Food News Review: Bourbon Steak Gets a New Chef, Rock Harper Opens a Beer Garden, Elisir Goes Casual

Plus: A new kitchen and Laboratorio concept for Roberto Donna.

By: Anna Spiegel

Restaurateur Aaron Gordon is swapping salads for sausages at his Clarendon restaurant. Rabbit Grill officially closes its doors Friday, and will undergo a monthlong transformation into Fat Shorty’s, a beer garden serving local and exotic sausages, mussels, frites, and cold brews. Hell’s Kitchen victor Rock Harper has signed on as co-owner and chef. [Washingtonian]

Chef shuffle alert: Eater DC spied evidence that Bourbon Steak toque Adam Sobel is leaving the kitchen, which was confirmed to Tom Sietsema. Sobel is off to join restaurateur Michael Mina in San Francisco, while John Critchley is moving over from Urbana to fill Sobel’s kitchen clogs. No word yet on who’s taking Critchley’s place at the Kimpton Hotel restaurant. [Washingtonian]

In slightly less fraught news, the City Paper has the straight-up word on Federalist chef Harper McClure’s departure. The chef is headed back to Robert Wiedmaier’s restaurant group with an executive sous chef position at Marcel’s. [Young & Hungry]

Chef Jakob Esko prepared some of the first dishes at the soon-to-open Grill Room and Rye Bar at the Capella this week. The hotel isn’t open until late March, but new menu details include a whole section for steaks and a lunchtime dessert cart (and of course, pretty pictures). [Washingtonian]

Goodbye, white tablecloths; hello, casual lanterns. Elisir chef Enzo Fargione sent word through Tom Sietsema’s chat that he’ll be closing the fine-dining restaurant on March 4 for a speedy ten-day makeover into a more laid-back concept: Osteria Elisir. [Washington Post]

From New Nordic to no Nordic: Restaurateur Michael Kosmides tells us that his upcoming restaurant, Look—rumored to be Washington’s first Icelandic eatery—will not, in fact, have anything to do with Iceland. The doors open next week. [Washingtonian]

More Roberto Donna news this week—and it isn’t bad! Details are developing on the second project from restaurateur Hakan Ilhan and the Italian, including a name: Osteria Alba. In the meantime at Al Dente, Donna debuts a Laboratorio-esque tasting menu. [Washingtonian]

Eater DC was on top of burger news this week (just think of it as the sesame bun of blogs). Missy Frederick reports that the next restaurant for the Matchbox chain will be in the ever-growing Mosaic District, and will debut sometime in late March. Over in the District, plans for the area’s first Umami Burger are afoot. [Eater DC]

First there was Honey Pig, and then came the Pig and Three Little Pigs. Now chef Rich Gunter is on the prowl for a space to house his first restaurant concept, the Pig and Pearl. The swine will be barbecue, the pearl refers to oysters, and there will be whiskey, of course. [Young & Hungry]

A publicist brought word that a fifth location of Busboys and Poets will open in a mixed-used development project in Takoma Park. The Capital Business Blog follows up with owner Andy Shallal about his upcoming projects [Washington Post]

Virginia Square is the site for Tim Ma and Joey Hernandez’s new restaurant, Water & Wall. ArlNow has a few early details. [ArlNow]

Barbecue for all! The Standard climbs out of its winter hibernation on 14th Street to serve beer and barbecue on Friday (under heat lamps, because, you know, it’s actually still winter). Pig heads are back, new lobster rolls happen on Sundays, and it’ll likely be as packed as ever. [EaterDC]