Image: Edouard Boubat, Waiting for a date at the Café Vache Noir (Paris, 1957).
Dear Gentle Reader, it is time for our weekly roundup of news from the dining world of D.C. and further afield, including updates to our D.C. dining guide. This week continued to show the conflicting nature of the emerging economy, where boom for some cannot take the bite out of the bust for others. As for our site, we finally visited a spot and confirmed it deserves to be our our recommended list. And a closing plea for civility. With that as a very modest tease, shall we proceed? Let’s!
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Bar Chinois – We added this place based on reputation during the dark times. It the last place on the list that we had not visited. Now we have tasted it firsthand and our faith has been rewarded. Great beverage program and a hopping kitchen make it a good, fun spot.
Bad Saint – This tiny spot meant so many things to so many people for so many reasons. Now, Bad Saint has given up the ghost, and takes its sign with it. For some, a year or so of being open provides a clear path forward, for others it provides clarity that there is no path. We wish them all well.
Contact Page: Apologies to anybody pitching us on a random collaboration in the last few weeks, but our Contact page has been malfunctioning. We have taken it down for now. We are still available via social media DMs. Our gmail account follows the same naming format.
D.C. Dining News
Comings & Goings: Guy Fieri takes over a spot in the Capital One complex. Also, Eat DC highlights how Phase 2 of the Wharf continues to make progress. It appears to be a combination of big, mostly out-of-town spots, with more local casual places. It seems very dependent on The Wharf becoming a destination in itself. We continue to believe that those making the big investments may not realize how psychologically distant it is from any tourist foot traffic despite what the map says. And we doubt the big offerings alone will be enough to draw people.
And yes, this is placed right after the Bad Saint news to make clear that something is messed up about the restaurant economy.
Not in the Food Section: The Post looks at attempts to get more and better grocery stores into under-served areas. For more on the larger issue check out this past podcast from Whetstone media.
The Emerging Economy: The Post business section reports on the surge in business licenses in the region, spurred by a large segment of the workforce moving to run their own endeavors. “As time has gone on, we recognized that the pandemic is leading to a restructuring of the economy.” One of the examples is the team behind Taqueria Xochi.
Dr. Streetmeat on IG gives a look at the new Pineapple & Pearls and makes it seem both odd but intriguing. Tom also posted his write-up: “In the end, the transporting new Pineapple & Pearls is a singular sensation that I’d be willing to pay for myself — the ultimate test for any restaurant.” Average price is running $525 per person.
Spuddering: Tokyo Pearl has revived the Wendy’s loaded baked potato as late-night drinking food.
Around the Blogs (and other media): Clockout DC does an immense public service for a specific audience by doing a Happy Hour Guide with menus.
DC Food Pundit suggests calling the store creating a scene this week, Le Wegmans, like pronouncing Target with a soft French G and an rhyming with garde-manger. But perhaps a German-inflected VEGMANS! would be better.
A trio of friends, two of them D.C.-based active social media posters, started a podcast about eating, especially restaurant eating. We hope this does not divert Tammy Gordon from opening a wine bar in Cleveland Park. Jenna Golden’s initial pick to talk about in D.C. is St. Vincent, with an emphasis on the charcuterie board, to which St. Vincent helpfully posts a visual.
A local news story about the beverage world comes from Washington City Paper, which profiles a group of Black brewers in the region. They compare notes and support each other and hope to grow the beer scene. “I think that there’s plenty of space for breweries to be opened by various marginalized communities including Black and Indigenous people, other people of color, queer people, loads of space.”
Dave McIntyre tips his hat to Dr. Konstantin Frank: “Frank, of German heritage, was born in 1899 in Ukraine, then part of the Russian empire. He worked in agriculture and viticulture at the Polytechnic Institute of Odessa in the 1920s and 1930s under Stalin’s Soviet Union, helping to restore vineyards decimated by successive wars. He became a refugee toward the end of World War II and settled in the Finger Lakes area in the early 1950s. Since English was not one of the nine languages he spoke, he took a menial job at the Geneva agricultural station.” And the story keeps going.
A long-time member of the wine trade, Alfonso Cevola, makes a point that borders on a plea, that far too many – especially in the business – are drinking too much. “If you have trouble with alcohol, please don’t wait until your liver fails you…. Dig into yourself, find out if you have addiction problems, and then get help. From family, from friends, from professionals. But don’t wait.”
The Bear: Alicia Kennedy dissects The Bear. The show also got renewed for a second season, and we are hoping for famous faces to make cameos. If you want more Bear coverage, a theme of posts about the TV show has been the bad boy attractiveness of the lead character. The actor who plays Carmy praised a writer for zeroing in on the true nature of the character. And Dayna Evans in Eater puts a spoiler in the caption of her story. She focuses on the practical problems with the ending, we still have more narrative-based objections.
The Emerging Economy: Roger Cohen has lived in Paris for years. Now he has to cover the mustard shortage. Mon Dieu!
Eva Dou in The Post flags the peppercorn shortage in China.
More on Chinese investment in the northern plains. “Right after Fufeng said in late 2021 that it was coming to Grand Forks, people voiced the sorts of everyday concerns that come with many large-scale projects. They worried about whether the city had enough water to support the facility’s wet-milling process, which extracts amino acids from corn. They worried about odor. About traffic. Over the course of a few weeks, the conversation started to shift. Around town and online, some people began to focus on the company’s ties to China.”
The Changing Planet: As Europe faces a brutal heat wave, Italy is going through a brutal drought that is impacting crops and food central to the northern regions: Estimates are that “forage, barley and grain crops will be down 30% to 40% this year, with repercussions for livestock, which will have to be slaughtered for meat earlier than expected. It will aggravate the surge in food prices for consumers and in production costs for farmers. Production of hazelnuts and wine could be affected too, Zuccaro said. Piedmont is Italy’s largest producer of hazelnuts. Grape harvesting will probably be lower than usual, he said.” This year’s spaghetti crop appears to be free from danger.
Be Better: We close, as we often do, asking the people be more patient, more kind, more respectful (that means you Union Market). Covid took something away from us in social graces, leading to things like more traffic deaths, whining about tips, and generally rude behavior. Last night, in a crowded theater where masks were required for entry, an audience member stood out in the masked crowd by wearing theirs under the chin while encouraging a standing ovation. “People might be a little bit more impulsive, they’re a little bit less regulated, they might not be considering consequences.” Which is a way of saying, they are not acting like an adult. We are not immune from the phenomenon, so this is a reminder to us as well.
We will step down from the soapbox for this post for now. Thanks for reading this far. If you have not, please give us a follow. We are on FB, Insta, and Twitter. Click on the icons at the top or bottom of this page to stay up to date. And of course, our dining guide is available 24/7 with 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 and we may miss something, so check before you go!) in either LIST or MAP format.