Annual Brookland Bird Count This Saturday

Look out for the Wood Thrush – the DC State Bird!

Every December Brooklanders take part in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.  This year, the count will take place on Saturday morning, December 16th.  To sign up contact wonderful Brookland neighbor Anne Anderson at mobileanne (at) comcast (dot) net. From a community notice:

Every year since 1901, Counting Circles spread out over the country have gone out to identify and count the birds in their area, making this one of the most effective citizen-scientist efforts that has lasted for 116 years. We go out in the winter because all the birds have migrated by then, so everyone across the continent can count what they see and we know where the birds are at that time. This year we will be out again, and you are invited to join us here in Brookland. We are part of the Washington, DC area counting circle and will be sending our results in to be compiled with other sectors in our circle.

The Brookland area count takes place on the Catholic University grounds, at the McMillan Reservoir and the Armed Forces Retirement Home grounds. We start at 8 AM on the East side of the Shrine in the parking lot and have a route we have used for many years now. We finish around 2 PM, but you are welcome to come for a shorter time if you can’t stay the whole time. (Just please plan to stay with us for at least an hour since we need to document the number of counters by the hour.) We welcome newcomers and young people. You don’t have to be an expert at identifying birds, just willing to help us look 360 degrees so we don’t miss any birds flying by.

If you would like to come out on Saturday morning, Dec. 16th, please let me know so that I can send you updates as the date gets closer. And, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Just reply to mobileanne@comcast.net.

11 Unit “Pop Up” Development, The Brookland, May Be Coming To 12th Street

The Brookland at 3614 12th Street NE., rendering courtesy of Lock 7 Development

You’ve seen them in other neighborhoods, and now Brookland too – “pop up” developments – that add a number of floors to a building and in the process dwarf their surrounding homes/buildings.  The practice has become so common, and extreme in some cases, that DC’s Zoning Commission issued new rules  a couple of years ago to bring some order to the situation.

So, we thought neighbors would be interested in knowing about The Brookland, an 11 unit residential development planned for 3614-16 12th Street (within the row houses along the western side of 12th Street between Newton and Otis).  Right now, the rowhouses are not residential, they are all current or former businesses. We spoke to a business owner within that row of buildings and all he would offer up is that the project is “slow going”.

The developer is Lock 7, which also built the sold out Brooks Row development at 12th and Franklin. Coincidentally, just after we drafted this post, the buildings hit the market for $2 Million, from the listing:

Prime Brookland development site for sale. Over 3000 SF of MU-4 zoned land. Two adjacent parcels have been combined and plans convey for an 11-unit condo building with three parking spaces.

So, who knows what will actually happen? According to the project page, the development will be a mixture of one, two and three bedroom units. While it may be aesthetically jarring, there is no doubt that DC needs more housing, particularly close to the Metro. Also, we need more density on or near 12th Street if we want a vibrant main street. So, what do you think? We will keep an eye on this development and let you know when we learn anything new.

Italian/Austrian Pop Up Restaurant Coming To District Space Dec. 14 – 17th

We recently wrote about District Space, a new culinary pop-up destination on 12th Street. Neighbors interested in checking out the new venue will have their chance next week during a 4 day pop up from Johanna’s Table,  featuring Chef Johanna Hellrigl cooking northern Italian fare.

From the event page:

For her fourth pop-up, Chef Johanna is going home. She is excited to share the food and wine of Alto-Adige, an autonomous province in Northern Italy, and birthplace of her father. Over countless visits to spend time with her family in Südtirol—as it’s known locally—Johanna developed an admiration for the cuisine’s unique marriage of Italian and Austrian flavors.

Sounds delicious! Make your reservation here (requires a $20 per person deposit). To keep up to date on future pop up events at District Space, don’t forget to follow their Twitter feed and Facebook page. District Space is located at 3522 12th Street NE.

 

Menomale Celebrates Five Years of Neapolitan Pizza

Maria Rusciano, co-owner of Menomale

There’s pizza. Then there’s Neapolitan pizza: an almost religious style of pizza making that involves special ingredients (such as Fior di latte mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes) and specific techniques. Distinct for its crispy outer ring of crust, it’s a delicious fork-and-knife pizza experience that’s rare in the D.C. Metro area. But Brookland has Menomale: a Neapolitan pizzeria to call its own.

While it seems like only yesterday Menomale first opened its doors, the restaurant now celebrates five years of business. On a recent afternoon, while the restaurant was still closed and the first wood logs were being lit in the restaurant’s beautiful new tiled oven, we sat down with co-owner Maria Rusciano as she reflected on Menomale’s anniversary – and its future.

How do you feel now that Menomale’s hit its five-year anniversary?

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s been a great five years. We’ve had a very good time just running the business and being a part of the neighborhood. We’re also very proud that we’ve managed to make Menomale not just a neighborhood restaurant but a destination for the entire D.C. Metro area. Some people drive 45 minutes to get here to taste our pizza! We’re very thankful for the success we’ve had.

Why go into the Neapolitan pizza business in the first place?

My husband, Ettore, is from Naples, and I’m originally from Bulgaria. Every time we’d go to Naples, we’d eat this kind of pizza. This is the first business we started, though we both have backgrounds working in the restaurant industry. We love the simplicity of Neapolitan pizza, but also the intricacies involved in making it. You really have to stay true to the few ingredients you need to use. You have to respect the process. It’s not like in baking, where you can substitute applesauce for oil; if you make any changes, it’s not going to be true Neapolitan pizza. There’s an association [Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana] we belong to that protects this style of pizza.

Was Salumeria 2703 always part of your business plan?

We always had the idea of taking over the block because there were so many empty commercial spaces. We thought: Why not do an Italian deli? Brookland didn’t have one, and there are also not that many Italian delis in the D.C. Metro area. The ones that do exist don’t necessarily provide the same experience you’d get in a deli in Italy, so that’s where we thought we could make a difference. We’ve owned the space for more than two years, and Salumeria 2703 is already more than a year old.

What’s the story behind the new oven you just installed over Thanksgiving?

The old oven was not insulated at all and was releasing too much heat. It became too hot for the pizza makers to work there – especially in the summer. Our new oven, like the old one, was brought over from Naples. It’s covered in tile from a little town on the Amalfi Coast, Vietri sul Mare, that specializes in hand-painted ceramic tile. Not only does the new oven have improved insulation, it also looks more beautiful.

What can we expect from Menomale in the coming years?

We’re working on additions to the menu. We make fresh pasta at Salumeria 2703, so we’ll be adding lasagna to the menu, as well as eggplant parmasean. Another dish we’re adding is a specialty from Sorrento: gnocchi alla sorrentina, which is gnocchi baked with fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. We’re also planning a new Mediterranean look to Menomale, centered around our new oven. We have nine more cases of Amalfi tile, so we’ll use some of that throughout the restaurant.

As a Brooklander, what do you enjoy about the neighborhood?

I really like the sense of community here. Through the business, we’ve gotten to know pretty much everybody in the neighborhood. I love that it’s very walkable; I have a small child, so we go for walks a lot. There have been a lot of positive changes in Brookland as well. When we first moved in, Noyes Playground was just an empty field. Now, it’s a beautiful park. The fact that Brookland just keeps getting better is something I really appreciate. It’s great for the community – and it’s great for business.

3rd Annual Procrastinator’s Market – Arts, Crafts, Vendors, Santa, Food And More

The Annual  Procrastinators Holiday Market, a free event organized by the Rhode Island Avenue NE Main Street, is coming up on December 16.  From the event page:

Featuring local arts and crafts vendors, entertainment, holiday card and crafts tent courtesy of Plaza Art, photos with Santa, food + beverages and more!
This is a RAIN or SHINE event, with activities for the entire family.

The market is free and will be held from 10:00 am -8:00 pm at 1300 Rhode Island Avenue NE between Brentwood Road and Montana Avenue.

Primrose, Brookland’s New French Restaurant: Chic And Satisfying

About a year ago, the neighborhood first began to hear rumors of a French wine bar coming to the space once occupied by the (much-missed) El Salvadoran chicken joint, Sylvestre Café. It felt like a longer than normal wait for rumor to become reality, but Primrose, the latest addition to the 12th Street restaurant scene, is finally open. The brainchild of Sebastian Zutant and his wife, Lauren Winter (the couple behind The Red Hen), Primrose is a marvel: a dining experience that’s classy (but not too classy), elegant (but not too elegant) and definitely, as you can see from the photos below, unabashedly French chic. (You need Flash to see these photos. If you can’t see them, click here.)

The experience starts with the restaurant itself, whose name is announced on cool mosaic tile by the front door. Your eyes are drawn, immediately, to the feathered chandeliers suspended over a row of generous high-top tables, then over to the gleaming bar space. Smaller tables for two and four line the perimeter of the space. The massive floor-to-ceiling glass doors were closed the evening our party went; one can only imagine what the springtime dining and drinking experience will be like when they’re open to the patio space just waiting for bistro tables and chairs.

Primrose offers 75 wines by the bottle and 15 wines by the glass, all vintages from small wine producers in France and the United States. The drink menu also features several innovative cocktails, as well as a classic French 75 that’s light and spritzy and, at always $9, something of Primrose’s go-to tipple. One standout we enjoyed wasn’t wine but a delicious cider from Normandy: not too tart, not too sweet, and served in its own corked 375ml bottle.

The modest food menu, which one imagines (and hopes) will shift with the seasons, covers all the French classics. Our party started the meal with a sample of Primrose’s three charcuterie offerings. Of these, a rillettes of whipped rabbit and a duck-liver mousse capped with sour cherries could just as well have been eaten with a spoon as with the complementary baguette slices (alas, more chewy than crispy).

A must-try: the delectable coq au vin, braised in a red wine sauce, and bouef bourguignon, enriched with pebbles of bacon and mushroom. Both dishes are stomach-filling treasures, and the only disappointment was that they came out of the kitchen somewhat lukewarm (one of Primrose’s few, but forgivable, kinks). Both plates can be sized to serve two people, and for an extra price can come accompanied with whipped potatoes, a simple green salad, and frites that are thicker than you’d expect and deliciously crispy.

Of course, you can’t call yourself a French-style bistro without an offering of steak frites. Primrose’s rendition of the dish was exceptional: a generous piece of sirloin (we recommend medium rare to medium) accompanied with a classic béarnaise sauce and a welcome helping of the aforementioned frites

One suspects news of Primrose will quickly get around to other quadrants of the city, but don’t let the anticipated visitors detract you from stopping by for an early evening glass of wine and a helping of whipped rabbit mousse or a bundle of frites. You’ll leave Primrose the same way our party did: satiated and satisfied.

Primrose is located at 3000 12th Street NE. Current hours: 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Website: primrosedc.com

Food Incubator Tastemakers Eyes A January Opening Date

Like many neighbors, we have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Tastemakers. Looks like the  gourmet food hall, bar and market will be opening in just over a month. From their website:

Starting in January, we will welcome you to join us for chef’s table events, tastings, and cooking classes. Stay tuned for details.

We also learned from this article in Eater DC that Tastemakers recently passed their health inspection. From the article:

When the front of house portion opens to diners in early 2018, expect assorted food stands and a bar. Francis expects Tastemakers to serve lunch and dinner, and possibly breakfast with coffee. She also wants to offer cooking classes, host charitable events, and offer a diners’ club with chef’s tasting-style events.

Sounds great! Tastemakers will occupy an 8,000 square foot building at the corner of 10th and Franklin.

Day Care Center, Nido Nursing Center, To Open At 12th & Monroe (Old True Value Location)

Back in July 2015, Brookland lost an institution when the True Value  Hardware store at the corner of 12th and Monroe closed after 40 years.  Since then there have been rumors about what would take its place, but nothing definite looking till now. We recently noticed a sign for Nido Nursing Center on the still papered-over store windows. The website address listed didn’t yield any information, so we did some digging around on Facebook and found a page for Nido Nursing Center, which lists 3501 12th Street (12th & Monroe) as its location and announces in the post below that they are coming to Brookland.

The post says that they “…are aiming to open mid fall, early winter… if not sooner.”  We were able to peek in and it didn’t look like they will meet that target. The space still looked pretty rough and gutted out, but had some wall framing up. We are curious about how pickup/drop off will work at such a busy intersection, but time will tell. We will keep an eye on things and let you know when we learn anything new.