Week in Review – 9/29/19

Image: Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief (1955)

Lots of dining news this week.  And Michelin’s 2020 ratings are released next week.  We also noticed that an impeachment frenzy will drop traffic to the site as much as August recess.  Sometimes Washington is more Washington than it realizes.

Updates to the Recommended Restaurant List:


Astoria – The team behind Copycat Co. cocktail bar on H Street opened a railcar of a place on 17th Street.  The food is Sichuan small plates and the cocktails are expert.


Lupo Verde – This cozy Italian spot has become a solid choice for the neighborhood.

Mintwood Place – The French spot is a gift to the locals of Adams Morgan.  A block off 18th Street, and a world away in feel.


Michelin announced its Bib Gourmand list for 2020 with an (on purpose?) accidental posting a day early.  We may do a piece later this week dissecting the list of 44 restaurants that are deemed to “serve high-quality food available at a reasonable price.”   The most interesting thing are three places that fell off from last year, Bad Saint, Maydan and Doi Moi.  In theory this opens the door for them to get a star rating instead.  For Bad Saint and maybe Maydan that is a possibility.  Doi Moi has been gaining momentum over the last year, but it is hard to imagine a jump to a star rating.  The star ratings are expected October 1.

Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes has another great story on the economics of the restaurant industry.  She digs into the lack of health insurance for most workers and the consequences.  The team behind The Salt Line showed off plans for a fancy spot downtown recently.  Can’t imagine the rent on that place.

The economics of restaurants are distorted.  Huge money is spent on rent, less on staff.  A few weeks ago we flagged the Wolfgang Puck idea that high-end places may have to start buying housing for its staff as living costs push those on the bottom rung farther and farther out of the city center.  There is another fact. As Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury points out, we are not paying enough for dinner: “It’s up to the public to understand that food should cost a lot more than it does,” he says. “I shouldn’t be able to eat as many meals out as I do. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but [adjusting to higher menu prices] would really help operators add the benefits that everyone should have.”  

Amtrak has killed off the dining car.  It is a long overdue moment that is still wrought with nostalgia.

In the petty move of the week, Hakan Ilhan, the owner of Mirabelle is seeking to enforce a non-compete clause against Frank Ruta, the chef they fired.  We are fans of Mirabelle under the new chef, but this leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  Considering how much they put the blame on Ruta for Mirabelle’s problems, it is not like he gained an advantage by the association with Ilhan.  Ruta has been working behind the scenes at Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group and is expected to play a role at Annabelle, the restaurant going into the old Nora space.  We need Ruta back in a kitchen.

As always, be sure to follow us on social media for updates.  Click on the icons at the top or bottom of the page.  We are constantly updating our dining guide for Washington, D.C. with more than 200 recommended restaurants.  You can sort dining establishments by cuisine, neighborhood, and/or rating. In both MAP or LIST format.

We also have a guide to great neighborhood wine shops!