French cuisine coming to K Street

A new restaurant and bar featuring classic French comfort food and an extensive beer and wine selection will take over the high-profile location at 1201 K St. that has been vacant since the Broiler restaurant closed in early September.

The new business, to be called Brasserie Capitale, will be owned and operated by the owners of Aioli, the tapas restaurant on L Street in midtown that will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year.

While full details are still in the works, the chef will be Christophe Cornet, a classically trained French chef from the Bordeaux region who has experience at a Michelin two-star restaurant in France and was the private chef for the Maloof brothers, the former owners of the Sacramento Kings.

“I hope to be open by this summer,” said Azziz Belarbi-Salah, whose father, Reda Balarbi, opened Aioli with his then-wife Jennifer Sparks in 1994. Belarbi-Salah has become a prominent fixture at both Aioli and the nearby wine bar, The Grand, which opened in 2007.

In addition to an extensive wine list heavy on French labels, the brasserie will feature a beer list with French offerings, a variety of local craft beers, along with classic selections from Belgium and Germany. The news adds to the significant growth in eateries emphasizing beer. Nearby Blackbird Kitchen and Beer Gallery, for instance, recently reopened with 50 tap handles for beer and cider.

Also nearby and coming soon, Empress, a restaurant heavy on meat cooked on a large spit, is expected to have up to 70 beers.

That section of downtown has had a topsy-turvy past several months. Pyramid Alehouse closed in May after 10 years, leaving a large space on K Street vacant. In late September, Blackbird closed on Ninth Street near K Street but recently reopened. And six weeks ago, Mother, chef Michael Thiemann’s meatless restaurant, opened to plenty of fanfare and large crowds.

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