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Ellington's on Eighth Has Played It's Final Note


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Ellington's on Eighth is the sort of place that more neighborhoods in DC need, the kind of places that give soul to a city. Small, family run, live Jazz, unfussy food that sticks to your ribs. A place that I have vastly overlooked even though I have lived on the Hill for 8 years, heck I even remember when the place opened...silly me. This is the kind of place that you keep in your back pocket to round out the evening, be it a date, chillin with family and friends, or just to hang out and listen to some live music.

The "main room" is narrow and small and dark, with armchairs for lounging, the jazz band sets up front, they are a little loud but heck that what makes these kind of places. There's a small bar with a couple stools in the back, to the side is a small restaurant area and outside is a small patio.

Thursday night is BBQ night, chafing dishes set up with BBQ beef tips, brisket (?), chicken, mac and cheese, and collard greens. I'm no expert on soul food, but for $13.95 all you can eat, it's definitely a good deal. It's by no means high cuisine, but that's not what they are gunning for...grab a plate, have a glass of champagne, the wine list looks suspect, the beer list scores with Abita, Saranac, and Shiner Bock, and listen to some tunes.

Champagne List (my Champagne knowledge is worse than my wine knowledge, so someone more wise can comment, we had a couple glass of the Piper's Sonoma for $7.50 a glass, it went down well)

Gruet Brut (New Mexico)

Roederer Estate (CA)

Veuve Clicquot (FR)

Domaine Chandon Brut (CA)

Piper's Sonoma Brut (CA)

Dampierre Cuvee Ambassadeurs (FR)

Ellington's on Eighth

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The last time I went to Ellington's a friend and I sat back, had a few small apps, and listened to the soothing music. A couple hours later, after about 4 pitchers of their champagne drinky drinks, the two of us were completely and utterly shitfaced. Those things go down easy. I recommend partaking of them--as they are delicious--but let this be your warning. I was considerably less than "bubbly" the next day.

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I ate at Ellington's last night for the first time. I'm a fan. The food -- two of us had the barbecue buffet, two ordered from the menu -- is simple, tasty, and a good deal. More importantly, though, this is a true neighborhood restaurant, committed to the neighborhood beyond what is typical for a profit-seeking enterprise. For instance, they hire homeless men and women and train them for jobs in hospitality. The neighborhood focus carries over into the service, which is extremely friendly and casual (but competent).

The unassuming food, service, and decor makes you feel like you're a guest in the owners' home -- a home in which live music happens to be played.

I had heard of the Thursday night barbecue-and-blues event before, and I thought it might be crowded. Far from it. For some time, we were the only diners in the dining room. When we retired to the lounge area up front, two or three tables were occupied. It's a little disconcerting that, despite the massive changes that have occurred in the neighborhood since the restaurant opened in 1999, the crowd was so sparse. I hope we were there on an unusually slow night, because this is the kind of place that can become a true institution, if the neighborhood nurtures it.

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Ellington's is closed.

But, work was ongoing on Saturday on a new restaurant. According to the contractors replacing plate glass windows, etc., the new restaurant will be "Italian" and will open in "2 weeks." I've also heard that it'll be "Mediteranian." Possibly same ownership -- but lower price point -- from the Med place (Locanda) that's coming along where Mehana was on the south side of 600 block of Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

Link to Locanda Chat: http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?showtopic=6609

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A sign now hangs in the window proclaiming that "Mediterannean [sic] 8 Cafe" is coming. Apparently, pursuant to a little known local ordinance, it is now mandatory that every new restaurant on 8th Street include "8" in its name. As for cuisine, the sign says it will serve "great food." So that's good. It also implies that "great people" will be involved as well. That's good too.

A couple weeks ago, it looked like it was on the verge of opening. Tables and chairs were in place. Then, when I walked by yesterday, everything was a shambles again. I couldn't tell what was going on.

My analysis of the liquor permit sign hanging in the window suggests that the owners are the same people who owned Ellington's. Although I can't remember the applicant's precise name, it is an LLC with "Ellington's" in the name, if I recall correctly.

P.S. -- I hope they correct the spelling of their restaurant's name.

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