Celebrate Peru: Local Peruvian restaurant Las Canteras celebrates Peruvian National Day on Monday with a special menu featuring traditional dishes such as ceviche and prime beef lomo saltado ($39.50 for four courses). An incentive to arrive early: The first 50 guests receive a Pisco sour for $5. This is the only menu for the evening, and seatings are available at 5, 7, and 9:30.
Southern takeover: DGS Delicatessen features two collaborations this week for its Southern-Jewish mashup, “schmutz and schmaltz.” Louisiana chef Wes Morton, formerly of Art and Soul, offers a three-course menu with dishes like smoked whitefish salad and jambalaya on Tuesday from 5 to 9:30 ($35 per person). On Thursday you’ll find a tap takeover from Three Stars Brewery and “meat and three” on the menu for $19.95, with choices such as smoked brisket and grilled corn with pastrami butter.
Chef-ologists: Six local chefs try their hand at mixology on Wednesday for the second iteration of Chefs Behind Bars, a fundraiser at Buffalo & Bergen for Share Our Strength. Sample drinks and bites from Union Market vendors between 6 and 8:30, and vote for your favorite cocktail. Tickets ($40) are available online.
Korean for night owls: Mandu continues its series of late-evening “anju” pop-ups on Friday, this month led by chef Katsuya Fukushima of Daikaya. Expect more Korean-inspired bar snacks and plates from 10 to 1 at the K Street location.
Biscuit heaven: New biscuit purveyor Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. teams up with Dolcezza for a pop-up at its Union Market-adjacent factory on Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 3. Stop by for biscuit sandwiches stuffed with Benton’s bacon or fried chicken, platters smothered with gravy, and several spreads and jams for slathering. You’ll also find a biscuit sundae with sweet-corn gelato and blackberry jam.
Cool down: The historic Mount Vernon estate hosts ice cream-making demonstrations every Saturday in August from 10:30 to 12:30. Unusual flavors include those popular at the time of George Washington, such as oyster, Parmesan cheese, or tea ice cream. This event is free with a paid admission to the property ($18 for adults, $9 for children ages 6 to 11, free for children under 5).
Bon appetite: Strathmore presents the Appetite Festival, featuring food celebs including Giada De Laurentiis and Andrew Zimmern. A variety of chefs lead talks, tastings, and cooking demos, and you’ll also find food trucks, live music, and more. Tickets range from $50 up to $225 for an all-access weekend pass.
Celebrity chef tour: The James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour returns to Washington with an all-star dinner at the Source on Monday, August 4. Toques including CityZen’s Eric Ziebold, Peter Chang of China Cafe, and Top Chef winner Kristen Kish cook for guests; the menu includes special drinks and pairings. Tickets are $200 per person.
Chef Jon Taub already mixes high and low brow at his Dupont deli, Bub and Pop’s. The popular finalist of our Great Sandwich Smackdown may be located in a no-frills basement, but you’ll find lines for hearty sandwiches such as slow-roasted porchetta with hazelnut gremolata and bolognese Parm. The shop’s next foray: Supper at Bub’s, a weekly dinner club Taub is planning for Friday and Saturday evenings.
The team previously played with tasting menus at Bub’s Sunday Table, where Taub prepared elaborate, 11-course meals for guests on a near-monthly basis. The next generation, expected to start in September, will be a regular affair on Friday and Saturday. Taub says fewer courses (think five or seven) and slightly larger portions can be expected. The menu will change frequently, and may feature anything from a chilled avocado soup with uni and compressed watermelon to a deconstructed cheesesteak.
“I want it to be special, but I don’t want it to be pretentious,” says Taub.
One key element to the dinner series: a liquor license, which Taub expects to come through soon. While you’ll have to wait until the fall for tasting menus, a craft beer with your chicken Parm may not be far away.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
Happy Monday, food truck followers! Take a break from the office on this sunny summer day for specials such as a pork belly sandwich and hand-cut fries at Brandon's Little Truck and the Island Refresher (Ting grapefruit soda poured over lemon ice) at Carmen's Italian Ice.
Empanadas Tucamana at Rural Society
Jose Garces, the gifted Philadelphia chef, has arrived in town with his much-anticipated Rural Society. It’s an Argentinian steakhouse, all smoke and swagger.
Everything is big and rich: the cuts of beef, the glasses of red wine, the flashy young things at the bar. So far, for me, the biggest inducement to return to the restaurant is small and rich. For one of two varieties of empanada on the menu, Team Garces has bypassed the traditional (and expected) filling of ground beef and raisins in favor of braised Wagyu beef belly.
Imagine eating a plate of short ribs so tender you barely need to chew, and with a sauce so concentrated and intense it stamps itself on your brain. Now imagine that tucked inside a tender, faintly sweet pastry. Don’t sleep on the small pot of chimichurri. You’ll need it. The salsa, made loose, is there to provide brightness, acidity and heat and bring the robust flavors into something resembling balance.
As far as I know, the chef has no plans to open a food truck in DC, which is too bad. These portable pies are just about the perfect street food. Though if you were to eat two of them, you’d be napping at your desk before long.
Corn and crab fugazza at Rural Society
John Stewart might have lobbed a hilariously lethal argument against Chicago-style deep-dish, but man, I love the stuff. Growing up here, we had the pies at Armand’s, which didn’t resemble anything you’d find in the Midwest—their fat, bready crusts were covered with thick blankets of mozzarella dotted with tomatoes—but they’re mostly gone by now. If you’ve got a craving for deep-dish, your options are pretty limited.
So what does any of this have to do with Rural Society? Turns out, deep-dish pies are a thing in Argentina too. They’re called fugazza, and the ones Garces’s team makes are fashioned from a cushiony focaccia crust baked in a cast-iron skillet, which gives it fantastically crusty edges.
The rectangle pies might lack the messy, gooey decadence of a pepperoni pizza at Lou Malnati’s—toppings are carefully applied, and you can taste the hint of rosemary in the focaccia—but they’re terrific. I especially loved the summery version with crab, creamy corn, and a sprinkling of Asiago cheese, which the server pushed as a starter. But I say, grab a pisco cocktail at the bar and make it dinner.
Salamanca sandwich (Serrano ham and pan con tomate) from the Tortuga Truck
When it comes to sandwich-centric food trucks, José Andrés’s Pepe often features prominently in the conversation. This isn’t without merit; the gazpacho is my favorite in the city, brick-and-mortars included, and those croquetas taste as good on the sidewalk as they do in the restaurant. Still, as I discovered this week, the tortas aboard the Virginia-based Tortuga Truck can give Pepe’s bocatas a run for their money (and do in the literal sense, priced at $8.50 instead of $11 to $13).
You might be disappointed if you’re expecting the thick, overstuffed Mexican sandwiches. The menu puts a twist on the traditional version with an international lineup of flavors, and airier ciabatta-like bread. These innovations are for the better, especially if you’re looking to head back to work instead of to bed. My favorite torta is the least traditional: a Spanish-style Salamanca, where tomato bread is layered with smoky Serrano ham, aged Manchego, aïoli, and a jumble of arugula tossed with sherry vinegar. It’s flavorful and bright, an unexpected treat in an otherwise bland Tysons Corner office-scape. For a more classic torta, try the Guadalajara, stuffed with crispy chicken, chipotle, avocado, Chihuaha cheese, and pickled jalapeños.
Crispy squid salad at Rose’s Luxury
Everything I’ve tried at Rose’s Luxury has been delicious, so choosing one dish to highlight is a challenge. Warm biscuits with an usual, yet divine, ash butter began a satisfying meal. Usual suspects such as a pork-and-lychee salad and a tender brisket topped with a pinch of sea salt were devoured. But the best small dish of the evening was a crispy squid salad. The well-seasoned and perfectly fried squid was nestled below a refreshing summer salad of radishes. It paired beautifully with the tartness of the lime juice and sweetness of the avocado. Each plate’s preparation brought back memories of a summer on the sea. The retro neon sign hanging on the wall downstairs with the words “awesome” still rings true at this Barracks Row gem.
The W Hotel has kept its new restaurant concept pretty hush-hush since Jean-Georges Vongerichten ended his contract for J&G Steakhouse in June. Today the hotel announced what will take its place: Pinea, a contemporary southern European restaurant focusing on the cuisines of France, Italy, and Spain.
Chef Barry Koslow, who parted ways with DGS Delicatessen last month, was already tapped to helm the new kitchen. Though the menu is still being developed, you can expect Mediterranean flavors, house-made pastas, and plenty of seafood. A merenda section of the menu, meaning “snack” in Italian, will be devoted to shareable plates of cheeses, charcuterie, pissaladière (savory, pizza-like pastries), and more.
Pinea, named after southern European pine trees, will open in September. Stay tuned for more details as they develop.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
Happy Friday, food truck followers! The weekend is almost here, so treat yourself with specials such as peril y arroz con gandules (roast pork with rice and pigeon peas) at Borinquen Lunch Box and portobello tacos at Chef on Wheels.
Anthony Bourdain gives a fascinating, freewheeling interview about eating his way through Benghazi, Gaza, and other parts of the world. “I used to think that basically, the whole world, that all humanity were basically bastards. I’ve since found that most people seem to be pretty nice—basically good people doing the best they can. There is rarely, however, a neat takeaway.” [Blogs of War] —Ann Limpert
A nice remembrance of the late, great Nadine Gordimer. Who apparently liked to relax and chat over whiskey and potato chips. [Salon] —Todd Kliman
The French ask, “What is house-made?” Good question, I’ve been wondering myself. [New York Times] —Anna Spiegel
What’s the secret weapon of America’s best ramen shops? One hint: It’s not house-made. [Eater National] —AS
Just in time for the mid-90s days: how to make summer rolls. (It’s easier than you think.) [Wall Street Journal] —AS
“An epic marathon of eating” is usually how I like to describe my Saturdays. In this case, it’s referring to the Tour de France. [The Salt] —Tanya Pai
In the battle of bored-by-the-menu chef versus fanatical diner, the key weapon is a simple mind trick. [New York Times] —TP
This Week in Millennial Food Trends: Forbes says millennials are buying more store-brand products because retail chains are tapping into a generational interest in snappy design and good marketing. I counter by saying many millennials are underemployed or suffer from chronically depressed wages, so private-label items are often the better economic choice. [Forbes] —Benjamin Freed
Three naked people broke into a restaurant to steal hamburgers, bacon, pepper, and a paddle board. The state where this brazen crime took place will not surprise you. [USA Today] —BF
Department of Overreactions to Less-Than-Enthusiastic Reviews (France Edition): A Bordeaux judge fined a food blogger about $3,400 and ordered her to change a headline after the owner of a restaurant she reviewed complained her post was the top result for the restaurant on Google. Quelle horreur! [Le blog Erik Wemple a.k.a Washington Post] —BF
The newest addition to DC’s outdoor drinking scene debuts today with the opening of Sauf Haus Bier Hall. The two-story watering hole includes both an indoor bar and an open rooftop, with a Germanic theme throughout. Here’s what you need to know.
The vibe: Oktoberfest in July. While any bar serving beer outside can call itself a beer garden, owner Edwin Villegas (who also owns neighboring Public) wanted to take the concept back to its Bavarian roots. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces boast long wooden picnic benches and German regalia, plus a foosball table where patrons can act out World Cup fantasies in miniature.
The beer: Deutschland is also the focus when it comes to brews. The 16 taps are devoted solely to German beers, such as liters and half-liters of Warsteiner Dunkel, Hofbrau Hefeweizen, and the refreshing Schöfferhofer Grapefruit. A smaller beer and can list includes craft domestics, which are tasty to drink but less fun to pronounce.
The other drinks: Did we mention beer is main theme? House cocktails come in the form of beer-tails, such as a mix of grapefruit, hefeweizen, and house-infused vanilla vodka. A full bar is available, but you’ll only find a single brand of liquor per spirit, such as Tito’s vodka and Patrón tequila.
The food: Soft pretzels. There’s no kitchen to speak of, so you’ll have to head downstairs to Shake Shack for something more substantial during the opening weeks. Once the bar is up and running, you’ll find a cart on the top floor turning out Fells Point Meats brats and franks, and freshly shucked oysters.
The happy hour: Weekly specials include $2 off all drinks from 4 to 7 Monday through Friday.
The entertainment: A few flat-screen televisions on both floors. And occasionally, an accordionist in lederhosen.
On the horizon: Unlike seasonal beer gardens such as Dacha and Garden District, Sauf Haus will be open year-round. Plans include a retractable roof for the deck and warming drinks such as mulled wine for when the weather turns chilly.
Sauf Haus Bier Hall. 1216-A 18th St., NW; 202-466-3355. Doors open at 4.
The home of the onion soup burger has a new chef. Kyoo Eom, a five-year veteran of 2941, is taking the helm at Poste. The South Korean-born chef also cooked in New York City under Daniel Boulud and Andrew Carmellini at two of Boulud's restaurants.
Though you won't see any big menu changes as of now, Eom—who took over from chef Dennis Marron—plans to roll out a few preview dishes during summer Restaurant Week. The fall could bring menu items such as asparagus-wrapped halibut with pommes rösti and côte de boeuf for two.
Perhaps Michelle Obama will drop by for another meal under the new toque.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.