If you were to consult the hipster’s guide to the galaxy, you’d find natural wine, Japanese booze, and seasonal cooking. These are the three trendy themes for Crane & Turtle’s “Passion Project Pop-Up Week,” which follows its last dinner service on April 23. The upscale Petworth restaurant closed because head chef Makoto Hamamura and pastry chef Katy Kinch are leaving for New York.
Since opening in June 2014, the small restaurant became known for hosting quirky pop-ups and theme dinners, so what better way to shut it down? “We knew we were closing with several months notice, so we talked a little about what we wanted to do to mark that occasion,” says owner Paul Ruppert. “Through a series of conversations, it became clear people here are interested in doing something in the future on their own, so we’re letting them take a week and operate the restaurant how they foresee their future projects going.”
Tuesday, April 26 and Friday, April 29 will give Crane & Turtle sous chef Kyle Rubin a chance to show D.C. his food. Expect a prix fixe meal (with optional wine pairings) that showcases spring ingredients. The menu for his pop-up, Mona Moon, includes blue crab with sorrel and Amish butter; chicken liver with fresh peanuts and rhubarb; and rockfish with oyster and lettuce purée. Dinner costs $75 with tax and tip ($35 for wine pairings), and reservations are required.
Those seeking wine with more personality than pinot grigio can attend Guillaume Bouscavel and Angelina Dirina’s natural wine bar pop-up on Wednesday, April 27. They’ll serve six Italian natural wines that aren’t otherwise available in D.C. Bouscavel admits natural wine is a broad term, but explains, “it’s wine with minimal intervention, less chemicals, so the grapes can really express themselves.”
The wines include a biodynamic sparkling red from the Dolomites—mountains in Northeast Italy—that Bouscavel calls “the original lambrusco;” a Tuscan white produced by a group of small families; and rosé made from the Ormeasco grape grown in the mountains of Liguria. “They’re all very small vineyards and producers that are family-owned—when you go to visit them, you can see their passion in the quality of the wines.”
Bouscavel, who served as assistant wine director at Crane & Turtle, says they’ll pour a flight of six, 3 oz. pours for $35. The wines will also be available by the glass, and no reservations are required.
Finally, the Bar Otsukare duo of Jesse Selvagn and Eddie Kim are back with a sake pop-up they’re calling “Sake Akachōchin,” after the red lanterns that flank bar entrances in Japan. They’re shooting for a casual, party vibe as part of their goal to make sake more approachable on April 30 and May 1. They’ll focus on the unpasteurized variety of sake called nama sake, which is popular in the spring. “Be on the lookout for those super fresh, lively, vivacious sakes, it’s as close as you can get from drinking straight from the tanks,” Selvagn says.
They’ll pour 25 sakes by the glass and serve cheese bento boxes in an atmosphere they hope matches small sake bars in Tokyo or New York. Both evenings run from 5 p.m. to close and no reservations are required. When asked about when Washingtonians might encounter another Bar Otsukare pop-up, Selvagn says, “We hope to continue to have events like this while waiting to get the bar open permanently.”
Meanwhile, ANXO Cidery & Pinxtos Bar will take over the Crane & Turtle space for a pop-up from May 4 to 15. After that, the restaurant will serve as a temporary home for another concept through the summer, according to Ruppert. “In the fall is when we’re going to do our permanent thing—but we’re not close to deciding what that will be,” he says.
Photo by Jessica Sidman