THINKING (MOSTLY) GREEN: The chef at the new Vegetate (1414 Ninth St. NW; 202-232-4585) pauses when he's asked if he refrains from eating meat. "I am no longer a committed vegetarian," Matt Eland carefully responds, then adds, "there are some delicacies that are too good to pass up." Such as? "Offal -- foie gras, kidneys and sweetbreads," the 31-year-old transplant from Cleveland comes clean. His employers, on the other hand, are vegetarians, but they want their place in Shaw to be recognized as "a restaurant that is doing great food, not just vegetarian food," says Jennifer Redd, who opened the meat-free oasis last month with her husband, disc jockey Dominic Redd. Eland likens cooking without meat to "taking the black out of a crayon box" -- no big deal. Besides, "I'm not trying to replicate beef."
Instead, the chef is making croquettes from risotto and serving them with a red pepper marmalade, and he's seasoning tempeh with jerk seasonings to give some punch to the soy food product, which is presented with sweet potato pancakes and dark greens. Set off with whimsical art and dark oak tables with bamboo bases, Vegetate is not your parents' earthy-crunchy dining room, either. Its 56 seats are spread across three levels, including a small party room and space for Dominic Redd to play his music.
SIMPLY CONSOLIDATING: Washington entrepreneur Sak Pollert recently closed both his Asian home accessory store, Simply Home Living, on 18th Street NW and his minimalist Thai takeout, Simply Home Cuisine, on U Street NW. His clients shouldn't despair, though; Pollert is just putting both concepts under one roof and billing the retail and dining space Simply Home (1412 U St. NW). "People don't remember more than two words," the businessman jokes of the short title. Simply Home is scheduled to unfold in two stages: the furnishings store will open sometime early next month, followed a few weeks later by the 30-seat restaurant, which will include a small cocktail lounge.
On the table: "World food with Thai flavors," says Pollert, who also owns the Logan Circle restaurant Rice (1608 14th St. NW). At Simply Home, pasta will be tossed in a sauce of coconut milk and herbs, and tuna sashimi will get an accent of fish sauce and chili paste. The forthcoming restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner and offer a hard-to-find treat: afternoon tea service ($4-$7), featuring house-baked green tea cakes and pandan leaf cookies.