• From a press release, we learned that former Vidalia chef R.J. Cooper has signed a lease for a space near the Convention Center to open his own place. The 52-seat restaurant—in Blagden Alley off Ninth Street, Northwest, between M and N streets—is called Rogue 24, in reference to the only dining option: a 24-course tasting menu. Toward the end of his tenure at Vidalia, Cooper came up with the 24-course concept, which was similar to the forward-thinking Minibar approach. At Rogue 24, cocktails will be mixed on a tableside cart, and eight pairings will be available. The cost for a seat? Without pairings, it’s $130, with pairings $170. Cooper hopes to open by winter of next year. A second project, called Pigtails, is still in the works but on the back burner.
• Another big-name chef, Enzo Fargione, also announced he has a spot for a tasting-menu-dominated project. Fargione, who briefly dazzled diners at Teatro Goldoni in downtown DC before leaving abruptly, is planning to open Elisir at 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, in the same building as Central and TenPenh. He'll have an eight-course (about $75) and a 12-to-14-course (about $100) menu, as well as some à la carte items.
• A strip of Del Ray restaurants is looking at forced closure over the next year or so, thanks to redevelopment plans by the city of Alexandria. The cluster of businesses, on Mount Vernon Avenue between Commonwealth Avenue and West Glebe Road, are in the shadow of a high-rise that will be redesigned. Del Merei Grille and the Bombay Curry Company will be closing in the next couple months. Other restaurants in trouble are Pho King and Pizzaiolo Café & Bar.
• The Red Hook Lobster Pound truck finally made its grand debut Thursday, and the line for lobster and shrimp rolls wrapped all the way around DC’s Farragut Square. After waiting in the static queue for 30 minutes there, we gave up and tried again today at L'Enfant Plaza. The line didn't look daunting, but it still took an hour from door to door. Our thoughts: Generous helpings of really good lobster meat—mostly claw—in Connecticut-style warm butter dressing (delicious) and Rhode Island-style cold mayo (not as exciting), as well as a paprika-dusted shrimp roll (good), sweet but yummy lemonade, and big whoopie pies with marshmallow cream.
• Given the lobster-roll mania and Washington’s fervor for food trucks, it’s no wonder many more are about to hit the streets. But a number of Business Improvement Districts, representing frustrated, money-losing brick-and-mortar storefronts, are looking to put up a roadblock. The food-truck community has created a Web site, yesontitle24.com, to ask mobile diners to lobby the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in favor of the rolling vendors. If you want to keep the truck trend going, the Web site has information on how to put in your two cents. We had a story in our August issue about the tension between storefronts and trucks.
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