Nicole Jones is talking about hydration and fermentation and microblistering. She’s thinking about smoked whitefish, beet-cured salmon and how tahini mixed with oil, garlic and zaatar would work as a vegan cream cheese substitute.
She’s thinking about her bagel shop.
Jones, the owner of Stomping Ground, teamed up with Chad Breckinridge to open Bagel Uprising in the former Happy Tart space. Bagel Uprising was a sensation at Four Mile Run Farmers Market when Alexandria was starved for the doughy breakfast staple.
Bagels have since popped up all over Alexandria: Baked by Yael is sold at various Alexandria farmers markets, in Parker-Gray Pendleton Carryout Co. sells bagel sandwiches and Genuine Water Bagels operates out of Old Neighborhood Deli in Old Town.
Because Breckinridge, a full-time lawyer, used to bake out of his house, and for a short time, popped-up in the Dairy Godmother space, Jones swept in to take his base recipe and give it restaurant-worthy consistency.
Where Jones calls Stomping Ground “Southern-ish,” tapping into her years in Georgia, for this project she says she will, “unearth this Lithuanian side” of her family tree. Leaving the cult of bacon-egg-and-cheeses behind, Bagel Uprising will instead showcase Eastern European fillings like smoked fishes and lingonberry jams. Bagel Uprising won’t open for another six to eight weeks, just around the same time Jones is reopening Stomping Ground for dinner service.
When Stomping Ground first opened, the coffee shop turned into a bistro at night, serving vegetable-forward, seasonal, modern American fare with global influences. It was a true neighborhood spot: affordable food, sensibly portioned. The menu was both ambitious in its sourcing and beauty, but also on the amount of time it took to create that type of restaurant. At that point, Jones was still the one getting up in the morning to roll out biscuit dough and staying until dark to close service.
It was too much.
With Stomping Ground celebrating four years today—promos start May 21, including a $400 gift card, 40% off merchandise, $4 mimosas—the company grows as it returns to its bistro roots.
Jones hired Jamie Knight (recently from Hank’s Oyster Bar on Capitol Hill and before that in Las Vegas) to collaborate on the menu and run the kitchen. A few of Jones’ signature dishes will return, like the avocado with pistachios and green goddess dressing. There will be an emphasis on vegetables and fish, and, new: a full spirits program run by general manager Raquel Burbano (of Angelika at Mosaic, Captain Gregory’s and Kinship in DC).
The plan, says Jones, is “opening in a terrible month and get all of our jitters out of the way,” aka in July.
In a strip of restaurants full of burgers, tacos and bar food, the second coming of Stomping Ground dinner is a refresher to Del Ray, and another milestone for Jones’ burgeoning brand. “We’re gonna be a big girl restaurant and do it right this time.” // Opening this summer, Bagel Uprising: 2307A Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; Opening for dinner this summer, Stomping Ground: 2309 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria
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