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Keeping up with D.C.’s pop-ups is a bit like playing Whac-A-Mole—when one runs its course, another crops up clamoring for attention. This one is worth bookmarking big time because it’s by Chef Michael Turner formerly of minibar by José Andrés and Daikaya,and his wife Alexandra Bookless Turner, the beloved D.C. bartender who quenched the thirst of a whole generation of young professionals while serving at the original Passenger for five years.
The duo has been on the move. In Oct. 2014 they married and moved back to Alex’s native San Francisco, but they returned to the District before the birth of their baby girl, Juniper. After a break, they’re ready to dip back into the restaurant industry.
Their pop-up, named “June” after their daughter, launches Feb. 9 at Mess Hall. “Being new parents, you’re so obsessed with your child,” Alex says. “So Michael couldn’t think of any better honor than to name the concept after her.”
Michael’s New American menu is a celebration of Mid-Atlantic farmers and watermen and their products. He currently works as the head of research and development for Beefsteak by José Andrés, which is in part how he has built relationships with area farmers.
Meanwhile, Alex works a few shifts at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Union Market, and you’ll see the company’s Olde Salt oysters on June’s menu. She says she’s been friends with Rappahannock owner Travis Croxton for a long time. “We love what they’ve done for the [Chesapeake] Bay and highlighting people like that is important to us,” she says.
Alex will offer a low-alcohol cocktail pairing option, but not because that’s trending right now. “When you do a full cocktail pairing with dinner, these drinks don’t get you too drunk so you can enjoy your drinks and not worry about what happens five cocktails later,” she says. “It’s so much fun to play with vermouth, wine, and sherry.”
The dinner costs $70 per person, and the optional cocktail pairing costs $30. Both menus are below. There will be five June seatings (for 30 people each) across three days: Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.; Friday, Feb.10 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb 11 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Reservations are available here and Mess Hall is located at 703 Edgewood St. NE.
On whether the pop-up is a test lab for a future restaurant, Alex is purposefully vague. “Right now we’re just getting back into the D.C. scene and are happy to get to be creative with our food and drink,” she says.
JUNE FOOD MENU
RAPPAHANNOCK OLDE SALT OYSTER / MEYER LEMON-CELERY-WILD DC GINGER GRANITEE
CHARRED CHICORY / POMELO PITH / CITRUS / BEET / BLACK OLIVE / WALNUT
OIL POACHED BLACK BASS / LEEK / SUNCHOKE / LEMON HONEY / THYME / SAFFRON
CHICKEN / FOIE GRAS SAUCE / CARROT / LOVAGE / CINNAMON
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH APPLE CAKE / TOASTED SOYBEAN / WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE
JUNE DRINK MENU
SPARKLING WINE / LEMON / APPLE/ FENNEL
DRY VERMOUTH / SHERRY / PEAR/CACAO
GAMAY/ SWEET VEMOUTH / TAMARIND
APPLE BRANDY / ORGEAT / MATCHA