Driftwood Kitchen opening soon on H Street – PoPville Preview

4th and H Street, NE

Remember TruOrleans? Well forget about it. The space has been completely transformed and will become Driftwood Kitchen very soon. And the transformation is more than cosmetic. First of all the new general manager, Eric Tollar, understands the history of the space and intends to be a true neighbor rather than just a restaurant. The owners are the same folks behind Darna in Arlington. Tollar explains that Darna means “our home” in Arabic and that is exactly the feeling he intends Driftwood to have. Tollar and lots of folks working at the restaurant live right in the neighborhood too. But enough about the past.

The future – Driftwood is a modern American restaurant with Middle Eastern profiles. And those profiles are shaped by spices (over one hundred). Get ready for zatar bacon. I’m happy to say I took a taste of some of the offerings – and it was the real deal. Everyone knows I’m not a food blogger so I’ll let the experts go into more details – but the duck breast I tried was just ridiculously good (they will be offering 6 entries of that caliber that will change seasonally). Speaking of ridiculously good – everything here is made fresh (not frozen – they’ll be using much of the freezer space for flavored ice cubes but more on that in a bit.) But speaking of frozen, and this is made fresh daily too, the ice cream. Oh the ice cream. Delicious. (photos after the jump.)

While brunch will come eventually, plans are to open soon for dinner service that will be served everyday from 4pm-11pm. But there will also be late night bar snacks (caramel cayene popcorn – made fresh daily of course) and possibly a late menu as well. And that leads us to the second component. The bar. There are two actually – one upstairs and one downstairs (though dinner is served in both spots). The one upstairs will focus on beer and a barrel aged whiskey cocktail program. But you can get a can beer too. There will be a daily happy hour from 4-7pm. The downstairs bar will focus on cocktails that feature hand made sodas – mint hibiscus, ginger beer, root beer and lots more. This is a serious passion of Tollar’s. Oh yeah, those fresh made ice creams – expect some floats too.

But the more important feeling I was left with was not only how passionately Tollar and the others talked about the space – but their flexibility. The space will accommodate what the neighborhood wants. Like I said, forget about TruOrleans – get ready for something totally different. Standby for an opening date.

And say good bye to the ironwork, it’s being removed and replaced with steel:


Upstairs seating:


My favorite detail:


Lots more photos after the jump.

upstairs seating



lots of spices


pork tenderloin

duck breast – ed. note: ridiculously freaking delicous

homemade ice creams – Pumpkin spice, praline and lemon fennel – ed. note: praline – especially ridiculously freaking delicious

Chef James Duke

Duke left and GM/Beverage Manager/Bartender Eric Tollar right


23 Comment

  • the concept sounds great and all, but it’s really ugly what they did to the building with the planks. And removing all of that beautiful expensive iron work for steel to try to make the place look gritty or something!? I disliked Truorleans so happy to see them go, but the building was on point. :/

    • I completely agree. Either a) they still have a lot of work to do to the building and are not opening soon or b) they missed the mark as far as curb appeal goes

    • I don’t really mind the oddball combo of the ironwork and the steel – keep it!

      • I’d rather see the combo than no ironwork at all. I always admired it and on posts about this place all year, people have been saying they really hope they don’t get rid of the ironwork. So much for “accommodating what the neighborhood wants”…

        • I don’t find it unattractive, but it simply doesn’t fit with our concept. We want to make sure that this place looks, feels and tastes like Our Home.

  • I hope this place is solid but getting it up and running has been painfully slow. I live next door and it still looks like they have some work to do.

    • Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. Our feeling is that we would much rather take our time and do it right than rush it and not execute to our full potential. Please be patient – I promise it will be worth the wait.

  • Looks beautiful. And expensive, like every other new restaurant in DC.

    • We have gone to great lengths to make sure that we have plenty to offer at different price ranges. We will have a 9 item bar snack menu with prices ranging from $3-$11 – we want to make sure that there is a little something for everyone.

  • I have to say, Driftwood is definitely going to more affordable than many, MANY dc places. As for ironwork, it is being removed for both aesthetic reasons (so it fits with the theme of the restaurant; get rid of any TruOrleans feel) and for safety reasons – plus, who doesn’t want a new second floor balcony?!

    There is indeed still some work to do, but its pretty much all smaller stuff. At the very least, its going to be a great place, and I can truly promise you that.

  • I hope that you fix the gutters in the process of fixing things outside. People that wait for the bus get really wet from a lack of proper drainage.

  • this is unfortunate. H St. is teetering on becoming the next Georgetown wasteland – and it only took 9 years!

  • Great. Another Middle Eastern Place. Schawafel, Michos, that idiotic hookah bar Nomads, and now this?

  • I wonder if the ironwork can be purchased….

  • I liked the ironwork. 🙁

  • For what it’s worth, the patio will be dog friendly

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