Sakerum, the two-level Asian-Latin hot spot on 14th Street NW, will split into two separate businesses next month. Instead of serving sushi on the rooftop, owner Stephanos Andreou is installing a 50-seat Greek taverna that pays tribute to his upbringing.
Andreou is naming it Semeli after his mother. Constandina Andreou, his wife, is also a partner. It’s also the mythological name of the woman who gave birth to Dionysos, the Greek God of wine. The menu will center around a prix fixe, meze-style meal that includes 14 plates for $39 per person. A rotating catch of the day (market price) will come a whole fish and side options.
The owner, whose family hails from Nicosia, Cyprus, says he wants Semeli to be accessible, basically the opposite of Estiatorio Milos, the notoriously expensive seafood chain.
“Greek food is not supposed to be expensive. It’s supposed to be comfortable,” Andreou says, adding that communal dining is also a big part of the culture.
A weekday “Opa Hour” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. will feature glasses of ouzo — an anise-flavored aperitif popular in Greece and Cyprus — and an assortment of appetizers presented on an olive wood platter.
Traditional Greek meze will include hints of his mother’s Cypriot background and some of her own recipes, he says. Dinner will be served Monday to Sunday, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Andreou says Sakerum’s existing staff will prepare the Mediterranean dishes with his input.
“It’s the food I grew up with,” he says. “I know how to make it.”
Sakerum’s rooftop (2204 14th Street NW) will close for one to two weeks this month to undergo a Greek-inspired refresh that calls for lots of turquoise tones. Andreou expects to open Semeli after Halloween. The restaurant opened with lukewarm reviews three years ago but has turned into a go-to spot for people who are attracted to a “sake hour” full of $5 deals.
This summer, Andreou expanded his Japanese footprint across the city with the debut of Tokyo Pearl in Dupont Circle, a graffiti-lined bento box spot that transforms into a lounge at night.
D.C.’s Greek dining scene is about to get more crowded. Argiro Barbarigou, a celebrity chef in Greece, is bringing her first U.S. restaurant is en route to the West End. Masseria and Officina chef Nicholas Stefanelli expects to open his forthcoming regional Greek restaurant, Philotimo, in the Midtown Center development downtown early next year.