April 12, 2021

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Simply The Best Food

How One of D.C.’s Coziest Italian Dining establishments Thrives Without having Allowing Persons Inside of

On a Zoom call, Mike Friedman seems to be each little bit a chef with his limited-sleeved whites, black beanie, and a neatly trimmed beard that frames a regular smile. But almost a calendar year into the novel coronavirus crisis, the driving power powering the Crimson Hen seems additional like the inventive director at an advert agency when he points out how the Bloomingdale neighborhood fixture acknowledged for its warm support, wooden-burning grill, and loaded Italian tiny plates has managed to chug along in spite of trying to keep its eating area shut for the past 10 months.

“My job variety of morphed into much more of this: society, content, and inventive,” Friedman claims. “I get in touch with it the three Cs.”

While D.C. authorized indoor dining at a confined ability from late June right up until a late December pause — a ban that will continue to be through at least January 21 — Friedman states he and his associates at the Pink Hen and two All-Function pizzerias by no means felt relaxed bringing visitors back inside. Apart from AP’s riverfront locale in Navy Lawn, none of his places to eat could accommodate outdoor eating. By the time Pink Hen experienced an prospect to add a streetside patio, the cafe had set up plenty of of a takeout and shipping organization that Friedman states it created improved economic perception to adhere to the new small business design than invest in features like heaters, tents, and wind barriers.

Whilst the Red Hen exerted small energy on takeout before the pandemic, Friedman says he’s kept his neighborhood regulars coming again by working through a collection of pop-ups themed close to different locations of Italy. Just about every time there is a new menu, the Red Hen has new dishes to splash throughout its social media pages and flag to customers on its e-mail distribution record.

Garganelli pasta in a duck ragu comprehensive of crimson wine, prosciutto, rosemary, and bread crumbs from the Purple Hen’s Tuscan pop-up.
The Crimson Hen [official]

An “Island Summer” featuring fregola pasta, anchovies, and lots of citrus to depict Sicily and Sardinia led to a “Friuli Regatta” in the slide, when focusing on the northeastern Friuli-Venezia Giulia region that borders Slovenia pushed the restaurant to deliver on additional pores and skin-contact wines. A winter Après ski menu designed close to northern alpine areas of Piedmont, Lombardy, Alto Adige and the Valle d’Aosta has arrive and gone. Beginning Thursday, January 14, the Red Hen will start off offering food items and wine with an “Under the Tuscan Sun” topic.

“Let’s hold supplying them new and thrilling issues,” Friedman suggests, pointing to the accomplishment of a current hen Parm rollout at All-Function.

Through each individual pop-up, the cafe maintains a menu of “Red Hen” classics like whipped ricotta crostini, rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu, and a cacio e pepe bucatini that applied to be an off-menu exclusive.

For each and every new slate of pop-up dishes, Friedman acknowledges he has to make some concessions for takeout and shipping. For instance, he would have cherished to promote Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a hulking Tuscan T-bone, but he was worried about how it would vacation and how a great deal he would have to charge. Rather, Red Hen is offering a braised and grilled brief rib ($28) that delivers the similar flavors with a garlic-rosemary butter and fried fingerling potatoes tossed in lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Other highlights of the Tuscan menu include a cylindrical garganelli pasta in a duck ragu comprehensive of pink wine, prosciutto, rosemary, and bread crumbs. Tuscan chicken liver mousse with fig conserva is a riff on a Crimson Hen staple. By including a caramelized scallop dish with polenta, toasted pine nuts, and salsa verde, Friedman is supporting one of his beloved purveyors, Nancy Wynne of Morningstar Seafood off the islands of Maine. For dessert, Red Hen has continued to play with different flavors of gelato, most a short while ago incorporating a mint chip to the blend.

A braised and grilled short rib with fried fingerling potatoes is part of a new Tuscan pop-up at the Red Hen

A braised and grilled small rib with fried fingerling potatoes is portion of a new Tuscan pop-up at the Crimson Hen.
The Pink Hen [official]

Friedman, who beforehand concentrated on Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisines for José Andrés at Zaytinya, states he’s also toying with a departure from Italian pop-ups entirely. A “Red Hen Bon Voyage” sequence could provide a takeout trip by France, Lebanon, Greece, or Spain. Whilst his cooking is comprehensive of soul, blending his Jewish upbringing with the Southern Italian food items he appreciated as a kid in New York and New Jersey, he’s normally tinkering with new suggestions driven by the potential to attract digital “likes.”

“I don’t have dining establishments any more I have websites,” he says. “I need to build traction on these internet sites, so I generate articles.”