Colin McClimans and Danilo Simic, the culinary duo behind Logan Circle’s super-seasonal mainstay Nina May, just tacked on a Chevy Chase destination for fish, vegetables, and meats sourced from the American coastline.
Opal, opening Friday, October 7 for dinner service to start, puts a wood-fired oven to work to bake breads and roast all sorts of proteins and vegetables (5534 Connecticut Avenue NW). An 80-seat dining room anchored by a circular bar is joined by a second floor with another kitchen for private events up to 30.
Since opening in 2019, Nina May has stood by its mission of plucking most produce from growers within a 150-mile radius from its quaint, cottage-like digs in Logan Circle.
“At Nina May, sourcing is such a big thing, and we want to continue on that same path [at Opal],” says chef-owner McClimans, who’s cooked at Equinox and Slipstream. “Focusing on the simplicity of the ingredients and letting them shine.”
Opal’s opening appetizers, listed under a “A Few Things To Try,” includes ricotta dumplings with brown butter, squash and Calabrian chiles and saffron tagliatelle dotted with littleneck clams alongside red chili flakes and parsley.
Unlike Nina May, Opal has a wood-burning oven to play with. The prime kitchen tool fires up caramelized cauliflower with mustard, raisins and almonds and grills red cabbage with hazelnuts and sweet and sour chili. Other earthy dishes include rainbow carrots with dill salsa verde and caper salt, charred broccoli with lemon, parmesan, and chili flakes, and king farm mushrooms with parsley, gremolata, shallots, and garlic.
A section of “Simple Mains” includes charred swordfish with a zesty citrus condiment and a bone-in beef short rib flanked with lemon verbena salsa verde.
Simic continues to showcase seasonality across Opal’s beverage program, with opening drinks like a smoked Sazerac and “Gin Loves Grapefruit” (gin, citrus thyme syrup, fresh grapefruit, and lemon). Domestic and European wines joins a bunch of local beers at the bar.
Opal’s answer to a tasting menu is a “Simple Supper” option. Diners pick a main and McClimans curates the balance of the meal with family-style plates and vegetables ($51 and up). Nina May also offers indecisive tables a multi-course menu option.
Landing on a name for their sophomore restaurant was hard because “we ran out of children,” jokes McClimans (Nina May is named after the co-owners’ two kids).
“Opal spoke to us. It’s a unique space,” he says, of the converted rowhome full of wood, stone, and exposed beams.
Opal opens for dinner service to start (Tuesdays to Sundays), with brunch and lunch joining the mix later this fall.