The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

By: Kate Nerenberg

• The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema recently broke news that chef Frank Morales has resigned from Rustico after two years at the beer-centric restaurant. That means Morales won’t be in the kitchen at Birch & Barley, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s perpetually soon-to-open spot on 14th Street, Northwest. It seems that the split was amicable, and Morales hinted to Sietsema that he’s got something else in the works: “I’m not leaving town,” he said.

• On the heels of Washington’s wine-bar craze comes the cocktail-bar craze. First there was PX in Old Town, then the Gibson on DC’s U Street corridor, and the W hotel just opened a cocktail-centric bar on its rooftop. Metrocurean reports that brothers Tom and Derek Brown have a wine/cocktail concept in the works, slated to open in November. Tom, who’s known for his drink mixing at Cork, will offer cocktails and wine in the main bar, while Derek will have a 20-seat “educational lab” with only 30 reservations a night. He’ll use lots of homemade ingredients and teach customers about cocktails. Whatever happened to a simple gin and tonic?

• We’ve got more details on the two ventures soon to come from Aman Ayoubi, owner of Local 16, Eric Gronning of Gronning Architects (he designed CommonWealth, Hank’s Oyster Bar, and Cork), and Doug Whipple of Whipple Farm. One restaurant, at 1832 14th Street, Northwest, is tentatively named Table 14 and will have three levels, including farm-to-table food, a yakitori grill, and a roof deck. The other, called Barrio, is at 3418 11th Street, Northwest, and will serve Latin-influenced and American food. The owners say Table 14 should be open by next spring, and Barrio is scheduled to open at the end of this year.

• It seems that chefs at Black’s Bar & Kitchen in Bethesda stay in the kitchen about as long as it takes an oyster to go bad. The Washington City Paper’s Tim Carman tells us that Arra Lawson, the fourth chef in 15 months, was fired for a slew of problems, including conflict with other cooks. Owner Jeff Black promoted Quanta Robinson, a longtime Black’s Restaurant Group cook, to the top slot.

• This weekend, Ethiopian restaurant Fasil (1608 Seventh St., NW) is hosting a grand-opening party. The restaurant is right near “Little Ethiopia,” a group of eateries clumped around Ninth and U streets, Northwest. Prince of Petworth says he’s heard that the chef at Fasil was formerly at Dukem, one of the Washington’s better Ethiopian spots.

• The latest addition to Washington’s gourmet-food-cart scene, Spy Diner, opened today at Ninth and F streets, Northwest. The menu, which includes breakfast sandwiches, coffee cake, and sliders, is the result of a collaboration between Zola restaurant and DC Central Kitchen.

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