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There’s that word again, the one restaurateurs can’t seem to get enough of: whimsy. This time, it’s being used to describe H Street NE’s new Mythology Restaurant & Lore Lounge—as in, “fine dining with a healthy dose of whimsy.”
The newcomer, from first-time restaurant owner Todd Luongo, is outfitted in jewel tones and cloud lights that glow different colors like a Lite-Bright toy. The name takes its inspiration fromD.C.’s Atlas District. Atlas, after all, is a Greek god: one of the Titans and the god of astronomy and navigation. He’s often depicted holding up the whole sky with chiseled arms.
Doesn’t this set up make you want to chow down on sushi salad? That’s one of the dishes on the “nouveaux American” menu, which is a term that gives chefs magical powers to serve a mix-tape of cuisines. Other starters ($12–$16) include Pop-Tart impersonating “Puff Tarts” (whimsy, remember?) and “True Blue Crab Toast” with shrimp mousse, lump crab, and brioche. Entrees ($18–$29) include both “I’ll Have the Steak,” a char-grilled sirloin, and “But I’m a Vegetarian,” with curried chickpea ragout, stewed eggplant, and lemon yogurt.
Another major component of the menu is a section dedicated to frites. There are 12 flavors, each organized into either a “dusted” and a “smothered” category. Highlights include sushi-flavored frites with togarashi aioli; Bloody Mary frites with creamy horseradish; and bulgogi frites with grilled beef, kimchi, and red chili aioli.
Luongo calls the frites the restaurant’s trademark item. He was inspired by a beer tasting trip he took to Belgium and the Netherlands with friends years ago. “Every time you turn left out of a bar, there’s a frites stand. I fell in love with these things.”
Manning the fryer and the rest of the newly-minted kitchen at Mythology Restaurant is Chef Joseph Harran. His local culinary resume includes stops at Kinkead’s, Vidalia, Bistro Bis, and Woodward Table. Harran’s food is to be paired with a drink menu that features twelve cocktails, or “Mythical Libations,” like the “The Watcher” with bourbon, coconut water, sage syrup, and bitters, plus a small beer list boasting everything from Brooklyn Lager to Hitachino Nest White Ale.
Luongo says he hopes his restaurant and lounge bridges the gap between being a neighborhood restaurant and a dining destination. “We’re representing the next generation of what’s opening on H Street with Whole Foods and the Apollo project going in,” he explains. “We love what’s on H Street currently, and what’s been going on there the last 15 years, but it doesn’t help to come in and do more of the same.”
Mythology Restaurant & Lore Lounge is far from “more of the same.” Even with H Street’s faux country club, gargantuan slices of pie, and church-themed bar (complete with a confessional booth), Mythology Restaurant & Lore Lounge just might be the most over-the-top concept to debut. The 50-seat restaurant sits on the first floor of the row house (816 H Street NE), while Lore Lounge will be on the second floor when it opens in a few weeks. In the spring, an indoor/outdoor roof deck will open.
Mythology Restaurant is currently serving dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 5:30 to 10:30 Fridays and Saturdays. Within the next few weeks they hope to serve brunch and be open seven days a week. Reservations are accepted through RESY.
Mythology Restaurant & Lore Lounge, 816 H St. NE; (202) 847-0098; mythology-lore.com