Petworth native Brian Hill hopes to opens his debut downtown restaurant, Comfort Kitchen, in just a few short weeks, mapping out plans for a relaxed dining spot that will serve fizzy, fruit-flavored refreshments on weekends.
The Top Chef alum has been on the West Coast for over a decade, and told Eater he considered going the restaurateur route in Venice Beach, California but ultimately decided to return home to set up shop. “I was meeting with brokers and everything,” Hill said. “But I didn’t get the feel.”
Prior to jumping into quick-service dining, Hill said he spent time catering to celebrities (he mentioned singer Mary J. Blige, comedian Eddie Murphy, actor Sidney Poitier, and music icon Jimmy Iovine) — a parallel career he hopes to continue in D.C. He said he developed the opening menu for Comfort Kitchen over a year ago — “These are my winners,” he told Eater — and is excited about introducing locals to his way of eating. “There’s no investors in this. It’s just me and my girlfriend,” Hill said.
The plan is to keep the menu to under a dozen items. “The big menus don’t work anymore,” he said of his decision to keep things simple. Core offerings include the fried chicken sliders he said Blige affectionately described as “munchie food,” and barbecue beef sliders he developed on a short-lived food truck. Hill is also incorporating two items from his catering catalog: turkey meatballs in tomato sauce, and a regionally inspired salmon salad. “It has that taste of Maryland,” he said of a dish featuring raisins, tarragon, and mayonnaise.
He’s also keen on doing brunch (9 a.m. to 3 p.m, Saturday and Sunday). Hill said he’ll trim the regular menu in half on weekends while folding in additional offerings including frittatas, and fruit and yogurt bowls. He’s also got two cocktails in mind: prosecco sweetened by a syrup coaxed from blueberries reduced in water, sugar, and cinnamon, and sparkling wine spiked with the essence of roasted cherries. “My girlfriend calls it cherry pie champagne,” he said.
Per Hill, the 2,700-square-foot, former Cafe Carvy spot (1020 19th Street NW) should be renovated in short order. “Basically we’re just doing a deep cleaning and some painting,” he said, adding that he’d like to open by mid-August.
The expected hours of operation for Comfort Kitchen are from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week.