Editor’s Picks: Mess Hall’s ‘New Kitchens on the Block’

by Catherine Trifiletti

Mess Hall hosts preview party for new restaurants to showcase their best sips and spoonfuls. 

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(Photo by Catherine Trifiletti)

If you noticed some restaurant scenesters missing from the brunch crowd this past Sunday, it was for good reason. Every food-minded Washingtonian spent the day at culinary incubator Mess Hall to preview new concepts set to open throughout the metro area. Besides the nostalgic New Kids on the Block theme that inspired old concert videos by the ’90s band to play on a big screen, the event showcased an exciting preview of what’s to come in the District’s food scene. Keep your eyes peeled and your taste buds primed for this roundup of dishes and drinks soon to grace menus all across town.


Come fall, Ivy City will have a prime spot for visitors to soak up all the craft beer and liquor they will have likely imbibed from nearby New Columbia Distillers, Atlas Brew Works and the list keeps growing. In his first solo project, Chef Matt Baker will focus on contemporary American cuisine to showcase fresh ingredients from local farmers. He used the Mess Hall stage to highlight a brioche-crusted Maryland blue crab with warm sweet corn pudding, herb salad and pickled jalapeños. Gravitas, 1401 Okie St. NE

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Chef Matt Baker serves hungry guests. (Photo by Catherine Trifiletti)

With chefs’ increased emphasis on utilizing swine from nose-to-tail, a dish of pig ears should come as no surprise. The bigger shock was how entirely addicting Chef Stefano Frigerio’s crispy pig ears turned out to be. Sweetness from a sarsaparilla glaze balanced saltiness from a char-smoked mayo for an epically elevated snack. A permanent location for ShadowLawn has yet to be pinned down, but pop up dinners at George’s Mill Artisan Cheese Farm should do the trick in the meantime. George’s Mill Artisan Cheese Farm, 11873 Georges Mill Road, Lovettsville, Va.

Smoked & Stacked
Sure, McDonald’s now serves breakfast all day, but no one is tackling the a.m. meal quite like Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley. Her pastrami, fried egg, hot pepper jelly, and comte on milk bread sandwich will cure any size hangover. Although Meek-Bradley is not new to Washington’s restaurant scene (Ripple), the Shaw eatery’s fall opening is sure to extend her reach. Smoked & Stacked, 1239 9th St. NW

Bonus– oldie but a goodie: 

The void left in the palates of Montgomery County residents is soon to be filled with the 2017 reopening of Addie’s in Maryland’s Park Potomac development. If the seasonally apt Maryland blue crab salad, curried sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and baby herbs dish was any indication of what’s to come, we’re willing to cross state lines. Addie’s, 12435 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, Md.


Potomac Distilling Company and Tiki TNT
Todd Thrasher and Cathal Armstrong will debut their tiki bar/distillery concept on the Southwest Waterfront’s long-awaited Wharf project in 2017. Look out for the “I long for Turkoise Water,” which features the unlikely combination of Mezcal, El Dorado 3-year rum, grapefruit and Pimento Dram all poured over — wait for it —a snow cone! One slushy sip will bring you back to the black top of your neighborhood pool, high-fiving the ice cream man in exchange for a cavity-inducing frozen treat.


Snow cone, anyone? A dressed-up hoola girl made Thrasher’s icy rum concoctions feel that much more authentic. (Photo by Catherine Trifiletti)

Vanish Farmwood’s Brewery
For lovers of sours and Belgian-style pints alike, Vanish’s Juicy Tangerine White hits all the right notes. Since it’s not on drink menus in the District yet, you may need to carve out some time for a trip to Leesburg, where the dedicated brew team is proud to produce suds from “seed to sip.” Vanish Farmwood’s Brewery, 42245 Black Hops Lane, Leesburg, Va.

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Vanish shows off the citrus that defines its Grapefruit IPA and Juicy Tangerine White Ale. (Photo by Catherine Trifiletti)



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