Fans of French cuisine with a twist should make a point of exploring the new Requin at the Wharf, the latest high-profile restaurant to join the slowly blossoming hospitality scene along the Southwest waterfront.
The only standalone dining establishment within the mile-long stretch of new development still taking shape in D.C., Requin marks the culmination of celebrity chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella’s dream of adding a full-fledged Gallic restaurant to his mushrooming portfolio of eateries. Originally conceived in conjunction with fellow Top Chef alum and former business partner Jennifer Carroll, the latest iteration of the seafood-friendly enterprise features familiar sounding dishes modified by executive chef Michael Rafidi.
“I don’t think there’s anything classic about what we’re doing. It’s not going to be expected,” Rafidi, who also runs the show at Spanish-Moorish newcomer Arroz, tells Eater about the “contemporary takes” on French cooking that he’s woven into the opening menu.
Core offerings include: roasted bone marrow bolstered by Szechuan peppercorns and bacon; escargot bundled in a croissant (think: gourmet pigs in a blanket); seasonally inspired bouillabaisse (more tomato focused in the summer, loaded with seafood in the winter); foie gras French toast with yam jam and fried pistachios; gnocchi with truffle butter; a handful of crudo dishes (stone crab with savory madeleines; tuna tartare with grilled sourdough; red snapper with jalapeno oil); and assorted vegetable dishes (chanterelle tart, whole roasted cauliflower, pear salad).
One thing that those seated away from the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Potomac River have in their favor: watching the show that is Requin’s open kitchen.
From that vantage point, customers will be able to see kitchen staff crank out one of Rafidi’s personal favorites: steak tartare accompanied by cheesy Alsatian flatbread.
“We’re gonna be grinding the tartare to order right in front of the guests and serving that with a tarte flambee,” he says of the hot-and-cold pairing.
Pastry chef Jacob Euler, an alum of Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas who is also handling the baking at Arroz, has worked up an assortment of closers including creme brulee with bananas foster, brown butter beignets, pavlova with roasted pear, and ice cream sundaes.
Prefer to bend the elbow while soaking in the local scenery?
General manager and wine guru Jennifer Knowles has assembled a wine list with a wide reach.
“We’re focusing on French varieties from around the globe,” she tells Eater. The collection includes New Zealand pinot noir, California chardonnay, South African syrah, Australian grenache, and Chilean cinsaut, among others. Locals are also in the mix; Knowles has carved out room for Veritas Vineyard & Winery Scintilla, Breaux Vineyards, Paradise Springs Winery Petit Manseng, and says she wants to add a red from Michael Shaps Wineworks.
Knowles says she has attempted to balance flavor profiles and price points (by-the-glass options range from $10 to $35 per pour) to fit the diverse clientele projected to wander through the newly minted neighborhood. “So that everyone feels that they’re being respected when they’re walking down the Wharf and pop in for a drink,” she says.
One thing she’s making sure to keep on hand: a variety of sparkling wines ($12 to $30 per glass).
“People love being outside, drinking bubbles,” Knowles says.
The initial hours of operation are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The plan is to add brunch in 2018.
Status: Scheduled to open at 5 p.m. 100 District Square SW; website.
- ‘Top Chef’ Alum Jennifer Carroll Quits Mike Isabella’s Restaurant Empire [EDC]
- Arroz Chef Michael Rafidi Will Lead the Kitchen at Requin at the Wharf [Washingtonian]
- The Most Anticipated Restaurants in D.C., Fall 2017 [EDC]
- Requin’s Going Casual, Plus More Intel [EDC]
- The Wharf: A Guide to all the Restaurant, Bars, and Clubs [EDC]
- Jennifer Carroll’s Requin Will Remain at Mosaic District Permanently [EDC]