• DC-based celebrity chef José Andrés wowed Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila with his newly opened Bazaar in Beverly Hills’ SLS Hotel. In her Early Bird review, she called the swanky, Philippe Starck-designed restaurant an “extravagantly weird and wonderful playroom.” She was particularly impressed with some of Andrés’s greatest hits from Minibar—his six-seater on the second floor of DC’s Café Atlántico—including his spin on a Philly cheesesteak and watermelon-and-tomato skewers.
• Capital Spice gets a sneak peek inside Next Door, the new restaurant from Ben’s Chili Bowl owners Nizam and Kamal Ali, which is, well, next door to their iconic landmark. Photos show the 53-foot wooden bar, space for live music, and a gleaming grill ready to sizzle some half-smokes.
• Tonight, Matchbox will finally open the doors to its second location, this one on Capitol Hill. The cozy pizza bistro’s first site, in Penn Quarter, quickly became popular for its wood-fired pizzas and sliders. Metrocurean has an early look at the new space, a former vending-machine warehouse, and reports that the food is just as tasty across town. Chef Shannon Trancoso will oversee the menu, which is a carbon copy of the original.
• Zola, the upscale American restaurant next to the International Spy Museum, opened Zola Wine & Kitchen on Monday. As the name indicates, the space houses two ventures: a retail vino shop and a test kitchen for the restaurant to try out recipes and offer cooking classes. The Post likens it to a high-end Starbucks, while Penn Quarter Living praises the window display.
• President Bush, who supposedly quit drinking at age 40, seems to have decided that these desperate economic times are cause enough to start hitting the bottle again. He was seen apparently drinking a pisco sour, a South American cocktail, at an APEC summit in Peru. According to Epicurious, he’s ahead of the curve: Peruvian food is predicted to be a popular cuisine in 2009.
• DC’s explosion of celebrity chefs has caught the attention of Bloomberg.com, whose two reviewers visited Alain Ducasse’s Adour (“already one of the city’s finest restaurants”), Eric Ripert’s Westend Bistro (“something seemed to be missing”), and Top Chef star Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery (“his burgers are a hit among foodies looking for a bargain”).
• Annapolis newspaper the Capital reports that Bob Kinkead, owner of the restaurant in downtown DC that bears his last name, will most likely open a seafood-focused eatery in the bayfront town. Kinkead, who was the proprietor of the late Colvin Run Tavern in Vienna, plans to set up Hell Point Seafood on City Dock, where a Phillips Seafood restaurant now stands.
• DC mayor Adrian Fenty is backing a bill that will allow bars and restaurants to stay open until 5 AM during the inauguration festivities. From Saturday, January 17, through Wednesday, January 21, booze will flow until the wee hours to accommodate the millions of visitors who want to celebrate the momentous occasion. Phil Mendelson was the only councilmember to oppose the bill.
• After a less-than-stellar review from Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema, Redwood is giving its head chef, Andrew Kitko, the boot. Sietsema reported today that Jared Rager, co-owner of the Bethesda Row restaurant, is pulling Drew Trautmann from his Capitol Hill eatery, Sonoma, to act as interim head chef. Although Kitko's resume was impressive and included stints at such places as Cafe Boulud in New York, his vision didn't match up with Rager's and business partner Eli Hengst's.
More>> Best Bites Blog | Food & Dining | Restaurant Finder