Baby Wale swims into D.C. with simple, striking menu

September 5, 2013

Don’t try to order a baby whale at Baby Wale. Instead, I recommend sampling the Mozzarella Porcupine. An unpredictably satisfying cheese dish, it’s topped with Kataifi (shredded Fillo Dough) and complemented by a tomato colis and basil oil dipping sauce, which satisfies both the cosmopolitan palate and the adventurous spirit found in so many Georgetown students. In fact, the Mozzarella Porcupine perfectly encompasses the eclectic atmosphere of one D.C.’s newest restaurants.

Burrowed within a nondescript building, Baby Wale is all exposed beams and concrete walls decorated with concert posters and peeling paint. The tables are small and close together, topped with brown paper and dishtowels to create the ultimate understatement.

What’s most noticeable behind Baby Wale’s doors, however, is the expansive, 140 seat bar. Stretching along the length of the room, the bar was Tom Power’s inspiration when developing his second restaurant. Taking a few minutes in between filling orders to speak with me, Power explained that his vision for Baby Wale was to put a “playful spin on the old school bar.” Indeed he has, with menus on wooden clipboards and an imposing branch suspended from the ceiling and decorated with Christmas lights.

Power noted that the posters, splashing the graying walls with pops of neon, were created by his wife, Georgetown’s own Natsu Onoda Power, an assistant professor in the Department of Performing Arts.

Along with the Porcupine, I sampled the charred tomato soup, a tangy—spicy even—twist on the traditional dish. While Baby Wale’s menu is limited, with only two options if you’re looking for the “Big Stuff,” it still caters to a variety of tastes.

For, as the running joke goes, half of our student population, Baby Wale offers a taste of home with the New Jersey hot dog and fries.

For patrons looking for a more diverse dinner, the Filipino-style spring rolls came highly recommended. The dishes themselves are delicious, but certainly leave you wanting as they come in relatively small servings. Refreshingly, the prices fit the portions as everything—save the “Big Stuff”—is under $20. The deals are not unintentional, our server disclosed. Baby Wale shares a South wall with Corduroy, Power’s other restaurant and Wale’s older, more mature brother. Appealing to younger crowd, Baby Wale takes Corduroy’s class and adds some youthful energy.

With partially-covered bare bulbs casting a smoky shadow over the room, Baby Wale is, as aptly described by my cohort who ate with me, like “the Urban Outfitters of restaurants.” This quirk and charisma is complimented by the funky vitality of its patrons and wait staff. The man at the table next to us, shamelessly dining alone, felt completely comfortable striking up a conversation with us regarding our seemingly furry entrée. Elsewhere, the din of chatter at the bar coupled harmoniously with the dynamic music that filled the room.

Our server noted that while at Corduroy he dons a jacket and tie, at Baby Wale he can relax in jeans and a simple black shirt. It’s all this that creates the appeal of Baby Wale. Diners can enjoy the sophistication of a crispy soft-shell crab sandwich with chervil sauce while taking in the exposed beams and skylights of the seemingly “unfinished” building. The ambiance and conviviality of Power’s second restaurant makes it an entertaining, enjoyable dining experience.


Baby Wale

1124 9th Street, NW D.C. 


Mon. thru Sat. from 5 p.m. on

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Richard Jamison

Nice job Annamarie. Makes me want to go there and see for myself.
Richard Jamison
Tacoma, WA.