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The high-profile chef suddenly leaves the Kimpton Hotel restaurant. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Jennifer Nguyen parts ways with Zentan. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Chef Jennifer Nguyen has left the Donovan House's Zentan to "pursue other opportunities," according to a representative from the Kimpton Hotel restaurant. Nguyen took over after celebrity chef Susur Lee parted ways with the Asian eatery, and reinvigorated the concept with a new menu and omakase-style tasting bar. 

"We are very grateful for the passion, dedication, and talent she brought to the restaurant and will be actively seeking a new executive chef who can carry the torch of Zentan," says a statement from the restaurant. "In the meantime, our team remains committed to creating the great Japanese cuisine and warm service our guests have come to expect at Zentan."

In addition to the restaurant menu, Nguyen also designed Vietnamese-inspired tacos, noodle bowls, and more for the DNV Rooftop lounge. There's no word yet on where she's headed, but stay tuned for more details as they develop.

Posted at 01:33 PM/ET, 08/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Kapnos toque packs his knives and goes to Boston for season 12. By Anna Spiegel

George Pagonis: Washington’s next cheftestant. Photograph by Greg Powers.

Mike Isabella's right-hand man is following in his footsteps. George Pagonis, Kapnos's executive chef and a partner in the Greek eatery, will compete on Top Chef season 12. The Boston-based season's episodes begin airing October 15

Pagonis previously served as chef de cuisine at Graffiato, and will open Kapnos Taverna in Ballston this fall (here's his full bio). Though he's the only Washington cheftestant this season, Joy Crump of Foode in nearby Fredericksburg is also packing her knives for Beantown. 

Don't want to wait until autumn for your Top Chef fix? Tonight you can catch the spinoff, Top Chef Duels, in which Isabella will fight it out with former rival Antonia Lofaso in an Italian-style battle. If you're a Top Chef superfan, head to Kapnos for a viewing party starting at 9 (the show airs at 10). Happy hour runs in the restaurant's bar and at G, and Isabella will be there to cheer on his television alter ego.  

Posted at 12:13 PM/ET, 08/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Vicky Gan

Happy Wednesday, food truck followers! Today’s specials include vegan Salisbury steak at Woodland’s Vegan Bistro, chicken cheesesteak at Randy Radish, and Sex on the Beach cupcakes at Sweetbites.

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Posted at 10:50 AM/ET, 08/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Inside the newest beer-centric spot from the Meridian Pint and Smoke & Barrel team. By Anna Spiegel
Brookland Pint opens with craft brews and an eclectic menu. Photograph courtesy of Brookland Pint.

The newest addition to DC's beer scene is now open: Brookland Pint, a bar/restaurant from Meridian Pint and Smoke & Barrel's John Andrade, poured its first drafts for the public on Monday. The rustic, 118-seat watering hole lies close to the Brookland Metro station and Catholic University, and stands ready to serve the neighborhood with craft brews and an eclectic lineup of dishes from chef Rebecca Hassell. Here's what you need to know. 

The vibe: Casually hip (hey, it's Brookland). Community tables are fashioned from wood reclaimed from Maryland tobacco barns, works from different local artists will rotate on the walls, and there's a 48-seat patio for hanging with your four-legged friends.

The beer: Two dozen craft drafts, plus some unusual bottles. Familiar faces such as DC Brau and Flying Dog are joined by less common finds like AleSmith Speedway Stout. The rarest stuff can be sipped from large-format bottles, which are stocked in a glass-enclosed refrigeration unit for you to browse.  

The connectivity: USB ports and electrical outlets adorn the bar and nearly every table, which will come in handy for lunching with your laptop when afternoon service begins (or documenting an epic evening). Rather connect face to face? The restaurant's large windows open onto the patio, allowing those inside to chat with outdoor pals. 

The food (vegan/vegetarian): Similar to Andrade's other spots, the meat-free crowd have plenty of options when it comes to eating. The eclectic menu includes vegetarian and vegan items in nearly every category, from black bean and goat cheese quesadillas (available with vegan Daiya cheese) to veggie curry and lentil-barley burgers. 

The food (animal-inspired): That said, beer goes pretty well with meat and cheese. Look for a number of Southern dishes, such as deviled eggs, barbecue pulled-pork sandwiches, and pimiento spread with toasted ciabatta. Less cohesive are a global range of items, from pita with marinated feta and grilled lamb kebabs to Puerto Rican mofongo (smashed plantains with optional crispy pork). 

The happy hour: Dollar-off drafts, select wines, and house liquor from 5 to 7 Monday through Friday. 

On the horizon: More time at Brookland Pint. Look for lunch and weekend brunch to start soon, as well as reservations. 

Brookland Pint. 716 Monroe St., NE; 202-758-2757. Current hours: Monday to Thursday 5 to 2, Friday and Saturday 5 to 3, Sunday 5 to 2. Lunch and brunch coming soon. 

Posted at 02:17 PM/ET, 08/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Washington's hottest restaurant just got even hotter. By Anna Spiegel
Rose's Luxury: the best new restaurant in America, according to Bon Appétit. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

It's a big week for Rose's Luxury in terms of media accolades. First, Southern Living ranked the Capitol Hill hotspot second on its list of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the South. Even better? Bon Appétit's Andrew Knowlton gives it first place on the magazine's annual list of the Best New Restaurants in America.

"Rose’s is a game-changer," writes Knowlton. "While chef-owner Aaron Silverman is clearly concerned with the food that goes out on his plates, he pays even closer attention to the people eating it. And that’s when it hits me: Rose’s isn’t just in the restaurant business; it’s in the making-people-happy business."

Knowlton echoes the latter phrase, often used by Silverman. It's true: Despite all the attention, local and national, Rose's has been far more focused on its everyday customers than the hype. 

Read Knowlton's article in full for more details on Rose's approach, from generously stocked bathrooms to free dishes for solo diners. 

Posted at 11:09 AM/ET, 08/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The celebrity chef’s first Washington venture is slated for 2015. By Anna Spiegel
Peter Chang (right), known for masterful Szechuan dishes such as mapo tofu, heads to Rockville. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Big news for Peter Chang devotees: The master of Szechuan cuisine plans to open a Rockville restaurant next year. A release from Federal Realty Investment Trust, which is behind the 3,100-square-foot space to be occupied by Chang in Rockville Town Square, says the eatery “will specialize in healthy and traditional Chinese cuisine and will be unique in concept from his other locations.”

The elusive toque has gained a cultlike following among his five Virginia restaurants, with eager diners ready to eat wherever he’s cooking next; the New York Times recently profiled his movements. The closest eatery for Washingtonians thus far has been Peter Chang’s China Cafe in Fredericksburg, with other locations in Richmond, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville. The Rockville eatery will mark the first Chang venture in our area, and will be open for lunch and dinner. 

Stay tuned for more details as they become available. 

Posted at 10:31 AM/ET, 08/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Vicky Gan

Happy Tuesday, food truck followers! Today’s specials include vegan curry chicken at Woodland’s Vegan Bistro, and CinnaMac (“like a cinnamon bun in the form of pasta”) at CapMac.

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Posted at 10:23 AM/ET, 08/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a Top Chef Duels viewing party with Mike Isabella. By Anna Spiegel
Vinoteca goes to the dogs on Sunday with a pup-filled party on the back patio. Photograph via Facebook.

DC Beer Week: The beeriest seven days in Washington are upon us: DC Beer Week 2014. Each day is stacked with multiple tastings, parties, seminars and more, from a DC Brau-sponsored crab feast at the Quarterdeck on Monday to Old Ebitt’s “Brewhaha” suds-fest on Friday, and tons more. Prices, locations, and times vary, so make sure to spend a few minutes checking out the full lineup.

More Restaurant Week: Missed Summer Restaurant Week the first time around? Fear not. We have a roundup of eateries offering extensions throughout the month of August, from fine dining spots like Fiola to neighborhood haunts like Mintwood Place, Graffiato, and many more. Alexandria Restaurant Week also runs through Sunday, so look for options at your favorite Virginia spots: $35 dinners for two, or three-course set menus of the same price.

Doggie dining: Join the EatWell DC restaurants, including Commissary, the Pig, and more, for the third annual Dining Out With Dogs on Monday. Each eatery will donate 15 percent of its proceeds to City Dogs Rescue from 5 to close, and will serve a special vodka-based cocktail whose sales will entirely benefit the rescue operation. Happy hour runs until 7 at each location, plus special late-night discounts from 10 to 11. Kids also eat free from the children’s menu until 6:30.

Top Chef rules: Catch Bravo’s new series, Top Chef Duels, with one of the local stars at Kapnos on Wednesday night. Chef Mike Isabella will watch alongside fans as he faces off onscreen with his former fellow Top Chef competitor Antonia Lofaso in an Italian-style cooking duel. Join him at Kapnos for a viewing party plus happy hour in both the restaurant’s bar and neighboring G Sandwich.

Rock-solid cooking: Chef Rock Harper guest-cooks at Taberna Del Alabardero on Thursday alongside his host, Javier Romero, during a Spanish-American fusion wine tasting and dinner. A portion of the ticket sales ($99 per person) will benefit DC Central Kitchen.

Doggie wall of fame: The upcoming Fairfax location of the Austin restaurant Chuy’s hosts a photo shoot/fundraiser on Saturday from noon to 3 at Uptown Pet Bistro & Boutique. Dog lovers and their four-legged companions can be photographed for the restaurant’s “La Chihuahua Bar” community dog wall, and receive a free future Chuy’s appetizer with $5 donations to Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

Pig roast: Get your fill of swine at Society Fair’s Southern-style pig roast on Saturday. Reservations ($29) start at 5:30 and run until 8:30 for a feast of roast pork, watermelon salad, succotash, and more.

Rare sherry: Eager to try what specialists call the “unicorn” of the sherry world? Head to Mockingbird Hill on Saturday at 3 for a tasting and class featuring Palo Cortado sherries, considered some of the best in the world. Tickets are $45 online.

More and more dogs: If you didn’t get a chance to dine out for the pups at City Dog Rescue earlier this week, check out Vinoteca on Sunday for the Dogs and ’Tails fundraiser (through August 31). The promotion starts with a party on the back plaza, where they’ll have a bocce tournament, dog adoption section, food and drink specials, and more from 4 to 8. Make a $10 donation to CDR and get happy hour pricing all night; for the rest of the week, buy any house-made grilled dog or “dog days of summer” cocktail to benefit the rescue organization.

Share food: The Alexandria Food Swap returns on Sunday, hosted at Friendship Firehouse from 2 to 3:30. Participants bring homemade, foraged, homegrown, and other self-procured edibles to exchange. Online tickets are $5.

Posted at 04:28 PM/ET, 08/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
These delightful spots offer everything from crabs on a rustic dock to burgers at a chic lounge. By Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegel
Cantina Marina. Photograph by Amanda Voisard/Washington Post.

Grilled tuna with watermelon and hazelnuts at Osteria Morini. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Waterside Cocktails

We could knock back Dark & Stormies, spicy micheladas, and cans of Tecate for hours at Cantina Marina (600 Water St., SW; 202-554-8396), a laid-back deck strung with lights on DC’s Southwest waterfront. You could be fooled into thinking you’re in the Florida Keys, were it not for the Washington Monument looming behind you. On the terrace of Sterling’s sprawling Bungalow Lakehouse (46116 Lake Center Plaza; 703-430-7625), which peers onto a manmade lake, settle into one of the loungey sofas and graze on craft brews and bar snacks including crispy rock shrimp with a trio of dipping sauces or nachos loaded with Terlingua chili and jalapeños.

Summer in the City

The Potomac River views at Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola Mare (3050 K St., NW; 202-628-0065) on the Georgetown waterfront may be stunning, but it’s his beautifully turned-out seafood—overflowing frutti di mare platters, a twirl of spaghetti with littleneck clams—that steals the most attention. More cravings for an Italian feast with a river vista can be satisfied at glass-enclosed Osteria Morini (301 Water St., SE; 202-484-0660), which is overseen by New York chef Michael White and specializes in the robust pastas and ragus of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.

Wit on the Water. Photograph by Christian Horan.

Pretty as a Picture

The views of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are postcard-worthy at Wit & Wisdom (200 International Dr., Baltimore; 410-576-5800), Michael Mina’s rustic-chic lounge and dining room in the Four Seasons Hotel. Grab a couch on the patio (Wit on the Water) and dig into lovely shellfish platters and hulking cheddar-laden burgers. It’s a quieter scene at Belmond Inn at Perry Cabin on the Eastern Shore (308 Watkins La., St. Michaels; 410-745-2200), where the views of the tranquil Miles River are gorgeous. The dining room, which would look at home in an episode of Barefoot Contessa, features spiffed-up classics like crabcakes with asparagus vinaigrette and oysters on the half shell with lemon-vodka granita.

Photography by Scott Suchman.

Get Cracking

If you’re an Old Bay fanatic, you likely know about Cantler’s Riverside Inn (458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis; 410-757-1311), still our top choice for cracking blue crabs at a picnic table overlooking Mill Creek. Your crabs won’t always hail from the Chesapeake, but they tend to be plump and flavorful, and the steamed corn is always sweet. Across the Bay Bridge, you can catch sunsets over the water from the Masthead at Pier Street Marina (104 W. Pier St., Oxford; 410-226-5171) while digging into a mess of steamed crabs or sweet soft-shell clams. Or watch boats pull up with their catch at the historic Crab Claw Restaurant (304 Burns St.; 410-745-2900) in nearby St. Michaels. Try the fried chicken for a change from crustaceans.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 08/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Dining deals through the rest of August. By Anna Spiegel
Haven't tried Mintwood Place's bolognese? Try it during extended Restaurant Week, offered at many places around Washington. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Just when you thought all the 14-cent fun was over, a variety of eateries are extending their Summer Restaurant Week deals. The following spots offer $20.14 lunches and $35.14 lunches, dinners, and/or brunches, plus a few specials on wine and other beverages. Don’t forget that Alexandria Restaurant Week is also happening now through Sunday.

Through Friday, August 22

2941

2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church

You’ll find three-course set lunch and dinner menus with dishes such as salmon tartare and yellow-corn ravioli.


Through Saturday, August 23

Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Full à-la-carte and tasting menus are offered alongside the set RW lunch and dinner offerings at chef Fabio Trabocchi’s elegant Italian spot.


Through Sunday, August 24

701

701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Chef Benjamin Lambert’s lunch and dinner prix-fixe menus includes the likes of beef carpaccio and steak with béarnaise vinaigrette.


Ambar

523 Eighth St., SE

The dinner menu includes a selection of four Balkan-inspired dishes.


Ardeo & Bardeo

3311 Connecticut Ave., NW

It’s usually a good sign when a restaurant offers the regular menu for Restaurant Week, which is the case here: three courses from the dinner selection.


Bibiana

1100 New York Ave., NW

Both the lunch and dinner offerings come with a special wine menu, with bottles priced at $30.


Casa Luca

1099 New York Ave., NW

Classic Italian dishes such as prosciutto di Parma with cantaloupe and cacio e pepe pasta are included on the RW menus, along with specially priced wines.


Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

801 Ninth St., NW

You’ll find Restaurant Week around the clock at this Cuban spot, which serves set menus for lunch, dinner, and brunch.


El Centro D.F.

1819 14th St., NW; 1218 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Guacamole, tacos, ceviche, and more can be found on both the Restaurant Week lunch and dinner menus.


Graffiato

707 Sixth St., NW

Though the RW dinner menu has ended, you’ll still find three-course selections at lunch and brunch.


Masa 14

1825 14th St., NW

A selection of four tapas-style plates such as spicy tuna rolls and pork belly steamed buns make up the extended dinner menu.


Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW

Mintwood signatures such as wedge salad and bucatini Bolognese can be found on the Restaurant Week dinner menu.


Nage Bistro

1600 Rhode Island Ave., NW

Save room for the “campfire sundae” with smoked vanilla ice cream and toasted marshmallows on both the RW lunch and dinner menus.


Nopa Kitchen & Bar

800 F St., NW

Bistro fare like country pâté and roast chicken with panzanella salad make up the RW lunch and dinner menus.


Slate Wine Bar + Bistro

2404 Wisconsin Ave., NW

The lunch and dinner menus include discounted drinks as well as food, such as an $18 wine pairing.


The Oval Room

800 Connecticut Ave., NW

This recently renovated restaurant extends its Restaurant Week lunch menu, which includes new dishes such as burrata with shaved summer vegetables and charred-jalapeño spaghetti.


Toro Toro

1300 I St., NW

Try three courses at lunch or dinner at restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s newest DC restaurant.


Zengo

781 Seventh St., NW

Lunch-goers will find offerings that center on sushi and bento-style boxes, while dinner draws from the regular menu.


Through Saturday, August 30

Trummer’s on Main

7134 Main St., Clifton, VA

In addition to the traditional $35.14 dinners, you’ll find four courses for $49.14 with dishes like a pan-seared scallop and dumpling in dashi broth or crusted beef short ribs. Wine pairings are an additional $29.14.


Through the month of August

Smith & Wollensky

1112 19th St., NW

Get your steakhouse fix on the cheap with lunch and dinner at this Dupont spot, which offers classics like wedge salads and filet. Beginning August 19, you’ll find $20 wine flights to pair with the meal—or just sip at the bar.

Posted at 01:33 PM/ET, 08/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()