St. Anselm founder Joe Carroll doesn’t expect to have anyone in D.C. file into his forthcoming Union Market restaurant based on the reputation his neighborhood tavern has garnered in Brooklyn. So he’s laying the groundwork for a successful start in Northeast by adding more wines, alternative steaks, and classic cocktails to the mix.
The sibling restaurant, which is currently taking shape in a corner lot opposite the shopping hub, is a joint effort between Carroll and James Beard Foundation Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr (perennially packed Le Diplomate; other critically acclaimed restaurants up north). This particular collaboration was set in motion over two years ago; that’s when the duo fell in love with the evolving slice of Northeast that’s now home to Michelin-starred restaurants, local distilleries, homegrown bakeries, and more.
“It feels like a real city there. Not sterile or government-y,” Starr says of the “gritty” surroundings he will soon share with fellow area newcomer O-Ku.
According to Carroll, the new St. Anselm will have approximately 150 seats — triple the size of its predecessor. “But spiritually, it will be the same,” insists Starr.
Having more room, including a curbside patio, has inspired Carroll to build on everything from featured dishes to the drinks that will fill consumers’ glasses. For instance, Carroll is excited about presenting lesser known cuts of beef here in the District; he mentioned the Denver steak, flatiron — “Most people know the name but probably haven’t had it,” he says — hanger and “a lot of cuts that are coming from bigger muscles” as likely additions to the rib-eyes and filets most people expect when ordering grilled fare.
Something that won’t change is his preference for fresh beef. Carroll notes that while he may offer an aged steak from time-to-time as he does in New York, the majority of the meat served at St. Anselm in D.C. will be reminiscent of what customers would buy from a local butcher. Starr, who operates restaurants all along the East Coast, is on board with the fresh-first focus.
“I’m over aged beef and I’m over Neapolitan pizza,” Starr says of his evolving tastes.
Carroll is also working on an even bigger wine list than the one he’s developed in Brooklyn (roughly 350 bottles). He plans to seed D.C.’s wine catalog with worthwhile imports as well as local producers. Another change: the ability to handle liquor (the Brooklyn restaurant does not offer spirits) affords Carroll the opportunity to showcase some classic cocktails.
As for the hiring plans, both say Top Chef alum Marjorie Meek-Bradley is on the short list of chefs they are looking at to head up the kitchen, but no final decision has been made. “We would like to have someone local,” Starr says.
Another of Starr’s goals: adding to his local portfolio. He tells Eater that although he declined to be part of the initial crop of restaurateurs to move into the Wharf, he’s open to giving it a look. Still, he’s more interested in Adams Morgan — a place he says could be a good fit for his latest acquisition in New York, soon-to-be-revived French restaurant Pastis.
“I want to do more here,” Starr says.
The new St. Anselm is now scheduled to open in mid-August.