Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SOMETHING FISHY: Cleveland Park is catching the city's next Tackle Box.

That's the word from Jonathan Umbel, founder of the Pure Hospitality Restaurant Group, which owns the fish-friendly Hook restaurant in Georgetown and its casual spinoff and neighbor, the original Tackle Box.

Just like the first, the second Tackle Box will be dressed down with picnic tables, weathered buoys and lobster traps and will require customers to place their orders at a counter. The popular menu of lobster rolls, fried clams and wood-grilled trout also will make the move. But the next location, which replaces a long-vacant McDonald's at 3407 Connecticut Ave. NW, is a whale by comparison: 4,000 square feet vs. 1,350 in Georgetown.

That leaves plenty of room for Umbel's fresh ideas, including a raw bar stocked with shellfish and a separate bar for liquid pleasures. (He has also hired a consulting chef, one of Washington's best-known names, to oversee all of his kitchens. But the busy chef doesn't want that news announced just now, and Dish is honoring that request.)

Umbel says he was attracted to the neighborhood by both its demographics and its Metro station. Plus, "seafood on the avenue is under-represented." At the earliest, his Cleveland Park eatery will open at the end of the year. And it's expected to be followed by more Tackle Boxes, he says, probably in Chinatown and Bethesda.

-- Tom Sietsema

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