Here's one big vote cast for "wheat meats." Music legend Stevie Wonder made a surprise drop-in at Takoma's Evolve Vegan Restaurant for dinner on Tuesday. The singer was in Washington to meet with the Federal Communications Commission.
Wonder and his dining companions sampled from the menu's lineup of vegan soul food, including mac and "cheese," collards, yams, slaw, couscous, and Southern-fried "chick-un." Owner Baruch Ben-Yehudah says the plates came back clean, including a dessert of German chocolate cake.
Wonder has been know to stop off for meatless fare, visiting Baltimore's Land of Kush earlier this year. Maybe next time he'll leave Washington with a sweet sendoff from vegan bakery Sticky Fingers.
The notoriously burger-loving President Obama hit the Dupont Circle branch of Shake Shack for lunch on Friday, along with Vice President Biden. The two met for lunch with four workers from the First Street, Northeast, reconstruction project in NoMa, according to a pool report. The $9.1 million job is in the finishing stages, and included $6.9 million in federal aid as part of Obama’s initiative to invest in rebuilding American infrastructure.
A crowd quickly formed as the motorcade arrived and Obama and Biden waited to pick up their orders. The President snagged a burger and fresh-cut fries, while Biden opted for a cheeseburger, fries, and a black-and-white milkshake. This isn’t the first burger chain outing for the duo, who famously lunched at the now-closed Ray’s Hell-Burger in 2009. On his own Obama has been known to order patties at Five Guys, Good Stuff Eatery, Ted’s Bulletin, and more; Michelle Obama already hit the Dupont Shake Shack just after it opened. Biden, for his part, loves nearby Capriotti’s.
The dining options of First Lady Michelle Obama and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett are a good bellwether of the city’s hot restaurants. On Tuesday, Mrs. Obama and Jarrett stopped in for dinner at the new Italian waterfront seafood restaurant, Fiola Mare, created by Fiola owners Fabio and Maria Trabocchi. They were with three other friends, calling it a “girls’ night out,” according to a tipster.
Jarrett had visited the restaurant before, which is sometimes a clue that one or both of the Obamas will soon follow. But she’s not the only administration official to try out the pasta, grilled fish, crudo, and other delicacies of the month-old restaurant. National security adviser Susan Rice had dinner there with her husband, and Aerosmith rocker Steve Tyler brought in a large group for dinner. The First Lady and her entourage sat at the same VIP table.
Fiola Mare’s perch on the edge of the Potomac River makes it an obvious warm-weather destination. The spot has been filling up recently, even despite cold weather. When temperatures get warmer, expect the restaurant to get even hotter, too.
Someone in the celebrity sphere loves Bibiana. Homeland star Claire Danes was spotted arriving at the sleek downtown Italian spot around 7 Monday night, casually dressed in a gray sweater. A source from the restaurant says the party lingered at the table for more than three hours. Kevin Jonas, the eldest of the Jonas Brothers band, was seen dining at Ashok Bajaj’s eatery last week in similar style.
It’s been a busy time for celebrity dining in DC, despite temperatures that call for Carrie Mathison-style Chinese takeout. Michelle Obama followed a birthday dinner at Georgetown’s power spot Cafe Milano with another celebration this past Friday at Poste. A tipster spotted the First Lady amongst a small group in one of the Penn Quarter brasserie’s private dining rooms. There’s no word on the main course, but the source says several orders of truffle fries and three birthday cakes made their way into the room. Add an onion soup burger to that equation and you’d have a full-on celebration.
Kevin Jonas may be snowbound in DC. The eldest of the Jonas Brothers band was spotted Monday night having dinner at Bibiana with two unnamed gentlemen, dressed casually in a button-down shirt and sweater vest.
There’s no word yet on what the party ordered, but a source from the restaurant estimates the group lingered at the Penn Quarter Italian spot for more than three hours. In the past the Married to Jonas star has shown a fondness for crawfish—despite their dangerous aftermath.
If you were dining at Ashok Bajaj’s popular Penn Quarter spot last night, you may have caught a familiar face in the crowd. A source confirms that actor Richard Gere attended a dinner at Rasika for the International Campaign for Tibet; Gere is the chairman for the nonprofit advocacy group.
The famed actor is known for his vegetarian-leaning tendencies, though he’s stated in past interviews that his diet isn’t entirely meatless. The table sampled a variety of chef Vikram Sunderam’s greatest hits, including palak chat (crispy spinach with yoghurt and date chutney), tandoori lamb chops, black cod, rice-based chicken biryani, and lentils. Chances are he knew the proper forks to use.
The rumors are true: Reality stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic are opening a restaurant in Washington. Giuliana, a Bethesda native, announced on The Tommy Show that she and her husband are planning to debut a branch of their Chicago-based RPM Italian here.
We first became aware of the expansion after the season six premiere of Giuliana and Bill, wherein the couple scout potential spaces for their restaurant around town. There’s no word yet on how close the DC version will stay to the Windy City original, which is a collaborative project with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (which is also behind Maggiano’s, Mon Ami Gabi, and Wildfire in our area). You can see a copy of the original restaurant’s menu online; it includes everything from fairly moderately priced pastas to a $118 steak for two.
While some are skeptical about the number of celebrity- and celebrity-chef-driven eateries opening in Washington—Chris Bukowski’s “lady-friendly” sports bar, anyone?—there’s some hope for RPM: Michelle Obama seems to be a fan.
Update: This post previously stated that RPM was going into the space that formerly housed Buddha Bar. In fact, a lease has not yet been signed. Stay tuned for more information.
The opening night of any restaurant is hectic, and that’s before a one-name-status celebrity enters the mix. While the major players behind Proof and Estadio may have been poised to focus on the much-anticipated debut of Doi Moi Tuesday night, Oprah Winfrey was spotted dining at Proof with three lady friends. The star is currently in Washington to participate in the March on Washington 50th anniversary celebration, along with The Butler costar Forest Whitaker and actor Jamie Foxx.
So what does one of the most famous women in the world eat? It seems like nothing too indulgent. Winfrey and her guests shared appetizers, and Oprah dined on an entrée of striped bass; the current menu lists the summery fish dish as being served with corn, baby zucchini, crispy fingerling potatoes, and romesco sauce. The former talk show queen sipped a single cocktail (no wine), and opted for tea instead of dessert.
Winfrey has dined at a range of restaurants in Washington, from a dinner at Blue Duck Tavern last summer to lunch with pal Gayle King at District Commons. Perhaps former personal chef and Art and Soul owner Art Smith provides recommendations.
It turns out we’re not the only ones excited about the new Del Campo restaurant. First Lady Michelle Obama was in for lunch on Tuesday, according to a source, who said she was joined by one of the President’s sisters and the sister’s husband.
Del Campo is the Pampas-inspired restaurant of chef/owner Victor Albisu. It features the cuisines of Peru, Argentina, and other Latin countries. Specialties include the asado boards, robust platters of grilled meats, fish, and vegetables. We were not able to learn what the Obama party ordered.
Before opening Del Campo this year, Albisu was chef at BLT Steak. He also owns Taco Bamba, recently opened in Falls Church.
“Pan-seared Mississippi catfish on a bed of river rice” sounds like a dish you’d read about on one of Jeff Black’s menus, but that recipe is from ten-year-old Reed Lindsey, one of the 54 kids to win Michelle Obama’s second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The First Lady teamed up with cooking website Epicurious as part of her Let’s Move! campaign, asking 8- to 12-year-olds across the nation to work with parents and submit lunch recipes that were “healthy, affordable, original, and delicious.” A winner was selected from every state, three territories, and the District out of 1,300 entries, and the aspiring chefs who took first place will be treated to a “state dinner” lunch at the White House on July 9 with several of their dishes included in the spread.
So what did the Washington contingent come up with? Emma Scielzo, a ten-year-old from Chevy Chase, won for her chicken masala wraps, while Campbell Kielb, eight, of Sterling took first place in Virginia for orange chicken lettuce wraps. Nine-year-old Ingrid Lamberg from DC had one of the most creative submissions, cooking up Inga Binga’s Salmon Salad. Read on for the rest of the winning entries (Sneaky Chili Surprise! Super Rescue Soup!), and check out some of the recipes on Epicurious’s contest site.