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Pop-up space Prequel welcomes another restaurant

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Sounds like Prequel is the place to be these days.

Just a day after we learned that former Vidalia chef Hamilton Johnson is testing his new restaurant in the pop-up complex in Penn Quarter comes word of another debut: former After Peacock chef Nicholas Sharpe's Jolene.

[Former Vidalia chef Hamilton Johnson will open a pop-up restaurant at Prequel]

Jolene, named after Sharpe's 8-month-old daughter, kicks off with a dinner on Thursday (seats are very limited). Starting Sept. 8, its tasting menu will be available Tuesday through Saturday evenings until the end of the year. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins will be accommodated as space allows.

"We've been debating what exactly to call" the cuisine, Sharpe said, but for now he has settled on "contemporary modern mid-Atlantic cuisine."

"Basically that means we're trying to source out as many local things as we can," the chef said, and "preparing them in ways that aren't necessarily traditional." Expect dishes along the lines of ricotta gnudi with figs and speck, as well as stuffed veal breast with baby carrots.

Dinner will be available as either a four-course ($55; $65 on Fridays and Saturday) or six-course ($75; $85 on Fridays and Saturdays) menu. The six courses, though, won't just be an extension of the four -- they'll be totally different offerings, Sharpe said.

Sharpe worked at After Peacock, the small contemporary Georgetown dining room with decor inspired by James McNeill Whistler's "Peacock Room" at the Freer Gallery of Art, from last fall through this spring. "I decided that it was time to do my own thing," said the chef, whose résumé also includes Sonoma in Capitol Hill and Michael Mina's RN74 in San Francisco. Sharpe said being a part of Prequel, which works with EquityEats to help crowdfund projects, lets him be more of his own boss than a traditionally-funded restaurant would.

[After Peacock Room review: Edible art emerges in a small Georgetown space]

The idea is to eventually open Jolene as a standalone spot, he said. Unlike the pop-up, it will probably offer an a la carte menu.

When Sharpe was considering moving into Prequel, he said he preferred to be in the kitchen with someone he knew. That's exactly what he got in Johnson, who Sharpe first met when Johnson had recently taken over at Vidalia about eight years ago. The chefs, now friends, will have their own dining rooms at Prequel but will be prepping in a shared kitchen. Sharpe will also be working alongside Tom Wellings and Camila Arango, the married pastry chefs behind fellow pop-up Bluebird Bakery whom he knows from the late Maestro in Tysons Corner. After Peacock also hosted Bluebird as a pop-up during Sharpe's tenure.

Being with so many familiar faces, "it's more of a comfortable situation," Sharpe said.

Jolene at Prequel, 918 F St. NW. www.prequeldc.com. Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, beginning Sept. 8.

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