Written by Crispin of Capital Hill
One of the things we denizens of the H Street Corridor pride ourselves on is our neighborhood’s charming eclecticism.
No, I emphatically do not mean diversity, an abominable word favored by bureaucrats and bean-counting Directors of Admissions that should be banished from civilized discourse.
I mean invigorating variety, intelligent combination of diverse elements, a drawing of what’s best from disparate sources. It’s called civilization. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Anyway, one establishment on H Street that embodies the wonderful eclecticism I refer to is Star and Shamrock (1341 H Street, NE), right near the restored Atlas Theater. Here, in one exquisite package, the happy patron will find both the gustatory delights and delicacies found in a top-drawer Jewish Deli alongside the pleasing variety of brewed and distilled inebriants that one depends on from one’s favorite Irish watering hole.
The Star and Shamrock boasts a wide expanse, which makes the joint feel positively roomy in comparison to some of the other precious and pricy restaurant real estate on the strip.
Behind the carved, polished wood of the knockout U-shaped bar right in the middle of the space, one is likely to find Jason Feldman, the star (in every sense of the word) of the Star and Shamrock and the epitome of the DC Heebster (that’s a contraction of Hebrew and Hipster for you unwashed).
Brooklyn born and Jersey raised, Jason began to miss the fine Hebrew fare of his youth after he moved to Washington in 1999 and worked as a bartender for several years. Having grown up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in New Jersey and married an Irish girl, the idea of setting Jewish Deli fare in an Irish pub setting seemed a natural to him. Mind you, his unorthodox deli-inspired menu is not strictly kosher, featuring such delectable items as Guinness-soaked meatballs in challah roll, “Latke Madness” (a platter with three potato pancakes, hot corned beef, and grilled sauerkraut), as well as the “Clogger,” hot beef brisket on a Kaiser roll with provolone, bacon, and mayo.
One can also go the classic route and order the Reuben or the shepherd’s pie, just like bubby would make. If you’re feeling adventurous, though, go for the Reuben Egg Roll: corned beef sauerkraut and Swiss cheese wrapped in dough, fried and served with Thousand Island dipping sauce. Heebster Heaven.
Don’t let this succulent Semitic menu divert you from the wonderfully eclectic beer list, which includes both trusty favorites like Guinness and Harp as well as more specialized brews like the He’brew David’s Slingshot Summer Lager. While the H Street is always humming for the dinner scene, the lunchtime choices are more limited. But the Star and Shamrock always shines brightly as a fine lunchtime option. And feel free to bring the kids: the Star boasts a fine kiddie menu and kids are free on Tuesdays.
And besides, if your little nippers are anything like mine, they need a better cultural education than they’re going to get from all those hours of watching Elmo. Introduce them to the ancient traditions of the Jewish and Irish tribes at this luminous star of H Street.