Good things come in threes at the new Matchbox on 14th street—three levels of seating, mini burgers in multiples of three—chances are you’ve been to one of their other locations before, so you get the idea. The newest addition to the matchboxfoodgroup’s restaurants is their location over on 14th and T streets, NW.
Housed in a building that was once a bowling alley and pool hall in 1907, an automobile showroom, the former Club Bali jazz club and rehearsal space for Arena Stage Theatre Company, the restaurant is giving the space new life while paying homage to some of its previous iterations. For example, you’ll notice the counter top at the bar is designed to look like a bowling lane, as it stretches out and morphs into a semi-open kitchen. Look up and you’ll notice the restaurant group kept the original ceiling and steel girders; look to the side and you’ll see the building’s original, exposed brick bring a warmth to the atmosphere. Continue reading →
Just because you live in a major metropolitan city, doesn’t mean that you can’t bring a little countryside in every now and then. Bridging the two worlds is Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. over on 14th street NW.
The store, founded by Lancaster-native/long-time DC resident Eric Smucker, brings in fresh produce from Southeast Pennsylvania, along with other goods from local farmers and purveyors in the DC area. You’ll find everything from fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy to herbs and spices and jars of pickled vegetables or jams. Hard-core locavores can rejoice–the store carries favorites such as Gordy’s Pickle Jar, Capital Kombucha, Souper Girl and more. Plus, Smucker Farms offers a pick-up CSA option (that’s “community supported agriculture,” if you didn’t already know) with organic produce from a co-op of Amish and Mennonite farmers in Lancaster County, Pa. When We Love DC stopped by last week, almost all of the spaces in the CSA were full, so hurry up to get in on that.
Check out the photos of the Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. after the jump.
So you need a good date spot. Something that’s more than just a drink but less than an eight course tasting menu while violins play in the background. That’s where Cork Market & Tasting Room comes in. The restaurant on 14th street introduced Sunday fried chicken and champagne dinners this past weekend.
Chef Kristin Hutter serves up her fried chicken (which was named in Bon Appétit magazine’s “Top 10 Places for Fried Chicken”) along with champagne on Sundays* from 6 to 8 PM in the market’s upstairs dining room. You and your date (friend, dining companion, whomever) can feast on half of a crispy fried chicken along with side dishes such as biscuits and asparagus salad and two glasses of the bubbly stuff.
Reservations for the Sunday fried chicken and champagne dinners must be made 24 hours in advance by calling 202-265-2674 or by emailing tastings[at]corkDC.com. The dinner for two is $75, not including tax and gratuity. Cork Market is located at 1805 14th Street, NW.
*Update as of May 21: Cork Market is offering the Sunday fried chicken dinners one Sunday per month (running indefinitely, as of now). The next fried chicken dinner is on June 10th.
It’s a moment you’ve been waiting for on 14th street–Bar Pilar is back, in action and with an entire new upstairs, expanded menu and cocktails. The renovated space reopened several weeks ago and We Love DC finally snapped some pictures at a media preview last week.
Don’t get nervous about the menu changes–the downstairs section will still serve the small plates the restaurant built its reputation on, but now you’ll get to choose from either small plates or an expanded menu with appetizers, entrees and desserts upstairs. With 98 seats total, you’re also more likely to snag a table during the dinner rush.
“We’re excited to offer some larger plates upstairs for people who want a full dining experience,” said Executive Chef Justin Bittner in a press release. “We’ll offer a selection of entrees using a lot more whole animals, we’re getting back into offal, but of course we’ll keep the favorites that our regulars love.”
In addition to more dining space, the upstairs has an intimate six-seat bar with a craft cocktail menu of 25 or so options from the General Manager and Beverage Director, Jonathan Fain. We Love DC’s Arts and Culture Editor, Jenn Larsen, says the expanded wine, beer and cocktail program is “sure to break new ground. Jonathan has a whimsical way with cocktails.” Look for highlights such as housemade syrups and sugar cane juice in their cocktails.
A good pasta carbonara separates the strong from the weak, the great from the average. Master that dish and you can certainly wow some dinner guests. The carbonara from Café Saint-Ex’s executive chef, Billy Klein, uses udon noodles and fresh pea shoots for a slightly different spin. The result? A pasta dish that remains light and fresh, even with a creamy sauce.
I can’t make any guarantees that yours will turn out as good as it does at Café Saint-Ex, so if I were you I’d head there first to check out the original with what was the best pork belly I’ve ever had (not an exaggeration)—crisp on the outside and not a bit of grizzly fat on the inside. And while you’re there the rest of this month, check out some of Billy’s creations for National Grilled Cheese month (read: grilled cheese on “potato bread”–gooey cheddar cheese and bacon in between slices of potatoes or the brioche encrusted with Fruity Pebbles and melted brie inside).
The full recipe, broken down by parts (roll up your sleeves and get ready for a little challenge!), is after the jump.
There’s something refreshing about a direct answer to a question these days. A simple statement that gets to the root of what you’re asking, that needs no follow-up question, leaves no confusion or wiggle room for ambiguity. And when I asked Billy Klein why he became a chef, I got a succinct, straightforward answer: “I love food. I love people. I love being artistic.”
The executive chef of Café Saint-Ex elaborates: “With cooking, there are no limits, no boundaries.” Growing up, Klein says that family meals were “always a big deal” in his household. Years later, that thread now carries over into his job as a chef where he says he loves bringing people together and that he enjoys making food that’s not “too cerebral—so that people don’t forget who they’re with.” Klein reminds you that yes, a meal is about the food, but it’s also about the experience and the people you share it with.
So unsurprisingly, after chatting with Klein it’s easy to see that he’s the type of down-to-earth person you’d not only want cooking your food, but that you’d also want to share said food with. He’s level-headed—which is not to say that he’s some vanilla shade of boring—you’ll see the flashes of badassery in tattoos peeking out from his shirt sleeves or when he and a few kitchen crew members slam a shot of whiskey before wrapping up a Saturday night shift. But for example, Klein explains that achieving balance in life is important as a chef. “I love what I do and I work my ass off. But you need balance in your life,” he says. “Being a successful chef is a sacrifice. You have to put in the work, the time and the training.” Part of that life balance is knowing that a chef can’t be at a restaurant all the time, obsessing over every detail and watching their kitchen staff like a hawk. Klein emphasizes that part of a chef’s job is teaching and trusting staff to turn out dishes that are as close to the original version from the chef. Continue reading →
Aramingo Avenue Breakfast Hoagie at Taylor Gourmet
Courtesy Marissa Bialecki
Who hasn’t woken up on a Saturday morning (hungover or not) and started jonesing for a breakfast sandwich, only to realize that practically nothing is open before noon and you don’t really have the desire for a three hour boozefest brunch extravaganza? That’s where the new Taylor Gourmet on 14th street comes to the rescue: they’re doing breakfast on weekends and they’re doing it right.
Starting February 4th, you can grab (or have delivered–hoagies in your PJs!) an array of breakfast hoagies at the 14th Street location. If you’re impatient and are in the mood for breakfast at 3 AM after all the bars have closed down, Taylor Gourmet’s got your back on that one too. The restaurant will have breakfast hoagies available on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 PM til 3:30 AM and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 AM til 10:30 AM. Doug Rashid, the man behind @Taylor_Gourmet and some of the restaurant’s PR, said that for now they’re going to start with the breakfast option at the 14th Street location and then evaluate whether or not they’ll extend it to the others throughout the city.
The lineup for the breakfast menu includes some highlights, such as the Aramingo Avenue hoagie (bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, American cheese, egg and a homemade beer cheese sauce), the Reed Street (pepperoni, egg and sharp provolone), the Queen lane (sausage, broccoli rabe, egg and sharp provolone) and one for the vegetarians out there, the Lehigh (eggplant, egg and mozzarella). Also, don’t pass up the risotto balls stuffed with sausage, bacon, Taylor pork roll and cheese. I recommend dipping that, no, smothering it, in the beer cheese sauce as well.
With 2011 and the year of the burger now behind us, the food team’s mouths are already watering and we’re looking ahead at what 2012 will bring to our plates. Our team, comprised of myself, Tricia and Natalia (our newest addition to the team!) all brainstormed about what we think will be all the rage in the new year when it comes to food.
Bust out those antler headbands and that awesomely bad sweater you got in 1992. You know, that one with the misshapen Santa Claus and a nearly life-size Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.
Café Saint-Ex is hosting an Ugly Christmas Sweater party this Wednesday, December 14th at 8 PM. Sip on $5 winter beers, egg nog and hot buttered rum while nibbling on Christmas cookies. Plus, DJ Soul Call Paul will be in charge of music for the evening. If you happen to be the lucky king or queen of the ugliest sweaters, you’ll win a $50 gift card to Saint-Ex.
Ah, breakfast. Some say the most important meal of the day. So why not spruce it up a bit, ditch the usual bowl of cereal and start the day off right with something a little decadent? After the jump you’ll find chef Takashi Ohseki’s recipe for ricotta-stuffed french toast that’s on the current brunch menu at Cork Wine Bar. Bring out the maple syrup and roll up your sleeves for this one.
At first glance you might not think a scientist and a chef have much in common. Sure the two follow recipes of sorts, but one gets to be creative with food while the other has to follow some pretty rigid rules, right? For Takashi Ohseki, executive chef brunch sous chef of Cork Wine Bar, the two roles coexist in his kitchen. “When you run an assay, it’s like making a recipe,” he says. “Only here in the kitchen we can adjust things more.”
The former biological science major and researcher put down the pipettes and traded them in for a chef’s knife when he realized that a career cooking sounded better than one in the research lab. While his upbringing had taught him that college and a job in an office setting was the right path, he knew he needed a change of pace. “You have to like what you do,” he says. So Ohseki studied at L’academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg and didn’t look back. Continue reading →
Haidar Karoum, executive chef of Estadio and Proof, is a breed of chef who always knew he belonged in the kitchen. Looking back on his childhood, he can remember being in awe of the produce and meat aisles of grocery stores and one time getting purposely lost in Harrod’s food hall when he was 9 years old. He remembers being “obsessed” with cooking shows such as Great Chefs of the West and rushing home to catch them on TV when he was 12. “I’m constantly immersed in food. My condo is littered with cookbooks. You can’t go into any room without there being a stack of them,” Haidar laughs.
After high school, the northern Virginia native attended the Culinary Institute of America and thus began his long and impressive cooking career. He externed with Michele Richard at Citronelle and much later he became chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nora in Dupont Circle. Straight out of culinary school, he worked at the now-closed Gerard’s Place. “He was like a God,” says Haidar, talking about french chef Gerard Panguard and his first job out of culinary school. “His philosophy of simplicity and his influence were important to me. It was an honor to work in his kitchen.” Continue reading →
A human being can only eat so many hot dogs and hamburgers around the grill with family and friends. So here’s a helpful roundup of some food events that will get you out the door and give you something to do other than wondering if the steaks are done with Uncle Barry manning the grill.
You will not find a Washingtonian more grateful for the warm-ish weather that we’ve had this fall. I’m decidedly NOT a winter girl, and I’ve been known to curse coats and whine incessantly about the cold. While winter in DC is just something I must tolerate, sometimes I can assuage my pain with a really great bone-warming dish. I was lucky to run across a lot of those in November, and without really meaning to, my list of favorite dishes wound up being a list that could double-time as a ‘great winter dishes’ list as well.
So when you head out to spend your hard earned dollars on a meal, here are some dishes that are best bets for spending wisely. And to boot, they’ll even keep you warm. Continue reading →
Last night Inspiration DC‘s Rebecca and I headed over to preview Zentan, the new trendy hot spot at the Donovan House Hotel on Thomas Circle. The new hot spot opened on June 8th, after a bit of a kerfluffle (the space was supposed to be a new Todd English spot), when Chef Susur Lee of Shang in New York stepped up to fill in. Chef Lee, who is known for a wide variety of Asian-influenced restaurants, was also the second Canadian chef to appear on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America against Iron Chef Bobby Flay. So I was excited to see what came of all the drama – would Zentan live up?
Also, if you’ll let me ramble for a moment, Zentan signifies to me the solidification of the quality I’ve come to expect from hotel restaurants in our area. This is thanks in part to boutique chains like Kimpton, who work to pair quality Chef-driven restaurant concepts with their hotels. But excellent in-hotel restaurants are certainly on the rise in DC, and I have much higher standards for hotel restaurants here than I do when I travel. I was interested to see what Lee would bring to the District, plus get a peek at the Thompson Hotel. Continue reading →