What To Expect From Woodberry Kitchen Chef Spike Gjerde’s DC Restaurant

Spike Gjerde (in T-shirt), owner of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. Photo by Scott Suchman

Chef Spike Gjerde has long lured Washingtonians to Baltimore for the Mid-Atlantic cooking at Woodberry Kitchen. Come spring, he’s making that trek a lot shorter with a restaurant, bar, and coffee shop opening in Adams Morgan’s The Line Hotel. (Maketto chef Erik Bruner-Yang is also opening restaurants in the hotel.)

The restaurant, named A Rake’s Progress, will have the DNA of Woodberry in terms of its diehard devotion to local farmers, watermen, and artisans, but with “a little more polish to the experience,” says Gjerde. Part of the appeal in coming to DC was that the city shares a lot of the same agricultural landscape as Baltimore, which means the restaurant will be able to work with many of the same farmers.

A wood-burning hearth, similar to the one in Gjerde’s butcher shop/restaurant Parts & Labor, will be the focal point of the kitchen. Locally-sourced rabbit, duck, pheasant, and quail will all be cooked over the fire, and whole game animals will be carved table-side for groups. Salads will likewise be mixed at the table, a nod to old-school technique for making Caesars.

A Rake’s Progress will be accompanied by A Rake’s Bar from bartender Corey Polyoka. The menu will play off the idea that DC is at the meeting point of north and south, with ingredients and traditions that represent both regions. Teas made of local herbs like mint, lemon verbena, and hibiscus will also feature prominently in the cocktails.

Those teas—along with coffee from roaster Counter Culture—will also be served at The Cup We All Race 4, Gjerde’s hotel lobby cafe. The spot will serve whole-grain baked goods, hot and cold cereals, and sandwiches.

One new thing that Gjerde is particularly excited about: cold-pressed juice made from locally grown fruits. “It used to be for us just a very fleeting seasonal thing—water melon juice or peach juice,” Gjerde says. But thanks to a high pressure pasteurization machine, the juice will be available more consistently throughout the seasons.

The Cup We All Race 4 is named after one of Gjerde’s favorite works of art, which shows a tin mug hanging from a nail on a wooden wall.

The name of the restaurant is likewise art-inspired. A Rake’s Progess is a series of paintings from the 18th century depicts a man’s journey from excess to destruction. “I went back and looked into the work, and it actually kind of resonated in a number of ways: depictions of people eating and drinking and having a good time, and then some of the darker aspects and the ironic use of the word ‘progress.’ I think there is, at some level, a commentary about our food system in there, but it’s not front and center for me,” Gjerde says. “It’s more about an interesting sounding name.”

Plus, he adds, there’s a glimpse of a window in one of the paintings that looks identical to the windows in the restaurant.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.