Photo of jelly tomato salad by Jennifer Chase

To understand the creativity and complexity of the menu at Seven Reasons, opening April 16, consider Chef Enrique Limardo‘s vegan jelly tomato salad. He uses five varieties of tomatoes and cooks them sous vide for 18 hours with lemongrass, basil, parsley, cilantro, and onions.

“Then we massage the bag very gently just to get a smooth puree,” Limardo says. Next he creates a clarified tomato water and transforms it into jelly. The Venezuelan chef plates the tomato jelly with a salad of microgreens, melon, cauliflower chicharron, and smoked carrot. 

Limardo comes to D.C. after earning a bevy of accolades cooking at Baltimore’s Alma Cocina Latina. He also drew up the fast-casual menu for Chicken & Whiskey down the street from his new restaurant, which showcases Latin American cuisine and cocktails in a completely transformed Piola space (2208 14th St. NW). According to Limardo, the number seven symbolizes someone who seeks out new experiences.

“It’s about the experience and the new combinations of flavors,” Limardo says, explaining his vision for Seven Reasons. “That’s how I build my style of food. It has to be something that you don’t expect. You probably think it won’t match, but it’ll be a new connection between your brain and your tongue.” 

He’ll test whether Washingtonians are on board with eating insects, for example. Limardo’s menu (below) opens with a snack section, and the star of that section is a dish from the Venezuelan Amazon. He makes bread out of cassava and serves it with katara, a spice made from chili peppers and ants. The bread is accompanied by a spicy plantain puree. 

Credit: Jennifer Chase

The “Calamari and Yucca Sticks” is another must-order. Limardo was inspired by the bonfires he used to have on the beach in Venezuela and hopes that imagery comes across on the plate. “We soak the yucca root in a black bean stock until it gets very dark so it looks like natural charcoal,” he explains.

The chef sprinkles the yucca with tomato powder for a bright red burst of color that hopefully looks like fire. He constructs the “flame” out of scallop paper. “We brine the scallops with lemon and lime, blend it, spread it out, and dehydrate it for 12 hours,” Limardo continues. “It becomes a really thin paper with a golden color and strong scallop flavor.” 

Another standout dish is the “Duck Magret.” “It’s as if a Mexican person got lost in Dubai or somewhere in the Middle East,” Limardo says. He seasons the duck with sumac and other Middle Eastern spices and slathers the plate in a Mexican-inspired salsa verde. 

Finally, save room for the “Coconut Delirious” dessert. The seven-layer sweet is built to look like the coastline. “It’s for people who love coconut, if not they’re going to hate it,” Limardo says. 

Limardo estimates that the price point is about $65 per person, including a cocktail from bar manager Josue Gonzalez, who comes to Seven Reasons from Bresca and St. Anselm

Seven Reasons will be open for dinner Tuesdays through Thursdays from 5:30 to 11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to midnight; and Sundays from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Reservations are already being accepted on RESY.

Seven Reasons, 2208 14th St. NW; (202) 290-2630; sevenreasonsdc.com