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There’s no food menu at The Dabney Cellar—the underground bar beneath The Dabney that’s now open for business in Blagden Alley. Instead, Chef Jeremiah Langhorne writes the evening’s offerings on a chalkboard because what they serve changes so frequently. Unlike upstairs where he cooks almost everything over an open fire, there’s considerably less for Langhorne and his team to do in the cellar by design.
“Upstairs is so much about what we do to the food and what we do as chefs,” Langhorne says. “Downstairs, we want to really showcase things that come from great producers and purveyors.” Instead of sautéing or broiling, they’re slicing and shucking.
Customers can order oysters and other raw bar staples, salads, snacks, country hams, and cheeses. Langhorne says not to miss a side-by-side comparison of mild and sweet White Stone oysters from Virginia and brinier Cape May Salts from New Jersey ($3 each).
The chef came to D.C. by way of Charleston, hence the menu of country hams, including Edwards Wigwam Country Ham that ages for at least 270 days and a prosciutto-like ham from Tennessee’s The Hamery playfully named “Tennshootoe.”
Drinkwise, The Dabney Cellar celebrates wine as much as it celebrates food. Wine pro Alex Zink has put together a list of 30 wines by the glass. “With the raw bar, cheese, country ham, and local snacks, we’re focusing on wines that are pretty bright and fun.” He jokes that some of them are “cheap and cheerful.”
Zink plays favorites—several selections come from the Loire Valley—but overall keeps things light. He’s hoping guests will try three to four glasses throughout their visit. Unintentionally, about 90 percent of the list consists of natural wines. Draft beer, cider, and cocktails are also available.
The cellar seats about 30 people with additional standing room and it’s open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
The Dabney Cellar, 1222 9th St. NW; facebook.com/TheDabneyCellar