Due to either my not-paying-attention, or my just plain bad memory, it came as a pleasant surprise to me that Rogue 24 was opening yesterday; I found out (or was reminded) about it on Tuesday night , when I ran into chef de partie Bryan Tetorakis at The Passenger, and immediately planned to visit on Wednesday.
Then I read this nice piece in Wednesday's Post Food Section, and was concerned that it would be slammed and SRO (I'd already been informed that the reservations were filled for Wednesday; I merely wanted to drop by and have a drink and perhaps a nibble at the bar): The high cost of living (large)
I wasn't quite certain what to expect after reading that article yesterday morning. Was Rogue 24 going to be like Komi, i.e., destination dining with no bar to linger at? Or would I be able to indulge one of my favorite pastimes and simply enjoy a few small plates and a drink or two at the bar? I set out to find out, and asked a friend along, telling her that I'd let her know what the situation was after I got there, since she lived a few blocks away, and we had contingency plans ready if Rogue 24 couldn't accommodate us.
Armed with the address (925 N St. NW) and aware that it was in Blagden Alley, I found parking on 9th St. and walked into the Alley to find Rogue 24. That was easier said than done! I felt a bit like a mouse in a maze, but I eventually saw the restaurant through some windows, and asked a couple of parking attendants where the entrance was, and they indicated the door. There was no signage, and this gives Rogue 24 something of an "insider's" feel to it; a speakeasy restaurant! Some might find this irritating or exasperating, but I LOVE it. No one will just "wander by" and drop in; you have to know where you are going and have a set purpose. Time will tell if Rogue 24 will make itself more conspicuous, but in the meantime, it has a undercover/stealth vibe, as though it might be unlicensed and invitation-only.
I entered and was greeted by the hostess, Jessica, and then saw Derek Brown, They both explained the "Salon" concept to me, which is a sort-of waiting area for pre-dinner drinks in a lounge-like setting but there is no traditional bar set up there. One simply is given the cocktail list and you get served there. There were enough people there when I showed up to qualify as "busy" and thankfully, a couple of seats opened up in the Salon, so I was seated and texted my friend to come on ahead, giving her specific directions and she had no trouble finding the entrance as a result. We had cocktails (I started with the Bitter Peach Fizz, then had the "Pepper and Pepper", featuring James E. Pepper Bourbon) and some wine (a Beronia Rioja Riserva 2006), and I met Matthew Carroll, the General Manager and Sommelier, who was very nice and most helpful; oenophiles will find no shortage of thoughtfully-selected and compelling wine choices to enjoy. Derek gave my friend and I a quick tour, and we each tried a non-alcoholic beverage which was refreshing and delightful on such a warm evening (Rogue 24 will always have these available, so even non-drinkers or designated drivers will have something interesting to enjoy, not just the old standbys of soda or iced tea.)
My friend and I did not have anything to eat, but we are looking forward to a return visit sometime soon. Rogue 24 is a wonderful space (kudos to my friend Brian Miller and company for the design), and I know enough about chef R.J. Cooper's reputation and my own experiences with his cuisine from Vidalia to be really excited about dining there. I'll wait until I know I can set aside at least 2 hours and make nice early reservations to allow for a relaxed and fulfilling evening of great food and drink.
Rogue 24 is something to be happy and excited about.
I eagerly await the reports of more informed Rockwellians as to their dining experiences there.