The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide.
Drift on 7th
The decor flags the theme: driftwood on the wall, rope around a column and little waves painted on a border of the exhibition kitchen spell s-e-a-f-o-o-d. Chef-owner Ferhat Yalcin knows not to overwork anything in his ocean-blue storefront. Crab sliders are mostly crab, the daily catch is simply grilled, and the way to go at brunch is with a taste of Yalcin’s native Turkey: a casserole of jiggly eggs, tomatoes and sausage coins seasoned with sumac and flanked with herbed fried potatoes. (The kitchen aces sides.) Even if you have to return to work, reggae makes you feel like it’s a day at the beach.
Drift on 7th: 1819 Seventh St. NW. 202-350-4350. drifton7th.com .
Prices: Mains $8-$25.
Sound check: 73 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.
The following was originally published April 29, 2016.
For fresh seafood, set a course for Drift on 7th
I figure I’ve ordered right at Drift on 7th when the manager ferrying my meal from open kitchen to oyster-gray bar counter shares a cloud thought from several feet away.
“I’m trying not to eat this on the way over,” she says, moments before a plate of golden seafood is set in front of me. A hot heap of cubed, panko-crusted hake and springy calamari — Tots ’n’ Tentacles, the menu bills them — is, as she suggests, tantalizing, especially after a dip in the accompanying horseradish remoulade.
If you’re trawling for good seafood that won’t break the bank, put this draw in Shaw on your list. Drift on 7th is a reincarnation of Fishnet, closed by chef-owner Ferhat Yalcin in August and re-launched in the same location in February. (The original Fishnet, in College Park, remains open after five years.) The replacement, lighter in color and refigured to include a bar, entices diners with an interesting collection of dishes and an emphasis on sustainable fish. Filling the soft corn tortillas, for instance, is Spanish mackerel, smoky from the grill. And a favorite daily catch is blue catfish, six ounces of moist deliciousness flanked with a side of your choice. Creamy plantains and tangy coleslaw invariably compete for my attention.
This is not a kitchen without flaws, but the misses would be easy to remedy. A lobster roll comes with more shakes of paprika than optimal, but the sandwich’s pillowy bun and crisp french fries are terrific. Baby arugula salad is brightened with radishes but held back by a surfeit of coriander in its dressing.
More often than not, though, Drift on 7th demonstrates a commitment to good taste, witnessed, among other things, in the thick, house-made potato chips that start a meal and the lovely crunch and subtle sweetness of the fried calamari. (Credit crushed graham crackers.) Crab cake sliders are mostly seafood, held together with egg and Japanese bread crumbs.
Yalcin’s slip of a dining room revels in a maritime theme without beating you over the head. Pale blue walls are set off with pieces of an old barn painted the color of driftwood, and a column near the bar is bound in thick rope. Reggae music supports an easygoing vibe. Is it my imagination, or do the orange bar stools suggest sleek buoys?
Whatever, the many fine points at Drift float my boat.