Image: Boris Karloff at the Dakota.
There was big news in D.C. dining this week. We continued our low-key postings so as to not be too incongruous with the world news, but there is lots of interesting things to read about in this week’s recap. Also, might need a parental advisory on some of the language.
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Hanumanh – The cool little Lao bar in Shaw reopened this week.
Hank’s Oyster Bar – We updated the information and provided an overview page of this local chain.
D.C. Dining News
Media: The biggest news is about the news. The invaluable Laura Hayes is relinquishing her food editor post at Washington City Paper. We have picked on certain food sections for missing major stories about the world of food. Laura made the entire world of food her beat (see, e.g. her last story) and brought so many important issues to the attention of readers, other journalists, and policymakers. We have called her indefatigable, so we can only assume she will be starting a new gig soon and will crush it. Our guess is she is taking book leave to do a coffee-table book about sandwiches, but that is just reckless speculation (Wreck of Speck !). In the meantime, enjoy the time off Laura, and we hope you get the raise we continue to believe you deserve.
Note that Hayes’s departure follows Gabe Hiatt’s at Eater DC. It would be a good bet that the trails these two blazed will be the direction of food journalism in the future. And we hope their replacements get the chance to continue to push. Best Brunch Spots might be a below the fold item soon, but only if editors learned the lesson they (and others) taught about what belongs in the food section.
D.C. in the World: José Andrés belongs to the world now, but we still claim him. His charity, along with so many others you can donate to, is providing assistance in various ways to Ukraine and Ukrainians. This post may make you choke up a little when you realize where they are.
Other Chef News: Longtime D.C. area chef Jon Krinn stepped away from Clarity, hinting of future plans. Is wellness is the new black?
On the Ellē website, Harrison Dickow is now listed as Head Chef. Though there is not statement about formally removing Brad Deboy from the position that we could find.
Chef Peter Prime was bumped off the Beard contender list because he left Cane before the awards came out.
Open and Shut: Someone smashed up Russia House. There are enough assholes in the world. Don’t be another one.
Apparently Shoto hasn’t really opened yet. Lots of red flags in the Eater piece.
L’Annexe says they re-opened on March 1. We missed that they closed. We have tended to root for whomever held down that spot.
The menu at L’Annexe was originally done by Andrew Markert of Beuchert’s. Now the Beuchert’s team is about to open a new restaurant in the old Montmartre space. Newland will have “two menus: a prix-fixe ($80) that includes bread service, snacks, petit fours, and the diner’s choice of four courses; or a chef’s tasting menu with the same gratis perks, plus six courses of on-and-off-menu items selected by the kitchen. Plates for both draw inspiration from seasonal Mid-Atlantic ingredients and Markert’s wide-ranging kitchen experience.”
Just Because You Can Make It There… The fate of Maison Kaysar seems to have turned into a dare for NYC “day cafes” to prove they can make it in D.C. The latest entry is an “Oprah-approved” thing called Maman, which after opening developed “into a ‘lifestyle brand’ with 15 Instagram-ready locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn, and into Montreal and Toronto.” That sounds like more red flags.
Next Level Snub: Last week we unloaded a bit on Gordon Ramsay for seeming to affirm that his new restaurant in D.C. is largely a cookie-cutter concept that he is not putting much energy into. This week comes news that he will be revising one of the spaces at The Savoy hotel in London to turn it into an homage to the legendary French chef Escoffier, who cooked there for a period (and invented Peach Melba). Unlike the much less-aspiring D.C. restaurant, Ramsay even named the executive chef to lead the effort. The disparity in attention and thought between us and London does send an implicit message that D.C. can go to hell.
Roadside Terroir is back! Brenna Quigley returns with a second season of her podcast that looks at wine through the eyes of a geologist. The first season covered Santa Barbara, this one Burgundy. If you love wine or a good story, we encourage you to subscribe and listen and donate.
Non-stellar Food Journalism: The Atlantic had a piece where consultants and businesses who sell HVAC products to restaurants said that restaurants are “learning the wrong lessons” because they are not buying their products. It also noted with dismay that average consumers are not as sophisticated about good health measures as they should be. For a refresher on the state of the restaurant industry in the middle of a pandemic, beset by decreasing labor pools, increasing labor costs, supply chain issues, inflexible landlords, skittish and insane customers, and impossibly difficult decisions about what to pay for and whether to go into debt, we refer you to this article in DCist that builds on a great podcast by Dish City done a year ago. Especially gut-wrenching and apt is the explanation given by the owner of Purple Patch about the cost/benefits of buying heaters. As for an ill-informed public we might suggest to The Atlantic: physician heal thyself.
Tom Colicchio did an interview that was about as softball as you can imagine (“So before we get to the new season of Top Chef, I have to tell you how much I loved the previous season.“) and still manages to shit the bed when discussing the last season of Top Chef and the fact the winner was fired from his day job. After saying, this is very serious, we will look into it. They have now turned to the “are-we-still-talking-about-this” stage: “So really, I have nothing to say, because a lot of it was just rumor and innuendo. I mean, he got fired. That’s between him and his boss, really.” We will not be watching this season, nor ever again. We also are somewhat surprised that Daily Beast still exists.
Good Food Journalism: The Post has a story on an oil spill in Peru that has disrupted the fishing traditions. “[T]he Jan. 15 Repsol oil spill has spread to 24 beaches, contaminating an area almost twice the size of Manhattan. Beaches have been closed since the spill, and fishing along the affected shore has been prohibited indefinitely. Seafood restaurants are empty. Local tourism is at a standstill. And fishermen such as Merino have had to consider the possibility of finding new work — or moving elsewhere.”
G. Daniela Galarza has a cool story in the Post Food section about the deep and ongoing legacy of Nashville hot chicken and the Prince family. It includes this insight from scholar Adrian Miller: “People often ask me, what’s the difference between soul food and Southern food? For one thing, African American food has tended to be more heavily seasoned, and there’s history behind that. At the time of European contact, West Africans were already eating warm spices in their food.” It also includes a subtle reminder that there is still a need for good editors and fact-checkers.
Laura Hayes flagged this article from a writer in the Birmingham, UK area. Those of us lucky enough to have routine access to fine dining can forget that it is a luxury out of reach for most. But there is a reason we love it. And there is a joy in reading someone describe how they fell in love with it.
“No Mikey“: For those that follow the sport, the start of the F1 season can’t come soon enough. Luckily, Drive to Survive fans will get their fix this week so they can regurgitate all their feelings about Lewis v. Max. The Parc Fermé podcast that we recently flagged for its discussion with a chef for a F1 team continued to do a food and F1 theme this week. Kudos to D.C. area co-host Grace for plugging Ethiopian and José’s places.
Thanks for reading this far. We apologize for the profanity this week, but then again there were reasons to be grumpy. Keep in mind the primary purpose of this website is to be a dining guide for Washington, 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.
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Be safe, be kind, be patient.