The local restaurant group responsible for the deep draft lists at respected bars like Churchkey and the Sovereign opens its latest ambitious drinking venue today at the new food hall it operates in Capitol Hill.
Shelter, which boasts 50 draft lines and a long list of low-ABV picks from Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert, welcomes its first customers at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 24. The Roost, NRG’s “culinary clubhouse,” debuted last week with a coffee and tea counter called Cameo. Shelter brings on a drinking space with 20 seats inside, 100 seats outside, and contact-free ordering accessible through QR codes. Shelter’s opening includes the first look at Hi/Fi Taco, a new NRG brand from Red Apron Butcher’s Nate Anda.
Although Shelter will limit its beer menu to start, there will still be 21 draft and cask options and 31 beers offered in cans, bottles, and large-format bottles through a retail operation. To-go beers can be poured in compostable cups. One feature Engert has touted at the bar is the addition of five side-pull faucets, common in the Czech Republic, that dispense lagers with a creamy foam he compares to cappuccino. The first four beers available from the side-pull faucets are a German Helles lager from Schönram, a German kellerbier from Traunstein, a Märzen from Northern Virginia brewer Ocelot, and Czech pilsner Únětické Pivo 12°.
Show of Hands, the Roost’s forthcoming cocktail bar, will sell bottled drinks like a pineapple chartreuse rickey from the retail store. Bottles of liquor and liqueurs will be available, too. Show of Hands plans to produce its own line of absinthe, limoncello, and other digestifs.
Anda, the butcher who has crafted some of D.C.’s favorite burgers, “porkstrami,” and other inventive charcuterie at several Red Apron locations, developed Hi/Fi Taco with chef Matt Adler, who consults for all the Roost’s food vendors and will open an Italian-American restaurant attached to the food hall.
Hi/Fi Taco won’t accept walk-up customers at first, but visitors to Shelter can order from a short menu that includes five options for tacos along with nachos, a few types of queso, and hot wings dressed in sauce made with butter and two types of Valentina brand hot sauce (black label and gold label). There will also be a dedicated pickup station for takeout orders.
Anda says COVID-19 has forced the taco shop to limit its staff, so a menu originally designed for four cooks in the kitchen now has to be executed by one. He has had more time to develop his carnitas, though. The butcher says his recipe calls for dicing the pork, starting with a “shallow fry” to caramelize it on all sides, then deglazing it with orange soda to help tenderize the meat. The carnitas come with cabbage curtido — a nod to D.C.’s Sal-Mex joints — smoked crema, American cheese, and crispy chicharrones, which Anda has sold for years at Red Apron.
“I guess [we’re] approaching it the way we approach sandwiches,” Anda says. “You have a protein, and then you need a vegetable, a garnish. Sometimes it’s a salsa. Sometimes it’s a puree.”
Griddled catfish gets marinated in a three-chile blend: guajillo, ancho, and jalapeno. The Taco Night in America option throws seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, and queso in a fried corn tortilla shell.
Hi/Fi will eventually add a flour tortilla Anda has developed, but the shop will outsource corn tortillas to start. Although NRG restaurants are big on sustainable sourcing — the company runs its own nonprofit farm — Anda has embraced the power of processed cheese to maintain the proper consistency for a queso base that also folds in milk, cream, Monterey Jack, and cheddar. There’s plain queso; a bacon cheeseburger option made with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and rendered, dehydrated bacon bits from Red Apron; and a crispy chorizo queso with jalapeno relish, smoked crema and taco spice.
Anda will open a new Red Apron outpost at the Roost on Saturday, September 26. That will bring on options to two types poutine served on a base of beef fat fries: a crispy pork belly and broccoli rabe option with smoked pecorino fonduta and cherry pepper relish, and a dan dan option with Sichuan beef gravy, salty peanuts, fried garlic, and scallions. New burgers include a “Roost Bader Ginsburger” with a beef patty, a Chorizo patty, smoked pimento cheese, jalapeno relish, and cabbage slaw. A portion of proceeds from the $18 tribute to the late Supreme Court justice will go to the ACLU.
Hi/Fi Taco, Red Apron, and Shelter will be open from 4 p.m. 10 pm. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Here are the menus for Hi/Fi Taco and the new Red Apron location:
All tacos are 1 for $3, 2 for $5.75, and 6 for $17
Orange Soda Braised Carnitas with curtido, smoked crema, american cheese, chicharones
Mojo Braised Chicken with avocado crema, enchilada sauce, shredded lettuce
Crispy Avocado with smoky jalapeno black beans, avocado crema, pickled onions
Taco Night In America - seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, queso in a crunchy tortilla
Three Chilli Marinated Catfish with smoked crema, habanero pickled onions, shaved lettuce
HiFi Queso with chips $7.50
Bacon Cheeseburger Queso with LTO and pickles $11
Crispy Chorizo Queso with jalapeno relish, smoked crema and taco spice $10.25
Kitchen Sink Nachos with seasoned beef, HiFi queso, pico, black beans and crema $12.50
Valentina Hot Wings with smoked crema, pickled peppers cilantro and green onions $12
Red Apron at the Roost
Crispy pork belly (broccoli rabe, smoked pecorino fonduta, cherry pepper relish)
Dan Dan (szechuan beef gravy, salty peanuts, fried garlic, scallions)
Burgers (served with beef fat fries, confit garlic and herbs)
Red Apron Original, $15
The Roost Bader Ginsburger (red apron beef patty, chorizo patty, smoked pimento cheese, jalapeno relish, cabbage slaw), $18 with a portion of proceeds going to the ACLU
MC Lamber (whipped feta, ice box pickles, shredded lettuce, harissa mayo), $18
Roost Double Stack (Muenster cheese, roasted garlic aioli, spicy pickles, confit mushrooms), $17
Red Apron Smoked Chicken Salad with baby kale, goat cheese, toasted pecans, cranberries, grain mustard & honey dressing. (gf) $12
Autumn Harvest Salad with roasted squash, farro, shaved brussels, toasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds and sherry vinaigrette (v) $10
Red Apron Charcuterie -butchers selection of handcrafted cured meats served with tigeles, house pickles and RA hot mustard, 3 for $15 / 5 for $23