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Here’s who won at Washington’s biggest restaurant award ceremony. By Anna Spiegel
Fiola and its caviar-topped oysters won the RAMMY award for Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The annual RAMMY Awards, often described as the Oscars for Washington’s hospitality industry, went down Sunday night at the Washington Convention Center. Fitting for the city’s ever-expanding dining and drinking scene, this year marked the biggest blowout yet, with seven new award categories marking excellence in everything from cocktail and beer programs to local producers and brunch.

So who won big? An anonymous panel of judges from different walks of the industry picked from the semifinalists for most categories, while the public chose winners in four others that included Upscale Brunch (Mintwood Place), Casual Brunch (Pearl Dive Oyster Palace), and Favorite Gathering Place (Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont).

Fiola beat out the likes of Marcel’s and Minibar for the title of Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year; its sibling, Fiola Mare, will be eligible after two years in business. Ripple and its head toque Marjorie Meek-Bradley—also a 2014 James Beard semifinalist—continued their run in the spotlight taking awards for best Upscale Casual Restaurant and Wine Program of the Year. Also honored twice: the Red Hen, which won for New Restaurant of the Year, and whose chef, Michael Friedman, snagged Rising Culinary Star of the Year. (Award-themed fun fact: Both Meek-Bradley and Friedman were nominees for Food & Wine Magazine’s 2014 People’s Best New Chef awards.) Among the veteran toques, Haidar Karoum of Estadio, Proof, and Doi Moi was crowned Chef of the Year.

See the full list of winners below, and congratulations to all.

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Posted at 09:33 AM/ET, 06/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Vote now for your local favorites. By Anna Spiegel
Food & Wine’s Best New Chef nominations include Mike Friedman of the Red Hen (photograph by Andrew Propp) and Ripple’s Marjorie Meek-Bradley (photograph courtesy of Ripple).

Tis the season for restaurant awards, between last week’s announcement of the James Beard finalists and the RAMMYs. Up next: Food & Wine Magazine published the nominees for the People’s Best New Chef. Unlike other accolades, which are chosen by a panel of judges, the public can vote online for their favorite new toques through March 31. 

The nominees are divided into categories by location. Washington chefs include Mike Friedman of the Red Hen—who’s also up for Rising Culinary Star of the Year in the RAMMYs—and Ripple’s Marjorie Meek-Bradley, a semifinalist in this year’s James Beard Awards (sadly she didn’t make last week’s cut). The two locals are up against tough competitors, including Greg Vernick of Philadelphia’s Vernick Food & Drink and Justin Severino of Cure in Pittsburgh. Good luck to our Washingtonians!

Posted at 01:03 PM/ET, 03/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Washington’s Restaurant Association announces its finalists. By Anna Spiegel
The Source, which serves up dishes such as Chinese bacon, is nominated for the new Upscale Brunch category. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

It’s that time again: The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington last night announced its finalists for the 32nd annual RAMMY Awards. The event is well known within the hospitality industry, but for those on the outside, think of it as our local restaurant Oscars, plus more tattoos, T-shirts, and booze. Coming off yesterday’s James Beard 2014 finalist announcement, it’s a big week in awards. 

The finalists in 20 categories were announced last night during a cocktail soiree at the Hamilton Live. Nominees fall into one of two categories. Four are voted on by the public: Favorite Gathering Place of the Year, Upscale Brunch, Everyday Casual Brunch, and Favorite Fast Bites. The majority are decided by an anonymous panel of judges. A number of new fields were introduced for 2014, including Best Cocktail, Beer, and Service Programs; we’ve marked the newcomers with an asterisk below. 

Read on for the 2014 finalists; winners will be announced at the RAMMY gala on June 22. Remember that nominees must be members of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington to qualify, and also meet criteria in terms of how long they’ve been in operation (noted from the release below). 

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Posted at 10:29 AM/ET, 03/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Check out the Washington nominees. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Vikram Sunderam of Rasika (above) is among the three local finalists for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Just a month ago the James Beard Foundation announced its long list of semifinalists for the 2014 Restaurant and Chef awards. Local toques and eateries fared well in the initial round, with 19 contenders in the mix.

A final list of nominees was announced from Chicago on March 18. Sadly, not everyone mentioned above made the next round. Only two Washington nominees for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic—far fewer categories than last year—will be up for awards: Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve) and Vikram Sunderam (Rasika). Baltimore chefs are also contenders, including Spike Gjerde (Woodberry Kitchen) and Cindy Wolf (Charleston). Armstrong, Sunderam, and Gjerde were all finalists last year, alongside Komi’s Johnny Monis, who took home the title.

The James Beard finalists for Broadcast and New Media, Book, and Journalism awards were also announced, and we at Washingtonian are very honored to be counted among the many talented publications to be recognized; our Taste section is a finalist for food coverage in a general-interest publication for the second year in a row.

The awards will be announced at a gala in New York on May 2 and 5. Visit the James Beard Foundation website to watch a live-stream of the ceremony.

Good luck to all of the finalists!

Posted at 01:05 PM/ET, 03/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
There are 19 local contenders in the mix. By Anna Spiegel
Rose’s Luxury is up for Best New Restaurant. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The James Beard Foundation announced its much-anticipated list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for 2014. Washington toques and eateries scored 19 nominations out of more than 38,000 entries, qualifying in categories including Best Chef Mid-Atlantic and Best New Restaurant. The five final nominees for each category will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on March 18; the winners will be revealed in May. Good luck to all our local contenders, listed below.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Rose’s Luxury

OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM

The Columbia Room

Rogue 24

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF

Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT

Jaleo

Vidalia

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR

Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (The Bombay Club, Oval Room, and others)

Stephen Starr (not entirely local, but a Washington presence with Le Diplomate)

OUTSTANDING SERVICE

Komi

Marcel’s

OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM

CityZen

Marcel’s

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR

Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple

BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC

Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve

Anthony Chittum, Iron Gate

Haidar Karoum, Proof

Tarver King, the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Cedric Maupillier, Mintwood Place

Vikram Sunderam, Rasika

Posted at 12:23 PM/ET, 02/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here are the Washington nominees. By Jessica Voelker

Image courtesy of the James Beard Foundation.

Back in February, the James Beard Foundation announced its long list of contenders for the 2013 Restaurant and Chef Awards—and Washington restaurants and toques did pretty well, with semifinalists in seven categories.

That list is often confused with the nominee list, which was not revealed until Monday, March 18. Beginning at 11:30, the finalists were announced from Charleston, South Carolina.

In addition to restaurant and chef noms, we also learned which food writers would compete for Book, Broadcast, and Journalism awards in 2013. We are incredibly excited to be counted among them—The Washingtonian is a finalist for food coverage in a general interest publication.

The awards will be announced on May 3 and 6. Chopped star Ted Allen hosts the journalism awards. Stanley Tucci is master of ceremonies on May 6 at the restaurant awards. The full list is below.

Follow this link to the nominees.

Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 03/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The controversial Italian chef is reemerging in the spotlight. By Anna Spiegel
Roberto Donna wins (back) points for his work in the kitchen at Al Dente. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

It’s been quite a week for Washington dining and drinking spots in the national press. Esquire just posted its annual roundup of Best New Restaurants. Sadly there’s not a single DC eatery among the top 15 (Bon Appétit disagrees), but one well-known face made the list: Roberto Donna, who clinched Chef of the Year for his recent reemergence at Al Dente (formerly La Forchetta) in Upper Northwest.

Critic John Mariani notes in his writeup that Donna, “despite being one of America’s greatest chefs . . . had a habit of leaving restaurants before the paint dried.” There’s no mention of why Donna departed said restaurants (multiple lawsuits, perhaps?), among them the original Galileo that put him—and high-end Italian food in Washington—on the map, Bebo Trattoria, and Galileo III. Maybe Al Dente is the official new era that Donna has been striving for. Mariana marvels that “he’s cooking his pants off, serving dishes so deceptively simple they seem like sleight of hand.”

Check out the issue when it hits on the stands on October 16 for a “classic” recipe from the Italian toque.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 10/05/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
And you thought getting a seat at ChurchKey was difficult last week. By Anna Spiegel

ChurchKey’s multitude of taps makes it a go-to spot for beer lovers. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Washington’s bartenders are getting a lot of national magazine love of late, confirming what we already know: The District drinking scene is pretty great and just keeps getting better.

GQ just published a big beer-filled issue that lists ChurchKey and Birch & Barley as one of its 12 Bars for Beer Lovers, alongside Bailey’s Taproom in Portland and Brooklyn’s Spuytin Duyvil. (Unfortunately we didn’t make it into the 5 Best Beer Cities in America category—damn you, Philly.)

Rogue 24 cheftender Bryan Tetorakis is named Mixologist of the Month by the tony folks at Wine Enthusiast for his molecular spins on classic drinks. We’ve been fans of Tetorakis’s work for awhile, from smoked highballs at an outdoor concert to a spin on an Aviation cocktail with a cherry sphere at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser. Meanwhile, Rogue 24 chef R.J. Cooper is making a few Internet waves of his own: He’s set to appear in a six-episode Web show called Chefs of Anarchy, beginning this Thursday.

What Washington bars do you think should be getting more attention, national or otherwise? Leave us your suggestions in the comments section.

Posted at 01:30 PM/ET, 10/02/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
It was all about the Washington dining community last night at the Marriott Wardman Park. By Jessica Voelker
The bar at Fiola, winner of the Rammy award for New Restaurant. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

Last night, restaurant owners, employees, and their loved ones gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park for the 2012 RAMMY Awards, the annual honors doled out by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. The theme of the evening—hats off to local restaurants—inspired presenters, nominees, and attendees to break out fascinators, fedoras, and all other manner of headwear in honor of the occasion.

The big winner of the night was the staff of Black Restaurant Group. They scooped up three awards, including a Restaurateur of the Year trophy for Jeff and Barbara Black. In his acceptance speech, Jeff Black recognized the commitment of the “incredibly strong people” he worked with, emphasizing that it wasn’t “about the bloggers.” Black repeated that point as a musical cue prompted him to leave the stage. This odd moment was followed up with a gracious and understated speech by Rasika's Vikram Sunderam. He won Chef of the Year, the final award of the evening.

Other honorees included Mitsitam Native Foods Café—the eatery at the National Museum of the American Indian—as Casual Restaurant of the Year (a new category this year), and Fiola, the New Restaurant victor.

This way to the winners.

Posted at 08:02 AM/ET, 06/25/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The libations lounge will go up against bars in Houston, New York, and Los Angeles at Tales of the Cocktail this year. By Jessica Voelker

This is Derek Brown. Photograph by Alejandro Salinas.

And then there were four. Tales of the Cocktail released its whittled-down list of finalists for this year's Spirited Awards—a very big deal in the booze world—and the Columbia Room made the cut in the category of Best American Cocktail Bar. Its owner, Derek Brown, had been among the contenders for American Bartender of the Year, but he didn't make the short list in that category. Washington Post booze scribe Jason Wilson, meanwhile, is no longer in contention for Best Cocktail Writing.

The Columbia Room is up against Brooklyn bar Clover Club, Houston's Anvil Bar & Refuge, and the Varnish in Los Angeles. The award will be announced on Saturday, July 28, in New Orleans.

Related:
Derek Brown, the Columbia Room, and WaPo's Jason Wilson Are Among the Tales of the Cocktail Awards Finalists This Year

Posted at 04:21 PM/ET, 06/07/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()