Monday, November 15, 2010

two reviews of Bloomingdale`s Rustik Tavern

a) From the Washington City Paper Young & Hungry column

Rustik Tavern’s Unusual Take on Neighborhood Grub
Posted by Tim Carman on Nov. 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

b) From the MidCityDC November 2010 issue, Bloomingdale Bytes page

Rustik, Finally:Present And Future
By Amanda Abrams

I know, the opening of Bloomingdale`s first sit-down restaurant, Rustik, is practically old news by now; the place first opened its doors in late September. But how can I claim to be a true neighborhood correspondent without mentioning the new establishment? Plus, I was personally curious, so I stopped in on a recent sunny afternoon and chatted with owner Diton Pashaj about how things are going.

Pashaj must`ve taken media lessons from his counterpart Stu Davenport, owner of Big Bear Café, down the street: both are circumsaect and humble to a fault when it comes to talking about their businesses. But Pashaj finally admitted with a smile that things are going well. ``We`re happy,`` he said when I asked if the restaurant is busy. ``I wouldn`t say it`s crowded, but we have business every night.``

Most of the restaurant`s early Glitches have been worked out, and he and chef Seth Brady are starting to brainstorm about moving forward ~ maybe expanding the menu, offering brunch with an Albanian flavor (Pashaj hails from Albania), or hosting special evening events.

For now, though, it`s all up in the air. ``We`ll see what the community wants,`` he said cautiously. I got there around 5 p.m. and things were just getting humming: bartenders were starting to stock the shelves, a couple of cooks were standing by the big wood-fired oven, and manager types were milling around. Of his 15 employees, Pashaj says that 90 percent live in the neighborhood ~ and that includes both him and Brady.

It`s definitely a ``think local`` kind of place. Pashaj is planning on adding a tap for DC Brau, a soon-to-beonline local brewery that`s co-owned by a Bloomingdale resident, and he`s uber-friendly with his neighbors, one of whom breezed in while I was sitting at the bar. ``I love it! I come every chance I get,`` said Karen Cotton, of Rustik. When the kids` learning center she`s developing next door finally opens, she figures the restaurant can serve as a parents` waiting room. If all goes according to plan, though, Rustik won`t be the neighborhood`s only restaurant for long.

Another group of Bloomingdale residents ~ Gareth and Matt Croke, and Colin McDonough ~ are moving forward with plans for Boundary Stone, a restaurant/pub just down the street. They expect the place to open sometime around April, as soon as construction is finished and approvals are in place.

Is Pashaj worried about looming competition? Not at all, he said. ``I can`t wait for Boundary Stone to open. When I`m done working, I want to go drink somewhere that`s not my place.``

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