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. (Top Chef spoilers ahead!)

By: Kate Nerenberg

Chef R.J. Cooper has amassed a great team to help him at Rogue 24, set to open in the spring.

When it comes to baseball-stadium food, hot dogs are so passé—especially at the Nats ballpark, where New York restaurateur Danny Meyer is installing four vendors, including one in a space vacated by Five Guys. Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post tells us that construction just began Wednesday morning on the barbecue concept Blue Smoke, Belgian fries from Box Frites, chicken mole at El Verano Taqueria, and burgers from Shake Shack. Meyer’s concepts should open before June, the same timeline for the Shake Shack in DC’s Dupont Circle that was announced last year.

Via Twitter, Metrocurean tells us that chef R.J. Cooper continues to draw mighty talent to his forthcoming Rogue 24 in DC’s Mount Vernon Square. He nabbed sommelier Matthew Carroll, most recently at 2941 and before that at the Inn at Little Washington. In a blog post, Tim Carman of the Washington Post says Carroll is bringing with him Jonathan Schuyler, his assistant at 2941. And Columbia Room cocktail whiz Derek Brown is onboard as a consultant.

A couple of openings to report this week: Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza is now serving its Sorbillo’s Originals and white-clam pizzas in Clarendon; Medium Rare in Cleveland Park—a joint venture from BGR the Burger Joint’s Mark Bucher and Michel Richard—has just one entrée: steak-frites; and Toki Underground is opening to the public tonight (see our Early Look here). New as of yesterday is Bojangles', a Southern fried-chicken-and-biscuit chain, in Union Station. (Our one experience there wasn’t enough to knock Chick-fil-A off its fried-chicken throne.)

Eater DC has an update on Fiola, Fabio Trabocchi’s Penn Quarter restaurant, including the first day of service: April 11, or maybe sooner—and you can already call for reservations (601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888). Trabocchi hasn’t yet unveiled the menu, but the Web site is up and running. Washingtonians should remember Trabocchi from his days at Maestro in Tysons Corner (now the restaurant Michel by Michel Richard), where he dazzled diners with his Italian cooking.

The Whisk Group, which owns Againn in downtown DC and Againn Tavern in Rockville, pulled out of plans to open an Italian restaurant in the old Shirt Laundry space at 14th and Q streets, Northwest. After spending $50,000 on getting the building ready for food service, Whisk owner Mark Weiss tells the Washington City Paper that the cost of sprucing the place up is just not worth the trouble. Now plaguing Weiss: back payments to an architecture firm.

ArlNow reports that a “spy” for the Arlington-news blog saw chef Spike Mendelsohn in Crystal City with his father, supposedly scouting spaces for a restaurant. He owns the burger joint Good Stuff Eatery and We, the Pizza on Capitol Hill, and he’s gone on record saying that he’s looking to expand the former locally and into other cities.

In our interview with Top Chef All Stars champion Richard Blais, he told us that he’s still working on bringing his Flip Burger Boutique concept to DC. Months ago, there were rumors that he had signed a lease in Penn Quarter, but he said that deal fell through “in the 11th hour.” But he’s still on the hunt for a space, and he estimates Flip will open here within a year.

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