Two popular neighborhood restaurants have a new executive chef: Anna Miller, who’s leading the kitchen at the wine-centric Vinoteca on U Street, and also working with sister LeDroit Park eatery, the Royal. An Oregon native, Miller cooked in a variety of Portland restaurants before taking a sous chef position at Rogue 24 in 2014, where she stayed up until the molecular tasting room shuttered in January. She’s the third chef to helm the nearly decade-old Vinoteca and its younger sibling, taking over from Lonnie Zoeller (now at Policy).
Though her most recent experience was in modern fine dining, Miller’s background is eclectic, with a restaurant resume that begins at age 17 and includes stops in a Jewish deli and swanky Arizona resort, barbecue spot and James Beard Award-winning Southwestern eatery. You won’t find changes to the food and beverage focus at either restaurant, but Miller is already putting her stamp on the menu at Vinoteca, introducing new seasonal items like scallops with edamame succotash, black rice, and Chinese sausage; a squid salad with house-made ricotta; and a flank steak bánh mì for the outdoor bar menu. Over at the Royal, morning diners will find new items like fresh blueberry muffins and a riff on huevos rancheros with house-made arepas, or for later, crispy pig ears with coconut rice and herbs. You’ll also see a few hints of Miller’s Rogue background, such as Vinoteca’s revamped pan con tomate, served gougères-style with chorizo and tomato gel.
“Learning the molecular aspects of food winds up your range of techniques and the way you view food,” says Miller. “That being said, not everything is going to fit in that format, and I’m glad for that. There’s a time and a place for molecular.”