City Paper is not for tourists
The space formerly occupied by The Black Squirrel on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan is opening Friday as Seasons & Sessions, a 3,000-square-foot triple concept featuring a live music venue in the basement, gastropub on the main floor, and an arcade upstairs.
The 60-seat restaurant and bar, Seasons, is the only physical reminder of The Black Squirrel in the space. Executive chef Moe Atari will put out elevated Americana bar food with Southern foundations. Dishes include shrimp and grits, duck wings with smoked mumbo sauce, buttermilk fried chicken, skillet cornbread with maple butter, and a house-ground burger served on a croissant bun. For dessert, there will be seasonally inspired pies and a stout beer float.
Seasons will be open for dinner, and pre-fixe brunch for $34.99 on the weekends, with the option to add bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for $16. Sunday brunch will fold in a drag brunch component. See both menus below.
Craft beer remains the focus of the bar. On all three floors, there will be 40 offerings on tap with the selections rotating daily, as well as some easy going canned options, like Natty Boh. Other highlights include Prosecco on draft, a selection of Scotch, and Japanese whisky.
The subterranean venue, Sessions, has room for 80 concertgoers. Owner AJ Fastow plans on booking a wide variety of artists from big brass New Orleans jazz ensembles and alternative rockers to low-key acoustic performers and punk acts. There’s a small stage for a drum set with an open space for the rest of the performers. “It’s very visceral having the band in with the crowd,” says Fastow.
Wrapping around half the room is a giant mural of some of Fastow’s favorite D.C. scenes, including the drum circle at Malcolm X Park, the Aqueduct Bridge joining Georgetown and Rosslyn, Freedom Plaza, and Fugazi performing at Fort Reno.
S&S Arcade is on the top floor, which had previously been an underutilized private party room. Now it houses a virtual pinball machine, which is the first of its kind in D.C. It has a 3D monitor in place of the usual mechanized playing area. Players can choose between more than 75 pinball games. Look for classics like Medieval Madness and Fish Tales, and modern games with Star Wars and Marvel themes. Also find “muticade” systems loaded with hundreds of games from Atari, Sega, and Nintendo. “The room is the whole gauntlet of childhood fun,” says Fastow.
Fastow and a silent partner purchased the The Black Squirrel in April 2017. The goal was always to re-concept the business, but Fastow wanted to first get a sense of the neighborhood. “I had never been on that business before, so it was helpful to get to know the ropes before we started to tear down the ceilings,” he says. “It was a year in the grind, but a lot was learned.”
Fastow mulled a number of concepts for the space, including a boxing-themed concept called Underdog and Uppercut, “but that seemed too abrasive.”
He ultimately decided the business needed to focus on great food and entertainment, which lead him to develop Seasons & Sessions. He shuttered the Black Squirrel at the end of July. (A second location of the business under separate ownership is still open in Dunn Loring, Virginia).
Throughout the process, Fastow, a D.C. native, pulled in various childhood friends to help with the renovation and reopening. “I hope that love is apparent to the people who walk in,” he says.
Seasons & Sessions, 2427 18th St. NW; 202-232-1011; seasonsandsessions.com