Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
The latest establishment from Ashok Bajaj's Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (Rasika, Bibiana, The Oval Room) opened early last month in Washington, DC's Penn Quarter. Housed in the former Zola space next to the International Spy Museum, NoPa Kitchen + Bar is billed as a brasserie—but an American one. NoPa forgoes any attempt to mimic European eateries; the sprawling space is decorated with decidedly American touches (leather accents, wood walls, portraits of George Washington) and a menu that's filled with familiar flavors and comfort foods.
Chef Greg McCarthy (Jean-Georges, Nobu) serves a menu spanning raw bar, charcuterie, and various entrées, but also includes a selection of "Savory Snacks" to kick off the meal—small bites like Twice-Fried Chicken ($10) served with chili sauce, or Ancho Chili-Glazed Baby Back Ribs ($12).
There are also a number of composed vegetable sides, including Asian-inspired Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($8) with pear and sesame seeds, and New Potato Lyonnaise ($7), confited in duck fat.
The main courses at NoPa showcase the proteins, including that brasserie staple Steak Frites, offered as either a hanger steak or a prime filet (dry-aged optional). The hanger ($24; pictured at top) is about 8 ounces, served over arugula and dressed with caramelized onions, with a side of medium-thick fries.
Sides, like buttery pull-apart housemade rolls with Herbs de Provence, pair well with the punch-heavy bar menu and general comfort-food theme on the menu. For a look at some of the other dishes on NoPa's menu, click over to the slide show »