Former chef of The Kitchen to open new midtown restaurant


It’s been two years since L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen at 1801 L Street closed, but the empty bi-level space will be reborn within two weeks as Capital Dime, a new restaurant and bar owned by Noah Zonca, previously the longtime chef at Randall Selland’s highly regarded restaurant, The Kitchen, and Rick Lobley, co-founder of local clubs and restaurants like Ink and Empire.

The name of the new eatery—which implies the number 10—hints at its price point and ambition, according to Lobley, who says most dishes will be around $10, and he’s aiming for food, service and atmosphere that are “a perfect 10” in quality.

“I want to be able to bring farm-to-fork cuisine to people at a price that can be approachable for everyone,” says Zonca.

Lobley and Zonca are planning a casual vibe with produce largely sourced from regional farms, like carrots, lettuce and onions from Delta Islands Organic Farm in Walnut Grove, tomatoes from Watanabe Farms in West Sacramento, peaches and other stone fruit from Brenner Ranch in Newcastle, and olive oil from Calivirgin in Lodi.

Planned menu items include Manila clams with chorizo, a white prawn watermelon salad, house-smoked pork belly, a kalua pork sandwich (not Kahlua liqueur, but rather a Hawaiian cooking method), smoked cheddar cheese fries, and six different kinds of flatbread pizza, as well as a pasta and pesto sauce dish—Noodles in a Green Dress—based on a family recipe from Zonca’s Italian grandparents.

The wine selection will come from boutique, small production wineries, says Zonca. “I want a wine list that is extremely unique—wines that are world-class but not necessarily in the mainstream yet.” He also wants them to be affordable, capping the prices at around $50 a bottle.

Lobley is also planning a selection of the seven “most famous” Bloody Mary’s in the world, including the one some say was the world’s first, created in the King Cole bar at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

Capital Dime will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and open as late as 2 a.m. during the weekends. Lobley also plans an unusual three days of brunch—Saturday through Monday—with the Monday brunch aimed at restaurant industry folks who work all weekend.

Among the other unique elements will be a Saturday “Yappy Hour,” during which patrons are welcome to bring their dogs to the outdoor seating area inside the 1801 L Street courtyard. Lobley says there will be a patch of grass for canines to lounge and lap up water, and even a fire hydrant “for when they’ve had too much to drink.” In addition to the patio space in the courtyard, Lobley expects to construct an outdoor patio in front of the L street entrance in coming months.

He also wants Capital Dime to be a bike-friendly establishment, with racks to store up to 30 bikes, and even “Bike to Brunch” Saturdays with a bike valet.

It’s all an effort to embrace a sense of community, with the primary focus being local food, of course. “We’re in the mecca of agriculture,” says Zonca. “I go to New York City and see farmers from here on the menu there. That just goes to show what we have at our fingertips.”