Image: Ernst Haas, Green Park, London (1953).
This week we posted about two gems of D.C. dining that are hiding in plain sight. Dining news was generally light this week, both locally and nationally. That maybe partly because at least two prominent D.C. outlets are not fully staffed at the minute. The biggest story is the one behind a Tom Colicchio tweet that no else seems to think is interesting. Curious? Read on!
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw – The vegan tasting menu spot is now open 3 nights a week and still putting out thought provoking food after more than a decade.
Sushi Ogawa – The serene refuge in Kalorama is a candidate for most underrated restaurant in D.C.
D.C. Dining News
Local Initiatives: Michael Loria in the Washington City Paper highlights a scrappy upstart delivery service that was put together by the delivery riders and drivers. As best we can make out they avoid the problems of DC To-GoGo, which failed because they could not get to scale, by not worrying about scale.
The owner of a little sweets shop south of Dupont also writes children’s books. Her most recent one is based on the stories of her mother’s life growing up in Korea. It is not that hard to imagine this story being made into a movie. DCist adds, “Park’s book will be released on March 25 — her mother’s birthday — and is available for pre-order. In addition, the Park sisters will give an author talk with Politics & Prose on March 23. The event is free and currently scheduled to take place virtually.”
Washingtonian does an interesting story about chefs working to make better food more accessible to those in senior living facilities. “called “grind dining,” takes favorite foods and reinterprets them in an easier-to-digest, handheld form, while retaining familiar textures and flavors.”
Moves: Ellē put out a statement confirming the Brad Deboy has been replaced as head chef: “We are announcing Brad is moving on as the head chef of Ellē. We support his continued focus on his mental health and his dedicated path towards sobriety over the past 9 months.” Deboy also posted a statement. We wish the best for all involved.
Misleading Names: WAMU does a story on the Watergate salad, which is nearly as scandalous as anything else done in the complex.
D.C. Folks Noticed and Noticing: The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for this year’s awards two years to the week after the restaurant world began its long period of pain. We are glad for the nominees, which include many favorites, but still question whether the traditional awards are appropriate. In our book, every restaurant that managed to survive and make payroll is a winner, regardless whether they had the means to compete for national awards.
Jason Rezaian writes about the rising prominence of Persian food. “Iran’s culture and especially cuisine are having a moment, leaving an indelible mark on the American palate.” For additional insight on Rezaian’s connection to the food and the country, there is this episode of Parts Unknown that was heartbreaking for a long time for one reason and is a gut punch for another reason now.
In the Post Food Section, there is this bittersweet story about a shop in South Carolina providing a taste of home to the Ukrainian community in the U.S.
Tom Colicchio tweeted at the National Restaurant Association for its inability to get the Restaurant Relief Fund replenished. We flagged an Eater story last week that couldn’t decide whether to blame congressional Republicans or the Biden administration for the failure to get it funded, but we thought the real answer was big restaurants, who are doing well, were not willing to go to bat for independent restaurants who are still struggling. Colicchio’s tweet essential confirms that dynamic and goes further to say that the NRA is actually working against support for independent restaurants. There are a whole host of issues where independent restaurants tend to take different positions than large chains, just like Walmart is not aligned with smaller retailers.
One of those issues is compensation, with D.C. is about to go through another round of back and forth with Initiative 82 likely headed for the ballot. Recall this story that the local Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) may have been pressured by the NRA not try to reach a deal. Does the national split over RRF spill over to other issues and to local ones?
Also on the subject of independent restaurants, Alicia Kennedy, who recently did a think piece on dive bars, now has penned an ode to neighborhood restaurants. “The shine of a neighbourhood restaurant never wears down, never feels outdated. How could it? Amid all the eating and talking, one barely notices what’s decorating the walls and rarely stops to snap a picture.” Kennedy is an independent writer who would surely appreciate a few more subscribers.
Tim Carman updates the story of McDonald’s in Russia, where someone has applied to trademark a variation of the golden arches for a new store called Uncle Vanya that might be poised to take over the 850 stores abandoned by the company. Tom Friedman could not be reached for comment. But Uncle Vanya himself is reported to have said, “When there is no real Big Mac, you live in a mirage of a McDonald’s. It is better than nothing.”
That’s it for the week! Enjoy the weather and the Cherry Blossoms. Remember if you are coming into the District and looking for a place to eat that we are the best way to find a great place to eat in D.C. 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.