Image: Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959)
Lots of good stuff this week in the updates and recaps. We added a spot, checked in on a spot in our dining guide. A spot re-opened and one promises to. The Caribbean dining scene gets a shake up. Big Macs continue to fascinate. All that and more, so let’s get on with it!
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
La Bise – Ashok Bajaj is not shy about ditching a concept. The old Oval Room is now a solid French spot and in our dining guide.
Tosca – The venerable downtown expense-account restaurant still delivers.
D.C. Dining News
The biggest news in D.C. dining was probably the announcement that Chef Peter Prime, who recently left Cane that is owned by his sister, will be taking over the kitchen at Bammy’s. In a possibly subtle one-upmanship move the announcement was made the day Jeanine Prime’s new spot St. James opened on 14th Street.
Tom’s Spring Dining Guide was posted this week. As his run extends to its third decade, it does what many young adults do, it moves to the suburbs. There is a companion piece about how to be a better diner, though his sources are primarily restaurant owners as opposed to servers or bartenders. It is probably not a coincidence that the one person who asked for people to be “empathetic” was Chef Angel Barreto.
The leading winery of Australia was hit hard by Chinese tariffs, so they decided to stop exporting and start producing in China to get around the tariffs. Penfolds believes the quality of their wine will not tarnish their brand. Time will tell if the quality of their judgment will. They also have plans for producing a Penfolds in California.
In Forbes, Oregon’s first Black winemaker, Bertony Faustin of Abbey Creek, is profiled for his “diva” like Pinot and his efforts to build “an inclusive community of wine lovers, a growing movement for diversity in winemaking and a platform to show other entrepreneurs how to make a living around a higher purpose.” We often knock the food sections of outlets for failing to cover the full scope of food stories. So we should offer a hat-tip to Forbes, which has been doing a lot of interesting takes on the wine world recently.
The biggest national dining news was something that didn’t happen. The Senate failed to overcome a Republican filibuster to pass the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022, which included $40 billion for replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund plus another $8 billion in other small business relief. There were a number of factors, including a greater fear of inflation (the bill did not include offsets) than a fear of sector collapse and intra-sector competition between big chains and independent restaurants. The bottom line is that there is an increased likelihood that we will lose more restaurants this year. Which brings us back to our refrain: support what you want to see survive. We are not out of the woods yet – on many fronts.
Priya Krishna writes about the return of dress codes at high-end restaurants around the country. “Marissa Hermer, an owner of the Los Angeles restaurants Olivetta and Issima, said diners often tell her that the restaurants’ dress requirements make them feel as if they are part of a members-only club.” Which is, of course, the point of many of the codes, to exclude not just sustain an ambience.
A few weeks ago we flagged that for many food writers watching another wave of Julia Child bio-pics come in (with CNN coming in last with the most standard offering), put forward the suggestion that in the past century there might be more than one figure to highlight. Monica Eng in the Post makes the pitch for Joyce Chen.
A man in Wisconsin decided when he was a young boy that the Big Mac was the best thing ever. Upon reaching adulthood he started eating one nearly every day for the next 50 years. One local angle to the story is that the new pizza shop on the south side of Dupont from Rose’s Luxury alum Rachael Jennings has some playful combinations. One is an ode to Mangialardo’s famous G-Man sub with cold cuts and fontina cheese. And one, yes dear reader, is an ode to the Big Mac, with beef, American cheese, iceberg, onions, pickles, and “special sauce.”
That’s it for the week. Remember, if you are looking for a place to dine in the District, our D.C. dining guide has 300+ recommended restaurants. 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.