Saturday, December 15, 2018

Knightsbridge Restaurant Group Announces the January 2019 Opening of Their Latest Rustic Mediterranean Concept, Olivia

Rendering of Olivia (Photo: Greg Powers)

From our friends at Knightsbridge Restaurant Group...

Award-winning restaurateur Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge Restaurant Group is pleased to announce the January 2019 anticipated opening of his latest venture, Olivia, at 800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004. Olivia replaces Bajaj’s American brasserie concept Nopa Kitchen + Bar, which opened in April 2013 with excellent reviews from critics and patrons, as well as being lauded in the 2018 Michelin Guide for Washington, DC. To give guests a taste of what awaits them in January, a daily special from Olivia’s upcoming menu will be featured during the month of December at Nopa Kitchen + Bar. Inquiring minds are encouraged to stop by the restaurant and sample tastes of what is in store for the new year, when Olivia opens in January, after a year in the making of this new concept.

Olivia, which comes from the Latin origin, meaning “olive tree,” will offer rustic Mediterranean cuisine that is inspired by the flavors of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, Greece and beyond. The new, harmonious menu pays homage to the many flavors and recipes sourced from the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. The menu will be comprised of a nice balance of innovative cuisine and traditional fare. A large portion of the menu will be produce-driven.

Matt Kuhn will stay on to serve as executive chef for Olivia. His restaurant career path began at age 15, washing dishes at a small, family-owned Greek restaurant outside of Charleston, South Carolina.  He next worked as a kitchen manager at The Gourmet Shop in Columbia, South Carolina while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005 in restaurant management at the University of South Carolina. Following graduation, Kuhn accepted a position at the White Face Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, working his way up from chef de partie to chef tournant, and later to sous chef under the leadership of acclaimed Executive Chef Brian Moyers. Then in 2007, Kuhn returned to Charleston accepting a place in the kitchen to work at Fig. Kuhn was part of the culinary team in 2009 when Executive Chef Mike Lata captured his James Beard Award. At Fig, he honed his French techniques and deepened his commitment to farm-to-table cooking. After two years at the notable restaurant, Kuhn relocated to Washington, DC to serve as executive chef at DC Coast before being tapped by Ashok Bajaj to serve as executive chef of his successful neighborhood restaurant, Ardeo+Bardeo.  Less than two years later, in January 2015, Bajaj tapped him to serve as executive chef of Nopa Kitchen + Bar.

Executive Chef Matt Kuhn (Photo: Rey Lopez)

In preparation for the birth of Olivia, Kuhn traveled throughout the coastal regions of Spain to immerse himself in its rustic Mediterranean flavors. Bajaj also recently traveled to Morocco to experience the cuisine and spices. At this new concept, guests can anticipate spreads, cheese & charcuterie, flatbreads, small plates and platters for the table, with an abundance of vegan and vegetarian options as well as chicken, lamb, and fish dishes. Menu items are priced from $5 to $28. A small sampling from Executive Chef Matt Kuhn’s opening menu will include dishes such as Roasted Carrot Hummus with tahini, chermoula and carrot pearls; Chickpea Espelette Tagliatelle with mushroom ‘bolognese’ and pecorino fonduta; Spicy Merguez Meatballs with couscous and tomato shakshuka; Galician-Style Octopus Carpaccio with paprika poached with pickled potatoes Peri Peri aioli and cilantro; Braised Short Rib Tagine with herbs job’s tears, carrot hummus, rapini and Medjool dates; Arroz Negro Portuguese Seafood Stew with linguiça sauce, fennel, tomato, Manila clams, mussels, squid, prawns, crispy boquerón, and Lisbon sauce; Crispy Lamb ‘Osso Bucco’ with black chickpea stew, merguez and dukkah yogurt, as well as Chicken Roulade ‘Souvlaki Style’ with Valencia rice, fine herb salad, charred lemon and ouzo jus.

For libations, one will find an international wine list with an emphasis on Mediterranean varietals that is priced to welcome exploration of new vintages. General Manager Michael Yarger consulted on the beverage program, which consists of 100 wines available by the bottle and 12 wines by the glass. Prices range from $28 to $100 by the bottle and from $10 to $16 by the glass. Eight signature cocktails reflecting the flavors and spirits of the Mediterranean will also available.

Ashok Bajaj has tapped Martin Vahtra of Projects Design Associates of New York, a James Beard Foundation’s award-nominated restaurant designer to create the space for Olivia. The 38-seat lounge area will be reminiscent of a speakeasy transported directly from Casablanca. The ceiling will be draped with fresh greenery while the 14-seat bar will be decorated with new wood slats and string lights crisscrossing overhead to give the space an outdoor terrace vibe.

The 90-seat main dining room will showcase new furniture and white-washed wood. White canvas will hang from the ceiling to mimic sails while lanterns will hang intermittently with the fabric giving the illusion of a Casbah Tent. An existing metal structure in the ceiling will showcase large glass wine bottles as a reference to the long tradition of winemaking throughout the Mediterranean. The new look will be complemented by classical art from this beguiling area of the world. In transforming the space into a Mediterranean oasis, Vahtra was influenced by the beautiful plants and flowers of the region. This is reflected in his color scheme of soft blues, neutrals and sun-kissed colors.

Olivia is located in the heart of Penn Quarter at 800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20004. Hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday, from 11:30 AM to 10 PM; Thursday and Friday, from 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM; Saturday, from 5 PM to 11 PM and Sunday, from 11 AM to 9 PM. Brunch will debut at a later date and will be served Sunday, from 11 AM to 3 PM. Valet parking will be available in the evenings. For reservations or additional information, please call (202) 347-4667 or visit