Image: Oskar Poss. Two women at a pavement cafe, Italy (1955).
Life moved a little slower this week, which we can only assume is D.C. emptying out for Coachella. We also took it slow with few updates or additions to the site, but we promise gentle reader that there is much in the queue. So let’s turn to the news of the dining world.
Updates to Recommended Restaurant List
Churchkey – The excellent bar that focuses on craft brews reopened. Its downstairs sit-down restaurant Birch & Barley has yet to unveil its new look or chef.
D.C. Dining News
Bloomsbury: DCist did a culinary Cherry Blossom jubilee, trying all the specials rolled out by the food and wine world for the event.
Other Guides: Michelin continues adding D.C. restaurants in batches ahead of its annual release of the full list. The most recent list is 16 places, on top of the 5 previously announced. Which means it added roughly 20% to its total D.C. list with this upcoming edition. We applaud Michelin’s efforts to stretch and recognize places that don’t fit its traditional pattern. Notably, there remain two surprising absences in Le Diplomate and Marcel’s, and they continue their soft spot for brunch places in Dupont. There also remain a host of errors (though they did quietly drop Mirabelle which switched chefs, then closed without them noticing). We understand, there has been a lot of change and confusion and even we fall behind trying to keep up. But then again we don’t hold ourselves out as the world’s leading dining guide. Here were some easy ones to spot: Komi has not done its standard service for two years and is solely take-out. There is the awkwardly linked profile of Ellē’s chef who no longer works there. Likewise, it doesn’t appear as if they have revisited Bad Saint since a key member of the team left, though they mention that the “team isn’t letting the fame go to their heads” implying the original team is still in place. They show The Partisan as open. For Cane there is this line: “Brother and sister team, Peter and Jeanine Prime, are also the masterminds behind St. James, focusing on the exciting cuisine of their native Trinidad.” Chef Peter Prime left Cane and St. James has yet to open. For Pineapple & Pearls it looks like they are two chefs behind in terms of updates and do not mention that the whole format rolled over post pandemic, which is not reflected in their pre-pandemic write-up. Hard to imagine they would have an out-of-date entry on a two-star restaurant in the French guide. We say this not just because we like to pick on Michelin (though we must admit to enjoying it). Michelin, for longer than it should have, got away with static content because it tied that content to an annual publication. But if they are shifting to an on-line dynamic model then their content can no longer be static. They need to edit year round. They need to respect their customers.
The new guide comes out May 4th, let’s hope they respect the D.C. diner enough to take their job seriously. In the meantime, our offer stands to help edit their entries before they go to print for a modest fee so they don’t continue to embarrass themselves. All that said, congratulations to those Michelin recognized. We hope the added attention is a boon and a blessing.
Politico does a long article on gentrification in D.C. and the impact on Black lives and culture. Most of the article focuses on housing and populations shifts, but they also note: “When the housing becomes unaffordable, new people come in,” said Sam George, the documentary filmmaker behind “Go-Go City: Displacement and Protest in Washington, D.C.” “They don’t frequent the restaurants that have been there for decades, so those have to close, and the cultural impact just builds.”
The story of Black trailblazer in the world of Bourbon takes a sour turn. Related is this story in the Washington City Paper about a local project called Sip+Tipple that does subscription service of Black-owned spirits. The project started when Kimberly Hall unsuccessfully tried to find Blackleaf Vodka, which has local connections, in her Deanwood neighborhood. For more on the long history of Black contributions to American distilling check out this Setting the Table podcast.
Is Help Coming? The Independent Restaurant Association is ramping up its push for additional relief. They released a survey that said: “Of the businesses that did not receive a federal grant [under last year’s expired program], 52% expect to close within six months.” The National Restaurant Association will be bringing restaurant owners to town for its annual public affairs conference where it will focus on three big issues. None of them is saving the restaurants at risk. It will be interesting if the attendees stay on NRA’s message or take up the IRA’s. Just saying that is a story I’d like to read.
Le Monde takes a look at French state dinners discussing a new book by a 25-year veteran of the events. “The three to four hours of an official meal, under General Charles de Gaulle, have become about an hour and a quarter.” (NOTE: it is in English, but much of it is behind a paywall).
The former mayor of Atlanta was refused entry at The Capitol Grille at the Perimeter Mall for wearing leggings that it said was in violation of its dress code. This story may require a lot of nails in the coffin before it keeps coming back.
The Counter, which sought to cover the issues surrounding food and understand that we should think of those issues as food issues, announced it is shutting down. Run as a non-profit, it appears its funding streams were not stable. Attention Food Section editors! This means lots of good journalists who are covering important issues can write stories to intersperse among your recipe pieces.
The shutdown of The Counter brings into relief the reality of Brad Leone’s continuing platform at Bon Appétit, one of the few leftovers of the big shake-up there.
Best wishes to those that are observing the holy days that overlap this year. Also, not to put to fine a point on it, but we are a dining guide for D.C. on this site. So while Michelin sorts itself out, we continue to believe we are the best way to find a great place to eat in the District. The guide has 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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Stay safe. Be patient. And next year maybe we can all look for Tesla-like Easter eggs on Twitter.