• Chef Scott Conant won’t be opening a branch of his much-praised New York restaurant Scarpetta here after all. Conant tells the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema it came down to timing—he’s got a baby on the way and another Scarpetta in Miami to focus on. Bummer. Let the rumor mill ramp up again.
• Does Barton Seaver deserve being anointed chef of the year by Esquire magazine? And could his restaurant Blue Ridge really be one of the best in the country? That’s what food writer John Mariani is said to proclaim in the November issue. It’s an eyebrow raiser for sure, because Blue Ridge has been knocked quite a bit by local critics. (Tom Sietsema gave it 1½ stars; you can read our take here.) But Mariani tells the Washington Post’s Jane Black that his meal was apparently much different than the ones other critics cited. (It may have helped that Seaver knew he and his guests were there.) “I liked very much what I ate. It seemed a reflection of what he was doing,” he tells Black. “There was a lot of emphasis on vegetables but not on being a vegetarian. The chicken and pork was cooked very well. That southern style of cooking is not easy to find, even in your neck of the woods. They were of supremely good ingredients.”
• Could the marathon waits for a seat at Palena’s cafe ease up? Maybe, because Washington City Paper’s Tim Carman says the Cleveland Park restaurant is hoping to expand into the neighboring space that used to house Magruder’s grocery store. Zoning issues are yet to be worked out, but chef/owner Frank Ruta hopes to add 60 seats, a garden with outdoor seating, and a bigger kitchen.
• Another line that needs some relief is the one snaking out of Georgetown Cupcake (which you find yourself in for an hour or more). But the teensy bakery is moving to bigger digs, taking over an old Starbucks on M Street. The owners are looking at an early-December opening and are also bringing their confections to downtown Bethesda.
• Fellow Georgetown upstart Sweetgreen has branched out of the neighborhood, too. There are shops in downtown Bethesda and Dupont Circle, and today Metrocurean Twittered that there’s one slated for P Street, Northwest, right by Pitango Gelato and Lululemon Athletica.
• We were hoping he’d come back our way after Fiamma closed, but former Maestro chef Fabio Trabocchi is staying put in New York. He’s just taken the position of executive chef at the Four Seasons there.
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