Cranes, a small, upscale restaurant that emphasizes the atypical combination of Spanish and Japanese cooking techniques, will open next month in Penn Quarter. The long-awaited restaurant announced today that Saturday February 8 will be its first evening.
Chef Pepe Moncayo’s first American restaurant replaces the sprawling 12,000 square foot space that once housed Ruth’s Chris at 724 Ninth Street NW. The native Spaniard’s prix-fixe menu will feature a rotating selection of “Spanish kaiseki” plates made with mid-Atlantic ingredients. Kaiseki refers to several course tasting menus in Japan that draw inspiration from specific seasons and environments.
“A mentor told me [wherever] you go out there, find the freshest, best ingredients you can get,” Moncayo told Eater last year. “I don’t believe in recipes that work everywhere.”
Moncayo moved to DC a year ago after a 10-year stint in Singapore, where he opened a popular omakase-style restaurant called Bam!
Cranes features a 50-seat bar and sake lounge, an elevated dining room that seats 175, an open kitchen, and a private dining room that seats 25. It will open daily, offer a happy hour on weekdays and possibly serve lunch.
Examples of Japanese-Spanish dishes include shrimp torta with tamarind aioli and romesco or nameko mushroom rice with burrata that accompanies a salad of enoki mushrooms, shallots and porcini oil. Fried calamari with boiled eggs, chorizo and white onion puree is another dish. Ponzu and Espelette pepper replace the mignonette in a dish of fresh oysters.
Cranes pastry chef Jonni Scott, a native of Junction Bakery and Bistro, will prepare dishes like yuzu pie that pairs with Chinese yellow tea.
In lieu of wine, the restaurant will offer optional sake pairings. Monica Lee, a Daikaya alumnus, has curated a sake collection that includes rare Japanese labels like Yamada “Everlasting Roots” Tokubetsu Junmai.
The chef’s resume includes work under three-star Michelin Catalan chef Santi Santamaria at Santi in Singapore, Can Fabes and EVO. He worked as executive chef at Dos Cielos, two Michelin stars, with Javier and Sergio Torres.