Seeking to delve further into the inventive cooking that won him a Michelin star within two years of opening Bresca, chef Ryan Ratino will open a new tasting menu restaurant and bar in a renovated space on the second floor of the building that houses his modern gastronomic bistro on 14th Street NW.
Ratino tells Eater the new 18-seat restaurant is called Jônt, a play on “jaunt” in French, and will serve a progressive menu featuring eight to 11 courses per meal for an estimated $84 to $97 per person. Along with a front-facing drinking space, dubbed Bar Jônt, the new venue is expected to open sometime next spring.
Personal journeys and time spent in kitchens are two major themes that Ratino plans to express by crafting cured and fermented ingredients such as 208-day dry-aged dairy cow and lacto-fermented porcini mushrooms. He expects Bresca’s vinegar program to quadruple its production by the time Jônt opens. Customers can also expect an expanded selection of the house-made shoyu sauces and miso pastes.
Ratino, 28, wants to reflect his staff’s commitment to studying science and innovative techniques in the kitchen. “It’s like a little food lab for us,” he says.
Jônt will serve dinner four nights per week, from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday. Reservations will be distributed through tickets available to purchase with a deposit via an online portal on Tock.
By limiting the amount of customers, Ratino says, Jônt can stretch a tough-to-produce menu item over a full night of service — or multiple nights — when the same ingredient might only last for a portion of dinner at Bresca.
Compared to the a la carte menu at Bresca, which compels Ratino to compose balanced plates, a progressive menu allows the chef to play courses off each other and hone in on single flavors. In that respect, Ratino says, he’s been heavily influenced by Nordic and Japanese cooking. He’s planning to schedule research trips to Japan and Scandinavia before Jônt opens.
The tasting menu restaurant will have a speakeasy feel, with Ratino planning to whisk diners into a hidden room. The 35-seat bar at the entrance, on the other hand, will be intended to feel more casual. There will be small dishes available, there, too. “I’m a hot dog fanatic, so that will show up on the bar side,” Ratino says, also hyping an “awesome” sturgeon caviar service that comes salt-cured duck yolk, Comte cheese, and a black onion XO sauce.
Liz Howard and Will Patton, Bresca’s respective general manager and bar manager, will direct the cocktail program. Like Bresca, Jont will be a carbon-neutral restaurant.
Designer Amber Kendrick is collaborating with Ratino on how Jônt will look. Ratino says Kendrick has been traveling throughout Europe, including Scandinavia, studying the design of some of the best restaurants in the world.
Ratino, who was an editor’s pick for Eater D.C. 2017 Sensation of the Year, says the mantra will be, “informative but informal.” In both the food and the aesthetics, he wants to instill a homey feeling.
“We don’t want to take the minimalist approach too far,” he says.