model for the Red Hen wasn’t one restaurant, but rather the amalgam of places
that Mike Friedman says he had the good fortune to eat in as a younger chef: ZuniCafein
San Francisco, Lucques in Los Angeles, River Cafe in London — “all owned by
women,” he points out. The only question I had after my most recent meal in
Bloomingdale was why it had been so long between visits. Red Hen is the ideal neighborhood community center, after all,
dressed with a welcoming bar, lit as with honey in mind and warmed by a
wood-stoked oven that does wonderful things to chicken, among other dishes.
Toast with Sicilian anchovies, radishes and sweet butter is a blissful Act 1.
Follow it with some pasta, maybe mafalde with melted leeks, wild mushrooms and
a carpet of herby bread crumbs. Reservations are hard to come by. The good
news: Friedman says he keeps up to 40 percent of his tables for walk-ins and
reminds us that the 18-seat bar is first come, first served.
1822 First St. NW. 202-525-3021. Pastas and main courses, $18 to $29.