MOVING ON:The executive chef behind sister restaurants Cafe Saint-Exand Bar Pilaron 14th Street NW in the U Street corridor is moving to Georgetown to become co-owner of a restaurant that reflects his interest in promoting sustainable seafood. According to the man on the move, Barton Seaver, the new establishment will be named Hook ("as in fishing hook") and will replace the defunct Cilantro Restaurant & Tapas Barat 3241 M St. NW in late April.
Hook will open with a casual front space, dressed with a community table, and will continue in the back and upstairs with slightly more formal settings and cooking, a concept that Seaver, 27, likens to that of Palena in Cleveland Park, where the no-reservations lounge and bar segue into a fancier dining room with sophisticated Italian-accented dishes. Among the lures at Hook will be raw fish preparations, or what Italians know as crudo; a wood grill; and exclusively local meat, including a tasting of country hams.
Seaver's partner in the newly formed business operation, called Pure Hospitality (and including the neighboring Georgetown Bagelry), is JonathanUmbel, formerly of the nightspot Blue Ginin Georgetown. Seaver will be assisted at Hook by Joshua Whigham, whom he hired away from Cafe Atlanticoto cook at Bar Pilar last year, as well as pastry chef Heather Chittum, who is leaving Circle Bistroand Notti Bianchi.
Reached last week, Seaver said, "I loved my experience" at Cafe Saint-Ex, which he affectionately refers to as "the little engine that could." (Though it is thought of as a small neighborhood place and has a tiny kitchen, the restaurant counts more than 100 seats and routinely serves 250 customers at brunch.) Seaver added that "nothing is going to fall into chaos" there; filling his shoes next month will be Billy Klein, the current chef de cuisine at Cafe Saint-Ex.
Seaver says he's looking forward to moving his cooking "to the next level" and seeing more of his family: "My parents live in Georgetown."