All photos Laura Hayes
All photos Laura Hayes

Don’t be afraid to write on the bar at Maxwell Park. The wine bar opening Monday night in Shaw supplies customers with chalk while they drink. “It’s an ode to the whole playground thing,” says owner and sommelier Brent Kroll. “Wine can be pretentious, but this is meant to be fun.” He’s referring to a playground that shares its name with the bar located in Detroit where he grew up. 

The chalkboard-top bar is one of several playful design touches. Checks are presented in wine ratings books, and there are three side-by-side drawings featuring strings of grapes that take on characters from The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. The 33-seat wine bar also has a dramatic glass display and an antique fireplace. A patio seats an additional 20 people.

Kroll and his team of Daniel Runnerstrom and Niki Lang will pour 50 wines by the glass, about half of which will rotate based on monthly themes. What differentiates Maxwell Park from other wine bars is that it offers four different refrigeration temperature zones, allowing each wine to be stored optimally, according to Kroll, who earned his chops leading wine programs at Iron Gate Restaurant, Adour, and Ardeo + Bardeo.

There will also be bottled cocktails and sour beers. 

The food menu comes from consulting chef Tony Conte of Maryland’s Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana. Kroll worked with Conte at The Oval Room. Bites include shaved cured meats, burrata, and beef tartare.

Maxwell Park is a collaboration with Fat Baby, Inc., the restaurant group behind Proof, Estadio, Doi Moi, and 2 Birds 1 Stone. Max Kuller, the company’s president, is Kroll’s longtime friend and now business partner. 

Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis at Maxwell Park, which is open Sunday-Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Friday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Maxwell Park,1336 9th St. NW;