The Sheppard: A New Speakeasy Coming From Spike Mendelsohn

By Rina Rapuano  |  June 10, 2014

Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn invited us to a weekday preview of Bearnaise’s new weekend brunch, and we soon learned that brunch wasn’t the only info the telegenic chef had to share. The biggest news is that he is working with Vinoda Basnayake to open a speakeasy called The Sheppard, named for Sen. Morris Sheppard (D) of Texas, who authored The Sheppard Bone-Dry Act passed in 1917 to ban alcohol drinking in DC.

Mendelsohn tells us it will open in about a week and a half with no outward markings except a green light. Guests will take an elevator and will be greeted by an "elevator host." There will be some bar snacks as well as cocktails by local cocktails guru Jack Caminos, AKA Jack Stache. He says it’ll be a hidden gem, and that the usual speakeasy reservations MO will be in effect: A phone number will soon be released that people can use to reserve.

He adds that while there will only be 35 seats, it won’t be like some speakeasies that strive for a serious, hushed experience. “It's not a place with rules,” Mendelsohn says. “If you want to stand, you can stand.”

And yes, we know the address - but we’re going to respect his request not to post it just yet. Don’t fret, though. It won’t take long for someone to break the seal, and everyone will likely know where it is within a week. We will tell you it’ll be in Dupont Circle, though.  

Now, back to the brunch, which started a few weeks ago. We sampled the muffins and breads made by Bakehouse off 14th Street NW; the crème brûlée brioche French toast with creme anglaise and blueberry compote; the Montreal bagel with smoked salmon and accoutrements; and the crispy pig’s feet hash, which Mendelsohn says is incredibly time-consuming but worth the effort. It was our favorite, so we would have to agree.

Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM-3 PM and offers bottomless mimosa and bloody Mary options. (We highly recommend Spike’s Spicy Bloody Mary - pictured - which packs a blend of cayenne, Sriracha and Tabasco and is topped with a bacon-wrapped fried Brussels sprout.)

Other news Mendelsohn wanted to highlight: Bearnaise starts a weekday happy hour June 16 from 4-7 PM and a new lunch menu soon; Good Stuff Eatery opens a Philly location next week; We, The Pizza in Crystal City is open as of this week and offers a slice window and delivery service; and a new show he’s working on for the FYI network, “Midnight Feast,” will air in September.