To make the “Cheezus Has Risen,” you flip a seeded bagel inside out, stuff it with double-cream brie, smoked gouda, and cheddar cheeses, and then griddle it until it’s golden brown and melty. The sandwich speaks to what Buffalo & Bergen hopes to bring to Capitol Hill—a retro soda fountain meets New York deli that focuses on the familiar, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and ignores calorie counts.
“You don’t have to think, you know what things are, you can ease up,” says owner Gina Chersevani. She opened the first Buffalo & Bergen in Union Market exactly seven years ago. The new iteration opening Friday at 240 Massachusetts Ave. NE will start by serving breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Chef Adam Miller, formerly of O-Ku, heads the kitchen. Opening menu highlights include year-round latkes dunked in bourbon apple sauce; a half-pastrami, half-corned beef Reuben on a bagel with a runny egg from Eco-Friendly Farm; “Matzo Baller” soup with lemongrass chicken stock and duckfat matzo balls; and an open-faced knish served with a sidecar of melted butter, garlic, and parsley.
Keeping with the New York bent, Beverage Director Frankie Jones and General Manager Amy Hosseinnian drew up a “Big Apple” cocktail menu. Each cocktail features apple as an ingredient. Cocktails are available whenever Buffalo & Bergen is open. Yes, that means 8 a.m.
The “Chinatown to Chinatown” refers to a bus route connecting D.C. and New York and combines Maker’s Mark bourbon, gala apple, ginger, lemon, and Chinese five spice. The fortune cookie garnish is dusted in salt, sugar, five spice, and orange zest. “My inspiration behind a lot of the drinks on the menu is being a D.C. native but also feeling like my spirit city is New York,” Hosseinnian says. “I’ve always felt Buffalo & Bergen was a corner of New York in D.C.”
The darling space with white and mint hues, scalloped edges, and retro wallpaper was inspired by Draper’s design sensibilities. She’s credited with professionalizing the interior design industry when she founded her company in 1923. She favored bold color and floral prints.
Look for the mounted picture of Chersevani’s great-grandfather Tony Fanelli posing at the intersection of Bergen Street and Buffalo Avenue in Brooklyn. You can also spot some relics from the ice company Fanelli owned.
The intimate space seats 27 inside and 20 outside in warmer months. Chersevani expects to do a booming grab-and-go business.
Buffalo & Bergen, 240 Massachusetts Ave. NE; buffalobergendc.com