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As a lover of wine, cheese and charcuterie, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the opening of Sona Creamery & Wine Bar on Capitol Hill. It’s for that reason that I headed to the restaurant during its first week open, instead of doing my usual and waiting some time for it to work out opening kinks. The restaurant, which stands at the old MotoPhoto location, comes to DC from Conan & Genevieve O’Sullivan. The husband-wife duo has been making cheese for seven years working on Sona’s concept for five of those seven.

The first time I walked into Sona, I was somewhat confused. With no one to greet me, I didn’t know if I should go ahead and sit at a table or if I had to wait to be seated. I stood around for a bit, and when no one came, I decided to just sit at the bar.

Great decision. I was struck by the chalkboard mural created by Cherry Blossom Creative, as it very much paid homage to the neighborhood in a fun, unique way. In it, we get to see the Capitol Dome, people enjoying a picnic it the park, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Capital Bikeshare, and shout-out to the ANC6B. Gen O’Sullivan, who is working up to 18 hour days with Sona and her day job, tells us that parts of the mural will change every so often. The other chalkboard art throughout the restaurant is actually done by her husband. Impressive.

Having never been to Sona before, I wasn’t sure if all dishes were small plates or if there was anything entrée-sized. It would have been nice to have the bartender run through this for me, instead of having to ask. I started with the Bibb Lettuce Salad with tarentaise cheese, whole grain mustard, 25 year old balsamic vinegar, buttery crouton. It was fabulous, with a delicious dressing. Great size for the price as well ($8).

The steak & cheese éclairs were okay: three éclairs with pimento cheese and sea salt, but I cared more for the steak than the éclairs. Two women next to me recommended that I try the Sona Fries with Capitol Hill mumbo sauce (?!), but as a lover of things offal, I decided to go for the crostini: crispy pig ear, Sona-made pimento cheese and pickled veggies. I recently rounded up my three favorite pork dishes, and this one will dethrone one of those faves. There’s something I just find so mouthwatering about pig ears with vegetables – two different tastes really balancing out the other.

Not able to leave without something sweet, I ordered the goat cheese ice cream, one of three dessert options on the menu. The lemon curd made this dish. On my second and third visits, I found the service almost flawless. The (super-friendly and funny) bartender was slammed, yet still managed to pay close attention to us, suggest pairing, and pick us out some delicious cheeses. Oh, and those Mumbo Sauce Fries? They were great. Fourth visit called for Bruno’s Big Kid, which is a grilled cheese with mac and cheese inside. Yes you read that correctly, and yes it’s as amazing (and filling) as it sounds.

What I found out

  • Regarding my said comment about there being no hostess – it turns out he or she called out that night, so the confusion I had isn’t the norm. O’Sullivan says she’s been monitoring Sona’s Yelp reviews closely and is really valuing feedback on the food and service.
  • The branding is the best I’ve seen in some time.
  • The easy to read menu has multiple items stating (V) for Vegetarian and (GF) for Gluten Free. Nice.
  • Sona means “happy” in Irish.
  • Sona actively monitors its Twitter feed, which is always a plus, now I just want to see more content.
  • The bathroom is separated from the restaurant by a thick, heavy door. Pass the door and you’re in a hallway, likely shared and seemed more like what one would expect from an employee bathroom than a guest bathroom. Pet peeve!

What I look forward to

  • Going back for a fifth time and actually having an order of the charcuterie.
  • Taking some of the cheese to go.
  • Cheese and wine classes and tastings.
  • In the coming months Sona will begin making its own cheese, so you’ll be able to watch the magic of cheese being made through multiple glass windows.

Sona Creamery & Wine Bar
660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 758-3556