I’m writing live from the RAMMYS nominations.
With five finalists in each category, here’s a list of those I could type by finger on my iPhone. (For a comprehensive list, see the full line-up here.) I’ve starred my picks to win.
Upscale Casual Brunch
*Art and Soul
Blue Duck Tavern
Favorite Fast Bites (delis, food trucks, salads)
Red Apron Butcher
Hank’s Oyster House
Birch and Barley
The Curious Grape
Maple Ave Restaurant
New Restaurant of the Year
The Red Hen
Formal Restaurant of the Year
*The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Trummer’s on Main
Vote at Washington City Paper March 27 – April 27) for the Reader’s Choice categories.
All category winners will be announced at the The RAMMY Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on June 22.
And 10 More In New York…
Remember when tapas use to be cool? Every new restaurant took the traditional Spanish pastime to trendify their Middle Eastern or Italian menu. But now, it’s tapas, tapas everywhere! You have to be good at being different to win over today’s foodies.
Bluejacket Brewery may brew twenty-something craft beers in a restored WWI-era Navy Yard industrial building, but where it’ll win is with its ice cream sandwich menu. Which, by the way, is only offered AT LUNCH.
Lunch in Southeast? Ha!
The Arsenal (Bluejacket’s restaurant) has an impressive menu with a less impressive hostess and wait staff.
I was quite pleased with the beef heart tartare and house-made pasta I shared for dinner Saturday night. (I was even happily surprised with the option to get a half order, which was just the right size.)
The two cranberry bread slices served with a tiny glass jar of honey butter whipped to perfection was just how I wanted to start my meal.
The way I wanted to end it was with an ice cream sandwich. #Fail
Bluejacket Brewery will be praised for being an anchor of gentrification for Navy Yard. It’ll also be where home craft beer brewers go to walk the rafters and dream, and where the new yuppies of Southeast go to be neighborly and watch football.
But when you can create a signature menu item other than mini donuts, fried pickles, or pickled tapas things, it’s where everyone will go.
If you’ve got it, own it. And if it’s already in your kitchen, serve it! An ice cream sandwich list should be on all of your menus, Bluejacket.
After all, why else would anyone hike to Southeast?
Who knew Iron Gate was back on the restaurant circuit?
(Better question: who knew it was the District’s oldest continuously operating restaurant?)
Nevertheless, continue operating it has since the Neighborbood Restaurant Group took it over in November.
On the quiet strip of N Street, which is better known as the home to the much-beloved Tabard Inn, it’s easy to miss the line of knee-high lanterns introducing Churchkey’s new-and-improved sibling.
What used to be an alleyway to Iron Gate’s dark, stuffy dining room is now an indoor-outdoor bar donned with exposed brick and propane heaters — not to mention the best beer manager in the world, (so argues Jeff Faile, the restaurant’s proud manager).
The group’s latest addition mixes Greek and Southern Italy cuisine in what feels like a romantic, old-world English setting where the saganaki with sesame-covered feta cheese paring is to-die-for.
Get the rotisserie chicken and fennel sausage cannaloni, and go back for the Nicolaki and long ouzo list.
I went to Del Campo last night after hearing mixed reviews. It was Restaurant Week, so for $35.13, it’s one of those places you want to check off your list because of its regular overly-priced menu.
But as I’m flying to New Orleans – where salacious, southern Creole food and hot new restaurants await — this wanna-be South American meat parlor is hardly worth writing about.
Tucked behind the 9:30 Club and across the street from the overflowing rooftops at Brixton and Nellie’s is a quiet place for the hipster in you.
Satellite Room, which is owned by the Hilton brothers (also responsible for Marvin’s, Chez Billy, Hanoi House and Brixton), is an unassuming garage-like space complete with pinball machines, comic strip art and a row of red, pleather booths lining the cinder block and exposed brick walls.
An adjoining tin-roofed outdoor bar may mistake you for another ultra trendy beer garden, but the food at this off-U Street diner is legit.
Be as healthy or unhealthy as you wish with the build-your-own-burger, which can or can’t be defined as an actual burger. You can pick from beef, chicken, fish or a black bean patty, your choice of cheese, sauce and bun. For no-carb eaters, get your “burger” wrapped in lettuce instead.
But before you decide on a main plate, definitely go for a round of boozy shakes and apps.
Here’s what to get:
Elote: I’m from the Midwest, and I’ve never had corn like this. The cooks at Satellite Room grill the corn on the cob until it’s a blackened to the point it’s charred. Hot off the grill, they roll it in butter, cotija cheese and cayenne pepper and serve it with a lime on the side. At $4 a cob, everyone at the table should at least have one.
Macaroni and cheese: This may be some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. It’s baked in a ramekin with bread crumbs on top, which make it crusty and stick to the edges.
Tater tots: Served in a Chinese to-go box, these will be gone before anything else. They’re crispy, piping hot, and way better than what you remember being served in your high school’s cafeteria.
A.C. Slater: If you’ve never had an avocado shake with tequila (who has?) now is the time to get one. There’s no use waiting for dessert to order this light green, creamy delight. The chunks of avocado will surprise you. And so will the tequila.
The first sign of a good coffee shop is when it only stocks 2 percent, whole or soy milk.
The second sign — no syrups.
The Wydown Coffee Bar, named after a boulevard in St. Louis, isn’t messing around.
Co-owned by two brothers from St. Louis, The Wydown is the third coffee shop in an area that has underserved the coffee culture for way too long. It’ll be the second shop on 14th Street with a drip bar when it moves to its new location in December, only blocks from Peregrine Espresso.
The biggest difference between Peregrine and Wydown? Wydown has seating. And that’s huge.
While its pop-up location only has two outlets for day-long laptop junkies to latch onto, the open, warehouse-like space with chalkboard walls, a tree-trunk table with picnic tables and bowling alley benches on either side, is already making serious coffee shop goers feel at home.
Wydown serves homemade muffins, scones and breads, alongside French pastries from Georgetown’s Patisserie Poupon.
The shop’s co-owner, Alex, says The Wydown was named so customers would ask about its origin and thereby leave with a positive image of St. Louis.
It’s soon to do that and more in one of the fastest developing areas in the District.
Follow them @thewydown for details of their move.