Nina May owners to open seafood restaurant in Chevy Chase DC

The owners of Nina May will open the American coastal restaurant Opal in Chevy Chase DC. Photo courtesy of Opale

Nina May owners Danilo Simic and chef Colin McClimans are set to open a second restaurant: Opal, an American coastal spinoff of their popular, locavore Shaw restaurant. The 80-seat spot is set to open in the Chevy Chase DC space that has been frequently replenished in recent years (La Siesta, Capital Crab), but was also home to Arucola, a long-gone neighborhood staple. The team is aiming for a debut in late September.

McClimans, who is originally from the area and has family in the neighborhood, says he’s had a long look at the building, which also includes a private second-floor event space with 30 seats and its own kitchen. He and Simic plan to open a larger, all-day cafe and market, Elena James, near Chevy Chase, Maryland, in the fall of next year. Opal is their springboard in the region.

“When we looked at the neighborhood and the offerings there, we think people are turning to lighter fare, bolder flavors, something simple and true to itself,” McClimans says.

Seafood will be in the spotlight, with an emphasis on seasonal finds like Atlantic halibut or Florida red snapper. Diners can expect a variety of preparations from the wood-fired open kitchen – snacks, sharing plates, entrees, sides, and homemade breads and pastries. There will also be plenty of vegetable-focused plates and coastal-inspired meat preparations. Similar to the generous “chef’s choice” option at Nina May — a family-style spread every night for $55 per person — Opal will have “our version of a tasting menu that isn’t a tasting menu,” says McClimans.

Chef co-owner Colin McClimans (left) and Danilo Simic. Photo courtesy of Nina May

An intimate bar, which stands in the center of the dining room, will offer the full menu alongside Simic’s cocktail creations and a well-stocked beer and wine list. Simic plans to bring elements of Nina May’s beverage program to uptown — fresh juices, fancy ice cream — and riff on classics like a French 75 or Sazerac.

Opal is a new venture in more ways than one — it’s the only project that Simic and McClimans have yet to name after their young children. While there’s no kids’ menu to speak of, the duo plans to accommodate the many families in the neighborhood with kid-friendly options (chicken, pasta, veggies, and more). Hours are also meant to meet the needs of neighbors, including weekday lunch, dinner six nights, and, of course, weekend brunch.

Opal. 5534 Connecticut Ave., Northwest.

food editor

Anna Spiegel covers the restaurant and bar scene in her native DC. Before joining Washingtonian in 2010, she completed the MFA program at the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in New York and St. John, in the US Virgin Islands.

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