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The Marcel’s chef will open a French bistro for travelers. By Anna Spiegel
Robert Wiedmaier, chef/owner of Marcel’s (pictured) and Brasserie Beck, among others, will open a Reagan Airport eatery. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Plenty of new pre-flight dining options are heading to Reagan National Airport. In addition to local chains including Ben’s Chili Bowl and Taylor Gourmet, big-name chefs such as Carla Hall are planning to establish their presence. The most recent: Robert Wiedmaier, who’s signed on for a restaurant in Terminal A. The veteran toque, who owns Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, and Mussel Bar, among others, has teamed up with concessions company OTG for a French bistro, according to a news release. 

“The menu will feature the flavors and textures of simple French country cooking with a focus on regionally sourced meats, fish, and produce that has become Chef Wiedmaier’s signature style,” says a representative for the project.

In addition to the menu, travelers can relax over iPads and power outlets built into each seat. The technology guests to track their flight without running to the departures board, or just browse the Web during their meal. Looks like Vino Volo will have some stiff competition for the Meet at the Airport member crowd. Stay tuned for more information closer to the opening. 

Posted at 01:51 PM/ET, 04/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Anna Spiegel

Happy Monday, food truck followers! Satisfy your sweet tooth with sweet tea cookies and PB&J ice cream at Captain Cookie, chili mangos and watermelon from La Tingeria, and chocolate-dipped frozen bananas aboard Orange Cow.

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Posted at 10:54 AM/ET, 04/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Pizza Parts & Service debuts with thin-crust pies and late-night hours. By Anna Spiegel
Screen capture via YouTube.

Good news for pizza fans: Casey Patten and David Mazza, the owners of recently crowned Sandwich Smackdown champ Taylor Gourmet, are jumping into the pie game at their former H Street steak-and-cheese spot, Taylor Charles Steak & Ice. Taking over: Pizza Parts & Service*, which opens (surprise!) today at 11.

A YouTube video released by the team shows thin-crust rounds, which, according to the menu, can also be ordered “Nonna”-style: 18-inch rectangles reminiscent of Philly-style tomato pie. Specialty toppings on the red and white varieties range from local Logan’s sausage to house-made meatballs, Buffalo chicken and ranch, and vegetarian options topped with mushrooms and truffle oil or artichoke and spinach. Rounding out the lineup are six varieties of wings—including a Bon Chon-esque Sriracha-honey—as well as salads, calzones, and garlic knots. Coming soon: beer and wine by the glass and pitcher, and delivery for the carryout crowd.

In Taylor tradition, the shop plans to stay open late on the weekends, serving the H Street post-bar crowds until 3:30 on Friday and Saturday.

Pizza Parts & Service. 1320 H St., NE; 202-388-6880. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 to 10, and Friday and Saturday 11 to 3:30.

*Restaurant-name fun fact: There’s an official “Parts &” trend going on between Spike Gjerde’s newly opened Parts & Labor in Baltimore, and Michael Babin’s Partisan (initially also called Parts & Labor) in Penn Quarter.

Posted at 10:43 AM/ET, 04/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Our favorite dishes from the past seven days of dining. By Garrett M. Graff, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegel
Bon Fresco’s simple yet delicious Brie-and-tomato-jam sandwich is a Todd Kliman favorite. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Garrett Graff

Za’atar-seared tuna tataki with tabbouleh at Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Seats at the Union Market outpost of this Virginia oyster pioneer are a hot commodity on weekends, but the food is well worth it. On a recent Sunday afternoon visit, a tray of oysters, the white gazpacho, and this tuna dish were a perfect late brunch for spring.

Todd Kliman

Brie-and-tomato-jam sandwich at Bon Fresco

There are so many bad sandwiches out there.

I don’t mean the sandwiches that aren’t really trying, like those dreary triangle-cut, plastic-wrapped things in the refrigerated case at 7-11 or Sheetz.

I mean the ones that think they’re better than they are. Is it great that the bread is baked on the premises? It can be—but not if, as so often happens, it winds up being too much bread for the sandwich. I love it when I see an operation that roasts its own meats, especially when it’s interesting items such as goat and pork shoulder. But a sandwich, remember, is a chorus; all these disparate elements must mesh. A star turn can disrupt the essential sense of balance, and frequently does. Make the pickles in house, great—but is the spicing in the brine in the service of the sandwich? And why am I getting an acidic hit before I’ve ever taken my first bite of meat? And why is the Sriracha-spiked condiment slathered on the bread, making it soggy? Why do I feel that the sandwich-maker just piled things one atop another with little regard for how they interact? Why does the whole thing fall apart after four bites?

Now look at my favorite sandwich at Gerald Koh’s Bon Fresco.

Aside from the bread—a yeasty, crusty, phenomenally light baguette that Koh bakes himself—the individual elements would bore you on their own. Nothing is what you would call exquisite: thick wedges of Brie, a sundried-tomato jam, barely caramelized onions.

But a sandwich isn’t just a collection of high-quality sexy ingredients, as Koh knows. He tends to favor simple constructions, and builds with smart, dramatic contrasts—setting the rich, creamy Brie against the crunchy baguette, for instance, and using the tanginess of the tomato jam to pierce the intensity of the cheese. The caramelized onions bring a needed sweetness, as well as a little texture.

This is an almost-perfect sandwich, and it’s also almost perfectly made, layered with thought and care. It’s never the case that you bite into the Brie and don’t get a taste of tomato jam. Or that the ratio of jam or onions to cheese is out of whack. Or that there’s too much bread for the sandwich. Or that the whole thing collapses in your hands.

Ann Limpert

Beef-and-cheddar sandwich at Red Apron Butcher

Store-bought roast-beef sandwiches tend to be filled with dry, gray slices of meat that call to mind poor Oliver Twist (Pret, I’m looking at you). But leave it to Nate Anda to restore my faith in the often-maligned cold cut. At the Merrifield outpost of his hipster butcher shop, Red Apron, his roast beef tastes less like lunch meat and more like fresh slices of a juicy, rare, ruby-red steak. Slathers of house-made Cheez Whiz and ranch mayo make it sound like something only a frat boy could love, but they’re the perfect accents, along with a squishy, slightly sweet bun. I had it last weekend, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Anna Spiegel

Sushi at Tachibana

Unlike many nostalgic cravings, my love of Tachibana’s sushi also appeals to my food-lover palate. I grew up in McLean, where my parents still live, and it was at the original Arlington location of this neighborhood Japanese spot where I fell in love with sushi (at age five), as well as tempura, teriyaki, and other dishes more suited to a kid’s taste. My family still visits on weekend afternoons, along with the many others packing around tables for generous bento boxes and pristine slices of fish arranged into artful sashimi and sushi platters. Besides owner Eiji Yahashi moving the 32-year-old operation to McLean in the mid-’90s, nothing much has changed. It’s a wonderful thing. Lunch for me always begins with a lemony bean-sprout salad, perhaps a soothing bowl of clam miso soup if it’s cold. Then it’s on to whatever fresh fish entices that day. A dry-erase board of daily specialties can hold unusual treasures such as seasonal red sweet shrimp served raw atop perfectly seasoned sushi rice, their heads fried and brought on a side plate for sucking the flavorful insides. But you don’t need to be adventurous for a good meal. Try a simple tuna roll or nigiri, the fat slices of ruby-hued fish cushioned by more of that perfect rice and tender—not dry or chewy—seaweed. The flavors are clean, and always leave me wishing every neighborhood sushi bar could be this good.

See also: Previous Best Things I Ate

Posted at 04:02 PM/ET, 04/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
From bottomless feasts to picturesque meals with a water view. By Anna Spiegel
Dig into a mortadella frittata accompanied by DIY mimosas and a waterside view during Osteria Morini’s new brunch. Photograph by Anthony Jackson.

Need an excuse to dine out this weekend? Try one of these newly launched brunches, which offer a little something for everyone, from food-loving yoga fans to those looking for a hangover cure or a water view.

Béarnaise

315 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-450-4800

Chef Spike Mendelsohn launches brunch on Sunday at his Capitol Hill eatery. Look for très Français dishes such as crème brûlée French toast, ham-and-Brie omelets, and the “chef’s hangover cure,” a crispy pig’s feet hash topped with eggs and the restaurant’s namesake sauce. To drink: $14 bottomless mimosas and Bloodys or tableside bottle service with a carafe of sparkling wine and your choice of liqueurs such as St. Germaine for $35.

Details: Sunday 10 to 3

Fiola Mare

3050 K St., NW; 202-628-0065

You can watch the Potomac River flow by from the windows—or from the soon-to-open outdoor patio—at this elegant Georgetown waterfront spot. The brunch menu includes Italian morning specialties such as lemon-mascarpone pancakes and baked eggs with creamy mushrooms, as well as the restaurant’s signature seafood pastas and grilled fish.

Details: Saturday and Sunday 11:30 to 2:45

Heavy Seas Alehouse

1501 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-879-4388

This new Arlington brew spot, a spinoff of the Baltimore original, just launched Sunday brunch. True to its Maryland roots, the menu offers dishes including a crab frittata with roasted corn and cotija cheese, and a fried-oyster Benedict with tasso-ham hollandaise and pickled jalapeños.

Details: Sundays, 11 to 4 (Saturday brunch will launch later).

Osteria Morini

301 Water St., SE; 202-484-0660

While this Capitol Riverfront Italian eatery has been open since November, it just recently started serving the brunch menu. A 100-seat outdoor patio overlooking the water will be the place to sit once the weather warms. In the meantime, you can warm up with DIY mimosas (a bottle of bubbly and carafes of juice) to pair with Italian pastries and dishes like a porchetta panino.

Details: Saturday and Sunday 11 to 3

Ritz-Carlton Georgetown yoga brunch

3100 South St., NW; 202-912-4100

You don’t have to be an overnight guest at this swanky hotel to enjoy its Saturday yoga brunch. The morning begins at 10 with an hourlong vinyasa class in the Ritz’s garden, followed by brunch on the terrace with new dishes from Degrees. Look for cardio-centric fitness brunches on Sunday, beginning May 18.

Details: $45 per person; Saturday at 10

Satellite Room

2047 Ninth St., NW; 202-506-2496

You may be more familiar with this spot behind the 9:30 Club for late-night eats, but it’s now serving weekend brunch. There’s a “hangover helper” breakfast plate for those who partied too hard at the concert, as well as an egg-topped burger, huevos rancheros, and a peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwich.

Details: Saturday and Sunday starting at 11

Posted at 12:31 PM/ET, 04/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we’ll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Josh Paunil

Happy Friday, food truck followers! Celebrate the end of the week by heading out for today’s specials such as lobster rolls from Corned Beef King and smoked jerk pork or chicken sandwiches at Hardy’s BBQ.

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Posted at 10:41 AM/ET, 04/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A tasty roundup of what we’re reading this week.
The golden arches get the Sorkin treatment thanks to Amy Schumer. Photograph by LesPalenik/Shutterstock.

The Week in Fast Foods 

Reason #4,792 Amy Schumer is the best—her brilliant mash-up of The Newsroom and McDonald’s. [Comedy Central] —Ann Limpert 

First it was a Game of Thrones special, now they’re peddling chicken corsages for prom. KFC wins all the advertising awards. [ABC News] —Chris Campbell

Think the KFC Double Down and Domino’s fried chicken pizza is bad? Salon reminds us that things could be worse, in the form of bacon milkshakes and hot-dog-stuffed pizza crusts. [Salon] —AL

Inside the Scene 

It took ten weeks for the Game of Thrones crew to prepare all the prop food used in last Sunday’s “Purple Wedding” episode. [Vulture] —Benjamin Freed

It only took a Freedom of Information Act request for people to learn what is being served to their children in school cafeterias. You can imagine how well that turned out. [NPR] —CC

Questionable Trends

This list of hipster foods is pretty on point if you’re feeling judgy or possessive of bacon right now. [Huffington Post] —Alison Kitchens

Could Kale become the new Jake or Emma? Or at least the new Olive? [Bon Appétit]
—AL

Ever wonder where six-year-old New Yorkers hang? Nightclubs for the way-under-21 set, designed for the “next generation of electronic music fans.” [Eater National] —Anna Spiegel

Your Hosts, Mary and Jane . . .

Colorado takes pot and puns to its next logical conclusion. Say hello to a “bud and breakfast inn.” [Wall Street Journal] —CC

Local reviews 

New York Times critic Pete Wells travels to Virginia to check on the hype over chef Peter Chang’s empire. Was he impressed? Read on. [New York Times] —AS

We Fled Egypt for This? 

“Can I have a piece of your matzoh?” No, and 26 other things Jews are tired of hearing on Passover. [BuzzFeed] —AS

Unusual Perspectives 

This chicken is blue, people. [NPR] —CC

An aspiring restaurateur under the impression that there are no upscale restaurants on H Street, Northeast, vows to class up the neighborhood with “sophisticated and sexy” restaurant called Mythology Modern Chop House/Lore Lounge. Okay, fine, whatever. We all know what a chop house is, but what the hell is a “lore lounge”? [Washington Business Journal] —BF

Posted at 12:28 PM/ET, 04/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The longtime Vietnamese favorite expands after 20-plus years. By Anna Spiegel
Four Sisters Grill debuts in Clarendon as a casual spinoff of the Falls Church institution. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Signatures from the flagship restaurant, such as black-pepper beef and crispy spring rolls, have been adapted for the new menu.

If you’ve eaten Vietnamese in Virginia over the past two decades, chances are you’ve made at least one trip to Four Sisters. The family-run Falls Church eatery is one of the most popular in the area, its cheerful dining room regularly filling up for 20-plus years. Now the family is set to expand for the first time with Four Sisters Grill, a fast-casual spinoff opening steps from the Clarendon Metro on Thursday. 

Chef/co-owner Hoa Lai condensed his menu of 110 items at the flagship to just over 20 dishes for the new space (formerly Fat Shorty’s). The kitchen adapts longtime customer favorites such as papaya salad, black-pepper beef, and bun vermicelli noodle bowls for quick service and carryout. Customers order at the counter and then find one of 70 seats inside the warm-hued space, or can opt for a table on the patio in warmer weather. You might bask in the sun with a Thai iced tea or one of the many beers—both imports such as Saigon Export and American crafts—selected to pair with the food.

Those looking for dishes new to the Four Sisters lineup will find a selection of bánh mì stuffed with meats like grilled chicken and cold cuts with pâté. The Grill sources its baguettes from the Eden Center bakery Song Que, and if the sandwiches are similar, you’re in for some of the best around. Vegetarians can opt for a tofu version, and will find similar meatless options in each section of the menu. One dish you can’t order: pho. Lai says customers have already asked about the signature Vietnamese soup, but he hopes instead to expand their knowledge of other types of dishes.

The 70-seat dining room mirrors the original restaurant’s with warm tones, though customers here order at the counter.

If this venture proves as well-received as its flagship, Lai says you may see more Four Sisters Grills in the future.

Four Sisters Grill. 3035 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 703-243-9020. Open daily 11 to 9.

Posted at 12:28 PM/ET, 04/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we’ll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Vicky Gan

Happy Thursday, food truck followers! Today’s specials include a barbecue chicken egg roll with pineapple slaw at Meggrolls, an Easter s’mores pie from Dangerously Delicious, and Mayan cayenne cookies aboard Captain Cookie.

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Posted at 11:24 AM/ET, 04/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
We tasted it so you don’t (necessarily) have to. By Anna Spiegel
Photograph by Garrett M. Graff.

As many fast food fans know, Domino’s released the newest fast-food monstrosity invention yesterday: Specialty Chicken, essentially a pizza/chicken nugget hybrid involving a crust-like layer of breaded bird “covered in toppings, sauces, and cheeses.” 

So how special does it taste? We had two versions delivered to the Washingtonian office: the “classic hot Buffalo” topped with spicy sauce, ranch, and cheeses; and the “spicy jalapeño pineapple,” a Hawaiian-esque blend of mango-habanero sauce, jalapeños, cheddar, and pineapple. The fact that two taste-testers immediately sought out mouthwash afterward speaks to the new food’s campaign motto—“failure is an option”—but there were also a few big fans. Below you’ll find the best reactions to the new food. KFC chicken corsage, you may have some competition.

Its health value:

“God, it’s all sugar.”

Its success as a junk food:

“These are everything I could want them to be. I could eat them every week.”

Its taste:

“It doesn’t taste like pizza, but it doesn’t taste like chicken, either.”

Its target audience:

“My kids would love this! Who wouldn’t love chicken nugget pizza?”

Its texture:

“It’s really soggy.”

Its smell:

“It smells like ranch, but not the good kind.”

Its texture again:

“They’re kind of . . . bouncy.”

Its culinary doppelgänger:

“It looks like fish en brochette, but it doesn’t smell like fish en brochette.”

Posted at 02:21 PM/ET, 04/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()