July 10, 2013
Capital Dime preview impresses with concept, execution

IMG_0333.JPGBy Janelle Bitker

Capital Dime is looking promising after a preview event on Wednesday night.

The hotly anticipated restaurant comes from proprietor Noah Zonca, previously of The Kitchen fame. The goal? Make the farm-to-fork movement accessible - and affordable - to a wide audience. Zonca wants it to be a neighborhood restaurant, and the vibe is formal enough for business luncheons without being stiff. Better yet, most of the menu is around $10.

"It's been difficult to pull off," Zonca said. "I can tell you that it's taken 20 plus years of building relationships with my purveyors to be able to get these price points."

Zonca wanted to open a couple weeks ago, but he's still waiting on his liquor license. Once it's in hand, The Dime is ready for business.

Here are some highlights: The Dime will have a wine program with bottles under $50, with some promised to be in the $20 range. Zonca's favorite item on the menu is the pastrami, cured and smoked in house. There will be brunch featuring three different benedicts - a traditional, a country-style on biscuits and a benedict with applewood-smoked and braised pork. At the preview, the pork was served as an appetizer with crème fraîche, and it was smoky and sweet.

"I explain it as the food that chefs eat," he said. "It's going to be fun. I'm excited."

On the farm-to-fork topic, Zonca is working with Delta Island Organic Farm and is hoping to set up a cattle ranch for true grass-fed beef. And behind the bar is Rene Dominguez, formerly of Ella Dining Room & Bar and inventor of the prized White Linen cocktail.

Dominguez was serving up two cocktails on Wednesday - a black Manhattan, with amaro instead of vermouth, and the "Boxers and Bobbysocks," with gin, bitters, muddled cherries and rosemary. It was piney and refreshing.

Food-wise, we were served artichoke dip on crostini, which packed a nice, subtle heat, alongside a sampling of pulled pork, as mentioned above. Then there was a tangy watermelon salad, with shrimp, squash blossoms, fresh mozzarella, salty Bonita flakes and fish sauce, all on a tea leaf. That was followed by a bold pastrami slider alongside fries, which while tasty, did get soggy quickly under melted cheese.

The meal ended with a simple, soft chocolate-chip cookie. Zonca said he won't have a separate dessert menu, and at this point, there's no pastry chef.

Come down to The Dime on July 14 for the Bastille Day celebration. If the liquor license is attained in time, they'll be serving cocktails on their impressive back patio. And check out the video below to hear from Zonca himself, see the space and eye some dishes.

Capital Dime: 1801 L St., Suite 50

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