In Pie We Crust

Last Friday Dangerously Delicious Pies finally cleared the red tape and opened their doors at 1339 H Street NE. This concept with a pie and crossbones logo from former rocker Rodney Henry is not your grandmother’s pie shop. The shop serves both sweet and savory pies until midnight on weeknights and 3am on weekends. Frozentropics has a press release and more photos.

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Biergarten Haus

The month of April will bring not only Buddha to our neighborhood but also Bavaria within a short ride down H Street. The ownership of the popular Russia House lounge is opening Biergarten Haus, the district’s first true outdoor German-style beer garden, at 1355 H Street NE.

Fritz Hahn of the Washingtonpost’s GoG blog offers an early preview of the space. The menu at Biergarten Haus will include a variety of brats, wursts, schnitzels, and German beers on tap. Over 300 outdoor diners will be treated with polka bands and strolling accordionists on weekends.

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DDOT to Unveil Proposed Streetcar System Plan

DDOT spokesperson John Lisle sent out an announcement yesterday that the agency will unveil it’s proposed streetcar system plan a series of public meetings scheduled in every ward. The meetings kick off next Thursday October 22nd with the Ward 6 meeting (our ward) at J.O. Wilson Elementary (660 K Street NE) from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.

Portland Streetcar image from flickr user KGradinger

During the tenure of Mayor Anthony Williams two disconnected streetcar alignments, one on H Street NE, and the other in Anacostia were planned and the trams were ordered from the Czech Republic based Inekon. The order was fulfilled by Inekon years ago but the trams remain in the Czech Republic as progress on the project stalled. Finally in 2009 with the appointment of new DDOT director Gabe Klein tracks have begun to be installed on Benning Road NE and in Anacostia along Firth Sterling.

In early August, at a public forum held in the Atlas Theatre on H Street NE, Klein pledged to place streetcars back on the front burner stating the sluggish progress on the project was unacceptable. These public meetings in each ward will give District residents an opportunity to hear about the current progress and view updated plans for future streetcar lines across the District.

What does this mean for the Mount Vernon Triangle? One goal DDOT has is to connect the H Street NE/Benning Road streetcar line to the K Street Transitway which will run from Mount Vernon Square to Georgetown. I pondered two potential alignments for that connection back in April. I have a reputable source that says we should expect when the system is unveiled the MVT segment will use New Jersey Ave and K Street then connect to the H Street NE segment behind Union Station on the Hopscotch Bridge.

That NJ/K alignment makes a solid sense as both streets have wide right of ways and streetscape money already earmarked in the coming years. I don’t have any information on timing or station locations but perhaps some of the details we crave will be shared at these public meetings.

UPDATED [10/15/2009 11:10AM]: Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy wells tells the Washington Business Journal the H Street NE/Benning streetcar line is his primary project.

For a primer on streetcars, visit my past profile of Seattle’s Streetcar

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Streetcar network could include K Street

The Washington Business Journal shares elements of DDOT director Gabe Klein‘s vision for a streetcar network with Jonathan O’Connell’s piece: D.C. wants to revive streetcar plan.

Anthony Williams, the mayoral predecessor to Fenty, originally laid plans to build two pilot streetcar lines in H Street NE and Anacostia. Three streetcars had been purchased but have sat idle in the Czech Republic as the projects stalled. Klein wants to not only jumpstart those lines but build a network. How will it be different this time?

Although the Williams administration planned to build a streetcar network without federal dollars, as Portland, Ore. did with its model system, Klein said meetings with Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, have convinced him that the federal government will be a partner.

LaHood “is extremely supportive. I think he’s pretty excited about the possibility of it running right in front of the Department of Transportation headquarters,” which is on M Street SE, Klein said. He said the city plans to seek funding through the federal New Starts program, in which the Federal Transit Administration partially finances locally planned and operated transit. Klein said the program was being transformed under LaHood into an attractive option.

As we anticipated from our April discussion on a K Street streetcar, Klein would like to build a streetcar network that would include a route through downtown. The Downtown BID and other stakeholders have been pushing for the K Street line.

UPDATE [8/7/2009 12:10PM]: Greater Greater Washington recapped the DDOT public forum on streetcars that was held last night at the Atlas Theatre.

DDOT’s facebook page has a photo album of the ongoing track installation on Benning Road NE. If K Street will be part of the streetcar network our track installation should ideally occur the same time as the streetscape improvements so that residents and business only impacted by construction only once.

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HPRB: You make the call

Which do you find more worthy of preservation? The top image is of “Meads Row” on the 1300 block of H Street NE which the Historic Preservation Review Board recently voted down a motion to preserve. The second image displays some properties under consideration on the 600 Block of K Street NW within the Triangle.

Personally I consider the Meads Row cluster of buildings is more appealing from an architectural and aesthetic perspective.

Image Credit: DCMud

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K Street Streetcar discussion

At tonight’s MVSNA meeting new board member, and City Vista resident, John Thompson will lead a discussion on the possibility of a K Street Streetcar. John has talked with contacts at DDOT about extending the H Street NE/Benning Road streetcar project to Mount Vernon Triangle via K Street.

The H Street NE / Benning Road Streetcar (fact sheet from Streetcars4DC) has been in planning for several years and tracks are presently being laid. The proposed alignment from 2006 begins by the Minnesota Ave metro, travels west along Benning Road over the Anacostia, upon reaching the Starburst intersection the streetcar follows H Street NE until terminating in no man’s land behind Union Station.

Click image to enlarge

John has been discussing the possibility of continuing to run the streetcar west to connect to K Street before terminating at Mount Vernon Square. This could increase benefit to the Mount Vernon Triangle and proposed development at Northwest One while also affording the H Street NE greater connectivity to downtown DC.

The above map shows two potential extensions for the streetcar line to K Street NW. The red segment takes the straightforward approach of going over the H Street NE bridge, heading north on North Capitol for one block before heading west on K Street for 7 blocks. The green segment promotes integration with the Columbus Circle area in front of Union Station. This alignment, while more expensive, would place the streetcar at a more natural transfer point for Metro, buses, and future streetcar lines.

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Safeway, Shuttles and taking back the Libraries

Mount Vernon Square: Lifein MVSNA readers vent about the City Vista Safeway

H Street NE: Frozen Tropics reports that a new H Street shuttle service starts this month. The free shuttle will run between the Gallery Place station and the Minnesota Ave station each evening from 5pm until the Metro closes. Readers comment that the free nature of the shuttle could attract too much volume from the X2 line.

Citywide: WaPo’s Raw Fisher reports on new policies aimed to discourage homeless encampment in our libraries. New rules will prohibit sleeping in the libraries or carrying more than two bags into the branches.

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Palace of Wonders

Looking to shake up the routine? Try the Palace of Wonders Showbar at 1210 H Street NE. While H Street NE is not served by Metro it is just a short 8 minute trip on the X2 Metrobus from the bus stop at the 2nd and Mass park.

Cookie boy calls it a trendy mix between a circus, Moulin Rouge, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Very accurate description. Last night the show I saw was called the Lucky DareDevil Thrillshow featuring Tyler Fyre and Thrillkill Jill. The act included sword swallowers, a contortionist, fire breathing, straitjacket escapes, a bed of nails, snake charming, and odd feats using a screwdriver and a chainsaw. What more could you ask for? Maybe midgets? Is Verne Troyer available?

Extracting a sword from Tyler Fyre (Palace of Wonders)

Tyler Fyre, Thrillkill Jill, a 27″ sword and an audience member

The Lucky DareDevil Thrillshow is scheduled at PoW again on Jan 24. Check out the schedule to see what others acts are coming soon.

Photo Credits: inked78 and jgmundie

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Taylor Gourmet Deli

This afternoon I made a trip east to Taylor Gourmet Deli at 1116 H Street NE. Taylor is a Philadelphia themed deli and italian store that opened earlier this month.

Taylor Gourmet Deli
I knew I was in for a long wait the moment I walked through the front door. Over twenty people were lined up along the wall and counters near the open kitchen. The space was deep and narrow with exposed brick, wood that looked like it was salvaged from a ship wreck and stainless steel abound. The owners replaced the aluminum garage door the property previously had with a glass garage door that allowed for considerable natural light.

The sandwich selection includes two dozen variations of hoagies of chicken cutlet sandwiches all named after streets and landmarks in Philly. The menu also offers a sausage sandwich, arugla salads, risotto balls, ravioli and mozzarella sticks. Taylor uses the freshest ingredients with cured meats and cheeses from Italy and hoagie rolls delivered daily from Sarcone’s bakery. Among the snacks offered are Herr’s chips and tastykakes.

Taylor Gourmet Deli Menu

click to enlarge menu

After brief deliberation I decided on the “Art Museum” chicken cutlet sandwich and the toasted “Ridge Ave Raviolis”. I slowly slurped down several refills of my delicious Boylan‘s diet rootbeer while I waited, waited and waited.

By this time I positioned myself at a vantage point along the counter where I could see what order tickets were actively being worked on. Over an hour elapsed before my order was fulfilled. My patience was not rewarded. Despite twice uttering aloud “Art Museum” co-owner David Mazza apparently made my sandwich with prosciutto rather than roasted red peppers which is the “Penn Square”. I had to pick off the prosciutto and redress my cutlet with fixings from my fridge.

Today’s experience was not good but I see the potential and I will be back. Considering the marinara with my ravioli was fantastic I may try the “Benjamin Franklin” next time. The sausage sandwich also looked enticing. I just don’t think my next visit is going to be very soon as the crowds are leading to heavy waits.

For other perspectives check out the preview from Brightest Young Things and reviews on WaPo, Yelp,

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