The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

Every week we fill you in on what's been going on in the food and restaurant world.

By: Kate Nerenberg

Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church, which we consider one of Washington’s contenders for best pizza, lost its main dough tosser, reports the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema. Edan MacQuaid, who has won extensive praise throughout his career, is no longer behind the wood-burning oven—he was replaced by Chris Nye from the elegant 2941 restaurant; the restaurants share ownership.  

Sietsema also tells us, via Twitter, that Central Michel Richard has a new executive chef: Jason Maddens, who was most recently a sous chef at Michel in Tysons Corner. He replaces Arthur Cavaliere, who took the post a little more than a year ago.

We don’t use the term “drool-worthy” very often, but if anything deserves it, it’s Food & Wine’s new list of the country’s best burgers—with pictures of each. Washington got a nod for the twice-over Obama-approved Ray’s Hell-Burger and the lovingly handcrafted patty with a seasonal pickle at Palena in DC’s Cleveland Park. Do you think Food & Wine should have highlighted other burgers in Washington? Tell us in the comments.

The Feast reports that Tonic, a restaurant/bar in Mount Pleasant, is opening an adjacent speakeasy-type lounge, called Last Exit, in the next couple of weeks. There’ll be about 30 seats and “old-school drinks at a fair price,” according to co-owner Jeremy Pollok. The Web site is already up and running.

Fast Gourmet, a sandwich shop adjacent to a gas station at 14th and W streets, Northwest, has been open only a few months but already has gained a popular following for its South American lunches. (Restaurant critic Todd Kliman wrote about it in his chat here.) Prince of Petworth wrote this week that the owners are looking for spaces to open outposts in Dupont Circle and Georgetown within a year.

PoP also has the sad details about a fire last weekend that ravaged Banana Leaves, an Asian restaurant at Florida and Connecticut avenues, Northwest. A faulty gas water heater caused the flames, which blew out the front window and resulted in $200,000 in damages.

Equinox co-owners Todd and Ellen Gray, who are opening their second restaurant—Watershed in DC’s NoMa neighborhood—posted the menu. Watershed, which is in a Hilton Garden Inn, will serve all three meals with an emphasis on East Coast seafood. Breakfast includes blue crab with a leek fondue, tomato, and hollandaise; buttermilk biscuits; and an egg sandwich. The lunch and dinner menus show a raw bar, fried oysters, Rhode Island calamari, a catfish sandwich, barbecue shrimp with grits, and a crabcake.

Here's a recipe for disaster: Take one new cupcakery (Sprinkles, in Georgetown), add a food truck (Sprinkles drove around giving away cupcakes last week), and throw in a hot-headed citizen (Kevin Michael Lynch of the Human Rights Campaign). The Examiner's Jana Erwin reported on "SprinkleGate," an escalation of months of tension between food trucks and bricks-and-mortar food businesses. If anything good came out of the whole situation, it's that there were some lucky sugar-seekers who got a dozen cupcakes for free. 

Peter Chang, the hit-and-run Chinese chef—and by that we mean, he gets a glowing review then bolts from his restaurants—has resurfaced in Atlanta. He won high marks for his cooking in DC and Charlottesville, but his gigs have always been short-lived. Atlanta magazine critic Bill Addison gave him two stars, noting that a number of dishes had a "halfhearted quality." He went on: "The benefit of wandering from place to place is that you’re always winning over a new audience. Staying put means cultivating fulfillment from repetition and consistency." Maybe we'll be lucky enough to find Chang in our backyard again.

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