Food and Drink

America Eats Tavern: Pop in Before It’s Gone

AE 001
This isn’t what we at We Love DC call a “First Look,” since America Eats Tavern has already been open for more than one month. Even more importantly, it won’t be around forever. Instead, this a friendly recommendation that you be sure to check out this pop-up restaurant brought to us by Chef José Andrés, before you miss your chance.

Eating here is definitely an experience. This red, white and blue (on the outside) restaurant opened on July 4th. Plainly put, America Eats Tavern is a six-month “benefit” destination in support of the National Archives Experience exhibition program, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam.”

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The Daily Feed

This Week in Food



In what I find the best news of the week, Wicked Waffle tells us it’s finally opening up its McPherson Square location — sometime in June to be specific. Think made to order waffles, sandwiches (with waffles as the bread of course), and soup. Can’t wait!

Toast of the Town

Today Zoofari, tomorrow Toast of the Town. You can head to the National Building Museum on Friday for an evening of wines, spirits, beer, music, and the gourmet food. Participating restaurants include Cava Mezze, Art and Soul, Sonoma, Matchbox, and Toki Underground. Buy tickets here. Enjoy!

Seasons 52

WaPo critic Tom Sietsema headed to North Bethesda this week to check out Seasons 52. The best part of the review was actually about the piano man: “An entertainer who desperately needs voice lessons is holding forth in the piano bar the night I come for dinner, but the dining room across from White Flint mall puts me more in mind of Northern California than Northern Bethesda. (Ledgestone walls, abundant natural light and handsome wine displays help.)” Ouch.

Jack Rose

Young & Hungry takes a look at the soon to be open Jack Rose, writing “Beyond the Single Malt: At Jack Rose, Craft Beer Flows Like Scotch.” 2,700 bottles of scotch, really? Wow. You can check out the obviously still a work in process website here. Better bet, try Twitter @JackRoseinDC.

Cafe Atlantico

The easiest place in DC to score a reservation (ha!) is closing. In the saddest recap I’ve ever ready, writer Chris Shott tells us about his proposal at the restaurant. Of course, José Andrés never fails, so I bet the pop-up concept will be a hit, and I hope Atlantico comes back as well.

Happy eating!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Carnaval at Café Atlántico

‘Cotton Candy Mojito’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

On Tuesday I was an invited guest at Café Atlántico for the restaurant’s special Carnaval Celebration Menu. I arrived early and found myself at the bar talking to one of the bartenders about the restaurant’s cocktails, and this seemed to set the tone for the night (surprised?). I could happily have sat at the bar all night, sipping excellent cocktails and talking to the bartenders about various spirits (want to out yourself as a cocktail nerd? Ask them about that bottle of Falernum and how it compares to the one you have at home, not to mention the house-made stuff at PX).

This being a dinner and all, the Social Chair and I were eventually escorted to a table with Lisa Shapiro of Dining in DC and Rachel Tepper of The Feast, along with their guests. We ordered another round of drinks and made our selections from the special menu.   Continue reading

Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Daily Feed

Café Atlántico Celebrates Carnaval

The Caipirinha
The Caipirinha
by Samer Farha

Although chef José Andrés has yet to respond to my offer to judge a Gin and Tonic showdown (which still stands) it’s worth noting that tonight from 4-6, there’s a free cachaça tasting at Café Atlántico. It’s the first event in the restaurant’s Brazilian Carnaval, which culminates next Tuesday with a three-course, prix fixe dinner, samba performance, and dance party. If you’re looking for a different sort of Mardi Gras experience, you could do worse than Carnaval.

If you’re not familiar with it, cachaça, a spirit distilled from raw sugarcane, can be considered a cousin of Rhum Agricole, which itself is not to be confused with other types of rum distilled from molasses. Like rum, it can be light or dark depending on the process and aging. Unlike rum, cachaça has up to six grams per liter of added sugar. Confused? Afraid? Don’t be. If you like rum, you’ll probably like cachaça too. The classic cocktail featuring cachaça is a caipirinha. In its purest expression, it is a sipping cocktail consisting of little more than muddled lime and sugar, crushed ice, and cachaça, in an old fashioned glass. Some bartenders serve theirs in a Collins (tall) glass, topped with soda, which makes an excellent refresher in warm weather.

Tonight at Café Atlántico you can sample two different brands of cachaça: from Leblon, casked in Cognac barrels, and Novo Fogo, whose silver cachaça is rested in steel tanks so it is still white. Also part of its Carnaval celebration, the restaurant hosts a capoeira demonstration on Sunday and the aforementioned dinner on Tuesday. Reservations are recommended for the weekend and required for Tuesday night’s dinner.

I’ll be there Tuesday night to lean on Chef Andrés personally on the matter of his bar’s gin and tonic. Oh, and to try the food. I’ll report back on that subject next week.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Best Of: Drinks 2010

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

We Love Drinks authors Kirk and I were really spoiled this year. In 2010 with wine, beer and cocktails alike we saw a resurgence of the desire to enjoy and educate ourselves in the world of libation. Sure we still like a shot from a dive bar but we also love craft cocktails. It’s not a drunk town, it’s a drinks town!

In addition to the old favorites, a number of new places opened up. We found ourselves covering everything we could despite busy day jobs (it certainly improved my tolerance level. shut up, pesky liver, wine is good for you!). There was the continuation of the wine bar explosion with cosy Dickson Wine Bar, DC’s raging beer love with Biergarten Haus and the promise of DC Brau, luscious cocktail smoothies at Fruit Bat, the rough-and-tumble American Ice Co. – I know we missed a few, and I’m going to do my best to stay on top of 2011. We’ve got burning questions in the coming year – will the winter opening of Jack Rose get me to hang out in Adams Morgan again, or will the Bier Baron successfully revive the faded Brickskellar space (and reputation)?

Anything you’d like to see covered? Interested in joining our merry drinks band? Drop me a line, I’d love to know.

Now, on to my favorite Drinks moments of 2010!

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Cool Hand Cuke

Photo courtesy of
‘Cucumber Cocktail’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’ 

Welcome to the Friday Happy Hour, your single drink primer for the weekend.

Last month Samer and I were treated to a sneak peek of the incredibly refreshing cocktail Owen Thomson would mix up to inaugurate the “Farm to Glass” program in his new role at Cafe Atlantico. Beginning tonight, you can try it too. Called the Cool Hand Cuke, it has a beautiful green hue quirkily topped by a baby cucumber blossom. Perfectly balanced between vegetal and spice flavors, it features SubRosa Tarragon Infused Vodka, Black Rock Farms Baby Persian Cucumber Juice, black pepper and thyme juice and “Dr. Thomson’s” spiced liquor #2.

The “Farm to Glass” program is part of Cafe Atlantico’s Farmers’ Market Dinners, a three-course menu (priced at $45) sourced from the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM market by newly appointed head chef Richard Brandenburg and served every Friday evening during market season. The “Farm to Glass” cocktail program will complement the dinners and their seasonal ingredients.

A green cocktail for a green program. Sip up what Samer called “summer in a glass,” and don’t forget to eat the baby cucumber garnish too – it’s part of the fun!

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Owen Thomson

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.

Owen Thomson has an interesting tattoo on his arm. His sister points it out to me as we sit at Cafe Atlantico’s bar, while he rustles up a selection of cocktails both old and new. “Abandon Hope All Who Enter Here” scrolls across his forearm, the inscription above the gates of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. Not an atypical tattoo choice perhaps but as the story behind it unfolds, it seems there’s nothing typical about the man now helming the bar at Jose Andres’ “nuevo latino” restaurant.

A native Washingtonian, creator of the cocktail program at Bourbon in Adams Morgan, president of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild, with studies in archaeology and the law under his belt – all this might make you expect that Owen would have a bit of an extreme Type-A vibe about him. But instead he’s completely down-to-earth, with a dry wit and a passion for educating both consumers and restaurants about the glories of fresh ingredients. Fellow WLDC author Samer and I sat down with him one Saturday afternoon to find out more about Owen’s plans for his new role behind the bar at Cafe Atlantico, and what happens when you mix the molecular gastronomy of Minibar with a rare 1950’s cocktail book…

“I want to turn this into a smoke and a fog and they said ‘oh yeah we can do that.’ Cool!”

Cool indeed.
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Food and Drink, Interviews, Life in the Capital, Penn Quarter, People, The Features

She Loves DC: Jill Zimorski

jill and wine

Jill rushes up to greet me wearing a bright green cardigan and a cute black Ann Taylor dress. (I know, because I have it in pink!) She’s not what you expect in someone whose credentials boast “Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers” and “has completed the Advanced Certificate Course offered through the Wine Spirits and Education Trust.” Jill just looks like she could be any of my girlfriends, but with a totally rockin’ day job – beverage director for Café Atlantico, the popular Penn Quarter eat place that hides Minibar. She’s been with Jose Andres since 2006, and seen Cafe Atlantico through quite a bit. We sat down to talk about my favorite subject – DC, paired with my other favorite subject – food and wine. (Heavy on the wine, given Jill’s passion!)

Me: Name the best part of DC in your opinion?
Jill: I think it would have to be the endless variety of people who you can meet, and what you can do here. My list of things I want to do is long, and some of it you can do on your own and other things with friends. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, Food and Drink, Night Life, Penn Quarter, People, Special Events, We Love Food

Farm Fresh: Cafe Atlantico

Cafe Atlantico

WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to bring you a double-hitting feature about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

It is oh-so-trendy, but not just that, it’s plain good for you and the earth. Farm-to-Table dinners have hit DC hard, so when WLDC author Donna and I were invited to sample Chef Terri Cutrino’s Farmer’s Market Dinners at Cafe Atlantico, we jumped at the chance.

Katie: From a foodie standpoint, these dinners are interesting to me, not just because I’ve finally gotten around to reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (I’m late, I know), but also because this particular type of dinner and dining can show you what exactly a chef is made of.

Because the ingredients are not picked until Thursday, and the dinner is put together on Friday, it’s a stretch. Sort of Top Chef meets real life, if you will. And the results, I must say are the same, given the short amount of time a Chef has to work on a dish, with specific ingredients, you’re bound to have it be hit or miss – just like Top Chef, you’ll be presented with dishes that shine, and dishes that flop. On our particular night we experienced both. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Daily Feed

Foodie Round-Up (April 13-17)

Photo courtesy of
‘The Pour’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

It’s a drink-focused round-up this week, but I think that’s because spring is in the air and all of us are practically clawing at our office doors to escape to grab a beer on the patio with friends. That said – Earth Day, jazz brunches, cocktails from the city’s best mixologists and a new team at Sonoma make up all the news that is fit to eat in the District this week. Continue reading