Lighter than normal posting this week from us because jovial food discourse seemed out of step with the seriousness of the moment. We did do our Saturday art post, but chose a piece in keeping with the news. World events also might have made this week’s review a little feisty, but there was some notable news and perhaps a story about to break.
Updates to Recommended Restaurant List
Toki – The ramen shop credited with starting D.C.’s love affair with the dish is still going strong. You know how English majors are loath to admit the great books, like Moby Dick, that they have not read? We finally slayed our great white whale. Now what’s this Elizabeth’s Gone Raw place we hear about?
Comings and Goings:
Sorellina – A couple weeks ago we noted that the pop-up taqueria at Sorellina had settled in and Sorellina had given up its web domain. Now it looks like it is becoming Compliments Only?
Da Hong Pao – They are re-open for business. With a take-out window!
Arepa Zone – They opened a shop in Western Market.
D.C. Dining News
Watching the Detectives: As some might have expected was coming, Restaurant Manifesto wrote a response to Tom’s article about decline in service. He does not stop at pointing out that the argument is out of line in light of everything else, but makes a larger point about how critics become removed from reality: “Like many of America’s long-tenured restaurant critics (mostly white men), Sietsema may be getting a little long in the tooth. This is his twenty-second year as restaurant critic for The Washington Post. Two decades is an awfully long time to trust one person’s palate or opinions about hospitality. Whether Sietsema realizes it or not, there’s a measure of white privilege embedded in his hyperbolic disappointment caused by one meal in Santa Fe. (He even uses the phrase ‘willing to pay for the privilege’ in opening of his article.)”
Noting: Ellē posted a vague statement on its Instagram account that there was an “allegation” made with regard to one of its “staff.” In fact, the staff member in question turned out to be Chef Brad Deboy. Clockout DC’s Jade Womack was the one making the allegations, also on her IG account. Curiously, few picked up the story, other than Barred in DC noting the posts. At last check, the staff page on the restaurant’s website no longer lists Deboy as head chef, but it appears his avatar picture remains. Perhaps it is a simple, coincidental glitch, or perhaps they have suspended him temporarily pending a final decision. We have no additional insights, and they have not posted since the initial post.
What the Hell? Washingtonian has this story, in which they post an “interview” with Gordon Ramsay who hopes to be the Ambassador of Beef Wellington, (“best diplomatic post ever?” ponders Washingtonian). It also asks who will win the “battle” between Ramsay and reality host Jon Taffer, who is also opening a D.C. spot. Despite the obvious concerns about the food quality of a reality-show themed restaurant Ramsay indicates that the restaurant may have the partial attention of Christina Wilson [season 10 winner] VP of Culinary at Gordon Ramsay North America. The one thing Ramsay does want to be absolutely clear about to anyone who has questions about this farce is that, “there will be a red and blue kitchen! That is one element you will always see in Hell’s Kitchen.” As for food, Ramsay says he wants to bring the unique culinary perspective of his Baltimore steakhouse to D.C. Imagine the genius of introducing steakhouse cuisine to D.C.! This will be the second D.C. restaurant with Ramsay branding, and one of a planned 100 across the U.S. The story entitled “7 Burning Questions for Gordon Ramsay on the Opening of Hell’s Kitchen in DC” posted, however, as an actual living hell for an entire nation began. To be fair, perhaps the over-the-top writing was a subtle skewering by the Washingtonian, but our tongue-in-cheek tolerance was depleted this week.
Local Chefs and Shops: Remember when Chef Andrés opened the first America Eats Tavern and went deep into early cooking in the U.S.? That research still pops up now and then. A reminder some of the most notable chefs of the early days of this nation were enslaved. Andrés also signed a deal with Capitol One. Then he flew to Poland to assist in the work of World Central Kitchen in providing meals to Ukrainian refugees.
Anela Malik flagged this impressive looking event to celebrate Women’s History Month in D.C.
If you are looking for ways to support Ukraine, Kayla Benjamin and Jade Womack in the Washingtonian have a list of events, fundraisers, and assistance organizations to support. One of the places doing fundraising is the recently re-opened D Light Cafe in Adams Morgan. Its was hit by fire, and the Ukrainian sisters that own the shop raised money from a GoFundMe page to recover. Now, they are raising funds for Ukraine and worrying about relatives back home. Reports yesterday were that the line was out the door.
Hip City Veg was highlighted in this piece about about eating habits and the impact on the environment. We’ve only been there once so far, but the sweet potato fries were pretty good.
If you are doing well on your New Year’s resolutions and need a reward, Laura Hayes has a new installment of great sandwiches to be found in the D.C. area.
Bars: Hayes also has the heart-warming (and depending on the pour, you might say cockle-warming) story of two friends who emigrated from Ethiopia, set aside their engineering studies and took up bartending. They now hold two of the most prominent positions behind a bar in D.C.
Pour one out for Columbia Room.
Odds and Ends: Local woman sues Pepperidge Farm claiming butter crackers don’t have enough butter in them. Hard to believe this is not a shake down for life-time supply of Milanos.
Cork flagged this piece on NPR about how Hollywood affected the wine market, focusing primarily on the Merlot/Sideways story. Not only did Pinot Noir spike and Merlot tank for a time, but it boosted an entire wine region that we have some affection for.
The scare for coffee people when Bonvita, a maker of a drip coffee machine, appeared to go under.
Important Voices: Devita Davison, responding to a story in the Times about the fading chances to record the voices of the civil rights era activists, said, “I have longed wanted to tell the story of the civil rights movement through restaurants.” A similar thought struck us during celebrations of John Lewis’s life. There was something he and his fellow student activists understood about the resonance of lunch counters and restaurants. In fact, one of the landmark Supreme Court cases was about discrimination in a restaurant. And that is only one piece of the story that comes to mind. There must be many more, including those still to be recorded and reported.
The Emerging Economy: An Atlanta Magazine piece looks at inflation for restaurant supplies – including food, labor and ramekins (up 166%). Before the pandemic we would say that we don’t pay enough to eat out. It is even more true now.
Awards: James Beard semifinalists list came out this past week. Several spots in our region were named. Congratulations to all.
Funny Hmm: Billionaire investor Carl Ichan is worried that McDonald’s is not going to meet its goal of sourcing from more-humanely raised pigs.
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If it wasn’t clear, the primary purpose of this site is to be a dining guide for the District. We have 300 recommended restaurants that you can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc. – though things are in flux currently so check before you go!) in either LIST or MAP format.
Be patient. Wear a mask when asked. Tip big. Consider donating to something important.