Image: Robert Doisneau, The Tooth (Paris, 1956).
We added a new pizza spot to our recommended list, but there were less happy stories to be told in the D.C. dining scene this week. How those stories end is not clear. Also in the update, climate change is doing some big damage, labor issues in California and more. So shall we get on with the recap of activity on our site and other dining news? Let’s!
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Little Sesame – The amazingly-good shop centered around hummus closed its Chinatown location. They also announced that they would not be opening in Bethesda. The downtown location remains open for lunch, as as of Wednesday was doing brisk business. A retail version of their hummus is also available at various stores.
Kinship/Metier – A claim was made by a former employee against Chef/Owner Eric Ziebold that he used a racial slur when she was an employee. This week Washingtonian and The Post did stories that got some of the details out. For now, Ziebold is sticking with the defense that he was essentially stupid and insensitive but not evil. He claims he apologized. Klyn Jones, the former employee, told the Post: “He said, ‘sorry you feel that way’ and ‘sorry I repeated what you said,’ which I felt was a flippant dismissal of my point.” Jones waits for a more robust apology and has filed a complaint with the EEOC. The restaurant unplugged its IG account, though FB remains up and Ziebold posted his statement there. They briefly closed, but it appears they have resumed service. We sense there is more to this story, though we are not sure it will come out. We have suspended our recommendation for both restaurants pending further developments and the results of the EEO investigation. Nor can we envision patronizing them anytime soon.
Finally, our art post captured the great artistic tradition – and agricultural tradition – of Ukraine on a week when it celebrated Independence Day and marked six months since the Russian renewed atrocities.
Dress Codes: Last weekend, three prominent D.C. chefs went to have a drink at Shoto, and discovered there was a dress-code. When contacted by journalists about the dress code, Shoto doubled down on dumb.
Compensation: DCist appears to be the only outlet closely covering something that could be quite significant – the elimination of the tipped wage for restaurant staff in D.C. This week an appellate court heard arguments from opponents to prevent it from being on the ballot. The group has spent two-thirds of its raised funds on court cases rather than any attempt to argue on the merits. The suit was brought by “the No to I82 Committee, which is chaired by Geoff Tracy, owner of Chef Geoff’s and Lia’s restaurants. From March through July, the committee raised more than $312,000. Of that, $121,000 came from the National Restaurant Association, $40,000 from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, and the remainder from chains including Founding Farmers, Carmine’s, and Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and The Capital Grille. More than $200,000 has thus far been spent waging the legal fight to keep Initiative 82 off the ballot, largely because a similar ballot initiative — Initiative 77 — was approved by D.C. voters in 2018. It was later repealed by the D.C. Council.” Tom made the case, indirectly, that the back of the house deserves better compensation.
Passings: A legendary figure in the D.C. culinary universe, Roland Mesnier, retired executive pastry chef at the White House, passed away this week at the age of 78.
Food Security (at home): “The journey of a single item of produce — say, a box of organic poblano peppers — illustrates the chain of effort and dedication involved in providing those meals [to those at risk], and how that effort is still not enough to meet the existing need.”
Beer Culture: We have recently highlighted the evolving culture of craft brewing. That evolution is in the face of the sexism that pervades the current scene, even impacting its sales. Mallory O’Meara, writing in the Guardian, and pushing her new book on the same topic, adds some historical context: “Despite beer being the stereotypical “manly” drink, it was women who were the world’s first beermakers. Whether it was mead, sake or beer, brewing started out as a feminine craft. Long before the myth of wine-loving Dionysus, the world’s first alcohol-ruling deities were female.”
A Nice Story: Sherpa cuisine gets a toehold in Colorado. “But every now and then, Lhakpa glances over to the Rocky Mountains, where he climbs one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks for pleasure, and those memories of home — the mountains, foothills and creeks — are still fresh in his mind. ‘And so those are the king of the mountains,’ he says of the Himalayas. ‘But these, these are baby mountains.’”
Not in the Post Food Section: King and Snow Crab populations are crashing, prices going up writes Laura Reiley, with the required Florida reference, in the Post Business section: “The magnitude of biomass could not all have moved without us detecting it. We believe we had a very large mortality event, which points to an extreme event that we have never seen before in the Bering Sea.”
In the Post Food Section: Climate change in China hikes price of rare mushroom, a delicacy in Asia. It is also valued elsewhere.
The Emerging Economy: We will not go too deep on this, but once again note the fractured nature of economic data that continues to befuddle expert and amateur observers alike. “U.S. consumer spending barely rose in July as falling gasoline prices hurt sales at service stations, but monthly inflation slowed sharply.” Jobless claims dropped slightly. Second quarter GDP was revised upward to a 0.6% contraction from the previously calculation of 0.9% “In the case of the U.S. economy, the contraction in GDP is misleading, given the large role played by inventories. Supply chain disruptions have left unfinished products on factory floors or at shipping docks. These products cannot be included in GDP until they go into inventories. Inventories rose at a $83.9 billion rate last quarter after increasing at a $188.5 billion pace in the first quarter.” “The average of GDP and GDI, also referred to as gross domestic output and considered a better measure of economic activity, increased at a 0.4% rate in the April-June period, up from a 0.1% growth pace in the first quarter.”
Partial Order: What the Biden Administration student debt relief program means for graduates of culinary school.
Happy Trails: We ate at Manresa once, many years ago. It was glorious.
Follow-up: Jaya Saxena of Eater continues to cover the unfolding mess at Amy’s Kitchen.
In related California labor news, farm workers are marching for increased union voting rights and local chefs are supporting them. “The specific piece of legislation in question, Assembly Bill 2183, would allow farm workers to cast their ballots for union elections by mail, in private, without fear of intimidation by their employer. Last year, the governor vetoed a similar bill.”
Sadly Predictable Rebounds?: Batali settles out of court on the remaining two cases related to sexual assault accusations. Ken Friedman, of the Spotted Pig that had the “Rape Room,” appears to have a stake in LA’s hottest new restaurant, but his exact status is opaque: “You are a silent partner helping the owner as an ‘expert’ until this gets off the ground and finds its footing. Then [you] can be more active/out there as your previous baggage falls off … it remains as agreed, you just need to stick to the process.”
Food Names: Eater has a fixation.
Social Media: Jenny Zhang notes that social media tends to be reductionist in its discourse and that leads to missing key points, even when talking about “White People Food.” “So often this posturing is just spectacle rather than a real way to engage with how food informs identity and vice versa.”
That’s it for this week, we hope next week will look a little better. Enjoy the 4-day work week if you get one. If you are looking ahead to next weekend and thinking about places where you might dine out, remember that our site’s primary purpose is to be a dining guide for Washington, D.C. We have 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.