Crazy Aunt Helen’s, an eclectic all-day comfort foods spot serving shepherd’s pie, corned beef hash, and puckery cocktails inspired by grandma’s candy dish, will soon liven up the two-story Barracks Row space that formerly housed Finn McCool’s.
The first solo project from D.C. restaurant vet Shane Mayson is set to open in mid-June (713 8th Street SE), just months after the popular Irish pub called it quits at the same address. Crazy Aunt Helen’s will open with breakfast, lunch, and dinner (7 a.m. to 9 p.m. to start), just as D.C. moves to lift all COVID-19 capacity restrictions on June 11.
Executive chef Mykie Moll, formerly known as Amanda Moll, was most recently leading the kitchen at Petworth’s Pom Pom, Carlie Steiner’s whimsical, globe-trotting replacement to Himitsu that closed during the early days of the pandemic. The D.C. native also held cooking stints at Southeast Asian hotspot Doi Moi and Adams Morgan brasserie Mintwood Place.
Moll’s homey American menu includes a version of his grandmother’s Jewish brisket, Reuben sandwiches built with house-cured corned beef, and a half roasted and brined chicken, plus crab cakes and hollandaise that swing vegan.
Mayson tapped top D.C. bartender Jo-Jo Valenzuela (chef/owner of Adams Morgan’s The Game Sports Pub and Tiki on 18th) to create playful cocktails like a “Crazy Aunt Helen’s Lemon Drop” (Civic Vodka, honey, lemon juice, and sour sugar rim) and “Kiss My Sassafras” (Macchu Pisco, Don Ciccio Cerasum Aperitivo, Embitterment Sassafras bitters, orange peel, and mint). The “Rooty Old Fashioned” shows love for the DMV with Filibuster Bourbon (Virginia), Embitterment Aromatic bitters (D.C.), Cane Sweet Potato Syrup (Maryland), and lemon peels.
Miss Pixie Windsor, owner of wacky 14th Street NW home furnishings store Miss Pixie’s, will jazz up the space with vibrant colors, mix-and-match plates, and funky coffee mugs. The restaurant seats 76 on the first floor, including 26 at the bar, with a 53-seat section upstairs that plans to host themed entertainment at night. A patio and streatery adds 24 alfresco seats to the mix six days a week (closed Tuesdays).
Thor Cheston of Right Proper Brewing Company compiled a local beer list that also includes a seltzer, cider and mead, along with prosecco, white wine, and rosé on tap.