Inside Ballston Quarter, art is happening. WHINO is a 6,200-square-foot store, gallery, and restaurant that plunges visitors directly into the large-scale mural installations. But the art, says owner and designer, Shane Pomajambo, is most assuredly also on plates and in glasses. “Chef, mixologist, sommelier, they’re all creatives. We house these creators in one space,” says Pomajambo.
After first announcing the project in 2018, WHINO will finally open June 18 on the second floor of Ballston Quarter in Arlington. Pomajambo’s firm, Moderne Design Inc. of Great Falls created the colorful space. Chef Eleftherios (Terry) Natas joined the project in January of 2019. “We discussed food and drink probably every day for the last two years. The menu started at A and ended at Z,” says Natas of the project’s transformation.
The chef is taking great pains to make sure that the food is every bit as special as the setting. “It’s the best possible scenario–there’s a little bit on our menu for everybody, from crudos to porchetta sandwiches to dry-aged steak,” Natas says. But those dishes do little to hint at the ambition of the menu. For example, Telly’s Gyro, so-dubbed for his Greek mother’s nickname for him, features a house blend of wagyu beef and lamb wrapped in homemade phyllo dough. It’s served with whipped feta-and-leek yogurt and tomato-and-cucumber relish.
The aforementioned porchetta is also made from scratch, a fennel-and-rosemary-rubbed pork loin wrapped in belly with crispy skin that’s served either with potatoes and broccoli rabe or on grilled ciabatta sliders with shaved-fennel-and-0range slaw and Pomajambo’s take on Peruvian aji sauce. Desserts are standouts, too, including a foamed take on crème brûlée; a snow cone flavored with burnt orange, chile, and mezcal syrup; and diples, a Greek Christmas pastry filled with semolina cream.
Sommelier Cesar Varela is leading the beverage program, which includes wine, but also signature cocktails. Beers are available in bottles and cans, but also on draft. Wine dinners will likely be among the many events to take place at WHINO, as well as Sunday suppers at which Natas will cook homestyle meals from around the world.
Natas says that just as the food at WHINO has transformed even before opening, so it will continue to change due to customer preferences. “I think as we get open and see what the area sort of demands, I think from there we’ll know whether we want to go higher-end with some foie gras or dry-age our own duck breasts or go more bar-centric,” he explains. But however WHINO evolves, the artists in the kitchen promise to push the envelope. // 4238 Wilson Blvd., 2nd floor, Arlington
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