Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crane & Turtle, Japanese-French restaurant from Room 11 folks, opens today on Upshur

Last night I got a chance to swing by Crane & Turtle, the new Japanese-French restaurant coming from the team behind Room 11 and Petworth Citizen. Located at 828 Upshur Street NW, right across from the Citizen, it's a cozy room with 25 seats, including some at the bar like Room 11, and they plan to add 14 patio seats shortly.

Chef Makoto Hamamura worked for the team at Hogo before, the tiki and tropical restaurant, but here he focuses more on his specialty of French and Japanese food. The snacks at an opening reception last night weren't necessarily all going to be on the menu, but one dish of tuna tataki on tempura seaweed was said to be similar to one of Hamamura's dishes, and was fantastic. The restaurant's menu they sent me included starters like a shaved octopus and fennel salad, appetizers like pork cheek ramen and soft shell crab tempura, entrees like artichoke on Japanese potato gnocchi, plus others with duck, striped bass and steak. Entrees are $18-$26 and there are a fair amount of vegetarian dishes too. It all sounds pretty awesome to me.

As for drinks, they don't have a lot of space for cocktails but will be focused on wine, sake and Japanese whiskey. Bar manager Kristi Green, who also manages the bar at Petworth Citizen, says she'sworking to bring in some rare whiskies from Japan. Other Room 11 alums are involved too -- Angelina Dirina will be manager and Nick Pimentel is the designer.

They'll be open only for dinner, from 5-10pm on Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday and 5-11pm on Friday and Saturday, and closed Monday.

The space itself is white and subtle, with a few plants and other decorations, a lot like Room 11's first room too. I feel like that fits the Japanese vibe. One interesting touch is an old dairy bottle -- operating partner Paul Ruppert said they found a lot of old bottles and other artifacts as they were building the place. The name comes from a Japanese folk tale and also the chef's family -- his mother was given the Japanese name Crane and her twin was Turtle.

I'm definitely looking forward to the spot. It seems like Upshur is getting to be a good location for restaurant and bars -- nothing crazy, just nice spots like Domku, Petworth Citizen and now Crane & Turtle.

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