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Radiator is the latest bar to indulge Washingtonians’ Peter Pan syndrome with “life-sized” Connect Four, Jenga, and ice cream sundaes. The Kimpton restaurant, attached to the new Mason & Rook Hotel, opens in Logan Circle on April 28.
The global menu from former Ardeo + Bardeo chef Jonathan Dearden is wide-spanning enough to give away the restaurant’s hotel affiliation but trendy enough to check all the boxes in hipster restaurant bingo: Bacon fat fries! Kimchi pickles! Lamb belly tacos!
The dinner offerings are divided with cutesy titles like “food in hand” and “fork in hand,” the latter of which includes dishes like short rib tartare with egg yolk emulsion, sea bean, chimichurri, and crispy onions as well as gnocchi with lollipop kale, beech mushrooms, truffle pecorino, and arugula pesto.
For dessert, wannabe kids can build their own ice cream sundaes or opt for “Chef’s ‘Naptime’ Sundae,” which includes, among other things, a shot of whiskey and bacon fat powder. Actual kids get non-alcoholic, one scoop sundaes with any of the kids menu items (chicken fingers, grilled cheese, anchovy-less caesar salad).
The only thing infantilizing about the cocktail list ($12 to $14) is that one Scotch-based drink is named “Big Boy Pants.” Other concoctions from bartender Sarah Rosner, formerly of Copycat Co., include a Hawaiian riff on a gin rickey with sour li hing powder and the intriguing sounding “Ricotta Situation” that actually includes ricotta along with Mahia Fig Spirit, lemon, raw honey, and vanilla.
When the weather is nice, guests can take advantage of Radiator’s 50-seat patio with a shuffleboard court and fire pit. The bar, outfitted in wood and leather inside, also has games like backgammon and chess in addition to that giant Connect Four and Jenga. It also has a vague auto theme, a nod to the car dealerships and auto repair shops that dominated the neighborhood in the mid-1900s. (Themeless restaurants seem to be an oddity these days.) Vintage car parts are incorporated into the decor, but don’t worry, it doesn’t look anything like an eight-year-old’s Hot Wheels-filled bedroom.
Radiator, 1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW, (202) 742-3150, radiatordc.com
Photo courtesy Radiator