From Each Peach to Glen’s Garden Market to Smucker Farms to Seasonal Pantry, D.C. is experiencing a renaissance of small grocery stores carrying primarily locally made and grown products. The latest is Little Red Fox, a market, cafe, and eventual-supper club which recently opened at 5035 Connecticut Ave. NW.
The venture comes from D.C. native Matt Carr, who’s teamed up with chef Anne Alfano, whose brother is Carr’s best friend from St. Albans School. Full disclosure: Carr and I interned together at Washingtonian in 2008. Little did I know at the time that that’s where the idea started to germinate: “When we were fact-checking articles, we’d always be writing about people starting up cool companies and making their dreams come true. I thought, ‘Yeah anyone can do it, I should just go for it.'”
First, though, Carr moved to Portland, Ore., where he became a freelance music writer and also created a small record label called Everybody Taste. He put out a few vinyl records with some bands from L.A., New York, and D.C., including Shark Week and Teen Mom locally, but his music projects have been on the back burner with the opening of Little Red Fox.
On a whim, Carr says, he decided to go to culinary school at Portland’s Western Culinary Institute. He then returned to D.C. to open Little Red Fox. The name an homage to one of Carr’s favorite neighborhood hangouts in Portland: Little Red Bike Cafe.
Alfano was a paralegal and private detective before becoming a chef. Her resume includes stints at Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York, Cochon Restaurant in New Orleans, and Tosca in D.C. She also worked at Marlow & Daughters in Brooklyn, learning whole animal butchery and charcuterie. As you might expect, many of the market’s items are made on site. Here’s a look at eight of the many things you’ll find at Little Red Fox:
1. Sandwiches and breakfast burritos: Aside from the name, Carr also wanted to replicate Little Red Bike Cafe’s fried egg sandwiches. In the morning, he prepares an egg sandwich with gorgonzola spread, apple butter, and optional bacon on toasted ciabatta in addition to potato or chorizo breakfast burritos. Other sandwiches include a grilled cheese with apple butter on brioche and the Fox BLT with bacon, provolone, avocado, greens, tomato, and smoke garlic aioli on ciabatta.
2. Growlers: Right now, 3 Stars Brewing Company‘s Peppercorn Saison ($15) and Southern Belle ($20) are on tap. A selection of local and West Coast bottles of beer, wine, and cider are also available.
3. Sausages and charcuterie: Alfano makes breakfast and Italian sausages, cures bacon, and eventually plans to produce pâtés and other charcuterie. Union Kitchen-based Cured DC and Portland’s Olympic Provisions are also represented.
4. Pickles, hot sauce, and apple butter: The housemade condiments have been so popular that they were sold out when I stopped by yesterday.
5. Stocks, sauces, and soups: Look for housemade turkey stock and tomato sauce as well as seasonal soups like smoked tomato (made with the help of a smoker in the back) and Tuscan vegetable with bacon.
6. Bread: Some loaves come from Lyon Bakery, while croissants and baguettes come from San Michel Bakery in Rockville.
7. Sweets: In addition to the pumpkin panna cotta above, other sweet treats include pies, cookies, brownies, scones, and ice cream sandwiches (brown butter snickerdoodle with cappuccino ice cream was a recent flavor) from in-house baker Lauren Parlato, formerly pastry chef at Tosca.
8. Supper club: Little Red Fox is still working to get a license to serve alcohol on-site. (Right now, the retail operation can only sell bottles to-go.) Some time after the holidays, Carr and Alfano plan to host monthly prix-fixe dinners with wine pairings at the eight-person communal table. Outdoor patio seating surrounded by rosemary bushes will eventually be available, too.
Photos by Jessica Sidman