Image: Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944).
This week we added a spot to our dining guide and several were updated – some good news and some sad news. It was also a big news week. Local chains start to go national, FedEx walks back its ID policy, Albi gets some love, and we wonder about editorial content in Food sections. All that plus some economic ponderings. So, to our dear reader, read on!
Updates to Recommended Restaurant List
Maïz64 – The Mexican fine dining spot on lower 14th Street is doing good work right out of the gate.
Chiko – The massively tasty and filling fast casual Chinese/Korean spot opens an outpost in Shirlington.
Sfoglina Downtown – now open for lunch and doing take-out.
D.C. Dining News
Twitter user “Trax Targaryen” did a map of recently opened and soon to be opened places on Capitol Hill. Here is the direct link to the map. Lots of rollover on Barracks Row, but Hill East is coming up fast!
While the logistics and planning for the first Red Eye Night Market created problems, the overflow was a boon to restaurants in the area. We also continue to believe that as a proof of concept for the market it was an amazing success demonstrating the crowds that would come out for such an event. It also highlighted both the resilience of the AAPI community, and, most appalling, the need for that continued resilience. Be better D.C.
The Butter Chicken Company, from the Bombay Street Food team, has news. PoPville reported that two of the local spots closed, but the idea is going national. This follows news that Taco Bamba also got investment to go big. So, D.C. places like Chiko and Chaia expand to the burbs and these two go national…there is a story in there somewhere.
Also in the world of the strange economics of these times, seeing Mission Michelin’s posts about the 14 course tasting menu with wine pairing at Xiquet, it struck me that not one, not two, but three expensive tasting menu spots opened in the teeth of the pandemic. Plus the slightly less fancy, but equally ambitious Oyster Oyster started up and minibar returned. All of them requiring a pool of affluent diners, a reliable supply chain, and a highly-trained staff. It seems to fly in the face of the trends noted below. And Inn at Little Washington opened a cafe.
FedEx – Following up on something we mentioned last week, it appears from Twitter reports that FedEx has yet to work out the kinks of its over-21 verification program and is going to “suspend” it. To bring you up to speed, for those of us who have wine shipped this is a key time of year when temperatures drop and wine can be shipped safely without fear of baking it in the truck.
FedEx decided this was also to the time to roll out a new age verification program that makes drivers scan the recipient’s drivers license. It did so without any warning or notice. So, say you went on a trip to wine country over the summer and fell under its sway purchasing a few (dozen?) bottles to be shipped directly at a later date. Say you don’t work from home, so someone else needs to sign for it. FedEx didn’t warn you to make sure the person taking your packages was prepared to meet the requirement. Nor did they instruct their drivers about the program – ours literally discovered it when he went to leave and realized that he had to scan the ID before leaving.
FedEx told some who called that the ID scan could be overridden with the driver manually entering the date of birth of the recipient, but not all drivers understood how to do it or that it was possible. The Post’s wine writer Dave McIntyre, who flagged the issue initially, went round-and round. On Friday he reported the policy will be suspended next week. In the meantime, FedEx has yet to fully explain the issue. Did they have problems with underage deliveries? That has been rare in the past. Did they have trouble with drivers not checking ID? Maybe, but now they have put the burden on customers to fix their problem. We have a deep suspicion that FedEx, like every other company nowadays, is prioritizing data collection over service. The geographic and demographics of those who purchase high-end products is valuable in the aggregate, and even more valuable for direct marketing. They should think long and hard before bringing it back.
In a bridge between local and national news, Albi made the Eater.com 11 Best New Restaurants list. A parting gift from recently departed EaterDC editor Gabe Hiatt.
The Post’s Greg Jaffe, who has moved to the national beat, focuses on walk-outs by staffs at fast-food franchises. A source he cites, has “a database of 1,600 walkouts since March 2020 that included as many as 100,000 workers.” We tend to needle the Post editors, but this is a good piece on a relevant topic. But it is not in the Food section!
Elsewhere not in the Post Food section, an explanation of current inflationary pressures. For food it looks like meat products are driving up the price of a shopping basket. Can’t imagine what problems that industry would have coming out of the pandemic.
Serious question: Are editors afraid to infect Food sections with downer content? For example, looking at the website for the Washingtonian food section, there are barely hints (if any depending on the day) that there are problems in the industry. The darkest story in the Post food section online this week was about the Subway “tuna” lawsuit. Meanwhile, stories about hunger are put in the Local news, and supply chain stories in Business, even when written by a reporter brought on to do these kind of stories who is a former food critic! When NBC highlighted a local voice on the supply chain issue, it probably came from a story by Laura Hayes in the Washington City Paper, not our paper of record or prominent glossy.
JP Morgan analysis indicates the labor shortage is really an immigration shortage. Doesn’t seem like the actual implications of immigration policy get the attention they deserve.
Ok – we’re done playing assignments editor for the week! But if you are in the D.C. area and thinking about getting some food, we can help with that. Our dining guide has 300 plus recommended restaurants that you can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc.) in either LIST or MAP format.
Stay safe. Be kind. Get the jab, bring proof and a mask. Tip big.