Image: William Faulkner
Dear Gentle Reader, we added two related spots in Glover Park to our dining guide this week. There was some news, including locals directly helping those in need in Europe, some comings and goings at notable D.C. restaurants, and the question of how many versions of Julia Child on screen is enough. Curious? Then read on!
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Xiquet and Slate Wine Bar – Chef Danny Lledó took over the old Slate Wine Bar a couple years back, added a tasting menu restaurant upstairs and put his stamp on the bar menu. They are both great additions to Glover Park even if our photography is less than stellar.
Comings and Goings:
Estuary – There is a new team at the Conrad hotel’s flagship restaurant. The Voltaggio brothers did not come back for the re-opening. Chef Ria Montes now gets to fire up the custom-built kitchen. The Mid-Atlantic focus of the cuisine appears to remain in place for now. Montes and her sous chef came from No Goodbyes, which must have made their departure awkward.
Al Dente – Washingtonian does a timeline of Roberto Donna’s career with the hook that he and his wife are opening a new spot in Virginia. Washingtonian’s photo essay has a caption on one image mentioning his wife, but a photo that looks like Amy Brandwein at the now shuttered Alba (a project that is not mentioned). Another thing we missed along the way was that Donna left Al Dente in 2019.
D.C. Dining News
Media: It was an ominous sign this week that Washington City Paper announced that it was laying off staff and going to digital only. WCP has been a pipeline of talent and always financially fragile, but it may take another serious effort to keep it healthy.
Relief Efforts: Local support by the food community for those impacted by Russian brutality in Ukraine continues. Eater DC reports that Bayou Baker’s David Guas went to Poland to do a stint, as did local food blogger Rick Chessen, for World Central Kitchen. WCK’s José Andrés actually went into Ukraine and has been in Kyiv. There remain many ways you can support various efforts.
It’s Not Over: H Street French spot Le Grenier announced they are closing after eleven years. DC Harvest across the street continues to hang on, but it is a reminder to support what you want to see around in the future.
Farmers Market: In a bit of good news, Dupont Farmers’ Market (apostrophe or not?) expanded its footprint for its Sunday market and adding a smaller Thursday one. You may recall that in 2020 FreshFarms, which operates the market, came under criticism for the lack of diversity of the stands at the flagship Dupont location. For a vendor, access to the Dupont market can be make-or-break because it is so much larger than any of the other neighborhood markets. Hopefully the added space will create more opportunity.
There are many takes on the new Julia Child biopic on HBO, with both Alicia Kennedy and Jaya Saxena coming out with roughly the same take: no disrespect to Julia, but isn’t it time someone else got the spotlight. We agree with that sentiment, but the subjects we would favor are not who Hollywood would pick we fear. For those interested in other stories, we might suggest Mayukh Sen’s Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America . One story that Sen was inspired by has a D.C. angle.
The Times has an interesting piece on how the restaurant industry is changing as the culture changes with regard to gender and gender roles. Sometimes restaurants are barometers, sometimes they are leading indicators.
The Emerging Economy: March jobs numbers were strong, with unemployment dropping to 3.6%. Possibly related, the restaurant industry remains sluggish. The National Restaurant Association, which failed to secure additional relief for its members, reports, “Overall, eating and drinking places remain 820,000 jobs – or 6.6% – below their pre-pandemic staffing levels.” The NRA’s three priorities for the year are greater access to foreign labor for restaurants, tax credits, and stopping attempts to eliminate tipping. Whether any of those will help lure workers back to the sector we will leave to your judgment. It is important to remember that the restaurant staffing crisis pre-dated the pandemic.
That’s it for the week. We keep thinking spring has arrived, but we’ll believe it when we see strawberries at the market (though there were ramps today!). If you are looking for a place to eat in D.C., keep in mind that we have 300 recommended restaurants in our dining guide 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.