That was fast: Azur closes Friday. New concept to replace it.

September 25, 2013

Azur, the sprawling seafood restaurant that replaced Cafe Atlantico and the orignal Minibar in Penn Quarter,  is expected to close after Friday night, announces it owner, Frederik De Pue.

Frederick De Pue's Azur closes this Friday, but a new concept will replace it. Credit: Greg Powers Frederick De Pue's Azur closes this Friday, but a new concept will replace it. Credit: Greg Powers

“I love the concept. People really enjoyed it,” says De Pue. “But they weren’t coming in steady enough numbers for the size of the building,” which is 6,000 square feet.

The restaurateur, who also owns the trendy Table in Shaw, says he had to make “significant changes to bring more people in.” The question he asked himself: “What can we do to make something that doesn’t exist in DC?”

De Pue believes a multi-concept business to be called Menu is the answer. The ground floor will be a market for shoppers to buy produce  and more daily from the same farmers De Pue uses. Charcuterie, sandwiches, soups and desserts made on site will also be offered.  Customers can enjoy their purchases in a cozy, third-floor bar, which will morph into more of a lounge at night.   (The second floor is all kitchen space.)

Menu’s top floor  will be a 40-seat restaurant serving “nice pastas” and “hearty American dishes” in the $18 to $32 range for main courses. Table sous chef Keith Cabot has been tapped to be the chef de cuisine at Menu, which is expected to debut in January. Tying all his brands together, De Pue’s catering company, 42 Degrees, moved into the building’s basement kitchen about a month ago.

One detail De Pue knows he has to nail is a greater selection of suds with this venture.  “Maybe 40 beers,” says De Pue, a native of Belgium. “I have to make my father proud.”

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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