On Saturday, Room 11, the Columbia Heights restaurant that’s long been one of our favorite places for a date night, dessert and an of-the-moment cocktail, will officially open its newly expanded space on the corner of 11th and Lamont streets NW.
Other than 24 extra seats, there are several other big changes in store. Chief among them: a new chef, Adam Howard, late of Volt and Family Meal in Frederick; and the addition of daily breakfast and lunch service.
Fans of the restaurant’s amazing desserts and brunch fare (including those pitch-perfect scones) will also kvell over the fact that a kitchen expansion means pastry chef Lizzy Evelyn will be baking in the space daily, offering sticky buns, two types of scones, quiche and more. (Her role in the restaurant will increase across the board, so expect Room 11 to become more of a dessert destination than it already is.) The restaurant has also added an espresso machine and will be grinding beans from Ceremony Coffee Roasters and D.C.’s own Vigilante Coffee Co.
Breakfast service will begin at 8 a.m. daily, but laptop warriors are going to have to find somewhere else to camp out during the day. There is no Wi-Fi.
For now, Howard will focus on developing a lunch menu — think ma po noodles with tofu and Brussels sprouts; fried mortadella sandwiches; kale, persimmon and pancetta salads. At night, he’ll keep cooking the restaurant’s popular comfort food with international touches. Ben Gilligan, the longtime chef and owner, will transition out of the kitchen. “When we opened, we were a catch-all: a cocktail bar, a wine bar, a place to get a panini,” said Gilligan. The changes, he said, will allow the three-year-old restaurant to hone its mission and set itself apart from its new neighbors, which include Maple, El Chucho, The Coupe and Kangaroo Boxing Club.
The drink menu at Room 11 will also undergo a makeover, with an increased focus on bitters, aperitifs and digestifs, including amaros and vermouths. “It’s something all of us as a staff are interested in,” said Nick Pimentel, one of Room 11’s owners. “We thought bitter and sweet [from Evelyn’s pastries] was kind of a good play.”
“We’re busier now than ever,” said Gilligan. “You can spend a whole night on this block.” And the whole day. Keep reading for more photos of the new space.