The metaphor rings true, regardless of the type of fruit: when life gives you grapes, make wine.
That’s what happened to Jordan Stahl, who now runs Tyber Creek Wine Bar and Kitchen with her husband, Jonathan. Warm and welcoming on the nose and with a pleasant finish, the restaurant sits on the corner of Rhode Island and First Street Northwest, snug in the heart of booming Bloomingdale. Having uncorked its doors on May 4, it’ll focus on food cooked in its centerpiece of a wood-fired oven and, of course, wine.
The inspiration arrived when Jordan was with the famous (or perhaps infamous) daily deals company LivingSocial, and her unit was eliminated. Having previously worked at Virginia-based Blenheim Vineyards, wine was in her blood—and on her palate. There was no better time to crush an unfortunate experience into a dream come true. After all, in vino veritas.
Jonathan, for his part, is no stranger to the industry, either. He’s been working in food operations at Nationals Park for more than a decade (and is a member of the Jewish Food Experience®’s leadership team). But even before then, he got into service at a very young age, helping out at synagogue Kiddush growing up.
“I’ve always had a passion for hospitality,” he says. “Life is just about connecting people. And it’s in the blood of our people. Last time I flew to Tel Aviv, the next thing I know, I’m at my seatmate’s place for dinner.” Connecting with friends and neighbors over a relaxed meal and glass of wine makes it easier, certainly more so than airplane food.
“Jewish holidays are centered around a table,” expanded Jonathan. “On Pesach, we say, ‘All who are hungry, come and eat.’ That’s who we are, and why I’m so inspired by the restaurant.”
After Jordan left LivingSocial, she worked a bit with Ilyse Fishman Lerner’s On Rye and decided to dedicate herself to her own restaurant. She wanted to be at a place where she could both have fun and help guests experience wine. She and Jonathan looked for places in neighborhoods with character. When they learned this corner spot, formerly Rustik, was available, they jumped at the opportunity.
Jordan shared, “We wanted to create a cozy space, a completely non-corporate space. Whether it’s after work, a birthday, a family gathering, it has to be focused on community.”
True to these words, the space is bright and casual, with whitewashed walls and just enough exposed brick and is set off with a hint of industrial (steel beams) and nature (a green “living” wall).
That neighborhood focus means that its signature wine program is thoughtful, but not overly serious. “Instead of cult or popular national wines, we use only small, independent, and boutique producers with exciting, original wine at a good value,” said Jordan. The core of the list is in the 40-to-60-dollar range.
“It’s unique, but fun and approachable,” says the GM and semi-sommelier, Leah Glantz. Notice the amber (or orange) wine from Georgia, one of the oldest kinds of wine—complex and with lots of floral and mineral notes. And you’ll find no cabernet sauvignon on the menu.
To up the fun factor, two wines are always on tap, as well as two cocktails that’ll rotate seasonally. Right now, a Derby-ready Bourbon Smash and springtime Negroni occupy the taps.
Similarly, the food menu is also approachable and straightforward (and changes with the seasons). It’s American, with a touch of French and some Mediterranean notes, like hummus, freekeh and tahini. Everything that’s served (save for raw items like salad and tuna tartare) comes right from the handsome gas-assisted wood-fired oven, like the signature roast chicken. Chef Kerry Tate, arriving from the EatWell family of restaurants, says that he was thrilled to try his hand at opening a restaurant and jumped at the opportunity to work with the Stahls.
This being DC, Sunday means brunch. In addition to biscuits and sandwiches, you’ll find Jewish touches in the shakshuka and the sharing-worthy basket of everything bagels and lox. Tyber Creek, living up to its name, shrugs off the mimosa trend for a trendy bottomless rosé option (two hours only, please).
“We really do try to keep this in the family, the community,” Jonathan concludes. “Jordan’s mom helms the patio herb garden, and the produce makes its way into the dishes. For us, Shabbat is about getting together, spending time with the people you care most about. Opening a restaurant is just expanding our table. We are bringing old friends and new together over great food and good wine.”
Tyber Creek Wine Bar and Kitchen, 202-827-3664, 84 T Street NW, Washington, DC, Monday–Saturday 5 pm–close, Sunday 11 am–close. Not kosher.
All photos courtesy of Tyber Creek Wine Bar and Kitchen.