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The Shaw venture from the Mintwood Place team is underway. By Anna Spiegel
A rendering of Convivial, looking in at the bar. Photograph courtesy of Peter Hapstak.

The previously untitled Shaw restaurant from the Mintwood Place team now has a name: Convivial. Chef Cedric Maupillier says he and co-owner Saied Azali were drawn to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of the word: “relating to, occupied with, or fond of feasting, drinking, and good company.” 

“It’s what I want the restaurant to be, and what everyone wants to feel around the table” says Maupillier. He also liked that the spelling and meaning are the same in his native French. 

The eatery is set to open in the City Market at O development, and is being designed by Peter Hapstak of HapstakDemetriou (behind the looks of Fiola Mare, Gypsy Soul, and others). Maupillier projects a late summer, early spring 2015 debut.

Like at Mintwood, the cuisine will draw from both French and American traditions. You may find some crossover dishes, but Maupillier says he’s hoping to make the portions slightly smaller—think appetizer size, not tiny tapas—and prices somewhat gentler.

“Some of my favorite places are Rose’s Luxury and 2 Amys, where you can have three or four plates of something good, and leave satisfied without breaking the bank,” says Maupillier. 

Convivial will be open around the clock for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Stay tuned for more details. 

Convivial. 801 O St., NW.

Posted at 01:56 PM/ET, 08/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The health-minded chain debuts its first East Coast location. By Anna Spiegel
A fall salad with Brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds from True Food Kitchen. Photograph courtesy of Fox Restaurant Concepts.

Washington is no stranger to health-inspired restaurants, with eateries such as the now-closed Rock Creek and ever-expanding Protein Bar. Up next: True Food Kitchen, a chain from Fox Restaurant Concepts based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet (you may have caught him on Oprah or Dr. Oz). The Mosaic District location will be the first on the East Coast—other branches include Denver and Santa Monica—and is set to open September 23

“Anti-inflammatory” isn’t as sexy sounding as South Beach, but fortunately the diet isn’t all tofu burgers and restrictions. The food pyramid that inspires the restaurant allows for red wine, “healthy sweets” like dark chocolate, seafood, cheeses, and more. True Food’s seasonal lunch, brunch, and dinner menus will be even broader, offering everything from chicken-sausage pizza (with optional gluten-free crust) and grass-fed-steak tacos to spaghetti squash casserole and grilled-tuna sliders (check out samples from other locations). Hot health foods like kale, quinoa, and Greek yogurt dot the menu, and there’s a lineup of fresh juices alongside beer, wine, and cocktails. 

The Mosaic District branch will hold 142 seats in the main dining room, with a large open kitchen and decor meant to evoke the outdoors; think lots of wood and strategically placed herbs. A 46-seat covered patio will stay open in warm weather. Stay tuned for more details closer to the opening. 

True Food Kitchen. 2910 District Ave., Suite 170, Fairfax; 571-206-2761. Full hours: Open Monday through Thursday 11 to 10, Friday 11 to 11, Saturday 10 to 11, Sunday from 10 to 9. Saturday and Sunday brunch 10 to 4. 

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 12:26 PM/ET, 08/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The lobsicle, from Lobster ME, arrives in October. By Anna Spiegel
The grilled “lobsicle,” which can also come to you battered and deep-fried. Photograph courtesy of Lobster ME.

Ever looked at a lobster tail and thought, “This would taste better eaten like a popsicle”? Now all your lob-pop dreams can to come true. Lobster ME, a fast-casual, Las Vegas seafood restaurant, is coming to Bethesda in October. 

The signature “lobsicle” involves a Maine tail that’s either grilled or deep-fried; a History Channel YouTube review dubs it “the world’s most perfect food.” Don’t care for stick-meat-of-the-sea? The shop, located in a new section of Westfield Montgomery Mall, will offer a variety of dishes, from Cajun- and Italian-themed lobster rolls to lobster mac, tacos, and more. Homage to Maryland’s state crustacean will also be paid, though probably not in crabsicle form. Crab cones? Never say never. 

While the Bethesda spot will be the third brick-and-mortar location for Lobster ME—which also operates food trucks in Vegas—a release from the restaurant says the soon-to-be chain is in “rapid expansion mode, with plans to open along the West and East coasts.” In the meantime, check out a sample menu. Hopefully the vodka-spiked “lobster Mary,” garnished with a claw, will make an appearance. 

Lobster ME. Westfield Montgomery Mall, 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda. Open Monday through Saturday 11 to 9, Sunday 11 to 6. 

Posted at 09:15 AM/ET, 08/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The high-profile chef suddenly leaves the Kimpton Hotel restaurant. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Jennifer Nguyen parts ways with Zentan. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Chef Jennifer Nguyen has left the Donovan House's Zentan to "pursue other opportunities," according to a representative from the Kimpton Hotel restaurant. Nguyen took over after celebrity chef Susur Lee parted ways with the Asian eatery, and reinvigorated the concept with a new menu and omakase-style tasting bar. 

"We are very grateful for the passion, dedication, and talent she brought to the restaurant and will be actively seeking a new executive chef who can carry the torch of Zentan," says a statement from the restaurant. "In the meantime, our team remains committed to creating the great Japanese cuisine and warm service our guests have come to expect at Zentan."

In addition to the restaurant menu, Nguyen also designed Vietnamese-inspired tacos, noodle bowls, and more for the DNV Rooftop lounge. There's no word yet on where she's headed, but stay tuned for more details as they develop.

Posted at 01:33 PM/ET, 08/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The celebrity chef’s first Washington venture is slated for 2015. By Anna Spiegel
Peter Chang (right), known for masterful Szechuan dishes such as mapo tofu, heads to Rockville. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Big news for Peter Chang devotees: The master of Szechuan cuisine plans to open a Rockville restaurant next year. A release from Federal Realty Investment Trust, which is behind the 3,100-square-foot space to be occupied by Chang in Rockville Town Square, says the eatery “will specialize in healthy and traditional Chinese cuisine and will be unique in concept from his other locations.”

The elusive toque has gained a cultlike following among his five Virginia restaurants, with eager diners ready to eat wherever he’s cooking next; the New York Times recently profiled his movements. The closest eatery for Washingtonians thus far has been Peter Chang’s China Cafe in Fredericksburg, with other locations in Richmond, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville. The Rockville eatery will mark the first Chang venture in our area, and will be open for lunch and dinner. 

Stay tuned for more details as they become available. 

Posted at 10:31 AM/ET, 08/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
These delightful spots offer everything from crabs on a rustic dock to burgers at a chic lounge. By Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegel
Cantina Marina. Photograph by Amanda Voisard/Washington Post.

Grilled tuna with watermelon and hazelnuts at Osteria Morini. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Waterside Cocktails

We could knock back Dark & Stormies, spicy micheladas, and cans of Tecate for hours at Cantina Marina (600 Water St., SW; 202-554-8396), a laid-back deck strung with lights on DC’s Southwest waterfront. You could be fooled into thinking you’re in the Florida Keys, were it not for the Washington Monument looming behind you. On the terrace of Sterling’s sprawling Bungalow Lakehouse (46116 Lake Center Plaza; 703-430-7625), which peers onto a manmade lake, settle into one of the loungey sofas and graze on craft brews and bar snacks including crispy rock shrimp with a trio of dipping sauces or nachos loaded with Terlingua chili and jalapeños.

Summer in the City

The Potomac River views at Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola Mare (3050 K St., NW; 202-628-0065) on the Georgetown waterfront may be stunning, but it’s his beautifully turned-out seafood—overflowing frutti di mare platters, a twirl of spaghetti with littleneck clams—that steals the most attention. More cravings for an Italian feast with a river vista can be satisfied at glass-enclosed Osteria Morini (301 Water St., SE; 202-484-0660), which is overseen by New York chef Michael White and specializes in the robust pastas and ragus of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.

Wit on the Water. Photograph by Christian Horan.

Pretty as a Picture

The views of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are postcard-worthy at Wit & Wisdom (200 International Dr., Baltimore; 410-576-5800), Michael Mina’s rustic-chic lounge and dining room in the Four Seasons Hotel. Grab a couch on the patio (Wit on the Water) and dig into lovely shellfish platters and hulking cheddar-laden burgers. It’s a quieter scene at Belmond Inn at Perry Cabin on the Eastern Shore (308 Watkins La., St. Michaels; 410-745-2200), where the views of the tranquil Miles River are gorgeous. The dining room, which would look at home in an episode of Barefoot Contessa, features spiffed-up classics like crabcakes with asparagus vinaigrette and oysters on the half shell with lemon-vodka granita.

Photography by Scott Suchman.

Get Cracking

If you’re an Old Bay fanatic, you likely know about Cantler’s Riverside Inn (458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis; 410-757-1311), still our top choice for cracking blue crabs at a picnic table overlooking Mill Creek. Your crabs won’t always hail from the Chesapeake, but they tend to be plump and flavorful, and the steamed corn is always sweet. Across the Bay Bridge, you can catch sunsets over the water from the Masthead at Pier Street Marina (104 W. Pier St., Oxford; 410-226-5171) while digging into a mess of steamed crabs or sweet soft-shell clams. Or watch boats pull up with their catch at the historic Crab Claw Restaurant (304 Burns St.; 410-745-2900) in nearby St. Michaels. Try the fried chicken for a change from crustaceans.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 08/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sweet-corn agnolotti and a 100-day dry-aged steak come to the former tasting-menu-only spot. By Anna Spiegel
Rogue 24 prepares for à-la-carte service alongside its 24-course tasting menu. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Rogue 24 toque RJ Cooper has had a busy few weeks between opening Gypsy Soul in Merrifield and preparing his former tasting menu-only restaurant for à-la-carte service. Now he’s ready to go “back to the basics” with a new menu at the Shaw eatery starting Wednesday, featuring more traditional appetizer- and entrée-sized portions.

“The neighborhood is changing and getting younger,” says Cooper. “We can be a destination restaurant and also provide an experience from the neighborhood.”

Most of the dishes are larger versions of items on the 24-course “journey” menu, which is still offered to guests when making reservations. Though there’s no designation between starters and main courses—categories are divided by vegetables and proteins, or, in this case, “vegetation” and “land”—the $10-to-$18 options are meant as beginners, and mains run $24 to $36. While Cooper goes more rustic at Gypsy Soul (think chicken-fried quail), all of Rogue’s dishes will continue to lean more modernist, such as roast duck with Indian pickles, oats, and sorrel, or bone-marrow flan with sea urchin and mustard greens. More in the mood for a steak Caesar? Try a 100-day dry-aged hanger with anchovies, romaine, and black garlic.

The new menu will be offered during regular hours starting Wednesday, August 20.

Rogue 24. 922 N St., NW; 202-408-9724. 

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 11:38 AM/ET, 08/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fresh options for dining and drinking. By Anna Spiegel
More Takos! Photograph by Flickr user angela n.

Beer at Amsterdam Falafel 14th Street

1830 14th St., NW

Falafel and beer: a match made in heaven, as you probably know from grabbing late-night sandwiches after a few too many at the original Adams Morgan shop. The new 14th Street sibling just got a liquor license and now serves brews such as Heineken and Oranjeboom Dutch lager to sip alongside the pitas and bowls.


TaKorean Navy Yard opens with discounts

1212 Fourth St., SE

The newest brick-and-mortar spot for TaKorean, one of DC’s early food trucks, debuted this week near Yards Park. Stop by for soft-opening specials on Thursday from 11 to 3, which include three Korean “takos” for $7 (a plus for vegetarians: The tofu version with kimchee is standout).


Free scoops for Nats fans at Ice Cream Jubilee

301 Water St., SE

The newly opened Ice Cream Jubilee near Nationals Park offers a gratis additional scoop for any customer holding a Nats ticket Friday through Sunday, August 24. Order one or two flavors to get an additional free, such as caramel popcorn, blueberry pie, banana-bourbon-caramel, and more.


Rare wines by the glass at Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW

Typically you’d need a large group—and an even bigger expense account—to order a magnum bottle of rare Cab, but BDT is pouring such bottles by the glass on Tuesdays for the month of August. A different pour of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1980s will be available each week, with four-ounce tastes priced at $30. Up now: a 1983 selection from Dunn Vineyards.


Boozy frozen ice at Mio

1110 Vermont Ave., NW

Head out to Mio’s patio, where you’ll find a Puerto Rican-style shaved ice cart for piragua desserts. Flavors such as guava, mango, passionfruit, and coffee can be topped with a shot of DonQ Rum ($5). The special runs through September 21.


Hot cheese, cold soup from restaurateur Med Lahlou

Multiple locations

Throughout the month of August, drop by Ulah Bistro, Station 4, and Lupo Verde for a special combo: grilled cheeses paired with cold summer soups. Each location will have a different pairing, such as grilled goat cheese and braised short ribs on Texas toast with chilled cucumber soup at Ulah ($14).

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 03:26 PM/ET, 08/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus—accolades for Restaurant Eve, Fiola Mare, Jaleo, and more. By Anna Spiegel
Rose’s Luxury comes in second on Southern Living’s Best New Restaurants in the South list. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

There’s plenty of debate as to whether Washington is a true Southern city, but one thing is certain: Rose’s Luxury is a great restaurant. So great, in fact, that Southern Living magazine gave it second place on its list of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the South, which leads with the top ten new eateries.

“Everything about Rose’s Luxury seems easy, accessible, achievable,” writes deputy editor Jennifer V. Cole. “But that doesn’t mean the food and drink aren’t serious . . . As with anything, it all boils down to the execution. And so far, Rose’s is doing luxury right.”

The ranking is part of the magazine's coverage of the 100 Best Southern Restaurants, which include a number of Washington locations. Restaurant Eve, Fiola Mare, Jaleo, Komi, Little Serow, and Rasika West End, all made the list, as did a number of farther-afield Virginia stops for those of you looking to travel.

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

This post has been updated from a previous version. 

Posted at 12:29 PM/ET, 08/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The celebrity chef—excited about his homecoming—talks about his love of spinach dip, his dislike of Dan Snyder, and the new space (his biggest yet). By Todd Kliman
Celebrity chef and restaurateur David Chang confirms plans to open a Momofuku in DC. Photograph by Gabriele Stabile.

The talented New York chef David Chang called Tuesday to fill me in on the details of the new Momofuku, set to open at CityCenterDC in the spring or summer of 2015. 

At least, I think that’s why he called.

The self-laceratingly honest, F-bomb-spraying chef didn’t go too deep into specifics, mostly because he said he hasn’t really figured out what sort of restaurant he wants to fill the space. In the meantime, however, he bared his angsty soul in a 30-minute conversation that spanned a range of topics.

Chang, who grew up in Northern Virginia, sounded almost giddy at times, bubbling over with enthusiasm and vowing to make his homecoming a memorable one. “I haven’t been this excited,” he told me, “in a long, long time.”


The Space

At 4,500 square feet, it will be the largest of any of his restaurants outside of Toronto. He’ll in the same complex as fellow NYC chef Daniel Boulud.

“It’s an extraordinarily amazing space, but you wouldn’t traditionally associate it with Momofuku.”

He considered spaces that were smaller and full of character, but: “I don’t really want that. It’s too snobbish in a way.”

And yet: “I don’t really want to serve burgers, either.”


The Vision 

“It’s going to be a Momofuku restaurant but . . . where I want to take it is to make it a little bit more—not just accessible. It’s going to be exactly what we do and nothing like what we do at the same time.”

Experimental?

“Absolutely not. But yes, in some ways, too.”

No ambiguity there.

“To me the super-interesting right now is straight down the middle. Like, super-casual dining. … I don’t want to make food for foodies. And I know that’s really inflammatory if read the wrong way.”

How will it differ from other Momofukus?

“I don’t want this to be just another outlet of Momofuku. We’ve never opened another outlet. This one’s going to be different from everything else. Will it be wildly different? I don’t know. We just want to serve great food. And that takes time.”


His Approach

“We want to be good neighbors. We want to enhance the town. I want to help DC. I still read the Washington Post every day. All my friends and family are there. I root for all the teams there. I was a hair away from opening up in DC ten years ago. I opened in New York because I had more of a support network there. I just don’t want to let people down. You know? I just don’t want to let people down.”

On the other hand: “We’re going to make mistakes.”


The Menu

“There’s gonna be stuff that we’ve never done before, or that we’ve done, but not done a lot of.”

And pork buns?

“And pork buns.”

Any chance we’ll see a culinary homage to Wes Unseld? (Chang’s Twitter feed used to have a strapping pic of the Hall of Fame center who manned the pivot for the ’78 Washington Bullets.)

“I wish, I wish.”

Meantime, for all those who are busy stoking the fires of the Kevin Durant to DC movement—#KD2DC—are you officially down for the cause?

“Oh, yeah. Whatever I need to do. ’Cause we’re so close.”

Since we’re already off the rails, how about talking a bit about the Redskins and Daniel Snyder? (Chang went on record almost two years ago with his interest in buying the Redskins.)

“The name thing is hard for me because, yes, it’s terrible. I understand why it needs to be done. But I’m divided. I have a weird allegiance to the Redskins I grew up with, the Joe Gibbs Redskins. And at the same time I have an extreme dislike of Dan Snyder. That’s the only reason I would want to accumulate a stupid amount of money, is to buy the Skins. Look, DC deserves a team that like the Spurs or Patriots. The only way we can do that is if everyone boycotts the Redskins until we get a new owner. My suggestion is that all the Redskins fans root for the Raiders, until the Lerner family comes in and buys the team. Or Leonsis.”


Current Culinary Enthusiasms

“I’m fucking infatuated with fucking Salvadoran cuisine. Not that I’m saying I’m trying to tap into it.”

Anything else?

“Spinach artichoke dip. Chicken fingers.”

Seriously?

“Simple shit.”


Changian Angst, part I

“It feels strange to be coming in and not be the underdog. I want to be the underdog.”


Changian Angst, part II

“We’re gonna take a lot of bad falls. I know it.”

How do you know?

“We don’t open restaurants that work right away. They’ve all been unique restaurants. All the recipes are different. Momofuku Toronto, there’s nothing that’s the same. The pork buns are the same but that’s it. . . .”

Eventually, they do work. And you have tons of fans to prove it.

“You know, at the end of the day, I think people are gonna be like: ‘Fuck this place.’ I’d love to make everyone happy, but you know . . .”


A Final Message, in Advance of Opening

“Don’t judge us now, and don’t judge us a year from now. Judge us in five years, or ten.”

Find Todd Kliman on Twitter at @toddkliman


UPDATE (1:20 PM): A Momofuku representative says that an outpost of Momofuku Milk Bar, the dessert branch of the empire headed by James Beard Award-winning chef/Northern Virginia native Christina Tosi, will open inside the new restaurant. The sweets shop has a cult-like following for its crack pie, compost cookies, creative cakes, and more.

Posted at 11:59 AM/ET, 08/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()