Sonoma Sneak Peek

Posted May 4, 2005 at 3:38pm

In preparation for their grand opening later this month, Sonoma’s owners are inviting guests for a preview of the restaurant starting Monday. To be invited for dinner, go to www.sonomadc.com and sign up for the preview club.

Sonoma, which is taking over the space formerly occupied by Barolo and Il Radicchio at 223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, will offer New American cuisine with Italian influences and a focus on local ingredients. On the menu, cheese and charcuterie plates are joined by handmade pastas and pizzas and wood-grilled meats and fish. [IMGCAP(1)]

A few favorites from Mendocino Grille, the owners’ Georgetown restaurant, will also be featured, including a Virginia Wagyu beef burger.

The ground floor, which will open first, will serve as a casual bistro and wine bar, while the upstairs will house a lounge and more formal dining area. Nearly 40 wines will be offered by the glass.

Drink-o de Mayo. This afternoon, ties will loosen and tequila will flow as crowds flock to area watering holes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. What to many is simply a great excuse to party is actually a celebration of Mexico’s victory over the French in 1862, so keep that in mind when tipping up that margarita.

Tortilla Coast is perhaps Capitol Hill’s most popular Cinco de Mayo destination — it’s the bar’s busiest day of the year.

The bar is offering its regular Thursday happy hour with $3 Tecates, Coronas and Corona Light.

A mariachi band will play at Rosa Mexicano from 6 to 10 p.m., and the menu will feature special family-style dishes designed to serve large groups. Expect to see plenty of the restaurant’s signature pink pomegranate margaritas.

Tapatinis is offering $5 top-shelf martinis and, starting at 9 p.m., free Jose Cuervo drinks while supplies last.

To honor the colors of the Mexican flag, Andale is serving three special margaritas: hibiscus (red), midori melon (green) and coco-rita (white). In addition to the $7 margaritas, the restaurant is offering a special menu and $3 Coronas.

Rise and Shine in Penn Quarter. Despite being the hottest restaurant neighborhood in the city, Penn Quarter lacks many brunch options. And with the growing area now attracting its own residents, they need somewhere to sip coffee and read the Sunday paper. To help fill the void, Poste Moderne Brasserie recently introduced a new weekend brunch available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The menu offers a mix of sweet and savory options. Jelly doughnuts, granola parfait and Kobe beef tartare serve as starters. Entrées include brioche french toast with berry compote, bacon and onion quiche, a smoked duck panini, and scrambled eggs with American caviar, crème fraiche and gravlax.

Some of the most appealing choices are on the well-crafted brunch cocktail list. Champagne cocktails include a beachy bellini with peach schnapps and pineapple juice and a pom royale with blueberry pomegranate juice and blueberries. A classic bloody mary is joined by four twists including an Old Bay and bacon mary, a garden mary (with pickled shallots, cucumbers and fresh dill), and a bloody maria (tequila with a salt rim).

Another Reason to Drink in Penn Quarter. Café Atlantico, where fabulous mojitos were being mixed well before they became the drink du jour, has unveiled two new imaginative cocktails: a yerba maté old fashioned and a red beet mojito.

Before you start questioning why one would inflict beets on a mojito, a recent tasting revealed it’s all for the rosy color. A splash of beet purée is added to an otherwise traditional mojito, turning it a deep crimson color but doing little to change the flavor.

The yerba cocktail mixes bourbon and oranges with yerba maté tea, which lends the invigorating drink a complex flavor. Yerba maté, a South American herb touted for its stimulant and medicinal properties, is traditionally sipped from a hollow gourd through a metal straw.

Pub Invasion. Add another pub to D.C.’s stacked roster. The Elephant and Castle will open May 18 at 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Billed as a “British pub-style restaurant,” the new spot will offer 18 beers on tap, including Fuller’s. The menu includes traditional British grub, such as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding and bangers, beans and mash, along with standard bar fare like nachos, wings, burgers and sandwiches.

This will be the company’s 13th location in the United States.

Grape Conspiracy. Chef Charlie Palmer has introduced a set of private label wines, specially blended to complement the American cuisine at his restaurants. The International Sommelier Conspiracy wines, named for the collaboration between Palmer and his sommeliers to create the wines, are being showcased at Charlie Palmer Steak with a special five-course menu. Each course is paired with one of the new blends. The menu includes wild striped bass with blue crab risotto paired with the ISC chardonnay and Virginia Wagyu sirloin paired with the cabernet sauvignon. The menu is priced at $115, which includes the wine pairings.

The wines are also being highlighted in specially priced wine flights, or samplings. A $14 red flight features the ISC merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon. A $10 white flight features sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. A flight of the entire collection is available for $21.

The special menu and the wine flights are available through Memorial Day weekend.

To Market, To Market. Tis the season for bountiful local produce to begin flowing at farmers markets across the city. The Penn Quarter FreshFarm Market, located on Eighth Street Northwest between D and E streets, opens for the season this afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m. Chef Cesare Lanfranconi of Ristorante Tosca will host a cooking demonstration at 5 p.m.

And Saturday, the H Street FreshFarm Market will open on the 600 block of H Street Northeast, offering organic vegetables, fresh herbs, goat’s milk cheese and fresh breads. The market will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.