Small touches, from quirky themes and a robust by-the-glass selection to a chalkboard bar top for doodling, contribute to Maxwell Park’s laid back vibe. The bar is named after a Detroit-area park Kroll frequented as a child.
Who’s Behind The Bar
Kroll, who was named “Sommelier of the Year” in 2018 by Food & Wine, previously oversaw the wine programs at 16 Neighborhood Restaurant Group projects, including Iron Gate, where he delved deep into Greek wine. It was at Iron Gate that Kroll connected with Daniel Runnerstrom, who is now a sommelier and partner at both Maxwell Parks along with Niki Lang.
Runnerstrom will head up operations in Shaw while Lang will lead the show in Navy Yard. Lang’s resume includes stints at Fiola Mare and Voltaggio Brothers Steak House. Kroll will split his time between both locations.
What You’re Drinking
Maxwell Park differentiates itself from other wine bars by serving wine at five optimal temperatures, which are displayed on the menu. “You don’t serve red wine at room temperature off of a shelf,” Kroll says, bucking conventional wisdom. “You don’t serve white at refrigerator temperature either.”
The 50 wines by the glass are a mix of familiar and rare selections. Unlike in Shaw, where a new theme kicks off on the first of every month, there will be specialized categories of wines that rotate on a rolling basis. The opening menu, for example, showcases merlots in a cheeky attempt to buck the bad reputation the grape gained in the ultimate wine snob film, Sideways.
A handful of cocktails will be available along with a selection of sour and funky beers that share similar characteristics with wine. See the drink menu below.
What You’re Eating
Even though the concepts are distinct from one another, Maxwell Park is the sister wine bar to next door restaurant Albi from Chef Michael Lee Rafidi. The modern Middle Eastern restaurant opened earlier this month. Rafidi created a menu of wine-friendly food for Maxwell Park, including cheese, charcuterie, truffled grilled cheese, crab lettuce wraps, and steak tartare. Before opening Albi, Rafidi led the kitchens at Arroz and Requin. See the food menu below.
How It Looks
Navy Yard’s Maxwell Park is about the same size as the one in Shaw, with 46 seats, and you can get to the wine bar from Albi without going outside. Kroll prefers small wine bars and was inspired by spots in New York where a petit wine bar was coupled with a neighboring restaurant, such as Casa Mono and Bar Jamón.
The Navy Yard location, designed by GROUPO7, has a modern feel to match the waterfront neighborhood’s trendy vibe. While Kroll was touring wine regions around the world and meeting winemakers he collected soil samples that now hang on the walls.
When It’s Open
Visit Maxwell Park from 4 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.
Where It’s Located
Maxwell Park, 1346 4th St. SE; maxwellparkdc.com