Nina May Owners Open American Chevy Chase DC Coastal Restaurant

Opal, an American coastal restaurant from the team behind Nina May, opens in Chevy Chase DC. Photograph by Deb Lindsey

Many restaurants strive for a cozy neighborhood vibe, but not all have a wood-burning oven and a 1930s-style building to complete the vibe. Welcome Opalan American coastal restaurant by Colin McClimans and Danilo Simic, who own Nina Mai to Shaw. It opens Friday, October 7 for dinner at Chevy Chase DC.

The 80-seat dining room flanks an open kitchen.

The 80-seat dining room takes over from the former neighborhood restaurant Arucola. McClimans and Simic brightened up the interior while respecting the bones of the space, including a central bar for sipping smoky Sazeracs and citrus-thyme gin and grapefruit cocktails. An upstairs room can accommodate 30 people for private events, and a small terrace will debut in the spring.

At Nina May, McClimans, the chef, goes hyper-local and his kitchen sources exclusively from less than 150 miles from Washington. For Opal, the Washington native takes a broader approach by drawing inspiration from coastal cuisines. Diners can start with smaller plates — portioned as appetizers or to share — like roasted oysters with tequila chili butter, tuna crudo tostadas, or homemade saffron tagliatelle with clams. A “simple dishes” section features wood-fired proteins like charred swordfish or bone-in short ribs with salsa verde. All can be mixed and matched with plates of vegetables like roasted rainbow carrots with dill and capers.

Seasonal cocktails are topped off with fancy ice cream (pictured: a gin-grapefruit concoction with citrus and thyme).

One of Nina May’s most popular and generous offerings is a “chef’s choice” family menu where tables are loaded with several dishes from the kitchen. They carry on the tradition at Opal with the “simple dinner”, which is priced between $50 and $60. The feast will begin with homemade breads served with spreads and pickles, followed by a round of sharing plates for the table. Diners have a choice of starter among the “simple dishes” (which also determine the price), and can accompany them with vegetable plates. Sweet finishes include key lime pie or banana pudding cake.

“Everything we do, we want people to feel that intimate comfort,” McClimans says. “The goal is to make the decision to experience so you can sit back and enjoy your time in the restaurant, but at the same time it allows for a little more choice.”

Small plates include seared scallops with lardo, collard greens and romesco.

Opal will open for dinner first, followed by weekend brunch in the coming weeks. The team is also planning a weekday lunch this fall with a menu of sandwiches, salads and pastas. After that: Elena Jamesan all-day restaurant and the opening of a market near Chevy Chase, Maryland, next fall.

Opal. 5534 Connecticut Avenue, NW.

food editor

Anna Spiegel covers the restaurant and bar scene in her native DC. Before joining Washingtonian in 2010, she completed the MFA program at the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in New York and St. John, in the US Virgin Islands.

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