What are the most successful independent restaurants in Washington? You might be tempted to say award magnets like Rose’s Luxury, or Minibar and its $250-minimum tasting menus. Yet according to a list from Restaurant Business Magazine ranking the Top 100 highest-grossing independent eateries in America, stalwart Old Ebbitt Grill lands at the top. The restaurant clocks in as the third most lucrative in the nation, with an estimated $26,687,861 in sales annually.
Ironically, the Ebbitt, one of the oldest institutions in DC, has an average check total of just $40. Still, with its 508 seats and 600,000 meals sold annually, it’s able to best some of the fancier establisments in the city. Only Tao in Vegas (number one) and Miami’s original Joe’s Stone Crab have projected higher revenues. Sister venture the Hamilton doesn’t come far behind, ranked at 15 with an estimated $17,855,655 in sales. Both the Ebbitt and Hamilton fall under the Clyde’s Restaurant Group umbrella, as does Rockville’s Tower Oaks Lodge, ranked at 71. Other top earners in Washington, according to the list: Georgetown's Sequoia (34), Mike’s American in Springfield (62), and Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food in Reston (82).
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.
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.
’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!
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).
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!
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
OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM
OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF
Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley
Stephen Starr (not entirely local, but a Washington presence with Le Diplomate)
OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM
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
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.
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.
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.