Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alentejo, Portugal (1955).
Despite the holiday weekend, there is a bounty of dining news both in D.C. and from other parts of the world to recap, with some of the national dining news putting a focus on some local favorites. Plus, updates to our dining guide and a commentary on the power of a street vendor. So shall we proceed? Let’s.
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Apéro – The charming converted row house serving French food, wine, cocktails, champagne, and caviar on a quiet street in Georgetown gives off a glow for blocks.
Indigo – Also with its own charm, is this casual corner spot doing homemade Indian for the neighborhood. We’ve updated the page in the dining guide.
D.C. Dining News
Progress and Setbacks: Eat DC reports that Federalist Pig is taking over the space next door.
Philotimo, and its newly opened sidekick Kaimaki, suffered a fire a week ago. No one injured, but it looks like it will take some time before they open. Supra spinoff Tabla also had trouble when its neighbor had a fire, and looks like it will be re-opening July 6.
D.C. on the National Stage: Abi Balingit in Food & Wine makes the case that Filipino food is having a moment nationally by being creative with the tradition. D.C.’s efforts are highlighted and on the cover.
The Times argues that Taiwanese fried chicken is meeting the moment. D.C.’s contributions are included and Erik Bruner-Yang gets a photo in the piece.
Compensation: Tim Linaberry, who has been a manager at several prominent D.C. restaurants, argues that it is time to end tipped wages, primarily to balance out payment for the back of the house. “The dominant narrative surrounds mainly the potential impacts for the front-of-house employees, ignoring the other, often forgotten and consistently marginalized half of the restaurant: the back-of-house staff.”
New Wine in New Bottles from Fresh Voices: Dave McIntyre puts a plug in for the new venture from the very cool couple behind Maydan and Compass Rose. Go There Wines is “designed to give a platform and a megaphone to winemakers who have had trouble being heard.”
New Lifelines for Old Farms: Napa has revised the permit process to help smaller wineries stay afloat in a sea of premium labels and investor money. “The Micro-Winery Ordinance allows qualifying parcels, who wish to produce less than 5,000 gallons of wine, the ability to pursue a streamlined application process through Napa County. This will save applicants time and money as they move through the existing winery use permit process.”
The Times profiles Joey Wölffer, one of the winemakers who made rosé a thing and took her family’s Long Island winery, started as a hobby by her investor father, to prominence worthy of the Times’ Style section.
Power for Restaurants: Cheetie Kumar of Raleigh, one of the chefs in the Independent Restaurant Coalition trying to mitigate the disaster is profiled in her local paper. “[I’ve] become a little bit more active in the advocacy of just the restaurant industry. But really, what I want is to be more of an advocate for the food system in general.”
Taco Power: Vanessa Guerrero, who seems to mostly write about horror movies, does a twitter thread extolling the virtues of the humble food vendor in bringing life to a street: “You know what improved the morale and safety of my neighborhood in less than two weeks? A new taco stand. I’m 1000% serious.”
Power for Chefs: Apropos of the Food & Wine piece linked above on Filipino restaurants, Esther Tseng argues in Bon Appétit that Asian chefs should be able to cook what they want: “Across the country, Asian and Asian American chefs like [Minh] Phan [of Phenakite in Los Angeles] are overcoming stereotypes, hurdling barriers, and toppling the idea that they should be relegated to cooking only certain cuisines. As a result, the American dining landscape promises to become much more diverse and, ultimately, more interesting.” We agree.
Product Power: Slate does a deep-dive on the history of OXO.
An Australian columnist reminds us that we take some risks to public safety very seriously, like unpasteurized French cheese – which could not even be sold in the U.S. Strike that – could not even be enter the country. The take on protecting innocent citizens from the threat of cheese is a set-up to comment on risky products Americans are less stringent about controlling.
Food and Society; Society and Food: Jordan’s national dish is mansaf, “a milky mountain of mutton and rice… traditionally eaten by hand from a large communal platter.” Then Muhammad Taher, opened Our Mansaf in a Cup and all hell broke loose.
Ukrainian Borscht is now on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The Dinner Party is back, at least enough to have new enterprises pitching services to support them and TikTokkers having thoughts about them. Here is one that is likely not on TikTok but is in the Times’ Style section.
Supermarkets may be our temples of consumerism: “Some shoppers find joy in daily trips to the grocery store simply for the community, let alone the miracle of abundance.”
The Emerging Economy: We concede that pre-Covid, a pilgrimage to Eleven Madison Park was something we hoped to do. But life changed and EMP changes, and now we are just watching it implode like a soufflé crossed with a black hole. Eater NY cherry picks from a Business Insider piece (paywall) that “Eleven Madison Park reportedly knows that it pays its cooks rock-bottom wages, but scrapped a plan to raise wages for its staffers after a negative New York Times review last September.” Daniel Humm, the once-brilliant chef, even wrote a draft op-ed about his intention to do better on the issue: “Today, I realize that countless people, especially many women and people of color, were never able to become chefs because they couldn’t work such long hours for so little money.” That was the draft, but that realization came to naught.
Alicia Kennedy in Bon Appétit dissects the disaster that Eleven Madison Park has become, “a striking example of the ways veganism can be used as a glowy shield for questionable work conditions that have long gone unchallenged.”
Planning Ahead: Dax Will in Eater talks about the practical links between diet and sex: “The idea that bottoms need to adjust their food choices for a cleaner sexual experience is pervasive. Queer food personalities and chefs are pushing back.” This is story number two from Eater’s about #2, a departure from the expected priority fixation for a food outlet.
Media: Chris Crowley calls out a Financial Times story about “dynamic new restaurants” that are “shaking up the dining scene” in NYC as being too transparently pitched. To wit, lines like these that seem like a completely organic result of old-fashioned, show-leather journalism: “Dhamaka means party, a blast, which the restaurant embodies from its bold flavours to its bright murals and high-octane music.” Or: “With its jungle murals and traditional bamboo mats on the ceiling, Semma conjures India’s tropical regions, the focus of Kumar’s incendiary, coconut-tinged cooking. The chef was raised on a rice farm where his family grew their own produce and fished and foraged for ingredients.”
Jessica Sidman tweeted about Politico saying that the story “Driving the day” was a New York magazine piece that claims someone has turned Nathan’s hot dogs into ice cream. We did not bother to actually read the piece, but something about this Matryoshka doll series of links seemed like an artifact of our times. Related, the Associated Press made a joke in poor taste about Nathan’s annual contest, took it down with an announcement, which then drove traffic trying to figure out what was taken down.
Beyond The Grave: A wholly intact Burger King was closed off and left behind the wall of a mall in Delaware, if this twitter post is to be believed.
People are putting recipes on gravestones.
Don’t Freak Out Yet, But… It can rain anchovies in San Francisco.
CRISPR is either a great scientific hope to many of our problems or the scariest thing you can imagine.
And if we didn’t have enough to worry about, a Chinese company bought up a huge chunk of farmland in North Dakota. The purchase may have nothing to do with farming.
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Stay cool. Be kind. Tip big.