Image: Francesc Catala – Roca, Untitled (1953).
Between the election, three-day weekend, and twitter imploding, we decided to skip last week’s update. But there is stuff to catch up on, so we are back (though we’ll probably take off next weekend). This past week added paired Peruvian spots to our dining guide, before that Initiative 82 passed, and there were a couple of interesting posts that make you say “hmmmm.” So let’s get on with the recap!
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Causa and Bar Amazonia – We added this pair of inventive, exciting Peruvian spots in Blagden Alley.
Comings and Goings:
Komi – It is has been hinted, but we believe this post on donrockwell.com is the first to confirm that Komi is not coming back as we knew it. We would note that there is now a table inside with a counter for pick-up, so they may be slowly moving to bringing Happy Gyro inside.
D.C. Dining News
Compensation: Initiative 82 passed. What it means is not clear, though it does not eliminate tipping, it will affect it. It may lead to more service fees. There is an idea to treat service fee income as tax-exempt if used for wages to lessen the impact of restaurants (tips were not considered income for the restaurant because they went straight to employees, fees are treated as income). Notably no restaurant so far has announced they will close because of it, so the primary question is how will they adapt.
Food Security: A Senior Hunger bill gains wind. And a reminder to give a little this Holiday Season.
Comings and Goings: Emily Martin of Sunday Roast News has a piece in DCist about a spot called Chinese Street Market.
Popville also flagged that Philotimo has not reopened or given a hint about its future. It seems too big to fail, but maybe the shutdown forced a reconsideration and cutting losses. Chef Stefanelli is also currently working to open three spaces in a new NoMa hotel.
While the struggles are sad to see, we should note that there are a slew of new places coming (in addition to the Yellow). As long as were are blatantly piggy-backing him, credit to Popville who has multiple stories about closed spaces getting new life including, Local 16, Room 11, Bad Saint and we could have sworn we saw one confirming the Mt. Pleasant spot from the 2 Amys team. And Washingtonian noted that the Starr development of the old Dean & Deluca will get an Osteria Mozza, and Buffalo & Bergen is expanding to Cleveland Park. And Eater notes Hiraya is getting permanent digs on H Street. We presume this also means something about how investors are treating the threat of a recession and the impact of Initiative 82.
Criticism: DC Food Pundit posted that he appreciates negative reviews. “Good critics helps me understand my feelings about restaurants. I miss good (negative) criticism in the restaurant space.” This comes on the heels of Rick Eats DC arguing for ratings as Tom decides not to bring back star ratings. All of them seem to be wrestling with how to do nuanced reviews while still performing the public service role of a critic in pointing diners to good places and away from bad ones. We can’t claim to know where food writing is going, but we are hopeful that brave editors willing to explore new approaches will be rewarded. Right after we get through the pie and cookie recipe season.
Insights: Another interesting social media post came in response to David Hagedorn flagging a diner complaining about pacing. Matthew Adler of Caruso’ Grocery responded and provided an interesting insight into how a menu is constructed: “One thing we did at Caruso’s is just focus on items that have 5 minute fire times. Veal, chicken parm, Rollatini, trout + all the pastas. It’s the pork chops, steaks cooked to temp, thick pieces of fish that slow you down. I do miss having our pork chop on. But for the amount we sold a week, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.” Related issue raised by Barred in DC.
Kat Kinsman profiles Derek Brown’s new lo/no endeavors.
Drizly gets sued by D.C. and agrees to pay its drivers back compensation. The “alcohol delivery company, will be required to pay an estimated total of $6.46 million to resolve allegations that it failed to ensure delivery drivers received tips left by consumers and failed to pay required taxes.”
The Emerging Economy: Food prices are starting to come back to earth. Still above the prior three years, but coming down. It is almost like it was…what’s the word? Transitory?
The U.S. is on its way to being a net importer of food.
One study, of uncertain reliability, says that restaurant hours are going down and D.C. is a leading region for the phenomenon. “The other issue: worker shortages. Currently, there’s roughly two jobs for every one employee willing to work in the industry.”
Priya Krishna in the Times writes about the stratification of reservation apps along class lines. “All of this is inconvenient for the customer,” one person interviewed said. “There is no longer one place to go.” The frustration of sorting through multiple apps to find the one place you want suggests a simple solution where you search first for the place you want, then check availability. If only there was a site (for D.C. at least) with 300+ recommended restaurants that you could sort by neighborhood and cuisine and a link to check if where you want to go has openings?
Boiling Frog: An obtuse to read but interesting take: “nearly all this environmental pressure—about 92%—plays out on just 10% of Earth’s surface, mainly in India, China, the United States, Brazil and Indonesia, the analysis showed.”
Social Media: Social media, and Twitter, for all its faults is an open system with a low bar to entry. Unlike publishing or print, which is trapped in its model of talent-spotting, some smarts and hustle can break through with an account. That said, nearly all the food and beverage content in our feed has been supplanted by Elon’s “Top of the World” performance.
Speaking of blowing up, the Chicken Man blew up in Philly. Forty chickens in forty days. Boom.
The Dutch Just Call Them Sprouts: NPR on Brussels Sprouts and how they became more edible. “There are hundreds of these old varieties. The companies grew them in test plots, and they did, in fact, find some that weren’t as bitter. They cross-pollinated these old varieties with modern, high-yielding ones, trying to combine the best traits of old and new spruitjes. It took many years. But it worked. ‘From then on, the taste was much better. It really improved.'”
What Makes a Great Taco. “I just lost it. I was bawling, ugly, crying,” he says, “because this taco not only tasted great, but it also told the story of our ancestors, of our grandfathers, of our fathers who broke their backs to give us better lives so that someone like me could write a book about tacos and have the world’s best job.”
In case it wasn’t clear, this is the site to search for a place to eat in D.C. We have 300+ recommended restaurants. You can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc. – though things are in flux and we may miss something, so check before you go!) in either LIST or MAP format. So if you are gonna be in town, check us out.