Week in Review – 9/17/2023

Image: Apples pushing out peaches.

Nail-biting action in Singapore and Goodison Park delayed us today. There was a ton of news this week, including important stories about ANCs’ impact on restaurants, ethically-challenged influencers and the food industry, and more concerns about the integrity of the Michelin Guide. All that and a river of wine, big kudos to D.C. talent, and one of the few times we posted about a new restaurant before the Post did a review lasted about 16 hours before we got bigfooted. So shall we proceed with this week’s roundup of dining news? Let’s…

Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List


Méli – The team from The Duck & The Peach expand to Greek in Adams Morgan.

D.C. Dining News

Comings & Goings

Baker’s Daughter to add a Georgetown location.

Ice Cream Jubilee on T Street loses its lease.

Are we going to have to take Tabard Inn seriously as a food spot? Tom first reported in his chat that Ian Boden of the lauded Shack in Staunton is working on the menu. It is also in Jeopardy.

Industry: Amanda Michelle Gomez does a story about the closing of KitchenCray on H Street as a lens to look at the broken system for alcohol licenses and the often pernicious role of ANCs. “He closed KitchenCray at the end of August, he says, because the gentrified neighborhood wore him down. He was tired of having to compromise with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), a hyperlocal body that has the power to protest liquor licenses. Robinson believes elected commissioners and neighbors unfairly targeted KitchenCray because he is Black, and so is most of his clientele. He says the neighborhood’s complaints about KitchenCray are lodged at other Black-owned businesses too.”

Sweetgreen in NYC is hit with a discrimination lawsuit about management treatment of employees. It is hard to go big and maintain control, unless it is instilled in the culture from the beginning. Just flagging for Cava.


Several locals got big nods. 2fifty BBQ got listed on the Southern Living Top 50 Barbecue Joints. It came in at #19 ahead of some big names and one spot ahead of a place many Ted Lasso fans will recognize. BBQ Sauce!

Bar Spero made the BA Top 24 New Best Restaurant list. “At his brassy grill-focused ode to Basque nightlife, Bar Spero, the flavors of the hearth make their way into nearly every dish. Sometimes this is profound, as with the delicately grilled whole turbot—that most Spanish of fishes is practically defined by the fuel it is cooked over, its succulent flesh made even sweeter by bold wafts of cherrywood smoke. But elsewhere fire is present in subtle, complex ways.”

Lutèce’s pastry chef Isabel Coss made Food & Wine’s best new chef list. “Finally in 2022, the restaurant staffed up, and Coss was able to stop spreading herself so thin. She launched a full, ambitious pastry program at the restaurant, which she ran solo until earlier this year, when she was finally able to bring on a cook to help manage it.”

Not an award, but congratulations nonetheless to World Central Kitchen for getting its cookbook published. Buy or two to support the cause.

The Emerging Local Economy: The Georgetown Voice does a long story on the state of Chinatown.

Odds & Ends:

NPR got an ice cream. “The NPR x Dolcezza gelato, cheekily dubbed All Things Conesidered, debuted this week at Dolcezza’s six shops around town, with pints available in local grocery stores and at all Foxtrot markets in the area. This special NPR flavor featuring flecks of hazelnut and wafer will be available through Sunday, November 1, and 15 percent of sales will be donated to NPR and All Things Considered.”

The trade association for distilled spirits have their own bar now.

Did this DCist First Look at Little Blackbird write itself?



Alder Yarrow on the new wave of kosher wine in California.

Dave McIntyre on how climate change is impacting Champagne.

Other News

Compensation: Chris Crowley, writing in Baffler, reminds us that before we complained about fees in lieu of tipping, we complained about how confusing tipping was. He concludes: Most people I know who work in restaurants don’t think that tipping is the best system, much less a perfect system—though we should stop acting like there aren’t servers perfectly happy with it. One thing it seems like people can agree on is that they’re tired of idle observers outside the industry debating their worth. “I don’t think that this is a conversation that we really ever have anywhere else. No one’s like, well, how much exactly do you think a nurse deserves to be paid?” one server tells me. “I think that if you were to ask a lot of people how much money they think a waiter deserves to make, it would be significantly lower than what I make.”

Watching the Detectives: This story in the Times about the new Michelin guide for Colorado is devastating. Local tourism boards chipped in, including the state board, to pay Michelin to do a guide. Michelin left restaurants in cities that didn’t chip in off the guide, yet still claims it is a Colorado guide. As many have pointed out, Michelin’s coverage of the States is spotty. Food Meccas like New Orleans are not covered. Philadelphia, which has had a strong run at James Beard, is not covered. In addition, in cities like D.C. Michelin does a poor job of staying on top of things. There are fewer and fewer reliable, independent sources of dining criticism. The Times story includes this nugget, which for those that like to pick on the consulting industry is pure gold: “In 2010, after the guides had been losing money for years, the parent company hired the consulting giant Accenture to assess their future. Soon, the Michelin Guide began to transform itself from an elite, arms-length critic of the restaurant industry to a financial partner.”

Media: In a related story of compromised sources of information, The Post did an important story about how food companies pay influencers to shift habits in subtle ways. Three dieticians with social media followings told people to not worry about the World Health Organization warning about artificial sweeteners. “What these dietitians didn’t make clear was that they were paid to post the videos by American Beverage, a trade and lobbying group representing Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other companies.” It goes well beyond that one example. Well done on the story Post. More like this please.

Food Sources:

A trip through Mexico’s dairylands. “In January 2022, photographer Alexander Pomper and I united to visit five cheese makers over the course of nine days to discover more about the unknown seas of Mexico’s impressive culinary scene.”

Why are food allergies rising? The Post makes the case that it is tied to mouth v. skin: “We’re oversimplifying a bit here, but a baby’s immune system follows a simple rule of thumb: If a protein comes in through the mouth, it’s probably a helpful nutrient. But if it comes in through the skin, it’s probably a perilous parasite. Anything that inflames the skin, or makes it easier for foreign substances to enter, can make a haywire immune response more likely.”

Tim Carman looks at the fake-meat industry.


Didn’t realize that Cheesecake Factory had bought the restaurant group that started North Italia and Flower Child, but it does feel like those places were created to be bought out, so good for them.

Related, Eater Portland does a story about larger interests buying up independent restaurants. “What does it mean for Portland’s restaurant workers if the only way to save the industry is by creating restaurant group monopolies? Does that actually mean that we’ve saved the industry at all?” Via Eat DC.

Consistent with the convergence of corporate blandness, Tammie Teclemariam at Grub Street does a list of restaurant red flags. On the list: conspicuous caviar, IG-ready ivy walls with neon script, sushi and burgers on the same menu, hyped brunch, thumping music. Being a NYC publication she warns against places endorsed by the Mayor. Laura Hayes notes the District equivalent is having Mayor Bowser at the opening.

Emily Heil on the social media beat notes the “hack” of ordering from the kid’s menu.

Odds & Ends:

Mitt Romney’s culinary crime.

A river of wine in Portugal.

A Starbuck’s barista has community come to her aid, highlighting the community the hospitality industry creates.


That’s it for this week! Enjoy the nice weather. Give us a follow and tip big without whining.