Words By Jonny Grave, Photos By Clarissa Villondo
It’s tough to stand out in the middle of a rapidly-changing neighborhood. It seems like every other week, there’s a new restaurant or bar opening up in Shaw. There’s always a new crop of places with handcrafted cocktails, organic and grass-fed beef burgers, and assortments of small plates. (By the way, tune in next week when I explain why small plates are a perfect metaphor for a typical American’s fear of commitment.) Drift on 7th is stepping up to the plate with a much simpler approach. While the neighbors up and down the block can spend their time on complex dishes, and overpriced drinks, Drift offers up something a little more humble: American-style seafood.
Chef Ferhat Yalcin aims for a sustainable approach to a simple palette. There’s nothing over-the-top on this menu– just quality fish, and classic, traditional favorites. There’s kind of a Catch-22 with this approach, though; If a chef chooses the traditional route, his or her recipe for lobster bisque had better be just like what mom used to make. Thankfully, Yalcin is up to the challenge. Drift, formerly Fishnet, contributes much to the Shaw restaurant scene without trying very hard. Fresh cuts of fish, nostalgia-heavy dishes, and a very respectable cocktail menu.
Where the restaurant truly outstrips the competition isn’t with it’s menu, but how late at night that menu remains available. On weeknights, the restaurant serves its last dish at 11 p.m. On weekends, they’re open until 1 a.m. This is especially important, because I often have a late-night craving for seafood.
The best little gem I encountered on my first visit was the crabcake slider. Chef Yalcin puts the bun onto the grill for a moment to scorch the top-side. This fills the first bite with a small dose of smokey flavor, not usually accompanying a slider. In all, Drift seems exciting, and will likely only grow from here. In the meantime I’m going back for another slider. Don’t you dare judge me.
Drift on 7th, 1819 7th St NW, opens February 18.