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Team Oyster Oyster Snags a Last-Minute Reservation to Noma For Eco-Inspiration

The restaurant hopes to open in Shaw by the summer

Team Oyster Oyster will dine at Noma this month.
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The team of former Hazel chef Rob Rubba, Estadio owner Max Kuller, and barman Adam Bernbach is quickly moving forward on plans to open Oyster Oyster restaurant in Shaw. To get the ultimate inspiration for their new sustainability-centric restaurant, Rubba and Kuller are headed to Copenhagen this weekend for a visit to Noma, René Redzepi’s iconic restaurant.

Washingtonian reports that Oyster Oyster has found a space at 1440 Eighth Street NW and hopes to move in by early summer. The restaurant’s name refers to environmentally-friendly bivalves and the mushrooms that’ll star alongside other local and seasonal ingredients. For drinks, think organic or biodynamic wines and herbal cocktails integrating kitchen scraps.

Naturally, the owners want to visit the place that just wrote the book on fermentation.

Rubba’s ex-sous chef at Hazel now works at Noma, and Kuller hopes that helps with “backstage access” to get to know how one of the world’s top restaurants ticks. The duo will return days before hosting Oyster Oyster’s second pop-up on January 20 and 21 at Maxwell Park, this time offering a three-course tasting experience centered around root vegetables (with reservations through Tock).

Guests can expect shaved celeriac with smoked Chesapeake oyster aioli or sunchoke and potato dumplings with hazelnuts and cabbage in a roasted root and mushroom broth. The trio just posed for a new flyer inspired by the Beastie Boys EP cover that will cover T-Shirts and posters for the pop-up:

Max Kuller/official photo

Expect more pop-ups leading up to Oyster Oyster’s arrival. The restaurant itself will be small by design, with about 35 seats, and feature neutral tones to let leafy accents, dishes, and growing mushrooms dominate the color scheme.

Kuller went the extra mile to lend some help on the design front. He made two visits to Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, to scavenge colorful mosaic tiles that have washed ashore. They’re sitting on his dining room table now and will somehow be integrated into Oyster Oyster’s design.

Oyster Oyster’s opening is on a fast track, thanks to the fact the 1,250-square-foot space is already partially built. The original vision for the space during the genesis of the City Market at O project was a wine bar.

“The design was good, and they abandoned ship. We are able to use some of what was left behind,” says Kuller.

An unused garage entrance, originally created as a grocery pick-up point next to Dolci Gelati, will be converted into an “all-day hangout” with pinball machines, taps, a grab-and-go area for Oyster Oyster, and a waiting area.

Shaw was always on the short list of neighborhoods, Kuller says, and being close to buddies at Maxwell was also a plus.

Team Oyster Oyster is working with architect Grizform, which is also behind the look of new Estadio coming to Charleston. Kuller says he hopes to start construction at the end of the month.