By Lani Gering
This new “cool cat” addition to the Del Ray area of our fair city is just that – “cool”. Located in the old State Farm Insurance building next to the parking lot that is home to the Del Ray Farmers Market on Saturdays, Stomping Ground has filled a special niche in the dining spectrum in this neighborhood. It is a combination coffee shop, breakfast joint and light lunch place.
The brain child of Nicole Jones, Stomping Ground opened its doors this spring. When asked what prompted her to jump into owning her own eatery she told us that she just really wanted to have a job that she could say she literally LOVED.
Jones comes to Del Ray from the “deep” south – Paulding County, Georgia via a childhood stint as an Army brat in the suburbs of Chicago. Her formal education found her pursuing a career in marketing and she ended up being the youngest executive at the local Atlanta, GA NPR affiliate. While working in Atlanta she met her partner – whom she claims is a nerdy economist who absolutely loves his job – and his career brought them to the DC area. This is when Nicole decided that she wanted to love her job as much as her nerdy economist so during her brief stint in the marketing department of Whole Foods she enrolled in night courses at L’Academie de Cuisine. You guessed it, her real love is food. She says her cooking style is deeply rooted in the south and she has an affinity for the beloved buttermilk biscuit, the staple item on the menu.
In fact, there are 12 various biscuit offerings ranging from the basic biscuit with butter to the Cowboy Steak & Egg sandwich (espresso-chili rubbed tenderloin, salsa verde and a poached or baked egg) on a biscuit and, of course, biscuits and gravy.
Other breakfast offerings include a Chef’s Breakfast (rye toast, raw radish, poached eggs and sweet cream butter) veggie hash (ingredients change daily), granola & yogurt and chia seed pudding. Fresh pastries are made daily. They vary depending on seasonal ingredients but most usually there are scones, hand pies and coffee cake.
The lunch menu is short and sweet with a “BLT” biscuit (pork belly, tomato, avocado, mayo and greens), a mixed green salad (you guessed it…mixed greens, herbs and lemon vinaigrette) and a Farmer’s Salad (seasonal veggies, market greens, farro and cider vinegar) and a daily special. When I was doing the interview the frittata was the special.
They proudly serve Swings Coffee (there is a Del Ray Swings located on Monroe Avenue) at their full service coffee and espresso bar. I was pleasantly surprised that they also have a fun beer and wine list along with the usual soda, tea, etc. I am really happy that they have “Good Ol’ Coors Original” beer. It takes me back to my old “stomping ground” in Wyoming!
They also serve communal dinners on Thursdays and Fridays from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The menu changes every week so you may want to call ahead to see if the choice of the evening is something that will please your palate.
They pride themselves on making “almost” everything from scratch – including the vinegar – using local meats, dairy, produce and grains whenever possible. They don’t, however, make their own mayo since Nicole feels like you just can’t improve on Duke’s.
The décor is simple and very welcoming. The staff here all share great senses of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously. In addition to Nicole (Chef & Head Janitor), Katie Haughey (Sous Chef & Voice of Reason), Rory Kraus (Pastry Chef & Self-Proclaimed Ninja) and Cassie Meddis (Front of House & Exalted Busser) round out the team. There are very fun signs in various locations (see photo) around the restaurant. There is sidewalk dining in front and the patio in the back is a work in progress including the popular game of corn hole. When the cosmetics are complete on the patio, it is going to be a great place to hang out.
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays for breakfast, they are closed on Mondays. Most items on the menu are available for carry out and they cater as well as offer the restaurant as a place to hold an event. They don’t take reservations and don’t take call ahead orders – they are too busy making biscuits!
2309 Mount Vernon Avenue