Bloomingdale gets an upscale boost tonight with the official opening of the Red Hen, an Italian-inspired American restaurant founded by two veterans of Proof. The restaurant, at 1822 First St. NW, is the product of chef Michael Friedman, sommelier Sebastian Zutant and partner Mike O’Malley. In a neighborhood mostly known for its coffeehouses and laid-back taverns, it's a taste of something fancier. And Bloomingdale residents: Meet your new go-to date spot.
At the center of the Red Hen's menu is a custom wood-fired grill, used on scallops, beef tongue and, yes, hen, but it will also have uncommon applications, like grilling ricotta cheese. Clams, mussels and scallops are prominent on the menu, from the appetizers, like clams casino, to a swordfish with braised mussels and super-seasonal ramps. Sides like polenta or escarole are priced separately at $8, though, and with entrees priced between $15 and $23, those expecting a place to pop in for a weeknight meal may find the prices to be a little more special-occasion worthy.
Zutant's drink menu will focus on seasonally-changing drinks, Italian wines and spirits. There's a 100-bottle wine list, with five to 10 wines offered by the glass, and bottles under $60. Drink up on the embossed orange leather bar, part of the restaurant's open design by Lauren Winter and Brian Miller of Edit at Streetsense, who utilized the oven's firewood as a design element.
As for the name: Zutant told critic Tom Sietsema last year that they just liked the "vibe it gives off," he said. The name "doesn't sound too busy or over-the-top."
Check out the menu here: