Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Anthony Lombardo of 1789 (Part II)


Reading (more like drooling) through the seasonal menu at 1789, there were at least a dozen dishes I would have loved to make with Chef Lombardo,  like the Duck Confit Strudel with mascarpone cheese, cherry compote and foie gras creme (umm yes, that’s duck, cheese, and foie… all packaged up in a pastry). But we agreed to make something lighter, a dish that us home cooks could take a stab at and hopefully succeed in impressing future dinner guests, because I don’t know about you but I ain’t messing with no home-foie gras. We chose to make the Yellowfin Tuna and Florida citrus salad, a dish that can easily be a starter or a main course, with vibrant colors and clean, fresh flavors.

Being that it was at 1789, I expected  a million techniques and sauces and tricks and expensive ingredients to come together, but the opposite occurred. Simplicity is the name of the game here. The yellowfin tuna is cooked just rare, served warm on a bed of sliced oranges and grapefruit, drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette and topped with a fennel and mache salad. The combination of citrus, crisp, salt, pepper and mixed temperatures makes for a satisfying and beautiful dish.

This year, 1789 is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and as part of that celebration is offering diners an opportunity to have a 5 course meal for $50.00. If there is one thing you have to do right this month, its this. Let Lombardo take care of you, you can thank me later.

Find the recipe after the jump, and bring a little 1789 home.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Anthony Lombardo of 1789 (Part I)

It was a rainy, grey Sunday, which in my book usually means a day spent in bed, catching up on emails while watching some god-awful reality show that makes me question humanity as we know it. But the saving grace this Sunday was Anthony Lombardo, Executive Chef at 1789 Restaurant. He greeted me with a smile and a cup of coffee presented in a large plastic cup, “You gotta drink it like the chefs do” and I happily obliged. And thus, my day as a poser began.

1789 needs little introduction-  it is a Washington DC staple, a Georgetown establishment that has fed Presidents, international Diplomats, celebrities and the like. It is also smack in the middle of one of the youngest areas in town, forming part of the Georgetown University campus. As a Georgetown student I never dined at 1789, rather, our friends would gather down at The Tombs, where beer ran cheap and burgers were substance enough. There’s a beautiful juxtaposition between the two; 1789 and The Tombs. The Tombs is packed with students; the culture hungry, the intellectuals, the dreamers, the young and somewhat restless. 1789, above, is where that Tombs student wants to be one day. Established, powerful, settled, taken care of by world class staff and in a world class setting. The harmonizing link between the two is Chef Lombardo, whose responsibility it is to run 1789 and the Tombs flawlessly.

A year ago, Chef Lombardo was given the position as Executive Chef at 1789 after a grueling interview process. In just two hours the man cooked six dishes- all of which he recounted in exact detail, for a panel of judges. The panel undoubtedly made the right choice, bringing in a chef who is focused on quality ingredients, flawless execution, and flavorful perfection, not to mention with the right leadership and right attitude to lead one of the most important kitchens in the city. In the year Lombardo has been at 1789, the restaurant has had its most successful summer yet, and that’s saying a lot seeing as it has been around for 50 years now. He was given full control, changed the entire menu, introduced new techniques and spruced it all up with a fresh, new attitude.

A young Italian-American kid from Detroit, Lombardo grew up around two things- food and diversity. These two fueled a great culinary journey- for one lends itself well to the other. Lombardo was influenced heavily by his Italian family roots, and by his Middle Eastern migrant surroundings, which taught him understanding and acceptance, and a whole lot of humor. His cooking is undoubtedly American with an Italian undertone, a combination which is equally reflected in his persona. Within minutes of meeting Lombardo you are instantly at ease. He is a far cry from what I expected a chef of his caliber to be like- young and unafraid, welcoming and warm, all at the same time. And the dude knows how to crack a joke probably as well as he knows how to cook.

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Georgetown, The Daily Feed

Restaurant Birthdays: 1789 Turns Fifty

Photo courtesy of philliefan99
embossed menu
courtesy of philliefan99

It’s not everyday that a restaurant turns the big 5-0. 1789 is celebrating their 50th anniversary, making it one of the oldest restaurants in the city.

The restaurant first started when Georgetown alum Richard McCooey purchased the Federal home in the 1960s and opened The Tombs in the basement as a casual spot for university students and faculty. Eventually, McCooey purchased the adjacent properties and the evolution of 1789, The Tombs and F. Scott’s (the former art deco nightclub) began.

“A lot of the credit goes to Richard. He set the place up for all the right reasons,” says Tom Meyer, president of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, adding that McCooey wanted the restaurant to be a welcoming place for Georgetown residents, the university population and out of town guests. “It was designed classically and smartly from the beginning. [1789] is quintessential Washington. It’s a genteel, wonderful environment to dine in.”

But just because 1789 happens to be older than some of its peers, doesn’t mean they’re keeping the status quo. “We’re not of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality,” says Meyer. He adds that the restaurant has adapted to the public’s changing tastes, while maintaining respect to the original concept. “Nobody gets off a plane or out of a cab and says, ‘What’s the oldest restaurant?’” says Meyer. “Just because you’re one of the oldest [restaurants] doesn’t automatically mean people like you. You almost have to try harder if you’ve been around longer.”

When I asked if Meyer could pinpoint any specific memory or cool moment in the restaurant’s history, he wasn’t able to pick just one. Instead he rattled off a list of former presidents and dignitaries that had dined at 1789–further proof of the restaurant’s staying power.

To celebrate the restaurant’s 50th, 1789 is offering a five-course tasting menu for $50 per person (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). You can select any three dishes from the soups, salads, cheese and pasta sections of the menu, an entrée and a dessert. The summer special menu is available June 4th through September 13th on Sundays from 5:30 to 10 PM and Monday through Thursday from 6 to 10 PM. Mention the special to your server.

Eat Like Me, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Sugar and Champagne Affair

Photo courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi
chocolate custard, cocoa crumble with roasted banana ice cream @ Watershed- Washington, DC
courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi
It’s almost time for the Sugar and Champagne Affair — back next month for the eleventh year. As the name implies, Sugar and Champagne is a dessert and bubbly reception that benefits the Washington Humane Society.

Once again hosted by Chef Todd and Ellen Gray, the event highlights all things sugary and sweet, with chefs showcasing their confections. Of course, leashed dogs are welcome and encouraged to attend. So walk around with your favorite four-legged friend and eat desserts and doggie hors d’oeurvres respectively.

Chefs on-hand for the VIP reception include:

New this year: you can also meet contestants from TLC’s show Next Great Baker. Held Wednesday, February 1st, at the Ronald Reagan Building, the event begins at 6pm with the VIP Chefs’ Tasting Room followed by the General Reception at 7pm. Click here to purchase tickets.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Chef News: 1789 Gets New Executive Chef, Anthony Lombardo

Photo courtesy of
‘embossed menu’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

As I previously wrote, 1789 lost its long-time executive chef, Dan Giusti. The restaurant announced that Anthony Lombardo is taking the helm as the new executive chef. According to a news release, Lombardo was most recently the executive sous chef at Casa Nonna and like his predecessor, was also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to having worked at the Italian eatery in Dupont Circle, Lombardo was the chef de cuisine at Bacco Ristorante in Southfield, Michigan for four years.

Lombardo has already started in the kitchen, so it should be interesting to see how the menu will change in the coming months.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Chef News: Dan Giusti of 1789 Heads to Denmark

Photo courtesy of
‘Barely mixing the dough’
courtesy of ‘CathyLovesDC’

As Tim Carman and The Washington Post reported yesterday, executive chef Dan Giusti of 1789 is packing his bags for Denmark. The 27-year-old chef is heading to work at Noma, a two Michelin star restaurant in Copenhagen. The restaurant has been listed as “the best” restaurant in the world for two years in a row by Restaurant Magazine.

According to The Post, Dan spent two weeks staging at Noma in July when he was told that there might be an opening there for him to come join their team. One thing led to another and now the chef is moving to Denmark. Dan will be staying at 1789 through August 28th.

Dan was the first chef I met in DC when I started writing about food and was still green on the restaurant scene. I always liked chatting with him at events when he would indulge any of my snarky comments about food and I liked to see a fellow New Jerseyan be successful in DC. No doubt Dan’s passion for food is what’s taking him to Noma, though DC will miss him. Best of luck, chef!

Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: DC Eats for August

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‘Cafe Atlantico’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’
Put on your elastic waistband pants, people. There’s plenty to eat and do in the city for the next few weeks. So click on through and you’ll find where you should be wining and dining this month.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Mallory Staley of 1789 (Part 2)

 Photo courtesy of
‘Rhubarb Shortcake Trifle at 1789′
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

One of the things Mallory and I both geeked out over when we spoke was the fact that the arrival of Spring means a ton of fresh fruit to cook with. Right now, rhubarb is coming into season and her recipe for rhubarb shortcake trifles is fantastic.

For a long time I had no idea what a trifle was–an easy to assemble dessert that has layers of fruit, cake and custard. It’s a dessert you can either dress up or dress it down, depending on the occassion and how fancy you want to get. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you have to prepare three separate parts to make the whole dessert. Serve this up in a clear glass bowl and let all your friends marvel over your impressive handiwork.

See the recipe after the jump.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Mallory Staley of 1789 (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Mallory Staley of 1789′
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

A lot of people like to say they’ve been cooking since they were a wee one who could barely see over the countertops. But unlike Mallory Staley, few people can say they were promoted to executive pastry chef at a restaurant when they were just 15 years old.

Growing up, she worked at a bed and breakfast in Maryland where the pastry chef was also in charge of the cold plating station for salads. When that pastry chef left, Mallory found herself in charge of desserts after only working there for four months. “I always knew I wanted to cook and as soon as I knew I wanted to cook professionally, I never looked back,” she said.

Before returning to the DMV area and starting at 1789, Staley earned her certificate at The French Culinary Institute in New York and most recently worked as the pastry chef at the renowned Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel. She felt maxed out in New York, she said. That’s when she saw the job ad at 1789 for a new pastry chef, following the departure of the restaurant’s long-time pastry chef, Travis Olson.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Dan Giusti of 1789 (Part II)

Photo courtesy of
‘This just makes me want to eat more gnocchi, immediately, from this spoon’
courtesy of ‘CathyLovesDC’

As you read earlier, Katie and I spent yet another Saturday morning slaving away in the kitchen for you, dear reader. Not that we mind.

While we waited for potatoes to bake (no really), we made ourselves quite comfortable in the 1789 kitchen. We sort of started to feel like a part of the family.  The best part was snacking on the homemade sugar cookie bits, chocolate hazelnut-dipped waffle cone triangles, and sugared, Italian pistachios. We watched a tray full of huge crabs slide into the steamer and a salmon salad artfully prepared for a group event. La de da. How are those potatoes coming along? Not quite completely, perfectly tender? Ok, no worries. There are some pepitos in a Tupperware over here that I might sample.

My dinner party on Saturday night was sort of similar. If those gosh darn potatoes hadn’t taken 2 hours to bake, well, we might have had dinner before 10:00 p.m.

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