Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday Morning Mystery: Did They Bolt?

Regulars at the Jolt ‘n Bolt at 18th and T Streets, NW, had a jolt this morning. A completely new staff was behind the counter. JnB is probably the closest thing we have to an East Village café. The outdoor patio is ideal for reading the Times with a smoothie and a bagel on a sunny day. It’s never crowded in the morning, and they open earlier than most other cafés. They also have real bagels. The new manager assured me that Helen is on vacation and that the new staff is only filling in while she is away.

Jolt N Bolt Coffee and Tea House
1918 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Sale Today at Ruff and Ready Furnishings

At 1908 14th Street, NW. This chair is too fabulous for me, but it looks like a very good deal, for the right person.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sparkys' R.I.P.

Here's the sign in front of Sparkys' mentioned in an earlier post. Despite the sign, they were not open today. What a loss for the neighborhood. They knew how to make really great espresso.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sparkys' -- What's the Deal?

After fueling many a weekend morning and, more recently and without explanation, reducing its hours of operation, Sparkys' Espresso Café on 14th Street near S Street, NW, is slated to close. A sign on the door says that they will reopen on June 28th and 29th for a party. It also says that Sparkys' will move to another location, which they decline to disclose, and focus on vegetarian dishes. Where else can one sit in a wobbly metal chair while nursing a bitter caffe americano?
Night time photo of neon sign at used car dealership, 14th and U Streets, NW.

Sparkys' Espresso Cafe
1720 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Local Green

On June 2, 2007, the U Street farmers’ market opened on the expansive sidewalk in front of the Reeves Center. The market has become quite popular already. It is open Saturdays, from 10:00am until 2:00pm, and will run until November 17, 2007. If you miss it on Saturday, the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market, located at 22nd and P Streets, NW, is open on Sundays from 9:00am and 1:00pm. The Dupont market is larger, but the U Street market has almost the same level of variety. As one commenter remarked “you can find grass-fed goat sausage at one stand at the U Street market; if you go to Dupont, you'll find three stands that sell it.” Shown below is a mix of braising greens, including chard, endive, napa cabbage, and other things, grown at Tree and Leaf farm in Loudon County, Virginia. Buy a pound (they shrink when cooked) and add them to a stir fry or sauté lightly and mix with garlic, onions and fresh egg pasta, which also are available at the market. U Street Farmers' Market
2000 14th Street, NW
at the corner of 14th & U Streets
Washington, DC 20009

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where to Find Vegetarian Lunches

I was so hungry when I got home this evening. Best DC Supermarket at 1507 U Street, NW, now open until 9:00pm, recently started selling those pret-a-manger vegetarian lunches, like fake Thai chicken and macrobiotic noodles, which I used to pick up at Yes! Organic Market. Some of them are quite good.

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's Fine Upstairs Too

Last weekend also was the opening of Mahogany Restaurant and Lounge at 11th and U Streets, NW. If you approach from the west on U Street, it’s the building on your left with the piano keys running horizontally along the side. The downstairs is home to Bohemian Caverns, an inviting setting for jazz music -- like Blues Alley but without the hassle of Georgetown. Some of my favorite artists play at both.
The upstairs had always looked a bit stuffy. That’s changed, however, and for the better. On Saturday, June 2, Mahogany’s owners were gracious enough to host an early evening of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, which they advertised in the Washington City Paper. It was a chance to see the new, renovated space and catch up with some of our neighbors. A jazz trio played in the background, and the picture windows in front were opened, sweeping in a light breeze and the sound of U Street, which is musical in its own right. Waiters passed around samples, including an amuse bouche of gazpacho. I became a lapsed vegetarian to try the rest (oh, the lengths we go to), but the simple, meaty crabcakes and hot fried catfish made it worthwhile. It was the perfect finish to a productive Saturday.

Bohemian Caverns / Mahogany Restaurant and Lounge
2001 11th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Champagne flowed freely and attractive designer-types mingled effortlessly around the corner at the opening of RCKNDY (pronounced “rock candy”) last night. For several months, the neighbors and I had been scratching our heads over what would become of the vacant space in the middle of the block on U Street between 15th and 16th Streets. A couple of weeks ago, when a crisp window covering with the words “RCKNDY" and "coming in June 2007” in a minimalist mid-centuryish motif covered the display windows from floor to ceiling, blocking any view of the inside, the suspense became unbearable. This weekend it ended.

The smart window papering, it turns out, was a glimpse of things to come. The space inside, which is triangular in the back and bathed in natural light despite being on the first floor and surrounded by taller structures, was opened up and made inviting by several sitting areas and accent walls that complement and reinforce the candy pink and umber motif. What’s extra nice is that the renovator/designer took advantage of the original, unusually shaped structure, rather than dividing it into smaller rooms, as is being done to so many of our neighborhood interiors.

RCKNDY sells home and office furnishings attuned to urban spaces. Items I liked most were: a casual couch in a linen-y umber-colored upholstery that would look great in a room with a steelblue accent wall; a bevy of wall clocks on one wall; Phillipe Starcke-ish, duochromatic printed bed linens; candelabra made of two translucently-colored plexiglass plates; fruit bowls woven out of a tropical, textured, multi-hued wood; and a patchwork rug of black and white cow hides. The attention grabber when you first walk in, though, is the extensive display of Alessi household gadgets (pictured above), which are works of art and seem to be accessible only in museum gift shops. Rest assured, you now can save yourself the hassle of waiting in line at the crowded Met store or hauling in your luggage the Anna G. Corkscrew you picked up on Lincoln Road.

1515 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Friday, June 1, 2007

Life is short. Eat only fine chocolate.

Have you spent a summer evening peoplewatching on the patio at Larry's Lounge but not visited Biagio Fine Chocolate? It's worth the walking down those stairs. I miss Sticky Fingers, the vegan bakery that occupied the space before, but Biagio has free samples, and isn't fine chocolate supposed to be vegan? The staff members are a chocolate fountain of knowledge, so much that they can describe the differences among chocolates depending on the country where the beans originated. For connoisseurs, they even sell single-plantation chocolate. If you can try only one piece, I recommend the chocolate made with cayenne pepper.

Biagio Fine Chocolate
1904 18th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009