City Paper is not for tourists
The latest addition to Shaw’s ever expanding dining scene will be a French wine, charcuterie, and cheese bar called La Jambe. It’s set to open at the corner of 7th and Q streets NW, across from Dacha Beer Garden, sometime early next year.
The bar comes from Anastasia Mori, a Parisian who previously worked as a marketing manager specializing in charcuterie at a French supermarket, and Heather Leonard, a former political fundraiser for Congressional democrats. Leonard hired Mori’s husband as an intern in 2007, but they became friends, and she later went on to marry one of his best friends. Meanwhile, Mori came to D.C. about two years ago to be with her husband, who she met while visiting a friend here.
Mori got the idea for La Jambe after struggling to find the products that she used to buy in France. “I could find some, but very rarely, and the quality was not always at the level that I wanted,” she says. Mori also wanted to create a wine bar in D.C. like those in Paris where she would often go out after work with friends and colleagues. “You get a glass of wine and then you share a board of charcuterie and cheese, as simple as that,” she says. “Not having a huge menu… just what we do, we do it right.”
So, Mori teamed up Leonard to build a bar that would feel authentically French, yet non-intimidating to those who might have trouble pronouncing French words or identifying Burgundy and Bordeaux regions on a map. “As you can tell, I don’t have a French accent. I’m about as American as they come,” says Leonard, who’s originally from Maine. “Sometimes you go to places and they’re like, ‘Oh, you don’t know? You can’t say that? You’ve never been to that area of France before?’ We want it to be something where it’s OK if you haven’t. We want you to enjoy what we enjoy.”
La Jambe will focus exclusively on French wine with a selection from every region. Cheeses will also come exclusively from France. French charcuterie, however, is harder to come by due to import restrictions. The U.S. lifted a ban on Italian and Spanish charcuterie several years ago, and just recently began allowing the import of French Bayonne ham. “I already got in touch with my old providers, so we’re hoping to be one of the first ones in the United States to sell Jambon de Bayonne,” Mori says.
The bar will also likely make some of its own charcuterie, including rillettes and pâté. A handful of sandwiches made with different combinations of cheeses and meats will also be offered for dinner and, eventually, brunch. And that’s pretty much it—aside from condiments like olives or figs and some desserts.
La Jambe gets its name from the French word for “the leg.” In this case, it has a double meaning: It represents the legs of prosciutto that will be sliced at the bar and hung from the ceilings, but it’s also the word used to describe the droplets that cling to the inside of glass when you swirl around your wine.
The 40-seat space will be dominated by a bar with a few tables, a drink ledge, and possibly some outdoor seating as well. There’s also a small tasting room that will be rented for private events and used for tastings and classes. A retail area will provide charcuterie and cheeses to go. La Jambe doesn’t plan to sell wine, but Grand Cata, a wine shop that specializes in Latin American varietals, is opening next door.
Photo by Jessica Sidman