One of Washington’s top chefs (and Top Chef alums) is coming home. Marjorie Meek-Bradley, who’s been on the road for the past several months, is the executive chef at Stephen Starr and Joe Carroll’s forthcoming DC steakhouse, St. Anselm. The hotly-anticipated restaurant—a spinoff of Carroll’s flagship in Brooklyn—is slated for an August opening near Union Market.
In some ways, Meek-Bradley’s career is coming full circle. The 33 year-old chef’s first job out of culinary school was with Starr’s Washington Square restaurant in Philadelphia (Washingtonians may know him better for Le Diplomate on 14th Street). She spent the past nine years in DC—during that time she led the kitchens at Ripple and Roofers Union, opened Smoked & Stacked sandwich shop (of which she’s still a partner), and cooked her way into the finals of Top Chef. As a result of landing the lead gig at St. Anselm, she’s spent the past seven months hopping between 15 of Starr and Carroll’s restaurants in New York, Philadelphia, and Miami as part of the training and preparation for the new steakhouse.
To Meek-Bradley, the return home makes sense: “This is the next natural step, to go beyond DC but bring it back to DC…St. Anselm is the food I like to eat, and I’ve always been into whole animal work.”
Meek-Bradley and Carroll—who is more creative talent than chef—are working on a menu that’s meant to stand out from the parade of out-of-town chophouses that have marched into Washington. Like the Brooklyn original, St. Anselm DC will focus on grilled beef, pork, and lamb from naturally raised, heritage-breed, local-when-available animals from the smallest farms possible, plus similarly-sourced seafood and bountiful veggie options. Though it’ll be possible to splurge on a massive bone-in ribeye, the kitchen seeks out under-utilized cuts that are generally more affordable—think veal flank steak and flatiron.
In addition to the not-your-average-steakhouse menu, there’s the notion of a not-your-average-steakhouse kitchen with a woman at the helm. In Brooklyn, the kitchen has been predominantly female-driven at times; the current head chef, Katrina Zito, is working with Meek-Bradley leading up to the opening.
“There’s the masculine idea of a steakhouse, and then it’s all women in the kitchen, which is so great,” says Meek-Bradley. “I think it brings a different touch to it. You’ll see it in DC—some dishes will be exactly what you expect, but they’ll have a more delicate balance of flavors than your traditional steakhouse.”
To that end, Meek-Bradley is also working on hiring some of her former front and back-of-the-house colleagues to take on the new restaurant.
“It’s like when you’re in a band and you play the small places, and then you make it to a bigger stage,” says Meek-Bradley. “You want to make sure you have those same people around you.”