Image: Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, Barefoot in the Park (1967).
Dearest Gentle Reader, lots of news and activity in the dining world this week. We added two spots to our D.C. dining guide. Some bits of local dining news, some bigger news from elsewhere, and the question is posed if it funny to compare someone’s job longevity to a head of lettuce. So shall we proceed?
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Perry’s – The Adams Morgan stalwart gets a new chef and makes our list.
L’Avante Garde – L’Annexe finally is annexed to something and it is an indulgent special occasion French spot.
Comings and Goings:
Anna Spiegel is already getting stories for her new gig at Axios. She reports on where Kevin Tien is going. He is “forming a hospitality collective: Doki Doki Group, a partnership with chef Judy Beltrano whom he met working at Momofuku, fellow Louisianan Alan Vo, and ex-Moon Rabbit pastry chef Susan Bae.” He is waiting and being selective about where to open Moon Rabbit next.
D.C. Dining News
A Tour de Tatte. “I’ve never been inside a Parisian patisserie, but even using my imagination, at no point in any of the 10 Tattes today did I feel remotely close to that. Whatever atmosphere Tatte is trying to emulate is likely less important than what it provides most basically: a place to camp out with wifi, coffee, and natural light in the work-from-anywhere era — an offering that is nonspecific, easily replaceable, and in Tatte’s case, conveniently located about every five blocks in the wealthier parts of the city, where more residents are probably working from home.”
Dawson’s Market, which took over for Glen’s, which took over the old Secret Safeway, is closing.
A Texas-based company opens a D.C. restaurant and imposes a dress code, but then says they don’t really enforce it. A word of warning to out-of-towners, do your homework.
Philippe Chow seeks to follow in Maialino Mare’s footsteps. “In DC, we consider the political crowd the celebrities,” says owner Abraham Merchant. “The political crowd is what we are looking for and that’s what we’re hoping to attract.” The problem is D.C. does not have a celebrity culture. Even when we had The Reliable Source, it was more tongue-in-cheek than breathless or voyeuristic.
Watching the Detectives:
While we poke fun at Michelin for the poor job is does in D.C., our Twitter feed this week was dominated by coverage of the mini-sub disaster, a coup feint in Russia, and promoted posts from The Infatuation resorting the same 100 restaurants or so into what feels like 40 lists. Guess getting bought out by J.P Morgan has its benefits. Note: Call Your Mother has more locations than the Georgetown one. Though to be fair we also have a tough time keeping up with their expansion.
Bars: Esquire did a list of the Best Gay Bars in America. D.C. got two on the list, Trade and As You Are.
Beer: The Times on the Asian-Americans making craft beer.
Wine: Champagne growers have been hyping their commitment to sustainability. Charles Curtis asks if the hype is just hype.
Water: Danone, which bottles water under the Volvic label is under fire from locals: “A heated dispute over water is rippling through Auvergne, central France. While communities are facing water use restrictions, fingers point at multinational group Danone, accused of drying up water tables with far-reaching implications for the region’s ecosystem.”
The Emerging Economy:
FT tries to out-pun everyone. “European pasta producers are facing growing pressure to lower prices as simmering tensions surrounding the rising cost of fusilli, spaghetti and other household staples threaten to boil over.”
Toast is adding a $.99 fee to orders. Guess making restaurants eat fees has reached its limit.
“As migrants continue to settle in New York, the city has partnered with restaurants to produce free meals for them.”
Food as Touchstone:
Carlos Frias, from ten years ago, on the allure of a special mango. “Marilynn, my father and her mangoes: This has become our summer love affair.”
The Guardian on a tomato as a historic hook: “Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad tomato illustrates the difficulty of constructing a more inclusive and accurate historical record.”
National Geographic on how ice cream became a sensation during prohibition.
Slightly more expensive than $.99: Still trying to make sense of this: “LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Taste Club, a first-of-its-kind national dining & global luxury travel club supported by an internal, best-in-class concierge team, is poised to launch in May 2023.” More: “Memberships provide access to exclusive dining experiences curated for them by each of the celebrated chefs/restaurant partners. In addition, members will enjoy access to bespoke luxury travel experiences: a blending of effortless travel, transportation, insider access to premier events, stunning accommodations, and unforgettable culinary experiences.” No wait, it gets better. “Memberships are priced at $7,500 for a one-time initiation fee, with monthly dues of $300. Due to the high-touch, personalized nature of the Taste Club offering, enrollment is limited and requires a selection process to determine eligibility.” Oh no, you think, it can’t get better than a “selection process!” You’d be wrong. “The mission of Taste Club is to invest in the future of the hospitality industry through financial contributions to both non-profit organizations and restaurateurs.” What is a financial contribution to restaurateurs? A kickback? What non-profit that is committed to transparency and equality would saddle themselves with this association? “[T]he principal beneficiary being the James Beard Foundation.” José Andrés is listed as a founding chef partner, but only associates him with a Vegas spot.
How much runway do restaurants have? Grubstreet makes the case that a new spot in NYC that was getting a following without a PR push was on its way, but the investors didn’t like the number and pulled the plug after 5 months. “It’s a shame because signs were pointing in the right direction. In an early review, Eater NY’s Robert Sietsema called Da Prato a ‘chef with a vision,’ and here on Grub Street we praised her ‘intimate knowledge of Tuscany’ and top-tier grissini. It seemed as though a major review from the New York Times could be just around the corner, one that would have made good on the investments. In fact, Da Prato says a reviewer from Gambero Rosso — ‘the Italian Michelin guide’ — had just been in.”
A reminder that workplace safety rules are there for a reason. “A gas explosion that ripped through a barbecue restaurant in northwestern China killed at least 31 people, officials said on Thursday, hours after the blast had turned the restaurant into a charred ruin.”
More evidence that artificial sweeteners are not good for you from the Business section of the Post. “Last year, a large observational study in France found that adults who consumed larger amounts of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame and acesulfame- K, had a slightly higher cancer risk.”
The Swedish Army is boycotting the company formerly known as Kraft for maintaining ties to Russia?
The L.A. Times hired a writer to cover food from another angle than typically done. She did a story about misuse of “service fees” that went viral. Flagging for editors elsewhere about the payoff of hard-nosed journalism in the food world.
It seems like there are certain things that each generation must discover for itself. The joys of eating at the bar is one of them. Welcome to club. To keep with content production for this site requires doing it about twice a week for us!
A full but short life: “With a big personality and sly humor that included references to his expanding belly, Mr. Choueiri was the Middle East’s preeminent media-star chef for decades with a show that began in 1994 — before the dawn of foodie social media and the explosion of celebrity kitchen culture.”
Odds & Ends:
Liz Truss says being compared to lettuce was not funny. Tempted though we were to make an iceberg joke, it didn’t seem appropriate this week. Though the morbid glee that did happen confirmed that we have lost our bearings as a culture.
On the other hand, we have less qualms making jokes about the other unfolding story.
China social media on White People Food.
Apple Corporation tries to claim IP rights over the image of apples. “The Fruit Union Suisse is 111 years old. For most of its history, it has had as its symbol a red apple with a white cross—the Swiss national flag superimposed on one of its most common fruits. But the group, the oldest and largest fruit farmer’s organization in Switzerland, worries it might have to change its logo, because Apple, the tech giant, is trying to gain intellectual property rights over depictions of apples, the fruit.” Gruyere was just the beginning.
There you have it. Another wrap-up down. If you are a little hungry and looking for a place to eat, don’t forget we can help with that too! At least if you are in D.C. Our D.C. dining guide has 300+ recommended restaurants sortable by cuisine or neighborhood in either LIST or MAP format.
Stay cool. Be kind. A joyful Bourdain day to those that celebrate.