I love many things about Washington DC—one of my favorite neighborhoods for dining is Shaw, and one of my favorite restaurant groups is the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group is behind some of DC’s best restaurants—and a few of my old favorites—most notably Iron Gate, Churchkey and Birch & Barley, and the Partisan. Thus, I was thrilled to discover that the Group had opened a charming, innovative American restaurant in Shaw called Hazel.
I knew I needed to visit in a jiffy, so I took my dear friend Tristin there for a one-on-one dinner the night before her birthday. I was immediately taken by the buildout, as the space is simultaneously bold and cozy. There’s a vibrant outside side patio with astroturf, patio lounge chair and bright umbrellas. This is my kind of spot for cocktails.
Inside, there is a long wooden bar and the seating areas are partitioned off by wooden dividers, making for cozy corners in the dimly lit restaurant. There are low hanging, vintage light fixtures and vintage poster collages on the wall. I loved the whole vibe—it’s perfect for date night.
The menu is inventive—I wanted to try everything.
We began with a creative take on caprese, with marinated toy box tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, furikake mushrooms, and a salted plum vinaigrette. It was an incredible dish—I wouldn’t normally expect mushrooms to integrate seamlessly into a caprese salad but these flavors worked together beautifully.
Next up the Grandma’s Zucchini bread, served with a Foie Gras mousse and bee pollen. The recipe does in fact come from the Chef’s grandmother, and it was incredibly moist and fluffy. I love all things decadent and French, so I was bound to enjoy the foie gras. It was rich and creamy—and the bee pollen was—yet again—an unexpected but delightful flavor added into the dish.
The Hamachi Crudo was served with thinly sliced radishes in the shape of flowers topped with sprinkles of crispy rice puffs. It was in a smoked yogurt sauce that was so light I would hardly call it yogurt—yogurt dips tend to be so thick and all-encompassing. This one was not.
While Tristin doesn’t care for steak tartare, it happens to be one of my basic food groups. I’m beyond pleased to report that this is the best tartare I’ve sampled in Washington, D.C. to date—and that’s saying something. The tartare was topped with egg yolk and served with crispy tater tots, which is perfect for the gluten-averse. The real kicker was that it was topped with a gourmet house-made caramelized onion dip. I honestly don’t think I could love a dish more—it was incredible.
We have so many incredible new restaurants in Washington, and Hazel stands out among them. I have no doubt this restaurant will receive rave reviews from other food-focused folks. Kudos to the chef, Rob Rubba. I loved every bite of the creative American fare, with its incredibly fresh ingredients and unique flavor combinations. And I really hope the restaurant launches brunch!
808 V St. N.W.