The City Paper reports that Bistro Bohem‘s mixologist (cocktail chef), Mark Reyburn, has defected across 6th Street to Shaw’s Tavern. Reyburn intends to infuse Shaw’s menu with Civil War-era cocktails befitting the venue’s namesake.
Considering that Bohem’s cocktails were exceptionally good when I reviewed the place in May, Reyburn’s new grog gig is sure to please.
The City Paper also notes that Shaw’s plans to add a roofdeck within two months. I have come to learn, however, that these build-outs typically take longer than even the most ambitious restaurateurs expect.
But even with Shaw’s salvo of a new cocktail list and roofdeck, Bohem isn’t ready to surrender so easily. Bohem is planning a Reconstruction of its own, in fact. The Bohem dominion is expanding into the space next door that used to be Zee’s Restaurant. The new Cafe Bohem will open on September 3 and will serve coffee and pastries.
Marc Morgan, currently the President of the LeDroit Park Civic Association, is running for the ANC seat that covers most of LeDroit Park. Mr. Morgan’s campaign kicks off tomorrow, Wednesday, August 22, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Shaw’s Tavern (6th Street and Florida Avenue NW). Everyone is welcome to attend.
Local notables in attendance include our current commissioner, Myla Moss, who has chosen not to seek reelection, and Patrick Mara, who is the Ward 1 member of the State Board of Education. Come on out, meet your neighbors, and meet the candidate.
The event is open to the public.
With the opening of Bistro Bohem, the corner of Florida Avenue and 6th Street is turning into a tiny culinary colony along Florida Avenue. Bohem’s popularity scuttled our plans for our first visit. It was 9 pm and we walked over looking to try it out. It was packed and there was a waiting list for both the tables and for the bar. All this on a Tuesday night!
After just a few weeks of operation, though, the restaurant is expanding into the old retail space that contained Zee’s, the Trinidadian restaurant that only lasted a few months. A sign on the window christens the space “Café Bohém”. On the 6th Street front, Bohem has added much-needed outdoor seating. We can imagine sitting there, sipping Bohem’s signature Bohemian margarita and watching the passersby. Many LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale residents walk by this intersection on their way to and from the Metro. On our visit, we spotted several neighbors returning from work.
The Bohemian margarita, by the way, was the best item we enjoyed on our recent visit to the restaurant. It’s not nearly as sweet as a regular margarita and benefits from the distinct taste of gin.
While the drink was noteworthy, the food needed some work. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either. Bohem offers a variety of “small plates” derived from the cuisine of Eastern Europe. The lightly browned mushrooms were served with a delicious garlic paprika aioli, but the mushrooms themselves suffered from being, well, mushrooms.
Mushrooms can be difficult to cook. They absorb water like sponges, resisting your best effort to dehydrate or saute them. Though the mushrooms were coated in breadcrumbs and fried, they were still disappointingly watery inside.
A popular dish is the pierogi, a typical eastern European dumpling stuffed with a potato cheese filling. Bohem garnishes the dish with caramelized onions.
We hope it was a coincidence, but the pierogi dish contained a watery sauce, as evidenced by the photo. It’s decent, but like any pierogi dish, is simple in taste and perhaps better suited to snaking or breakfast. The caramelized onions were very… caramelized.
Tom Sietsema at the Post reviewed Bohem and recommends the chicken schnitzel, which he says “races ahead of the pack.” We will certainly try it on our next visit.
If you’re headed out for a serious meal, Shaw’s Tavern might be a better bet, but if you’re self-medicating the symptoms of a unpleasant job, Bistro Bohem’s drink menu will do the trick.
We got news this morning that a man had been found stabbed on the 500 block of Florida Avenue NW near Shaw’s Tavern. The story turned out to be a bit more complicated. A man driving a BMW crashed into the Florida Avenue side of Shaw’s Tavern early this morning. When police arrived, they found the driver with a stab wound in his neck. He was taken to Howard University Hospital where he later died.
The details are unclear at this point, but the driver may have been stabbed elsewhere and may have been trying to drive himself to the hospital for treatment.
Here’s the Fox 5 news report from early this morning.
This is not the first significant crash near 6th and Florida. In 2006, a drunk driver crashed into 605 Florida Avenue, destroying much of the house’s brick turret.
Shaw’s Tavern finally got its alcohol license approved and will open tonight for dinner. For this weekend they are only serving beer and wine.
Here are the new hours:
Monday – Thursday: Lunch 10am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-10pm
Friday: Lunch10am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-11am
Saturday: Brunch 9am- 3pm, Dinner 5pm-11pm
Sunday: Brunch 9am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-10pm
Monday- Thursday: 10:00am-12:30am
520 Florida Avenue NW
Rating: 5 arches (out of 5)
Recommendation: House-smoked pulled pork shoulder (pictured above)
Back in November 2010 we wrote about the renovation underway at the two-story brick building at the southeast corner of 6th Street and Florida Avenue. What a great place for a cafe, we opined.
Finally in July of last year, a restaurant called Shaw’s Tavern opened up in the space. Many neighbors expressed eager anticipation at the very rumor, mostly since Florida Avenue lacks a variety of decent sit-down options.
The excitement was short-lived. The restaurant’s management ran afoul of the District’s liquor regulations when it allegedly forged an alcohol license to purchase liquor from suppliers. Just before opening, Shaw’s hosted several events during which they served alcohol without the a license. The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board, rightly outraged, refused to grant the license.
Unable to serve alcohol, which is where restaurants make much of their money, Shaw’s quickly closed. New owners bought the business and have reopened the space for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Shaw’s will finally serve dinner and thus expand their hours beyond the 4 pm closing when they get their alcohol license approved.
We dropped by Shaw’s Tavern recently to sample the food and the trip was well worth it. The food was excellent and refined and the atmosphere was pleasant.
We ordered the house-smoked pulled pork shoulder (pictured above), which is served on a patty of crispy jalapeño-cheddar polenta and cider vinegar jus. The waiter described the item as “killer” so we couldn’t possibly ignore such an endorsement.
It turns out the waiter was right. The pork, as he described, is smoked for 12 hours. It shows. The distinctly smokey and faintly tangy flavor of the tender shoulder meat makes the dish a signature item for Shaw’s.
The pork tops a polenta patty, which is cripsy like hash-browns on the exterior, but creamy like skillfully prepared scrambled eggs on the inside. In fact the filling is not egg at all, but jalapeño cheddar cheese with polenta, making it a close rival to the pork.
For dessert we ordered spiced chocolate pudding. A dollop of cream and candied orange peel garnish the pudding. Don’t let that fool you, though. The pudding itself is not nearly as sweet as most American desserts and so the spice stands out.
The interior of the restaurant provides an unusual variety of seating options. There are high tables for four people and larger parties. The bar itself is as wide as a full table and provides ample space for dining. The outdoor patio on the 6th Street side just opened with several iron tables and chairs. The inside also sports several couches with coffee tables, each equipped with a book on the Civil War to honor the restaurant’s namesake, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, for whom the Shaw neighborhood is named.
There are few restaurants that really impress us, but Shaw’s Tavern was able to do it. When it opens up for dinner, we expect to return often.
The much-anticipated Shaw’s Tavern at Florida Avenue and 6th Street finally opened on Friday, July 29. The restaurant, whose food neighbors have praised, is not serving alcohol, due to the fact they likely violated the District liquor laws before they even opened.
The City Paper reports that the restaurant, before it opened, hosted a private fundraiser for a local charity. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), which enforces the city’s liquor laws, accuses the restaurant of serving alcohol without a license during the event. Restaurants, bars, and other places of public accommodations, must have licenses to serve alcohol.
The restaurant contends that because it had not yet opened to the public, it was not “operating” and thus logically could not operate without a license.
Whatever the case, we hope Shaw’s will obtain its license soon. The culinary photos they post on Facebook would look even more delicious if paired with wine or beer.
While we welcome new restaurants to the area and appreciate the owners’ pricey investment renovating the property, it is important to uphold the rule of law and not excuse violations. Certainly any punishment should fit the severity of the crime, but to excuse some businesses while punishing others for the same violation is unfair.
Howard University will present details of its draft campus plan at Tuesday’s meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. The university is required to submit a plan every ten years and the university is currently finishing its draft that it will submit to the Zoning Commission in the coming months. This is your chance to learn about the future of Slowe Hall and Diggs Hall, as well as future dorms on 4th Street and buildings along Georgia Avenue.
Tuesday, April 26 at 7pm in the basement of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church, 623 Florida Ave (enter on U street)
Also on the agenda:
- Park update— it’s nearly finished!
- Vote to support the liquor license application of Shaw’s Tavern
- Nominating committee for the coming civic association elections
All neighbors are encouraged to attend.
This is the fourth in a series of the Scurlock photos. Read the others.
We have reported before on the coming of Shaw’s Tavern to the building (pictured above) at the southeast corner of 6th Street and Florida Avenue. It turns out that the bar at Shaw’s Tavern will not the be the first establishment to stir up elixirs at that location.
While perusing the Smithsonian’s Scurlock photo archives, we found that one of the building’s previous tenants was the Ethical Drug Store (also known as Ethical Prescription Pharmacy and Ethical Pharmacy), one of the many black-owned businesses along the 400 – 600 blocks of Florida Avenue NW.
Pharmacist Lewis Terry (1904- 1978) graduated from pharmacy school at Temple University in 1928. The following year he opened Ethical Pharmacy at 518 Florida Avenue NW. The pharmacy had filled 1 million prescriptions by 1953 earning him a special honor from Temple. Though Mr. Terry sold the business in the mid-60s, the pharmacy stayed in operation until the 1990s.
The name Ethical Pharmacy is a relic of a professional division in the pharmacy field a century ago. An “ethical pharmacy” proudly devoted itself solely to filling prescriptions and did not sell other extraneous products as modern drug stores, such as CVS, do today. The use of ‘ethical’ was a high-minded misnomer since a pharmacist could sell other wares ethically or devote himself exclusively to quack medicine.
The Scurlock Studio photographed the pharmacy in 1937 and again in 1950. We have included both photo shoots below.
Here is a photo Addison Scurlock took of Ethical Pharmacy in 1937:
Here are some other shots of the interior. Though the Smithsonian has no date for the first two, we suspect they was shot in the 1930s. The third photo is dated 1937 and judging from the change in the interior, we suspect the pharmacy had undergone some sort of renovation to appear more modern.
Mr. Scurlock photographed the pharmacy again in July 1950:
He also took more shots of the interior in 1950:
Mr. Steve May relayed more details on Shaw’s Tavern at last night’s meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. The restaurant, slated to open in mid-June, will seat 65 – 70 people inside and 15 – 18 people on a sidewalk patio on the 6th Street front. On Florida Avenue near the eastern end of the building, the restaurant will feature a special door just for take-out pizza orders. (Click the image above for a larger version.)
Inside, however, the restaurant will feature a variety of entrées priced from $12 – $18. Mr. May distributed a tentative menu.
The restaurant expects to stay open until 11:30 or midnight on weeknights and until midnight or 1 am on weekends.
As for the adjacent
empty lot on 6th Street, Mr. May offered to buy it, but says the owner demanded $1 million, which is far too much for a vacant lot of that size.
While Shaw’s Tavern will occupy the first floor, the restaurant will rent out three one-bedroom apartments upstairs and expects to have them ready by May.