One year after reconfiguring Bloomingdale restaurant Old Engine 12 into the Caribbean-inspired smokehouse Spark, chef Peter Prime is opening his own spot focused on his native cuisine from Trinidad and Tobago.
Cane (403 H Street NE) will open in the 40-seat space formerly occupied by Uni Bistro some time in early 2019, Prime tells Eater.
The menu will focus on roti rolls, South Asian-influenced Caribbean flatbreads stuffed with potato and meat curries. He recently rolled out the dish at Spark, which debuted inside a century-old firehouse (1626 North Capitol Street NW) earlier this year under new ownership.
“I’m really excited about the rotis and feedback I’ve been getting. I think it will be fun on H Street,” he says.
Cane is projected to debut with breakfast and dinner service, then build toward adding lunch and brunch. The name of the new venture refers to harvest cane, which had a massive cultural impact by driving sugar and rum exports from across the Caribbean.
“It’s been the heart of the island ever since,” he says.
Prime is shooting for a mid-January to early February opening. The liquor license is already in place, which is expected to speed up the process. Whereas Spark offers a lengthy list of sharable plates, smoked meats, and whimsical desserts, he wants to tighten the menu at Cane.
“We wanted to create a really good flow that can get people in and out, but it’s still inviting,” he says. “You can sit down with a drink and feel comfortable.”
A renovation will include moving the bar, which will offer daily batch cocktails and a version of Spark’s strong rum punch. Other hits from Spark will likely make their way over to H Street.
“I don’t think I can’t not do jerk wings anywhere I go,” he says. “The heat is going to be there.”
Curries, family recipes, and twists on traditional fare from Trinidad will also make up the menu, and he’s engaging family and friends from his homeland to create artwork to line the space. Cane plants will grow inside, and he also plans to add touches of copper throughout — a popular design element from Prime’s home.
He’ll stock the bar with local rums from Cotton & Reed and Todd Thrasher’s Potomac Distilling Company, which is days away from debuting on the Wharf.
Prime will keep his executive chef role at Spark, planning to go back and forth between both ventures every day. They’re only a mile apart.
Jenna Mack of Event Emissary, a local events industry vet, took the reins of the firehouse property at the start of 2018 and recently added more buyouts into the mix; Spark will be closed for a few days in early December to host holiday parties.