A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to visit Mad Momos, the new restaurant coming to 3605 14th Street NW. Wanchuk Topden, the co-owner, showed me around and talked about the vision for the place. I was pretty impressed, and definitely excited for it.
The first thing I noticed was that it's a really nice space. Topden said it was a Wardman building from the 1910s, Harry Wardman being a well-known local architect who built a lot of the houses in the area and elsewhere in the city. There's two stories with a small second-floor front porch and a really big back deck on the second floor, which Topden called the "beer deck."
He said the space was designed to be inside-outside, with big sliding doors and windows, so you can be inside but still feel like the outdoors -- like a sidewalk cafe. There's also an arbor on the front of the building, which he hopes adds some greenery to the sidewalk, and plants and flowers like Carolina jessamine in planters on the interior walls. Topden, who lives a few blocks away, said the idea came because he likes to travel and liked being outdoors. In addition to the plant life, he also said he wanted to reduce, reuse and reclaim items for the inside. The bar tops were in the house originally, for example, and other materials are from Community Forklift, a building materials salvage non-profit, and other similar local spots. There's also going to be rotating art on the walls, with the first installations being some cool wall pieces by Topden's friend Lee Johnson, and other pieces by local artists.
The upstairs is big and open, and Topden hopes it'll have a relaxed vibe, with a small bar and lots of space for tables. He hopes to have a nice selection of beer, with 8 beers on draft, hopefully from local breweries, plus 7 craft bottles and one can too. There's also the big beer deck out back with a wooden wall around it, both to keep the noise level low for the neighbors and to make it a bit more private. That looks like a great place to enjoy some nice weather. There's also the small front porch upstairs, with room for maybe 10 or 12 people, and up to 99 total seats inside on both floors.
So, how about the food and drink? Topden, who is originally from Sikkim, part of India in the Himalayas, says the food will be reasonably-priced New American cuisine with an Asian flair (not a Sikkimese restaurant as I guessed originally.) He said their chef is a young, talented Japanese-American culinary school grad from Rocky Mount, NC, and his dishes will be Asian and Southern-influenced comfort food, like shrimp and grits, scallops with bacon, Cedar Rapids pork and apples, sweet potato fries, and the like. They plan to serve brunch on the weekends, and will also have their namesake momos, which are Himalayan dumplings that sound pretty tasty. Topden said momos and beer are a great combo. I'm looking forward to trying them out.
In all, the place looks and sounds pretty great. They're hoping to open this Fall, and they've gotten all of their licenses, plus support from the local ANC. When I hear more about the date, I'll let you know.