—F&W staff with additional reporting by Eric Steinman
Escape the winter blues on March 8th with a beach-inspired menu from chef Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar. To set the vacation-evoking mood, the chef’s acclaimed seafood fare will be paired exclusively with food-friendly cocktails from mixologist Gina Chersevani. SEE MENU AND DETAILS HERE.
Southern Living, December 29, 2012 | By Francine Maroukian
Although Washington, D.C., has long played host to the world, it’s never been known as much of a food town—relegated to “big city” offerings such as let’s-make-a-deal steak houses and some international dining. Today, however, a new generation of culturally conscious chefs and restaurateurs is determined to imprint the city with a different culinary identity: its own.
Diners now crave local authenticity, and chefs, taking note, have discovered that D.C. is, make no mistake, a Southern city. It’s smack-dab in a widespread agricultural area and steeped in cast-iron cookery, and it enjoys the bounty of a long growing season through the homesteading arts of curing and preserving. Like its coastal counterparts New Orleans and Charleston, the D.C. area benefits from proximity to a plentiful estuary: the Chesapeake Bay, which produces about 500 million pounds of seafood per year.
Although you can track this community-minded chef movement in the White House Kitchen Garden program and the State Department’s initiative to promote regional American food, it’s more fun to experience D.C.’s sense-of-place cooking firsthand. Meet some of the forces behind Washington’s evolving take on Southern fare.
Hank’s Oyster Bar Chef Jamie Leeds’ classic coastal style includes seasonal staples such as Chesapeake Bay rockfish, Maryland’s official state fish. But the star is Jamie’s signature oyster, the meaty and mild Hayden’s Reef, developed in collaboration with Dragon Creek Aqua Farm. The don’t-miss side: Old Bay fries, sprinkled with Maryland’s distinctive seasoning. READ FULL ARTICLE
Washington Post, Going Out Guide by Tom Sietsema/Photo by Matt McClain for The Washington Post
Family and friends are in town for the holidays. Maybe you feel obliged to show off some sights. Perhaps you need an escape from four walls, or simply a pick-me-up. Some inspirations:
Cold weather calls for hot drinks, and the one that warms me most this season is poured at the Eddy Bar at the youngest Hank’s Oyster Bar on Capitol Hill. Home to shaker and stirrer extraordinaire Gina Chersevani, Eddy Bar is where anyone older than 21 can experience the essence of the season in a glass.
Cucurbita in the Rye ($11) combines scorched milk infused with Tahitian vanilla, star anise and cardamom “because I’m obsessed with it,” Chersevani says. The dairy is chilled, strained, punched up with Redemption rye and juiced fresh pumpkin, then finished with walnut bitters. The last are spritzed over the cocktail using a stencil in the shape of an acorn. Aww. The image is as heart-warming as the spicy, frothy, not-too sweet libation.
As with all her drinks, the challenge with this one, Chersevani says, is “keeping it light, so you can eat it with fish” from the restaurant’s surf-centric menu. Mission accomplished — and bonus points for a brew that tastes just as good chilled as warmed. STORY HERE
The Washington City Paper, by Jessica Sidman
The hottest battle of NIMBYs vs. businesses this year came down to six Dupont Circle residents and 20 patio seats at Hank’s Oyster Bar. Alcohol Beverage Control investigators forced the restaurant to shut part of its patio amid a dispute over the termination of its voluntary agreement with neighbors. Chef/owner Jamie Leeds’ resulting crusade for liquor-law reform fueled debate over how much power small groups should have over the operations of nearby restaurants and bars.
Hank’s initially sought to eliminate its voluntary agreement, which limited hours and expansion, in 2010, so it could build into the space next door. Liquor authorities and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission agreed. But a group of six neighbors believed the liquor board acted illegally in terminating it. They took the case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision. So a liquor board investigator forced the restaurant to close its patio the evening before the Capital Pride Parade, one of its busiest days of the year.
But Leeds fought back. She posted an open letter on the restaurant’s website, calling on supporters to contact the D.C. Council. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, which rarely backs an individual restaurant’s case, also asked local legislators to take a closer look at the rules governing protests against liquor licenses. Three months later, authorities reaffirmed the termination of the voluntary agreement, allowing Hank’s to have its full patio back. And by December, the Council was voting on liquor-law reform proposals. STORY HERE
Hank’s Oyster Bar is pleased to share the following “Action Alert” email distributed by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) yesterday, advising members to Sign+Send a message supporting ABC regulatory reform at the http://DCHospitality.org online petition site. READ FULL EMAIL HERE
THE HILL By Suzanne Struglinski – 11/14/12 07:13 PM ET
Take one of the area’s favorite seafood places and pair it with a notable mixologist, and the result is Capitol Hill’s combination restaurant-bar Hank’s on the Hill and the Eddy Bar.
Earlier this year Chef Jamie Leeds opened a third Hank’s outpost, this one also aimed at satisfying seafood cravings, but she added a twist by teaming up with mixologist Gina Chersevani. Chersevani developed cocktail service at the 20-seat Eddy Bar inside the long, narrow space, which is just steps from the Eastern Market Metro station.
From the raw bar to the regular bar, Leeds and Chersevani turn out simple yet delicious dishes and drinks.
Of course, oysters get the top billing here, but that doesn’t mean every diner is ready to slurp down a plate full of the shellfish. It seems that there are distinct categories of oyster eaters: the connoisseur, who dives right in, needing no accoutrement; the hesitant-but-daring, who, with a splash of lemon, will try anything at least once; and the I-tried-them-once-and-won’t-try-them-again crowd. Leeds, who describes her menu as “urban beach food,” caters to them all. READ MORE
Best Chef: Jamie Leeds: Hank’s Oyster Bar
Jamie Leeds has been having a good couple of months — opening Hank’s on the Hill, winning her fight to expand her patio in Dupont and winning Best Chef. Hank’s Oyster Bar came to fruition in the spring of 2005. In 2007, she opened a second Hank’s in Old Town Alexandria. This year, Leeds expanded the Alexandria location and opened a third Hank’s on the Hill. Leeds, a lesbian, says opening Hank’s on the Hill while expanding the Alexandria location is her “most exciting accomplishment.”
It is hard to dispute this honor if you have ever had the fried oysters at Hank’s, one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. Leeds serves up fresh and delicious seafood every day at all of her locations, making this a well-deserved honor. (JH) READ FULL STORY
Thank you for voting us The Best LGBT-Owned Business and Best Chef for Jamie Leeds! What a wonderful honor!
By Team Express Posted on October 18, 2012
Seafood: Hank’s Oyster Bar
If we had any doubts about the legitimacy of the “urban beach food” genre, Hank’s Oyster Bar put them to rest long ago. Chef-owner Jamie Leeds packs her three locations with standout seafood dishes. Raw oysters on the half-shell are a must-order, as are the fried oysters (and other fried seafood specialties, for that matter). Fish entrees rotate seasonally, and you can count on some regular meat and veggie options if you’re not a piscivore. The newest incarnation of Hank’s, which opened on Capitol Hill over the summer, is home to cocktail guru Gina Chersevani’s Eddy Bar. K.A. Read full article
1st: Hank’s Oyster Bar, multiple locations.
Snack with your soda? The Union Market bar will serve both traditional and newfangled doughy treats.
By Jessica Voelker
One more thing to look forward to when Gina Chersevani’s Buffalo & Bergen makes its debut in Union Market: knishes. Chersevani’s business partner, chef Jamie Leeds—the two women also run Hank’s on the Hill together—has created a menu of knishes both traditional and original to pair with the homemade sodas and other tasty beverages on offer.
Chersevani says she and Leeds have wanted to do a knish concept for a while now but didn’t have a good venue for it until the soda fountain idea was born. “A soda fountain and knishes—what two more New York and Jewish things are there?” says the former PS 7’s bartender. Each of the revolving flavors will come with its own dipping sauce—there’s a noodle-filled Thai knish with chili soy sauce and a bacon, potato, and cheese knish with sour-cream-and-chive sauce. A breakfast knish is filled with cheese grits and egg, while the Indian knish is like a less-dry version of a samosa, says Chersevani, who adds that Leeds is currently working on a Chinese turnover as well. Buffalo & Bergen will stock five flavors at a time, and among them always will be a classic knish made with potato and sweet onion. READ FULL STORY