Young and Hungry

Mothership Will Close, El Floridano Food Truck Will Return


One of Park View's only sit-down restaurants, Mothership, is preparing to close. The last day of service will likely be brunch on Feb. 22.

"I just don't have deep enough pockets," says chef and owner Stephan Boillon. "Business just isn't where I need it to be, and I just haven't made any money. For a while there, I was breaking even and it was doable, but I think everybody's taking a little downturn lately, and I don't have the money to keep it going."

While Boillon emphasizes that neighbors have been very good to him, "I was kind of like this island in the middle of nowhere." He says when he signed the lease, there were plans for 700 condo units nearby. "And none of them have broken ground yet," he says. "That critical mass of customers just wasn't there."

Mothership was one of the first D.C. restaurants to use Kickstarter to raise funds for its buildout. It opened in early 2013.

Boillon says he will take a few weeks off after the closure and then bring back the sandwich food truck he ran before opening Mothership. The truck will be pretty much the same as it was except with a few additional items. And yes, it will still be called El Floridano.

"I have that tattooed on my arm," he says. "That's not going anywhere."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Last Night’s Leftovers: Regulated Crunkcakes Edition


Bakeries serving alcohol-infused cupcakes may soon need to follow new D.C. laws. [HillNow]

A food fan's guide to Super Bowl Sunday [Washingtonian]

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian visit Woodland’s Vegan Bistro. [PoPville]

Three D.C. institutions that were farm-to-table before it was cool [Eater]

Cupcakes vs. cakepops [Post]

Where to find the best bar food in D.C. [Zagat]

Nine bars and restaurants with fireplaces [Thrillist]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Kapnos Taverna Brings Greek Island and Coastal Food to Ballston

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Mike Isabella's ever expanding collection of restaurants now includes a second Greek eatery. Kapnos Taverna, a spinoff of Kapnos on 14th Street NW, opens today in Ballston with a focus on the seafood-heavy cuisine from the coastal regions and islands of Greece. The restaurant will serve only lunch until Feb. 3, when it expands to dinner service. (UPDATE: the restaurant will open for dinner on Feb. 2.)

Kapnos chef and partner George Pagonis, who recently appeared on Top Chef, will oversee the kitchen along with chef de cuisine Greg Basalia. Pagonis, whose parents are Greek immigrants, drew inspiration from visits to his family's vacation home on the island of Paros in the central Aegean sea.

The lunch menu includes a range of gyros (falafel, spit-roasted lamb shoulder, grilled salmon) as well as mezze, ranging from swordfish kebabs to crispy harissa-spiced eggplant to different types of souvlaki. Like Kapnos, there's an array of spreads like tzatziki, hummus, and taramosalata made with cauliflower and carp roe. Read more Kapnos Taverna Brings Greek Island and Coastal Food to Ballston

EquityEats Will Open “Pop-Up Megaplex” at 918 F Street NW

MainBuilding-ADJRestaurant crowdfunding platform EquityEats—which allows investors to earn profits, not just perks—has quickly realized that the best way to get people to back food businesses is for them to actually taste the food and meet the chefs. And so they've been searching for a permanent space where restaurants seeking funding can host pop-ups and residencies for potential investors and the public.

Now they've found that plus some: EquityEats will sublease five floors of 918 F St. NW, the building that LivingSocial used for events and classes before moving out a year ago. The new facility, which includes a basement bar, will be able to host up to five pop-ups at a time when it opens this spring.

"We want it to become a culinary destination," says Steve Lucas, EquityEats VP of strategy and communications. "Think of it as a movie theater but for foodies. You'll be able to buy tickets in advance for a concept that you're interested in. You can read about what's coming soon. And there's going to be things that are new all the time." Read more EquityEats Will Open “Pop-Up Megaplex” at 918 F Street NW

Last Night’s Leftovers: Classics Edition

1169745130_cover0126a25 classic bars and restaurants every Washingtonian must try [Eater]

Fire damages future home of Bar Civita in Woodley Park. [PoPville]

The most romantic restaurants in D.C. [Zagat]

Alexandria’s industrial enclave welcomes gourmet goods. [WBJ]

Try barrel-aged margaritas at Clarendon's Fuego Cocina y Tequileria. [Post]

Early look at Founding Farmers in Tysons Corner. [BYT]

Photo of Ben's Chili Bowl by Darrow Montgomery

D.C.’s First Cakepoppery, Baked By Yael, Now Open


Baked by Yael, D.C.’s first “cakepoppery,” opened Jan. 14 directly across from the National Zoo in Woodley Park. The modest storefront, wedged between a liquor store and a frozen yogurt shop, isn’t founder Yael Krigman’s first stab at the bite-sized desserts. She’s been selling the treats online for the past four years. Thanks to a Kickstarter bid that raised almost $75,000, she’s managed to transform a former dry cleaner into an airy, colorful space that could pass for a Pinkberry. The decor was created in part by Krigman’s father, an amateur millworker.

Krigman, who left a job at D.C. law firm White & Case to begin baking full-time, isn’t limiting herself to cakepops at her brick-and-mortar venture. Bagels, raspberry bars, rugelach, and black-and-white cookies all make appearances, though not all will be available every day. Coffee, tea, and bottled juices are also offered.

“The black and whites, they’re the favorite of everything I make,” says Krigman. The bagels, which she described as “not New York, not Montreal, just really good,” haven’t been advertised much by Krigman, who admits she’s not looking for competition.  Read more D.C.’s First Cakepoppery, Baked By Yael, Now Open

Willing to Pay for a Prime Time Dinner Reservation? There’s an App For That


There's now an online equivalent to slipping the maitre d' a $20 bill for a table. San Francisco-based Table8 launches in D.C. today with an app and website that allow users to book reservations at popular restaurants last minute and during peak times—for a price.

Users can create an account for free, and if the restaurant isn't booked up, you can book a reservation for free. If reservations aren't otherwise available, however, you can up pay up to $30 for a guaranteed spot, depending on the demand for tables at the requested time and date. Most fees for D.C. restaurants right now range from $20 for a party of two to $25 for four. The reservation times vary by restaurants, but are generally between 7 and 8 p.m. The restaurants and Table8 share the fee.

Table8 launched in San Francisco last March and in Los Angeles in September. It plans to expand to New York, Miami, Chicago, and London this year. So far, 17 restaurants have signed on D.C. Here's a list of those participating: Read more Willing to Pay for a Prime Time Dinner Reservation? There’s an App For That

Last Night’s Leftovers: Three Stars Edition

3_stars-1_345x345A deep look at Three Stars Brewing Company [BYT]

Restaurant critic Jonathan Gold unmasks himself. [LA Times]

Sugar Shack doughnut shop opens in Alexandria. [Washingtonian]

The $20 Diner takes an international breakfast tour. [Post]

Five things to order at Bryan Voltaggio's Family Meal [Zagat]

What happens when a bar owner goes dry for January [WBJ]

The Passenger's Tom Brown is now bartending at Slipstream. [Eater]

Slim's Diner hoping to open in Petworth in six months. [PoPville]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

The Latest Menu Label for Health-Conscious Diners? “Detox”


It's hard to imagine a menu descriptor that sounds as full of promises yet as unappetizing as "detox." Yet, it's the latest health-conscious jargon to be employed by local restaurants. Both Sweetgreen and recently opened fast-casual eatery Hälsa use the word on their menus.

Sweetgreen introduced a seasonal "detox salad" on its new winter menu. The dish includes shredded kale, organic arugula, watercress, spicy broccoli, red onion, pears, avocado, and "umami" walnuts (flavored with extra virgin olive oil, salt, a secret blend of spices, and nutritional yeast flakes). It's topped with a "housemade seasonal detox dressing" made of lemon, ginger, garlic, and chili powder.

Sweetgreen culinary director Michael Stebner says the detox salad is the first salad he's made where the name came before the ingredients. "Something that is detoxing has a cleanse quality, helps to clean your blood, helps to clean your liver, your kidneys, your [gastrointestinal tract]," he says. What he discovered: That pretty much means everything that's healthy. "So it was very, very easy to come up with the salad," he says.

Kale, for example, has a lot of fiber that helps clean out your gastrointestinal tract. Garlic has nutritional compounds that help to clean your blood and aids your liver. And then there's watercress, which, Stebner says, "is kind of the new kale... We're constantly looking for the next kale." Read more The Latest Menu Label for Health-Conscious Diners? “Detox”

Hank’s Oyster Bar Owner to Open Twisted Horn Cocktail Bar in Petworth

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Hank's Oyster Bar chef and owner Jamie Leeds has built up the bar areas at her seafood-focused restaurants over the last few years. Next, she's opening a cocktail bar called Twisted Horn, coming to 819 Upshur St. NW this spring.

"I've always wanted to do a bar for a long time, and this opportunity came to me as far as real estate," says Leeds, who lives in Petworth. "I really believe in Petworth as an up-and-coming area. A lot of people are moving in there, and there's very few options of places to go."

The bar will seat about 40 inside and up to an additional 40 on the outside patio, where there will be a fire pit. Megan Coyle, who runs the beverage program at Hank's Dupont location, will oversee the drinks and be the general manager. (Bartender Gina Chersevani, a partner in Hank's Oyster Bar on the Hill, is not involved in the project.)

Among the cocktails: the "Ghostwood Development" with gin, port wine, Sapins aperitif, Salmiakki Dala (Scandinavian fernet), egg, fresh nutmeg, and pepper as well as the "Louisiana Purchase" with cognac, dry and red vermouth, Bénédictine liqueur, and muddled cucumber. In addition to cocktails, there will be an extensive wine list. Read more Hank’s Oyster Bar Owner to Open Twisted Horn Cocktail Bar in Petworth