Maydan has been one of DC’s hottest restaurants since opening in November, but the live fire-fueled spot was at its peak Tuesday night. Michelle Obama, casually dressed in a black t-shirt, and former White House chef/nutrition policy advisor Sam Kass shared dinner in the second-story dining room.
My party was seated in the first-floor bar area. Word spread quickly through the intimate restaurant that the VIPs were in house, though service proceeded as normal. Owner Rose Previte, who’s also behind Compass Rose on 14th Street, lamented that the special guests missed seeing the giant w00d-fired hearth at the center of the restaurant (they apparently entered through a discrete staircase in back of the brick-walled space). The restaurant’s eye-catching centerpiece is heaped with burning logs and roasting meats, while chefs tend the coals.
Previte declined to comment on Obama’s order, though said that her servers were eager to ferry plates to the second-floor dining room. Her new restaurant with chefs and co-owners Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison is known for its fiery cooking. The circular hearth turns out rustic, home-style dishes from the Middle East, the Caucuses, and North Africa. Think warm flatbreads, homemade dips, roasted vegetables, and flame-kissed kabobs and seafood.
The Obamas built a reputation as restaurant trendsetters while in the White House (just look at all the places Michelle celebrated her birthday). Though they generally keep a lower profile these days, they’re still known as food lovers. Barack and Michelle visited the newly opened Line hotel in Adams Morgan last week to celebrate her birthday at A Rake’s Progress. The Mid-Atlantic restaurant from Woodberry Kitchen chef/owner Spike Gjerde isn’t even open yet—look for a late-January launch—so good luck getting a table when it debuts.