgeable.  When we didn't know how to pronounce one of the spreads on the menu and simply pointed, our waiter happily pronounced it for us and was always ready with helpful advice when we told him we were struggling to make a decision between two items.  Our waiter was even kind enough to have Isabella sign our dessert menu for us on the way out." [DC]

The Wine Selection News: DailyCandy writes, "There are sharable mezze and flights of fancy: charred octopus with green harissa, watermelon with chile and fennel pollen, and a nightly special. Get tipsy off 23 wines by the glass, three kegged lemonades (spiked with gin, rum, and skinos), and thirteen playful cocktails — such as the Turkish Fabio (Plymouth gin, honeydew, oregano, orange blossom water). [DC]"

The Vegetarian Friendly News: BYT highlights, "Gorgeous decor and location aside, the food is the main attraction here. At all times, Isabella and team will have whole animals turning in the kitchen, but as is tradition with all good Greek places, Mike is fast to point out that 60% of the menu is vegetarian and 90% of it is gluten-free." [BYT]

The Fine Flatbread News: Chowhound writer lrweiss says, "Went to Kapnos last night with one other person. We had a feta-based spread with flatbread, the gigandes, the poached cod, and the smoky beets. All were good, but the poached cod and feta spread were stand-outs. The flatbread is especially good; the name does not do it justice. It is like a thin, chewy, delicious pita. The four plates were plenty for us and came out to about $40, plus wine. Not bad for a great dinner." [CH]

The Solid News: Lots of chatter on Don Rockwell about Kapnos. Ladi Kai Lemoni says, "Overall, I'd say that Kapnos earns a solid B+ right now. Since the restaurant is so new, I imagine the recipes will be worked and re-worked until they hit their peak. However, it's a worthwhile entry and I'll be keeping an eye on its progress over time." Bart says, "My wife and I went the other night and absolutely loved it.  We got the chef's tasting menu and much like Graffiato, there was A LOT of food.  For $65 it was a great deal and we left beyond stuffed.  Also like Graffiato, it seemed very flexible." [DR]

The Baby Food News:
DCist has mixed feelings, saying, "But the dish I'll be back for is the duck phyllo pie. It's got a little bit of everything going on: the crunchy, buttery phyllo shell gives way to tender duck meat, balanced out by a tangle of vinaigrette-kissed watercress, red onion, and bing cherries. It's a rare occasion when at least five different flavors and textures all play well together. Other dishes are not yet quite up to the high expectations that one might have after having dined at Zaytinya or Graffiato. Smoky hen of the wood mushrooms tasted of mostly of, well, smoke. The moussaka, a formidable tower of lamb, eggplant, and bechamel, was assertive to the point of being overly salty. Meanwhile, the flavors in the fava, a stew of mushy yellow lentils, corn, pearl onions, and spinach, never seemed to quite come together. As for the texture, a dining companion likened it to baby food." [DCist]
· All Previous Coverage of Kapnos [-EDC-]


2201 14th Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 234-5000 Visit Website