Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury

Aaron Silverman in the kitchen of Rose's Luxury (Photo courtesy Rose's Luxury)

Aaron Silverman in the kitchen of Rose’s Luxury (Photo courtesy Rose’s Luxury)

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs occasionally on Thursdays.

Aaron Silverman credits his neighborhood, Barracks Row in Eastern Market (on Capitol Hill), with the success of his restaurant, Rose’s Luxury.

And a desire to stay connected to that neighborhood is one of the big motivators for why the chef/owner does not take reservations, despite some controversy surrounding the policy.

“We don’t like kicking people out of their seats to sit the next person down,” Silverman told me in a recent phone conversation, “but a big part of it is that it’s advantageous to the neighborhood. All of the people in the neighborhood are at an advantage because they don’t have to drive for an hour or fly to get to us and then find out that we are full. Their risk is much lower. They can just walk across the street.”

Whether a restaurant takes reservations or no, its customers still have to play a waiting game. With reservations, they are calling on the phone every day with hopes to get a seat—four, six or eight weeks out. With no reservations, diners have the opportunity to show up that very day, but they may have to wait in line.

“Anybody who wants to be at Rose’s today can eat there today—guaranteed. You may have to get in line early and you may have to wait, but you are guaranteed to eat dinner there today if you want to,” Silverman declared. “If we took reservations only, we would be booked and there would be no way. You couldn’t just go.”

The policy of no reservations is the “lesser evil” because people who have waited can enjoy their meals for as long as they like, Silverman said.

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Food and Drink

First Look: Lavagna

lav 001

Verdict: Great spirit and potential; a work in progress

Earlier this year when I heard Starfish was closing, I couldn’t have been happier. In its place is Lavagna, an Italian restaurant that takes its name from a fishing port city in Italy and also means blackboard in the romance language. I’m always a fan of the chalkboard theme, so plus for sure.

Walking in was interesting, you could almost see Starfish, but not. Gone was the bar to your right, replaced by a service bar further left. The exposed wall looked even better, adding to that rustic feel.

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Food and Drink, History, The Daily Feed, The Hill

Senart’s Readies for Spring Opening


Photo Courtesy Tricia Barba

Xavier Cervera’s Pacifico might still be working to get a liquor license, but Senart’s Oyster House, the restaurateur’s fourth Barracks Row location, looks more and more like a restaurant every day.

When I was putting together my list of 2011 Restaurant Openings, I noticed that Senart’s was originally “aiming” for a December 2010 opening. Of course, with the snails-pace that is DC sometimes, a “missed” target date is always expected. Still curious, I spoke with Shawn Case, one of Cervera’s right-hand-men. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill

First Look: DC-3

Photo courtesy of
‘Hot Dogs’
courtesy of ‘vpickering’
Before I go in to the specifics of my trip to DC-3, I need to confess something about myself: I come from a family of carnival people. We’re not all carnival people, but there definitely is a branch of the family tree that knows a lot about freak shows, overpriced games and convincing everyone if they just try one more time they’ll be able to throw the ring around the bottle. Carnivale it is not (we don’t have supernatural powers, at least that I know of) but it is still a dark past that I’m usually not offering up to strangers. But it plays a crucial role in my ability to dissect DC-3, since I obviously know plenty about hot dogs and cotton candy.

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The Daily Feed

More Neighborhood Festivals This Weekend

Photo courtesy of
‘H Street Festival’
courtesy of ‘Edward Hoover’

Two weekends ago we celebrated in Adams Morgan, last weekend it was H Street, and this Saturday we’ve got three more great street festivals: Barracks Row, 17th Street in Dupont, and Clarendon.

Head down to Capitol Hill on Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM for the Barracks Row Fall Festival.  There will be lots to enjoy here: classic cars, a military chef cooking competition, tours of the barracks, a performance by the Trapeze School of New York, and lots of good food and music.  They still need volunteers too, so sign up if you’re so inclined.

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Interviews, The Features

They Love DC: The Guys of Matchbox & Ted’s Bulletin


You love Matchbox’s pizza, you go there religiously for brunch (hello sticky buns!) and you’re a big fan of the mini burgers. But what if I told you Matchbox isn’t the only place around town these days? The four owners behind Matchbox have teamed up to open Barrack Row’s newest hot spot, Ted’s BULLETIN. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, BULLETIN is a classic joint with a bit of style—complete with savory homemade food and a friendly, neighborhood atmosphere to provide relief from today’s time-congested lifestyle. BULLETIN offers homecookin’ with clever names, like Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito, Nana’s Beer Biscuits and Gravy, the Green Green Salad of Home with Green Goddess Dressing, or home-style Meatloaf with Mingo County Ketchup Glaze with a “Big As Ya Head” Twice Baked Potato or Mac and Four Cheese with Andouille on the side.

I was able to chat with partners Perry Smith, Drew Kim, and Mark and Ty Neal, who took on the challenge of answering the They Love DC interview jointly.

Katie: How long have you lived in the DC area?
Them: All four partners moved to DC in the summer of 2002. Partner Perry Smith grew up in the area and attended B-CC High School.

What is the best thing about DC, in your opinion?
First, we all agree–the people–so many different people come to DC year in and year out and it’s great to see so many new faces. The energy is awesome, and you don’t see a lot of folks sitting still, they are always doing things!

What would you change about DC if you could?
Find some money to improve snow removal! We always get hit hard every few years but then get lulled by a couple of mild winters and forget how bad it can be! Continue reading

The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Belga Cafe

Photo courtesy of
‘Brunch at Belga Cafe’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

You guys, I’m torn here. On one hand, I genuinely like Belga Cafe. On the other hand, I’m unimpressed by Belga. Here’s the thing – whenever you say “I’m going to Belga” to someone they all oooh and ahhh. It’s got a fantastic reputation, and some of the food lives up to that reputation. But some of the food is worse than what I’d find on the line at the local Holiday Inn breakfast buffet. It’s a conundrum. But let me explain…

Belga Cafe is situated on 8th Street in the heart of Barracks Row. It’s a great location with foot traffic from Eastern Market and the surrounding neighborhoods and shops. Belga has a small but cozy patio, the outdoor seating complete with table cloths, and a slightly cramped long interior dining room. The kitchen is quasi-open, and the bar is usually full of diners. The place has a neighborhood feel, though I would say it’s known throughout the city as a brunch destination. And unfortunately, brunch is where I get tripped up with Belga. Continue reading