Lounge Style

Posted September 15, 2004 at 4:05pm

Bringing together two hot trends — tapas and martinis — Tapatinis will offer a modern alternative to the more traditional bar scene on Capitol Hill when it opens later this month. But the stylish digs won’t come with an attitude or hefty bar tabs.

“You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time,” said owner Jordan Cappolla. [IMGCAP(1)]

“We’re a quaint place,” he said, adding that he hopes neighbors will come in for drinks or a light meal two or three times a week.

The bar, which is slated to open next weekend at 711 Eighth St. SE, will offer more than a dozen signature martinis in

flavors such as Godiva chocolate, raspberry and apple. And according to Cappolla, prices won’t come close to what most upscale lounges charge. “No martini should cost $10,” he said.

The tapas menu, with about 20 plates ranging from $3 to $8, reflects Spanish, Middle Eastern and American tastes and should be a welcome break from the cheap tacos and greasy bar food so prevalent on Capitol Hill.

A peek at the planned menu reveals vegetarian spring rolls with a ginger soy sauce, smoked salmon carpaccio with field greens and artichoke hearts, crab croquettes with sundried tomato pesto, hummus served with grilled pita, balsamic lamb salad, and chicken skewers drizzled with chimichurri sauce and served with sweet corn and rice salad.

Going against the typical Capitol Hill grain, Tapatinis decor is anything but traditional. “There’s very little wood in the entire place,” Cappolla said.

Instead, bright primary colors lend a retro-modern flair to the space. A large Andy Warhol print of Jackie Kennedy greets patrons near the front door, and a tall bay window, trimmed in orange paint and topped with neon martini glasses, looks out onto Barracks Row. A playful circular cutout that divides the lounge and bar area creates an uninterrupted view from the lounge’s front window all the way to the narrow back patio.

The bar is designed to encourage lounging — low-slung, plush red ottomans line one wall, and blue circular booths hug silver tables along the opposite wall. A sleek granite bar seats about 12 with room for a half dozen more at tall bar tables.

Beyond seating, Cappolla added special features to maximize comfort in the small bar. The air conditioning is self-regulated throughout the space so it should never be chilly in one spot and sweltering in another. Likewise, Cappolla is installing a “smoke-eater” to keep the air fresh.

He also plans to offer numerous promotions throughout the week — “whatever it takes to keep people happy,” he said — including all-you-can-drink nights, half-price tapas nights and two-for-one martini nights. A projector screen in the back of the bar will be used to show movies and sports games.

So far, Cappolla said, the neighborhood reception has been warm. “A lot of locals are pledging that they are going to be regulars.” And he is upbeat about his new venture’s location on Barracks Row, predicting that the strip could become the next Georgetown.

Tapatinis will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays starting at 5 p.m.

More Martinis. Beginning Sept. 21, Lounge 201 will offer six of its most popular martinis at half price every Tuesday. The selection, priced at $5 to $6, will include the classic three-olive martini, the watermelon flirt, the Malaysian midnight and the pink lemonade.

The discount will be offered all night, along with a special on flatbread for snacking.

Chefs Are Artists Too. Saturday’s Arts on Foot Festival in Penn Quarter will showcase the talents of local chefs from 11 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. at F and Seventh streets Northwest.

Participating restaurants include Oceanaire (12:35 p.m.), Charlie Palmer Steak (1:10 p.m.), Zola (1:40 p.m.), Rosa Mexicano (3:20 p.m.) and The Capital Grille (4:25 p.m.).

In addition to the cooking demonstrations, samples will be available from numerous area restaurants including Chef Geoff’s, Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza, Teaism and TenPenh.

The festival is sponsored by the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association and features visual and performing artists at multiple venues. For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.artsonfoot.org.

Gourmet Book Signing. Ruth Reichl, Gourmet magazine’s editor in chief and former New York Times food critic, will sign Gourmet’s new 1,000-recipe cookbook at Olsson’s Books & Records in Penn Quarter at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 29.

The comprehensive cookbook reflects six decades of Gourmet recipes.

Call (202) 638-7610 for details. Olsson’s Penn Quarter/The Lansburgh is located at 418 Seventh St. NW.