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.

The first dishes at the Grill Room emerged this week, including this green apple tumbler with yogurt-lemon mousse and apple sorbet. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

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
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
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]

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.

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]

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.