New York has popup stuff happening all the time: restaurants and stores that are designed to be here today, gone tomorrow. Washington, not so much – until now.
Hurry down to Georgetown, because this Sunday is the last day that the Sabra Hummus House will be serving their signature product with some novel and intriguing toppings. Designed to be temporary, it’s a venue to test out the concept of a restaurant dedicated to hummus and its accompaniments: pita, tzatziki, babaganoush, and other Mediterranean tastes.
The decor has a few nods towards the Middle East theme, but most of the effort to transform this former clothing store has gone into the menu.
Along with more traditional hummus preparations, there are some more adventurous choices. I ordered the Mezze combination, one each bowl of babaganoush, tzatziki and avocado combined with Arcadia Farm vegetables (notice the attribution to a local farm? More on that below).
My lunch companion opted for East Meets West – hummus with inventive combinations of toppings, to wit:
- • edamame, crystallized ginger and sesame oil – a great, offbeat flavor combination with eye-appeal from the bright green beans;
• salty roasted pepitas and pumpkin oil – the tamest combination, and least successful IMHO; and
• crispy rosemary roasted chickpeas and preserved lemon – a knockout.
But wait! There’s more! We had timed our visit to coincide with the weekly chef demo. It turned out to be not so much a demo as a tasting – an array of little bowls of hummus topped with a whole gourmet food store’s worth of condiments. Mary Beth Albright, the local cook and food blogger (also a lawyer specializing in food policy), who had designed the menu in the Sabra corporate kitchen in Richmond, had everything from Sriracha sauce to truffle oil for patrons to try.
There were more of these than usual, she told us, because some were left over from the private “top your own hummus” party at the restaurant a few days ago. Truffle oil truly improves a bowl of hummus. So does pickled ginger.
I asked Mary Beth about the process used to develop the Hummus House concept. She spent days tinkering with likely combinations of ingredients, because, unlike conventional restaurant openings, all the dishes had to be ready to serve for the entire run of the popup. There was no time for adjustments during the short duration of this experiment.
The staff did not seem fazed by the imminent demise of the establishment. They were having a good time.
The emphasis on locally grown produce is a connection to Sabra’s commitment to the Future Farmers of America (FFA). As a part of that, they are assisting a group of young farmers who want to grow chickpeas in Virginia, and will be donating $25,000 from the Hummus House to the National FFA Scholarship Program. I say, the more local farmers, the better!
Sabra Hummus House
1254 Wisconsin Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20007
Hours of Operation
Open September 29 – October 26, 2014
Lunch, 11am – 3pm & Dinner 5pm – 9pm