Best Seat in the House: Washington D.C. Day Off
Chef Johanna Hellrigl on the daytime double header to hit if you're near Union Market.
April 4, 2019 ● 2 min read
By Richie Nakano | Photo via Pluma
A lifetime in restaurants is a familiar chef trope, but Chef Johanna Hellrigl quite literally grew up in her family's restaurant. Her upbringing helped shape her vision of what it means to be a chef, and this path led her to launch pop-ups, spend years in Southeast Asia, and eventually land as Executive Chef of Fat Baby Restaurant Group in Washington DC. When she has some free time during the day, the Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Union Market and nearby Pluma by Bluebird Bakery are go-tos. Here's how she does it:
Where to sit:
"At Rappahannock, I like to sit at the counter, and if you sit on the right-hand side you get a really good view of them shucking the oysters. They have a beautiful display of the oysters on crushed ice and everyone just takes really good care of you, and it's fun to be in the market while everyone is bustling around."
"At Pluma Bakery, get a seat by the window. It's a great place to get some work done over a pastry and coffee and the interior design is really comforting and relaxing."
What to order:
“I like to do a mix of raw and hot seafood dishes. They have great baked clams and peel and eat shrimp, and their crab cake is phenomenal. All of the oysters come locally from Virginia. They have a great wine selection, and I like to get a glass of Provencal rosé, or a nice glass of Sancerre."
“At Pluma, they have these delicious chocolate-pistachio filled croissants and almond croissants. Everything is so fresh that whatever they have out that day is it! I've watched them grow and transform, and it's such a great, genuine environment. They have taken all of the best practices and made them their own. Even their gluten-free brownie is amazing.”
When to go:
“They are both great daytime places, but get to Rappahannock right when they open at 11 or 11:30am–the earlier you go, the more likely you’ll get a seat because it gets so crowded in there."