Monday, May 16, 2016

Bloomingdale Buzz: Bloomingdale Beautification Day, ANXO Cidery & Pinxtos Bar, Old Engine 12

See the latest Bloomingdale Buzz column (May 2016) from Ellen Boomer:

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Thanks to nearly 50 community members who braved the rain to participate in this year’s Bloomingdale Beautification Day, the neighborhood is blossoming. The annual event, sponsored by the Bloomingdale Civic Association (BCA) and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 5E, helps turn neighbors into friends. “We are in a neighborhood that’s still changing and evolving,” said Teri Janine Quinn, ANC 5E06 commissioner and president of the BCA. “This is the kind of event where you’ll get people together from different backgrounds, working toward a common goal and sharing experiences. It’s a way to build a sense of community.”

With Bloomingdale resident Chris Rodousakis organizing the event, the volunteers beautified neighborhood tree boxes by planting rose bushes, junipers, andliriope, a grass-like ground cover.

“It provides an opportunity for all residents – newcomers and long-term residents, elders and youth, homeowners and business owners – to meet each other and collaboratively engage in an activity that visibly benefits the community,” shared Bertha Holliday, ANC 5E07 commissioner and second vice president of the BCA. Remarked Quinn, “It’s a great time to mix a little bit of work with a lot of fun.”

The event, which Bloomingdale has had for more than 25 years, was capped off with a party at Bacio’s Pizzeria. “The pizza and wine provided to us by Bacio's Pizzeria were the perfect addition to a sunny afternoon, when two dozen of us took a break from digging, planting, and building tree boxes to enjoy each other's company,” said Horacio Sierra, BCA’s recording secretary. He added, “It was a great opportunity for neighbors from the north and south side of Bloomingdale to meet one another and reflect on how far the neighborhood has come since the turn of the century.”

Looking ahead, the BCA will have a Town Hall Forum on Saturday, May 21, that will feature multimedia interactive presentations, neighborhood discussions, and vetting of the public space improvements proposed by BCA's Bloomingdale Village Square Project.

Contact the Bloomingdale Civic Association at or email

Basque-ing in Bloomingdale

ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar is coming to Bloomingdale this spring and is throwing pre-opening events all over town. This long-awaited venture will pair Basque cuisine with traditional cider making to revitalize the Midatlantic’s historic libation.

Cider has been popular since colonial times when early settlers drank it as nourishment and as a safer alternative to water. The ANXO team is capitalizing on this tradition by using heirloom apple varieties local to this region to make some of its own cider, but will offer a variety from around the world. In addition to more than 20 ciders on draft, ANXO will have 20 draft lines dedicated to beer and cocktails as well as a selection of wines from the Basque country and surrounding areas.

To pair with the ciders, ANXO will offer pintxos, which are small bites made to be eaten with cider. The menu will include heartier dishes, as well, that are typical to a Basque cider house, a tradition that executive chef Alex Vallcorba knows well. “I'm from Spain, and I grew up with this food,” Vallcorba said. “I love the simplicity of the plating – three or four ingredients in one dish that speaks for itself … I want people to have an experience. Even if you haven't been to Basque country or Spain, you should feel like these flavors are true to that experience.”

For 10 days in May, ANXO is taking over Petworth’s Crane & Turtle so diners can get a taste of what’s coming to Bloomingdale, including dishes such as stuffed squid on a bed of ink sauce with sherry-vinegar caramelized onions, and cod fritters with vizcaĆ­na sauce. ANXO will also be at Colony Club on May 22.

“The restaurant is family,” Vallcorba said. “It's about bringing people together. Yes, the cider and food are important. But I want people to come to ANXO … and give them that experience, so that they want to come back. They're in a restaurant, but they're also in our home.” The team behind ANXO includes chef Vallcorba, general manager Sam Fitz, managing partner Rachel Fitz, beverage director Tim Prendergast, and bar manager Cooper Sheehan.

Visit ANXO Cidery & Pintxos at 300 Florida Ave. NW or at

Engine, Engine Number 12

Old Engine 12 has been a beacon on North Capitol for more than 100 years. With a diverse menu of delicious dishes and entertaining events, this firehouse-turned-restaurant is continuing its tradition of serving the community.

Designed by architect Snowden Ashford and constructed in 1895, the building was the home of Engine Company 12 for nearly a century. Owned by Historic Restaurants Inc., the firehouse underwent two years and millions of dollars’ worth of renovations but retains the original exposed brick, floors, ceilings, and pine stairways. “Our hope was (and is) to somewhat enshrine the building, which is rich in history and memorable experiences for generations of DC firefighters and the Bloomingdale community,” explained Jessey Drewsen, director of events at Old Engine 12.

Black-and-white photos of the building as a firehouse line the brick walls, a pair of fireman’s boots sit perched in a window, and the original brass fireman’s pole is still in place. The three-story building includes an event space and bar on the second floor where the restaurant hosts private functions, Tuesday trivia nights, and various bands, including neighborhood favorite Granny & the Boys.

Executive chef Peter Prime has created a menu that will please any palate. Standouts include the spring chicken and cornbread jalapeno waffles with smoked cheddar and kampot pepper, brisket served with a brown butter mash, smoked cheddar mac’n’cheese, and open oven pizzas. Drinks feature the signature Old Engine 12, with Redemption Rye, St. Germain, and lemon, and, as an homage to the history of the building, the Hydrant #12, which has mint, cucumber, simple syrup, lime, lemonade, and Langley’s Gin.

Old Engine 12 is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch and offers permanent discounts to DC firefighters. Looking ahead, the restaurant will host a patio party and menu tasting, a brunch expo for the Bloomingdale Civic Association, and on May 21 a Firefly Music Festival Preview Party that will include a silent disco, games, prizes, ticket giveaways, and food and beverage tastings.

Visit Old Engine 12 Restaurant at 1626 North Capitol St. NW, at, or call 202-299-9128.

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