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For decades, Todd Thrasher pedaled Burgundy and Bordeaux wines to pair with Restaurant Eve‘s five-course tasting menu. That chapter ended earlier this year. “I don’t wear a suit and tie anymore,” he says. “I’m so over that.” More than anything, Thrasher wants to remind the D.C. region that he’s a bartender first, and he yearns for you to have a rum-soaked blast at his forthcoming Tiki TNT distillery and tiki bar at The Wharf. “What I want is for people to go out, get drunk, and eat food. That’s my whole purpose here.”
The multi-floor business that will soon be splashed with coat after coat of pink paint and Polynesian patterns is scheduled to open next month overlooking the Maine Avenue Fish Market portion of the waterfront. Patrons will be able to settle into one of the restaurant’s nooks for an afternoon or evening of sipping rum drinks such as a frozen “Rum in Coke” cocktail served in a hollowed out Coke can and munching on non-fussy Island-inspired bar food.
Thrasher roped Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto, Paper Horse, and two restaurants at The LINE DC Hotel into developing a rotisserie chicken recipe. The oven fits 24 birds, so there will be 48 half-chicken orders per night served with a handful of sauces also from Bruner-Yang.
Bryan Voltaggio, who recently opened a sandwich shop in Santa Monica with his brother Michael Voltaggio, will be responsible for putting a sandwich on the menu, but hasn’t determined yet what it will be. Thrasher’s brother-in-law Jorge Chicas of Hummingbird in Alexandria will also beef up the between-the-bread options. “He does a traditional Salvadoran sandwich with shredded chicken, cabbage, and white bread and everything gets so soggy—it’s delicious,” Thrasher says.
Finally, Thrasher’s pal David Guas will handle dessert. The New Orleans-born chef known best for Bayou Bakery in Arlington will serve pineapple upside down cake, coconut cream pie, and rum buns. The neighborhood has a history of inhaling rum buns. Hogate’s, a 63-year institution whose clock stopped in 2001, was known for the sticky treats. Guas will gussy them up. There will be regular glazed rum buns for kids and “boozy as fuck” glazes that utilize Thrasher’s rum for adults.
Chef Larry Blevins of Society Fair in Alexandria will be the on-site chef that brings everything together and rounds out the roughly 15-item menu divided by portion size from “small” to “husky.” Highlights include pork buns, spam musubi, poke, pork and pineapple flatbread, a burger, and a Fijian dish similar to ceviche known as kokota. There will also be poi—a finicky purple paste made from taro root often served at Hawaiian luaus.
Thrasher isn’t bluffing when he says Tiki TNT is a bar serving bar grub. “I’m not looking for fancy food, I’m looking for good food,” he says. Case in point, he doesn’t think Post critic Tom Sietsema has any business reviewing his finger food. “I joke with people who ask what I’m going to do when Sietsema comes in. I’m going to sit down next to him and make him feel so ungodly uncomfortable and just hang out with him. We’re not a reviewable place. I just want people to come in and have a blast and not take it too seriously. I spent 20 years worrying about reviews. I’m over it.”
Food will be served until 1 a.m. on weeknights (1:30 a.m. for flatbreads) and 2 a.m. on weekends (2:30 a.m. for flatbreads). There will be a standard happy hour early in the evening and a late night happy hour as well. Thrasher is also introducing something special for restaurant and bar industry employees who don’t have myriad options for food when they get off work. Bevin will be making a late night “family meal.”
“If you’re a restaurant employee, you can come in and have a plate of food, a Miller Highlife, and shot of Thrasher’s Rum for $10 if you’re in the restaurant industry,” Thrasher explains. How he’ll determine if anyone is fibbing about their place of employment is anyone’s guess. “We know,” he assures.
Tiki TNT, 1130 Maine Ave. SW; (202)900-4RUM; tikitnt.com