Image: Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Rear Window (1954).
Lots of news and changes this week in the D.C. dining world and on our website. Here is the week that was:
Changes to Recommended Restaurant List:
Breadline – The venerable lunch spot with great soups and sandwiches.
Himitsu – The Petworth pioneer is changing its name under a new chef with a new menu. The new name Pom Pom remains on the list as a placeholder pending a rating.
Dino’s Grotto – Best wishes for Dino and Kay in retirement. The fond memories of Dino’s and Dino’s Grotto will last for a long time.
Chiko – We think Chiko is worth making a trip. Luckily, there are now two D.C. locations of this excellent fast casual spot, so you don’t have to travel as far to get to one.
We did not post on wine this week, but be sure to check out the contretemps that New Yorker writer Troy Patterson started with his mocking of orange wine. Besides the irony that the New Yorker took the philistine stance against a perceived elitist position, there were other problems as well. Asimov of the Times and Levi Dalton pushed back. Tom Wark defended Patterson. Orange wine can be “challenging.” Then again so is beer the first time, or peaty Scotch, or grappa. There is a band through the Mediterranean into the Caucuses where it is popular, and has been for centuries. It must have something going for it.
The great thing is you can try for yourself. Restaurants in D.C. that feature it include: Red Hen, Supra, and Ambar. When I visited Queen’s English, it paired wonderfully with their food. Local star somm Maria Bastasch of Maydan and Compass Rose is putting on an Amber Revolution wine festival on September 22.
If you want to buy a bottle to take home, several of the places on our guide to great D.C. neighborhood wine shops can assist you.
Komi will be bringing back its vegetarian menu for October with the temporary name Happy Gyro. It was very well-received the first time they did it in June. Tickets will be released on Mondays at 2 p.m., starting September 30.
The also beloved Primrose will change its menu for three days starting September 30. They will change the name for the occasion to Refutar. Acclaimed chef Jonathan DePaz will be cooking the food of native Guatemala. The idea behind it is to refute the “preconceived notion that a Latino or immigrant cook can only do such and such.”
Taylor Gourmet is back. There are some that love it. We never got that excited.
Wolfgang Puck opened his new steakhouse in Georgetown. Washingtonian covered it as a social event. With Wolfgang and Wolf, it was a Situation Room situation.
Related, Jon Bonné wrote a piece for Taste that bemoans the rise of new nostalgia. He is disturbed that many well-off people like comfort food and many chefs are willing to sell it to them at marked-up prices. From the conclusion of the piece:
“Most of the world has moved on from needing that sort of safe space for the rich and entitled. There’s plenty of comfort to be found in corners that don’t also evoke a time, not too long ago, when a lot of people were told they didn’t belong.”
Bonné weaves together many sad or disturbing facets of the modern dining scene into the story. This includes a reaction against creative cooking, the fall-out from #MeToo revelations, and the intersection of fine dining and privilege. While nostalgia implies reviving that which is good about the past, he thinks it is also pulling forward those things that should be left behind. In D.C., there are places that manage to be comforting, nostalgic, and still democratic. For all the steakhouses and expense account vendors, this moment has more creativity and excitement than any in its history. There are good trends in dining and bad ones. I’m not sure there is a unified theory of bad trends.
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