The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

Arlington’s Ray’s the Steaks is moving, but isn’t going far.

• Fans of Michael Landrum’s bargain coulottes and New York strips may have heard that his Arlington restaurant, Ray’s the Steaks, is moving down the street to bigger digs in the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd.). Landrum tells us that the new space, which will comprise two dining rooms—one seating 50, the other seating 75—plus a private room for 24, will be ready to open on Inauguration Day. Landrum says the smaller dining room, which will accept phone reservations, will be a near carbon copy of Ray’s the Steaks, with tin ceilings and the same furniture and skull-and-crossbones flag. The other room, which he’ll reserve for walk-ins and a waiting list, will look more like his Silver Spring restaurant, the supper-clubby Ray’s the Classics. A few Classics dishes are also making their way onto the steakhouse menu, including steak-tartare-filled deviled eggs, a rack of lamb, and the crab royale. Landrum plans to quickly turn the old RTS space into the seafood-focused Ray’s the Catch.


• We love the lounge at PS7’s for its addictive tuna sliders, and now there’s even more reason to hang out there: Cocktail innovator Gina Chersevani, formerly of EatBar/Tallula, is overseeing the bar. Her unusual infusions and elaborate drinks, with accents such as goji berries and bleu cheese, deserve their devoted following. The Penn Quarter dining room is also shaking up its dessert menu by hiring forward-thinking pastry chef Leon Baker, late of Farrah Olivia, to create the sweets. Does this mean the return of the whimsical cheesecake-filled lollipops he used to crank out at Signatures? We sure hope so.

• Is Galileo coming back to the District? That’s the word from Tom Sietsema, who reports that Roberto Donna has signed a letter of intent for the 14th Street space formerly occupied by Butterfield 9. Donna, who closed his West End Italian dining room when its building was being renovated, decamped to Crystal City to open the more casual Bebo Trattoria. His plan is to keep Bebo running and give chef Claudio Sandri more control there. The fancier Laboratorio del Galileo, the opulent 14-course menu Donna offered in Galileo’s smaller dining room, will also be resurrected.

• Chicago restaurant talk show Check, Please! recently celebrated its 100th episode by unearthing an August 2001 roundtable with then-state-senator Barack Obama. In it, the President-elect declares his love for not the upscale Spiaggia, where he and wife Michelle recently celebrated an anniversary, but the more populist Dixie Kitchen, a casual Southern spot in his old neighborhood, Hyde Park: “I’m not looking for some fancy presentation or extraordinarily subtle flavors. What I’m looking for is food that tastes good for a good price.” He also has a weak spot for the restaurant’s johnnycakes: “Those are pretty dangerous. You have about three or four of those pancakes and suddenly you’re sitting back . . .” he laughs. “So I’ve learned from some past mistakes that I’ve gotta be cautious.” Note to any aspiring White House chefs . . . .

Gaston Lenôtre, the masterful pastry chef known for showcasing his airy, modern desserts in an international chain of French-style patisseries, died of cancer Thursday at age 88. One of his many protégés was Citronelle’s Michel Richard, who in 1974 was sent by his mentor to open a Lenôtre bakery in New York. “Americans weren’t ready for his pastries. They could only feed one person, whereas American cakes were much richer,” Richard tells the New York Times about the shop, which closed after a year. But Lenôtre’s influence on Richard was more lasting: “When you’ve been at Lenôtre, it’s like a drug. . . .You’ve been injected with his recipes that you have to carry your whole life.”

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.