Image: Mimmo Pintacuda, Barilla Confessional (Italy 1969).
For our weekly recap of dining news from around D.C. and further afield, there is a little less going on this week. Ironically (frustratingly?) last week was chock full of news, but nobody read it because of the holiday weekend. So shall we proceed? Let’s!
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
We did not add any new places, but we took advantage of the long weekend to update or post pages for a number of places already on the list, including Anafre, Annie’s, Bar Charley, and 1789.
D.C. Dining News
Goings: The biggest news was sad news. A number of closures were announced this week of D.C. establishments, including 3 Stars Brewing, Green Hat Distillery (though its product will still be produced in Kansas), Bull Bar, and more. One D.C. restaurateur noted that “DC has never felt this slow (non-covid) during the Summer.” We repeat our encouragement to support what you want to see survive. (Speaking of which, this week would be a good time to swing by Dupont Market).
A couple of prominent chefs, who are a couple themselves, are moving to Italy. The pastry chef for Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurants Claudia Barrovecchio and John Melfi, who has had great success around town – most recently at Modena – are moving to Italy.
Accessibility: A League of Her Own faced criticism for how its staff treated a customer using a power chair for mobility. Even in old buildings, places are going to be pushed to do better on this front.
Around the Blogs: Lori at Been There Eaten That, visits Unconventional Diner and L’Ardente.
Danny Chau, in Punch, notes that the culture of the drink world does not have an equivalent to the word “foodie.” Considering the current reputation of the word “foodie” that might not be a bad thing. “The world of drinks is fraught with pitfalls of language; the lexicon is constantly being reworked to be more evocative, more nuanced, more inclusive. But that ever-elusive clarity might never come if there remains no way to recognize one’s identity within that space.” Hidden in this analysis is a warning to the food world that our pretensions and rigidity can be insufferable and suffocating. Something underlying several stories highlighted last week.
Part of the problem is confusing the dedicated community with the general community, so that you can claim something is overrated that most people have never heard of.
Bad Corporate Citizens: In recent years, a few different industries have tried to claim the mantle of most evil. The beef industry has been in contention, but now it is getting serious. “The lawsuit cited an unnamed witnesses who used to work in the meat industry who confirmed there was a conspiracy between the meat companies” to fix prices.
Though this restaurant group makes its case. “A federal Labor Department investigation has recovered $117,710 in back wages and liquidated damages for 70 workers at the D.K. Restaurant Group in Hawaii, finding the owner of Sansei Seafood required servers to share tips with managers after their post-pandemic salaries were cut by at least 25%.”
But, Oh Look! Uber making a move to reclaim its title!
Lastly, from across the ocean, The Family Meal flags (along with the story below) that Grubhub is in the sights of Amazon.
Just Plain Bad: “Financial aftershocks from the war in Ukraine are hitting dozens of countries that are still reeling from the pandemic, fueling a global “cost-of-living crisis” that has driven 71 million people into poverty just since March, the U.N. Development Program said on Wednesday.”
Blue Times at Stone Barn: One of the consequences of the last two years is that the power dynamic in the kitchen of high-end restaurants is shifting and employees seem to be more willing to talk about their experiences. Following on the heels of takedowns of the work environment at NOMA and Eleven Madison Park, Eater does a deep dive into the soft pork underbelly of Blue Hill under Dan Barber.
The Bear and the Borish: Speaking of beef and workplace issues, in foodie social media there has been one topic of great interest, though limited discussion because few want to give away the spoilers. The topic is the TV series, the Bear that takes as its subject a neighborhood sandwich shop facing hard times. We won’t give away any spoilers here either, but we will say that as much as we enjoyed binging it over three days we thought the ending was a big of a non sequitur from the gritty first seven episodes.
Not sure how this scam works, but the people calling about your lapsed warranty also want to get free restaurant gift cards by extorting them with low ratings. As someone points out shakedowns for ratings is the accusation that has been made against Yelp (a previous evil corporation titleholder).
Not sure this kind of protest works, but it is a reminder that the right to privacy, fragile though it may be, is only a protection against the government. Your right to dine to a quiet, private meal with friends and family in a restaurant is preserved through cultural norms. We note that we are not fans of the downtown steakhouses in general and Morton’s is not on our recommended list.
The Emerging Economy: The jobs numbers came out on Friday. There are few hints that the employment situation is changing. It remains a tight market, creating new jobs and keeping the overall unemployment rate low. “The strongest job gains for June came from the professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and health care industries, with notable increases in areas such as food services and warehousing and storage.” It is almost like the economic disruptions are distinct from the overall economy, like specific sectors are incapable of sustaining their supply chain, or are using the moment to engage in price gouging. At the same time the free money to large investors dries up hitting stocks and other investments. Yet none of those things seems to impact the overall, long-range fundamentals. It is a fractured economy, though some don’t seem to understand that.
The Times does a story on how women in the Middle East are using YouTube as a platform for their cooking, and maybe making money.
We do not have a YouTube channel, but we do have this wonderful website that we like to consider the best way to find a great place to eat in Washington, D.C. Our 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.
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Be kind. Tip big. Support what you want to see survive.