DRINX, ANYONE?: Beginning with lunch on Monday, the lights are back on at what used to be Nick & Stef's Steakhouse in MCI Center. Its replacement, a notion from the New York-based Restaurant Associates, is simply named drinx (601 F St. NW; 202-661-5040).
The long-vacant space has been recast as a more casual place to eat and drink -- look for fried calamari, hamburgers and fruit punch on the menu -- but with enough twists to make those familiar restaurant staples interesting. The calamari will wear a coat of Parmesan cheese, for instance, while the burger will sneak in heirloom tomatoes. As for the punch "Martiniquese," the drink is glammed up with passion fruit and sweet spices.
Brian McPherson, who previously cooked at Butterfield 9 and New Heights in Washington, has been hired to prepare the American bill of fare, which will also include baby back ribs, crab cakes and oven-baked black grouper -- "simple food done right," the 27-year-old chef promises. "Nothing too extreme."
The 118-seat dining room follows suit. It's stylish with gold walls and rust-colored fabrics and offers the now-ubiquitous view of cooks at work, thanks to a glass-wrapped kitchen. Six plasma-screen TVs in the lounge and bar will help keep sports fans abreast of the action in the arena next door, while a private dining room captures a view of the MCI practice courts.
Given the newcomer's name, you can expect cocktails; bartenders will shake and stir more than 25 choices, ranging from a signature martini (made with sherry) to the "bee's knees" (Tanqueray #10 swirled with honey and lemon juice).
We'll drink to all that.
Lunch entrees $14-$27; dinner entrees $18.50-$29.