Washingtonian – Jessica Sidman
Chef Haidar Karoum has pretty much cooked it all: Spanish at Estadio, Southeast Asian at Doi Moi, modern American at Proof. He was trained in classic French cuisine, but grew up eating his father’s Lebanese cooking and has traveled throughout the Mediterranean.
Karoum’s first solo restaurant, Chloe, will combine all of those influences and beyond when it opens this fall at 1331 4th Street, Southeast. “It’s really going to be a culmination of, not just restaurant experiences, but just life experience and travels and books,” says Karoum, who left his previous executive chef position last April. “I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into one kind of genre.”
Most of all, though, the restaurant will be devoted to foods that Karoum loves to eat—from pastas to shrimp banh mi. Crispy cauliflower with lemon, tahini, toasted pine nuts, and mint will be reminiscent of a dish that his father used to always make for potlucks. Meanwhile, roast chicken is one of his favorite meals, period.
The menu will mostly consist of “medium-sized plates,” along with a few larger family-style platters like whole fried fish with chilies, lime, and herbs. “I’m a pisces, so I’m like a fish fanatic,” Karoum says.
The restaurant will also be open for lunch with sandwiches on house-baked bread, noodle bowls, and other relatively quick meals. A menu of bar bites will also be available at the 27-seat bar or the 32-seat outdoor patio.
Tyler Michell, who previously worked with Karoum at Proof, will oversee the drink menu. The wine list promises many bottles under $45, as well as a sparkling and still rosé on tap. The beer and cocktail lists will highlight many local producers and will be “geared toward classics done as well as possible.”
Karoum started with a list of around 200 potential names before landing on Chloe. After debating what was catchy or crafty, he decided he should go for a pretty girl’s name. “The first name that came to my head was my niece,” he says. (Shhh, he hasn’t told her yet!) Upon doing more research, he discovered it’s also aptly the name of the ancient Greek goddess of agriculture.
Plants and nature will carry through to the design of the 100-plus-seat dining room as well. Think earthy colors, wood, stone, and an herb wall.
“I want it to have a certain feeling of warmth,” Karoum says. “I want there to be a certain level of polish, but I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable or to be second guessing if they were supposed to wear their good shoes.”
Chloe. 1331 4th St., SE.