The Washington Post

Bar Charley, from the owners of El Chucho, coming to 18th Street

This post has been updated. 

Restaurateurs Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks think there are too few places where they can sip and sup well without shelling out a lot of money. Aiming to change that circumstance, the business partners are rolling out Bar Charley and “a casual but upscale” food and drinks menu at 1825 18th St. NW, announces Greenbaum.

The 1,500-square-foot bar and restaurant replaces Cajun Experience and is being redecorated for an Aug. 22 launch. Charley is Banks’s middle name: “Snappy but not pretentious,” says Greenbaum.

“We believe in value,” says the restaurateur, whose mini-empire includes Jackie’s and Sidebar in Silver Spring and El Chucho, co-owned with Banks, in Columbia Heights. So there will be 20 or so wines by the glass priced between $7 and $12, “a perfect Manhattan” for $8 and a raft of beers, along with a theme-free, something-for-everyone menu built around sandwiches and small plates ($3 to $14).

Gordon Banks behind the bar at Jackie's Sidebar. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

A sneak peak reveals a lobster roll, bison sloppy joe, salt cod and spaghetti, smoked chicken thighs on dirty rice, shrimp and pork dumplings, papri chaat, and frankfurters with warm potato salad.  Exceptions to those small plates (subject to change) will be two dishes designed for two: a wood-grilled steak and a whole fish.

The kitchen will bake one dessert: pie in different flavors. (Yes!) After-dinner drinks will emphasize Sauternes, sherry and brandy.

Bar Charley’s inaugural menu was whipped up by Diana Davila-Boldin, who left Jackie’s for Chicago this spring; it will be executed by head chef LaMont Mitchell, the soon-to-be-former sous chef at Redwood in Bethesda. He’s familiar with his new bosses, having previously auditioned for Davila-Bolden’s job, which went to Adam Harvey.

Nevertheless, Greenbaum was impressed with Mitchell’s performance: “I lost sleep thinking of the food he cooked for us!”

A previous version of this post incorrectly said Banks co-owned Jackie's and Jackie's Sidebar with Greenbaum. Banks is only a co-owner of El Chucho.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.



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