Michael Landrum Teases, Bryan Voltaggio Hits a Snag: The Week in Food News

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

What’s Michael Landrum up to now?

There are more changes afoot in Michael Landrum’s mini-empire of Ray’s restaurants. Arl Now has the news that Ray’s Hell-Burger Too has closed, and a hand-drawn sign in the window reads: “Coming Soon…Big New Surprise!!” What’s the surprise? Landrum was as tight-lipped about the new concept as he was when he suddenly opened Ray’s^3 a month ago (Todd Kliman had the scoop on opening night). Landrum hints that it will be “down and dirty.” And it will not be Ray’s the Catch.*

Burger fever spreads to College Park with the opening of Bobby’s Burger Palace. Camera-ready chef Bobby Flay opened the first Washington branch of his New York-based burger chain in Foggy Bottom in August, and from what Eater reports, the lines were just as long for the Maryland debut. The look and menu are similar to the six other locations, but as of now, there is no Washington-themed burger.

It’s literally rough waters for chef Bryan Voltaggio and his new project in Frederick. North Market Kitchen, the chef’s two-in-one restaurant and market, is on hold due to negotiations with the city. The Washington Post’s Tim Carman has the details on the obstacles, which include an estimated $205,543 in water and sewage fees. The operation may have to move out of the area if no agreement can be reached. Still, there’s hope: the City of Frederick sent a lengthy reply to Carman, saying that they’re “ready to make changes to its current system and to provide assistance to the Volt-Carmack Jays project and others.”

Job tip: a good way to get hired is having your new availability tweeted by the food media. According to an post by the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema, pastry chef Chris Ford got a call from San Francisco chef/restaurateur Michael Mina’s corporate pastry chef two hours after resigning from RJ Cooper’s Rogue 24. Mina—who is behind Bourbon Steak in Georgetown—is opening three dining spots inside the soon-to-open Four Seasons Baltimore, and has tapped Ford to provide desserts for both the breakfast/lunch cafe and the “modern tavern” called Wit & Wisdom.  

In other chef shuffles, Tom Sietsema also tweeted that Ron Tanaka—who recently left the kitchen at Cork—has landed at New Heights. Tanaka previously told Sietsema he was looking for a “change of scenery” after four years at the Logan Circle wine bar.

After appearances at Truckeroo, the food truck spinoff of Glover Park Mexican eatery Surfside is finally roving the streets of DC, according to the City Paper. Check out taco pics here.

There are more growlers in DC as of Tuesday, but of the complaining, non-beer kind. The City Paper reports that the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) shut down the growler-filling operation at D’vines in Columbia Heights and De Vinos in Adams Morgan. According to ABRA, only permitted brew manufacturers such as DC Brau are allowed to fill the glass jugs. Drinkers, don’t totally despair—DCist has the good news that restaurants can now apply for licenses to start booze service at 8 in the morning.

After the Washington Post published news on the US accusing Iran of plans to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, its Reliable Source column surmised that Cafe Milano in Georgetown may have been the target. Justice officials said that suspect Mansour Arbabsiar talked about bombing a restaurant that the Ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, frequently visited. Milano owner Franco Nuschese says that the Ambassador has been a regular, but that the restaurant wasn’t aware of the investigation.

Over the weekend, top-ranked professional eater Joey Chestnut took first place at the World Chili-Eating Championship at Taste of DC. Chestnut consumed two gallons of Ben’s Chili Bowl chili to win the $3,000 prize and new world-record. How does he do it? See our pre-competition interview where he talks training.

*This post originally attributed this quote to Eater DC rather than ARLNow. We apologize for any confusion.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.