Food and Drink, The Features

Bryan Voltaggio’s Range Set to Open in Friendship Heights

Get ready, DC—Bryan Voltaggio is coming to town. And he’s making a bold entrance with a 14,000 square foot, 300 seat, multi-station restaurant complete with tatted up, Converse-sporting staff in Friendship Heights. RANGE is set to open to the public on December 18th.

The open and airy RANGE (yep, in all caps) is built around the concept of an open kitchen with individual stations dedicated to specific foods–a charcuterie station, raw bar, rotisserie, wood fired hearth, baker, dessert and candy and coffee bar. However, the entire menus is available wherever you decide to sit.

Much like the restaurant space itself, the menu is expansive, ranging in dishes such as a smoked trout roe with potato-shallot tots, to headcheese with a sunchoke relish, to roasted pork cheeks with celeriac and moustarda. If our taste of kimchi linguini with briny uni and bay scallops was any indication, there’s going to be a very long wait for a table here. Other highlights included a refreshing kampachi (similar to a yellowtail tuna) tartare with pine nuts, lemon and coriander, and a creamy ricotta ravioli with braised meat ragu. The added bonus was extremely thin crust pizza topped with bacon and charred onions.

Prices don’t appear to put you over the edge. Entrees hover around the $15-$30 range, though there are the obvious ones that are more pricey, such as the 36-day-aged new york strip, wagyu beef tenderloin or rotisserie lamb neck. Sides and smaller plates go from $3 for dishes like cornbread with bacon marmalade up to $13 for specific charcuterie.

Cocktails on the menu run the gamut from simple, “the name says it all” drink is just a vodka with soda, to more complex punches like the “serpentine overtone” with tequila, cranberry, hum liqueur, lime and black pepper. Draft beers and wine are also available by the glass. If you’re going for non-alcoholic drinks, there are some house sodas that we can’t wait to get our hands on, like grapefuit and ginger beer.

After the jump, you’ll find a photo slideshow of RANGE that We Love DC caught a sneak peek at. Make sure you check out the retail space on the side of the restaurant, where you’ll find kitchen tools that Voltaggio has worked with Williams Sonoma to pick out, a rotating selection of goodies from the chef’s purveyors and more.

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Food and Drink, The Features

Matchbox Arrives on 14th Street NW

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.
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

RJ Cooper’s Rogue 24 Opens July 27

Photo courtesy of
‘The Proper Way to Use a Knife’
courtesy of ‘Sprezzatura Images’

The long-talked-about and much anticipated Rogue 24 by RJ Cooper is slated to open on July 27. The 52-seat restaurant near the convention center will feature a theatrical open kitchen in the middle of the dining room, and will offer either a 16-course or 24-course menu. And while there’s no bar, per se, for you to wait at when the restaurant is undoubtedly packed when it first opens, there is a 14-seat “salon” where you can order cocktails and tastings a la carte.

“Rogue 24 is both a studio and stage for dedicated culinarians and sommeliers to have an immediate impact on guests with their knowledge and commitment to excellence,” said chef and owner RJ Cooper in a media release. “For guests seeking an intimate dining experience, we’ve turned the traditional restaurant inside out and brought the kitchen to the guests. Each table is a chef’s table, and each course is carefully constructed to build upon the flavors of the previous course, guiding the taste buds on an unexpected journey.”

Not only is the restaurant owned and led by RJ Cooper, former Chef de Cuisine at Vidalia and 2007 James Beard Foundation award recipient for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic, but Cooper is bringing a team of all-stars to the restaurant as well. Derek Brown of the Columbia Room will be in charge of the cocktail and mixology program, and Matthew Carroll, who was previously the wine director at 2941 and the sommelier at the Inn at Little Washington, will serve as the GM and sommelier. Not a shabby lineup at all, eh?

You can start making reservations on July 14, and note that you’ll need to give your credit card to hold a reservation. My advice is to get your dialing fingers ready since I’m betting reservations will be snatched up quickly…

Downtown, Food and Drink, The Features

Sneak Preview of PAUL

Photo courtesy of
‘PAUL Bakery’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Ask a Washingtonian if there’s a good place to get bread in the city and you’ll get an earful. I’m not about to debate our city’s carbohydrate merits. Rather, I want to talk about the opening of PAUL, a new bread shop and bakery that might be the one to raise the bar for bread in DC.

PAUL already has more than 450 bakeries elsewhere in the world (mostly in Europe), and so at first I was a little nervous about a “chain” bakery opening their first U.S. store in DC. What I found though was a bakery with a rich history, dedicated people behind it and quite frankly, fantastic bread.
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Business and Money, Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, News, The Daily Feed

Get Your Greek/Turkish On

Photo courtesy of
‘Greek Salad’
courtesy of ‘christaki’

Starting April 30th, Dupont Circle will be getting a new Greek and Turkish restaurant. Agora will feature small plates prepared on the wood-fired oven and charcoal fired BBQ grill, and overseen by Turkish born Chef Rasit Gulsen, formerly of Nizam’s Restaurant in Vienna, VA.

The restaurants menu will feature Turkish and Greek fare reflecting owner, Latif Guler’s, heritage growing up in the small town of Foca, Turkey.  The restaurant will highlight wines and beer from the Mediterranean regions of Turkey and Greece, and will serve a nice selection of Ouzo, an anise-flavored spirit widely consumed in Greece.

The two-story, 170-seat restaurant located at 1527 17th Street, NW, (aka the “doomed” spot that was formerly Jack’s, Le Pigalle, Peppersm, etc.) has been transformed to a Mediterranean oasis by Brie Husted Architecture and features a collection photos that capture the everyday life of picturesque Foca. Other features an upstairs expansion complete with 48 seats that can be used for private dining and a sidewalk café that can accommodate 34 guests for both the lunch and dinner service.

Arlington, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Incoming: Le Pain Quotidien

Photo courtesy of
‘At Le Pain Quotidien’
courtesy of ‘TreyDanger’

Tuesday night Matt and I were on a run down the Clarendon strip in Arlington, and we passed painters and workers busy preparing the new store front of Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian cafe & organic bakery poised to open under the Clarendon Gold’s Gym.

I’d never heard of Le Pain Quotidien (PQ for short), but upon further googling, PQ is another Euro import, one I’m getting pretty excited to meet. With locations already in Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Alexandria and Bethesda, Le Pain Quotidien operates under an organic philosophy (head on competition, Whole Foods) and is part bakery, part cafe. The bakery part is most exciting to me, as I was hoping for an uprising bakery trend in 2009. PQ claims to bake all their breads in-house, and knead by hand, to boot. They also offer pastries, alongside the breads. Then there’s the “communal table” – the cafe seems to be following in the Wagamama tradition of seating strangers together at big, long, cafeteria-style tables.

I’m thrilled to welcome Le Pain Quotidien into my ‘hood, I’m already picturing Sunday morning strolls for baked goods and coffee, and late night tete-a-tetes with friends over cider and tartes.