There were no Washington winners at the 2015 James Beard Awards, one of the most important accolades in the American restaurant industry, hosted in Chicago on Monday evening. Two DC chefs were among the finalists: Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground and Maketto, who was up for Rising Star of the Year, and Bread Furst’s Mark Furstenberg, nominated for the new category of Outstanding Baker.
Baltimore, on the other hand, received a win in one of the most prestigious categories: Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen claimed the title, beating out fellow Charm City chef Cindy Wolf (Charleston), and several contenders from Philadelphia. Washington was shut out of the category this year, despite several strong contedners among the semifinalists.
Though Rasika chef Vikram Sunderdam took home the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award in 2014, Washington toques have never swept up at the Beards like their counterparts in New York or New Orleans. This year seemed particularly lacking in recognition, especially given the growing excitement—both local and national—over Washington’s food scene. As critic Todd Kliman explains in his new column, OtherWise, the issue may be rooted in the city’s lack of food identity, at least in the eyes of the Beards.
A complete list of the 2015 James Beard Award winners is available here.
The idea of share plates on 14th Street may seem a little tired, but there’s nothing ho-hum about Provision No. 14. The striking new eatery at 14th and V Streets, Northwest officially opened Wednesday with an eclectic menu—Filipino pork, house-made pastas—shareable cocktails served in French press coffeemakers, and a bold look from Swatchroom’s Maggie O’Neill.
Executive chef James Duke and chef de cuisine John Leavitt most recently came from opening the Atlas District’s Driftwood Kitchen, and also share a background working in fine dining spots like 1789 (Duke) and 2941 (Leavitt). The menu is made up of an international array of communal dishes, both large and small. Guests can graze from the “collection” side of the list, which includes a number of elevated riffs on pub food like a Hot Pocket (braised lamb stuffed inside a sweet roll) and Hens in a Blanket, pheasant sausage rolled in puff pastry.
Smaller plates and house-made pastas can also round out larger dishes from the “communal” section, where portions serve two-to-four guests. Lamb ribs are marinated overnight in miso and beer, braised for seven hours, and served on a platter with golden raisin-studded couscous and cucumber salad with Thai chilies. Such a big plate of food may call for a similarly-sized cocktail. Barman Chad Spangler designed a menu of sips such as the Pisco Rambler, a mix of Macchu pisco, mint, fresh juices, and chamomile tea, all served in a wine bottle. Another gin-based drink arrives in a French press.
Like certain dishes, Provision’s space is sizable. A sidewalk-level bar and dining room fits 86, while a lounge/bar on the second floor can seat nearly the same. A 61-seat sidewalk patio is open for diners and drinkers in warm weather. O’Neill channeled the provisioning theme for all, with hanging jute lanterns, bar stools fashioned out of metal oil drums, and Victorian-style couches.
The pièce de résistance among the edibles is the pata, a Filipino-inspired pork dish; Leavitt has family from the Philippines, and riffed off the traditional pata made with trotters. The hind legs of a suckling pig are given a length brine, braise, and then hung overnight to dry so the skin crisps up when fried-to-order. The pork arrives with banana barbecue sauce, chili-vinegar, cilantro aoili, and rustic bread for dipping and/or making sandwiches. There’s a limited number of portions on hand, or guests can pre-order. Prepare to pay. The dish goes for market price, which the chefs say hover around $65, though keep in mind the cost can be shared, like the plate itself.
Reservations are accepted for all dining, not just for a pata feast. The kitchen also plans to roll out brunch in a few weeks. In the meantime, there’s always that boozy French press for a wakeup.
Provision No. 14.http://provisiondc.com/ 2100 14th St., NW; 202-827-4530. Open daily for dinner, 4 to 10.
Dupont Circle will get a family-owned Turkish eatery when Ankara opens its doors on Wednesday, May 20 (a soft-opening with limited hours will begin May 14). Jorge Chicas, formerly a head chef at Zaytinya, designed the menus, which will be offered for lunch, dinner, and a special Turkish brunch in the former Levante’s space; there’s no relation between the two restaurants, despite serving similar cuisines.*
A number of familiar favorites fill the sizable lunch and dinner menu, such as hot and cold mezze, flat breads cooked in a stone oven, salads, and grilled kebabs. Guests can opt for entrees over grazing, including seared Skuna Bay salmon with chickpeas and garlicky yoghurt, or braised lamb shanks. Members of the Aslanturk family, who’re behind the restaurant, plan to recreate lesser-known dishes from their homeland, such as ankara tava, a comforting pilaf dish with beef, tomatoes, and peppers.
The 120-seat space takes on a rustic Old World look, and includes a patio of near-equal size for 115 guests. An outdoor happy hour is planned with discounts on food and drinks, as well as al fresco brunch. The weekend prix-fixe menu ($35 per person) is modeled after a traditional Turkish breakfast, with small salads, fresh breads, jams, and honey followed by a choice of entree—think fried eggs in Turkish tomato sauce—plus complimentary coffee, tea, and a mimosa. À la carte options will also be available.
Ankara. 1320 19th St., NW; 202-293-6301.
*This post has been updated from an earlier version.
There’s no shortage of fast-casual pizza in Washington, but Veloce plans to bring a different style of pie to the table when it debuts on Monday, May 4. Pizzeria Paradiso owner Ruth Gresser is one of a few established chefs jumping into the quick-service game—think José Andrés's Beefsteak, G by Mike Isabella—and approaches Veloce with a similar (albeit faster) attitude than when she debuted the original Paradiso on P Street in 1991. Doughs, sauces, and toppings like sausage are fresh-made in house, and ingredients are sourced with an organic, local-when-possible ethos—including Veloce’s Maryland-made Marra Forni oven, ready to churn out pizzas and calzones in two minutes.
The eatery debuts with a free lunch giveaway on Monday, starting at 11:30. The first 100 guests receive complimentary personal pies (limited to one per person). Here’s what to look for when you go.
Design-your-own breakfast pizzas with local coffee.
Being encouraged to eat pizza for breakfast is a little like having ice cream for dinner. In a word: awesome. The shop opens at 7 AM for early risers, serving locally-roasted Compass Coffee and a menu of egg-topped pies that are slightly smaller than the lunchtime equivalent. Diners can opt for house combinations like The Flag, made with scrambled eggs, Italian cheeses, and roasted cherry tomatoes, or design their own. In a big rush? Grab a smoked salmon breakfast pocket with herbed mascarpone cheese.
Unusual crusts and toppings.
Crusts play a large role at Veloce, as evidenced by the large brick-and-gas oven designed to give pies a light char, similar to traditional wood-burning varieties at Pizzeria Paradiso. The kitchen produces four fresh varieties: traditional white, whole wheat, and a grain-seed version made with rye, spelt, oat, and flax. There's also a gluten-free option. Guests can pick one and then customize with a variety of sauces, cheeses, and toppings, which go far beyond typical pepperoni. Think fresh-made pesto, buffalo mozzarella, house-made sausages (lamb, pork, and chicken) and kale. The afternoon menu also offers creative combinations in both meat and veggie forms.
Quick-grab sandwiches, seasonal salads.
Though pizzas are designed to be quick--hence the name, which means "fast" in Italian--diners in big rush can grab ready-made “pocket” sandwiches stuffed with smoked salmon, roasted vegetables, and more. Round out a meal with seasonal side salads, which will include asparagus for May. A monthly-changing pizza will also feature the spring veggie, and others like it going forward.
A communal table and counter seats can fit 18 diners indoors, with an additional 16 seats on an outdoor patio. There’s no alcohol served, but local coffee and Puck’s fountain sodas can be sipped al fresco or in the sunny space.
Veloce. 1828 L St., NW. Open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. Monday through Friday, 7 AM to 8 PM.
Spring brought a wave of restaurant openings, and there’s a strong variety among the new spots. Celebrity chef José Andrés went fast-casual, Robert Wiedmaier opened two firsts—a live music venue and rooftop Asian eatery—and the long-awaited Maketto brought a mixed retail/restaurant/bar concept to H Street. Have fun exploring—we certainly have so far.
8630 Fenton St., Silver Spring
Lobster rolls and Sunday fried chicken suppers are all set at this nautically-chic New England eatery, named after the popular phrase. A 24-seat patio is the place for fried clams and dark n’ stormy cocktails in warm weather.
800 22nd St., NW
It’s all about the veggies at José Andrés’s first fast-casual venture, which goes beyond the salad bar with cooked-to-order seasonal vegetable bowls mixed with a variety of grains, sauces, and yes, a few meats (chicken, house-cured salmon). A Dupont Circle location is slated to open this summer.
1015 Half St., SE
The Korean fried chicken chain with a cult-like following opened its first branch in the District. Look for a large bar area with Asian and American craft drafts, new dishes like bulgogi sliders, and a separate takeout counter for grabbing spicy and soy-garlic wings on the go.
442 Maple Ave E., Vienna
One of the most anticipated openings for Virginia comes from industry vets Jonathan Krinn and Jason Maddens, who met working at the high-end incarnation of 2941. The duo goes casual and cozy for their own restaurant, serving dishes like salmon crudo, fresh tagliatelle with veal meatballs, and roast chicken.
1847 Columbia Rd., NW
The Popal family (Café Bonaparte, Malmaison) channeled their roots when transforming Napoleon Bistro into a Afghan restaurant. Mother Shamim Popal helms the kitchen, turning out flatbreads and steamed dumplings, rice dishes and kebabs. Drinkers can try creative cocktails like the Afghan 75, Champagne spiced with cardamom syrup, or house pomegranate-rose soda.
1351 H St., NE
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground is behind this ambitious market/restaurant, which mixes a coffee shop and bakery, men’s street wear from Durkl, and a Southeast Asian bar/restaurant. Drop by during the day for Cambodian sandwiches and pork buns, or in the evenings for a larger menu of small plates and shareable platters such as Taiwanese fried chicken. A courtyard patio and deck are guaranteed hotspots for summer.
1522 14th St., NW
Former Kushi chef/owner Darren Lee Norris is behind this modern Japanese joint, which specializes in ready-to-eat hand rolls. Customers pick creative combinations from a display case, such as Hawaiian poke tuna with black rice, roasted wild mushrooms, or sous-vide short rib with kimchi. Round out a meal with miso soup and side salads.
2915 M St., NW
This Georgetown spot in the former Guards space serves a simple bistro menu, with classics like escargots, steamed mussels, and creme brûlée. At the center: La Formule, a $19.95 prix-fixe menu that includes fresh bread, salad, a half-pound steak with house sauce, and frites (fish and vegetarian alternatives are available). Feeling fancy? Foie gras can be added for $6.
20-A Maryland Ave., Rockville
Lauded Szechuan chef Peter Chang is busy in Washington, having opened his first local eatery in Arlington, followed closely by the Maryland branch. The menus are nearly identical—balloon-like chive pancakes, cumin lamb chops, fried pork belly—with location-specific dishes among the daily specials.
Songbyrd Record Café
2477 18th St., NW
Coffee lovers, music enthusiasts, and sandwich seekers mingle in this funky Adams Morgan spot, which combines a vinyl record shop and cafe. Grab an organic brew and braised pork shoulder with melty gruyere on sourdough, and browse through 300-plus albums. A 1947 Voice-o-Graph is available for recording your own tunes or jokes.
940 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda
Bethesda’s biggest outdoor dining and drinking spot has arrived courtesy of chef Robert Wiedmaier, who transformed the former Roof Bethesda space into an airy Asian restaurant. Guests can pick between a dining room patio and roof deck for island-inspired cocktails, and dishes like Filipino spring rolls or crispy whole fish from former TenPenh chef Cliff Wharton. Make sure to check out the Tuna Bar, which centers around sushi-grade fish for tartars and sashimi.
Villain & Saint
7141 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda
Its been a big two weeks for Robert Wiedmaier, having just opened Urban Heights (above) after the debut of his live music venue, Villain & Saint. Nightly performances and jazz brunch play on the restaurant’s stage, while the kitchen turns out chef-y bar fare such as slow-smoked ribs, deviled eggs with feta, and a lineup of “saintly” vegetarian dishes. Fitting for a space with lava lamps on the wall, the bar pours drinks like Bye-Bye Miss American pie with house-made fireball.
The biggest outdoor dining and drinking space in Bethesda opens Thursday, just in time for summer. Urban Heights, the first Asian restaurant from chef Robert Wiedmaier, debuts in the former Roof Bethesda space. The launch comes on the heels of Villain & Saint, Wiedmaier’s live music venue that served its first meal last week. While the latter brings ribs and rock n’ roll to the scene, Urban Heights mixes Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino influences over two floors, outfitted with a spacious patio and roof deck.
Filipino spring rolls, adobo sliders
Chef Cliff Wharton helms the kitchen, and creates dishes influenced by his Filipino family and years as chef de cuisine at TenPenh. Small plates in the $4 to $9 range make up a large portion of the lunch and dinner menus, with classics from the Philippines like crispy lumpia spring rolls alongside less traditional items such as chicken adobo sliders (“My mom would probably cringe at that,” Wharton says of his riff). Guests don’t have to graze, with entrees such as pork belly bánh mì sandwiches at lunch, and whole crispy fish with cucumber salad and tamarind dipping sauce in the evening.
Tastes from a Tuna Bar
Some restaurants have a raw bar. Urban Heights claims its own version devoted to Wagyu of the Sea. A slab of sushi-grade tuna on ice greets guests at the front of the restaurant, ready to be diced into Hawaiian-style poke, sliced for sashimi with jalapeño-citrus vinaigrette, and wrapped with nori for a crunch tempura-like roll.
Sake punch in the sunshine
The restaurant goes for a transporting island affect, starting with the entrance; guests access the eatery through a bamboo-lined elevator. Two outdoor areas make ideal spots for sipping in the sunshine: an entry-level dining patio set for 40, and a slightly larger roof deck above. Drinkers can pick between Asian draft beers and tropical cocktails like a sake-spiked rum punch or kumquat mojito.
Rooftop pig roasts, Asian-style brunch
Wharton plans to roll out brunch in a few weeks, with dishes like a crab cake Benedict with chili hollandaise. Once summer hits, the rooftop will be the place for Filipino-style pig roasts. In the meantime, head up for happy hour between 3 and 7.
Urban Heights. 7940 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda. Open for lunch, Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30; Dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5 to 11. Roof deck open Monday through Sunday, 3 to close. Brunch (coming soon), Saturday and Sunday, 11 to 2:30.
The 2015 Sweetlife Festival is back on May 30 and 31 with big-name headliners like Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris, plus plenty of culinary talent in the mix. Momofuku Milk Bar is set to serve sweets, José Andrés will dish up a specialty sandwich, and New York’s Blue Hill concocted a “wastED” burger for the occasion. The one thing you won’t find: soda and hot dogs.
The culinary format is slightly different this year. Sweetgreen has taken over all concessions, banishing plebeian festival fare like Sprite and fake cheese nachos in favor of craft foods and drinks, and of course, salads. Sustenance is divided into five categories: a chef’s corner, where you’ll find the likes of Andrés and Erik Bruner-Yang (Toki/Maketto); concessions by Luke’s Lobster, Shake Shack, and others; “roadies,” i.e. food trucks such as Takorean; a marketplace for quick-grabs from Dolcezza and other artisanal vendors; and the Tavern, pouring craft brews and local wines.
Still missing soda and tube meat? Too bad. Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $97.50 for one-day general admission to $225 for VIP.
Chef Mike Isabella is changing up the format for G, which has operated as a sandwich shop by day, and prix-fixe dinner spot at night since opening in 2013. Starting Wednesday, May 6, evenings will bring both a $40 set menu and à la carte options to the 40-seat space. The change follows on the heels of the Yona pop-up, which wraps up on May 2.
The new lineup from chef de cuisine Elliot Drew features a range of antipasti and pastas, as well as a meat, fish, or vegetarian secondi and sides. Portions are similar to those at the adjoining Kapnos, in that they’re designed with sharing in mind. Dishes will change seasonally—spring brings options like snapper crudo with fennel pesto, bucatini carbonara with sweetbreads and fava beans, and Florentine-style grilled cauliflower with black garlic aioli.
The daytime sandwich shop format remains unchanged, as does the set $40 Sunday Gravy Menu. Reservations will continue to be taken for dinner.
Adams Morgan has an interesting new hangout, and it’s not just for the evening crowds. Songbyrd Record Café just opened in the former Showboat Lounge space, mixing elements of a retail vinyl record store with a coffee house and sandwich shop. Owners and AdMo locals Alisha Edmonson and Joe Lapan are behind the project, as well as the upcoming “music house” adjoining the cafe. Here's what to look for when you go.
Mumbo slice and jumbo slice
Chef Matthew Richardson (previously of 1905 and the Argonaut) is behind the all-day-and-night cafe menu, which will be served from lunch through close. Skip the Jumbo Slice remorse and try Songbyrd’s version of the AdMo icon, a toasty focaccia pepperoni pizza—or even better, the Mumbo Slice, topped with a mustardy mumbo sauce, provolone, roasted pineapple, and chopped pork. Sandwiches made with house-roasted meats and fresh sauces fill the rest of the menu, such as a veggie muffaletta with olive tapenade or crispy chicken schnitzel with hot pickles.
Edmonson comes from a coffee background—her family owned a coffee roastery in Oregon, and she was trained to brew by a chemist. Still don’t expect latte art. “I’m just going simple and good,” says Edmonson. The cafe currently serves Equal Exchange, a fair trade organic coffee from small-batch producers in Africa and South American, and imported a Nuova Simonelli machine from Italy to brew espresso drinks.
A 1947-style recording studio
The centerpiece of the shop is a 1947 Voice-o-Graph, one of the few in the country. Originally the phone booth-like machines were conceived as a way to make short recordings, and were popular during wartime as a way to send messages to loved ones. Songbyrd’s machine has been outfitted with new amps and can record up to three minutes and ten seconds; users can take home their own 45-rpm records for $15 a pop.
Plenty of vinyl
If making your own music or jokes isn’t appealing, the shop has a collection of roughly 350 vinyl records to browse. The collection emphasizes soul, funk, R&B, hip-hop, and indie artists, with a few other genres mixed in.
More music to come
While the Record Café is up and running, plans for the adjoining space are still in the works. The owners are remaining fairly tight-lipped about the project until more details are finalized, but one can expect alcohol service and another menu from Richardson by early summer.
“We’re trying to restore the space into something that’s beautiful and brilliant, and music-centric,” says Edmonson.
Songbyrd Record Café. 2477 18th St., NW. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 to 10; Friday and Saturday 10 to midnight. Closed temporarily on Mondays.
Good news for Korean taco fans: Takorean will open its first Downtown DC eatery this summer at 13th and F Streets, Northwest. Originally a food truck concept—and the first to bring Asian-style tacos to the DC roadways—founder Mike Lenard has expanded to brick-and-mortar locations in Union Market and Navy Yard. His third will be in the Eat at National Place food hall near Warner Theater.
Takorean’s core dishes have remained relatively the same since its beginning in 2010, with options like bulgogi beef or chili chicken stuffed into warm corn tortillas with kimchi slaw. Along with the announcement of the new location, Lenard is launching an expanded menu at all branches. Vegetarians can now pick between glazed tofu and a seasonal vegetable as the main filling; roasted cauliflower with soy-orange glaze is the pick for spring. Other additions include brown rice bowls, Korean-style salsa roja spiked with spicy gochujang sauce, and toppings like vegan avocado crema or an organic soft egg.
The Eat at National Place location is slated to open in early summer.