Requin, the French-Mediterranean seafood spot from Jennifer Carroll and Mike Isabella, is just about ready to welcome its first diners. Beginning Dec. 11, the restaurant will open as a pop-up in Fairfax's Mosaic District before its permanent home at the Wharf development in Southwest D.C. opens in 2017.
"People keep coming by and knocking on the door and asking when we're opening," said executive chef and partner Carroll. Requin takes over the 5,100-square-foot space formerly occupied by R.J. Cooper's financially troubled Gypsy Soul; it will eventually become the second location of Isabella's home-style Greek restaurant Kapnos Kouzina, the first of which is coming to Bethesda early next year.
Requin is a joint venture with Isabella, against whom Carroll competed in season six of Bravo's "Top Chef." Carroll said Requin will have "a lot of small plates" on its menu. There will be three family-style entrees: a 28-ounce côte de boeuf, grilled whole Dover sole and bouillabaisse-style shellfish and seafood roast. Carroll's also creating several shareable boards, including ones featuring vegetables -- pastrami-style celery root! -- and seafood. A typical meal for a table, the chef said, may include one board, two or three small plates and an entree.
For dessert, think profiteroles, poached pears with almond cake and a burnt honey and vanilla ice cream. Carroll, a former sous chef at Le Bernardin, is playing around with the idea of a coconut cake or chocolate souffle, though she's not sure which will make the cut. Which is kind of the point of the pop-up -- in addition to raising money for the restaurant, of course.
Past Gypsy Soul patrons won't notice much change to the interior of the 120-seat dining room, Carroll said. Because money is still being raised for Requin, the idea was to keep to a budget, which is why eagle-eyed patrons may even notice "GS" etched into some of the holdover glassware.
In those and other glasses? A mostly French wine list, a largely Belgian bottled beer selection, French sodas and French-accented cocktails, plus pastis and absinthe. The offerings also include house-made sodas from Taha Ismail, beverage director for Isabella's restaurants.
After the pop-up closes in several months, Carroll said she'll have plenty of Requin planning and scouting to keep her busy. "I wish the Wharf was ready to go and open," Carroll said, "but I'm lucky to have this in the meantime."