• 02Feb

    What gets filled up must be sipped down – especially in a moving elevator. Experiential cocktails from a mobile bar were just the beginning, located as they were in gracefully gliding glass elevators moving about the six floors of the Newseum. That and dozens of nationally renowned chefs, food artisans, restaurateurs, and mixologists, gathered together for the 2016 Sips event, plus a dash of love and lots of spirit, and it’s a recipe for eight years of unbridled success.

    Colorful Macarons

    Famed Chef Alice Waters began the event in 2009 to benefit DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table, two organizations based right here in DC, dedicated to helping those in need in the region. And for the past few years, José Andrés and Joan Nathan have joined Alice Waters as fellow hosts.

    While originally scheduled for January 23, Jonas the snowstorm made hosting an event for a few hundred folks a bit more difficult than making sure your soufflé rises every time. The event was therefore pushed back to January 30, and unfortunately, the high-donation Suppers event, at which famous chefs create and serve meals in private homes, was canceled.

    Snow aside, the culinary show must go on. The evening started with a pop – of corks, that is, from wine bottles sourced from the sustainable vines of Gustafson Family Vineyards in the VIP Lounge. Highly esteemed restaurants like Daikaiya, SER, and Indique helped begin the night in style on the second floor of the building for the VIPs, with a stunning view of the hive of activity below. Beyond that pop and pour of flutes and glasses, the funky, jazzy notes of the live music from Aztec Sun Band, based in DC, floated above the hum for a full multi-sensory experience.

    The event is called Sips for a reason: inventive cocktails were in abundance. New and local distillery One Eight Distilling shook things up with a vibrant red cocktail, anchoring a section of the event dedicated to local purveyors. Others nearby included Misfit Juicery, which fights food waste by using excess or ugly produce and turns it into tasty juice; and Banana Love Muffins, Dream Bites, and Gordy’s Pick Jar, all of which have used the unique and supportive food incubator space at Union Kitchen. Other specialty drinks ran the mixologist craft book, from sangria to your author’s personal favorite, an old fashioned made from whiskey aged in maple barrels.

    Of course, one must have some bites along with the drinks. Martha’s Table itself set up shop. It served healthy and crunchy kale salad, which complemented some of the other, richer dishes around. Lines ran lengthy for dishes like fresh-cut brisket, briny Rappahannock oysters, and heavenly macarons.

    The most extravagant offering: Hamilton’s ravioli stuffed with foie gras, in consomme, topped with black truffle shavings — difficult to beat.

    Hunger, whether worldwide or domestically, has shown up too often in the news of late. Therefore, bringing together the star power of the hosts and the creativity and artisanship of the chefs and mixologists made for a highly successful – and sip-worthy – evening.



  • 11Jun

    What do Jaleo, China Chilcano, Oyamel, and Zaytinya: what do these restaurants have in common? They are all owned and operated under acclaimed chef and restaurateur, José Andrés! And, all three participated in the chef’s Dine N Dash event earlier this week on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015.

    Chef José Andrés’ 3rd annual Dine N Dash is an extraordinary event in which participating restaurants and food trucks gather together and serve limitless dishes and drinks to Dine N Dash’ers. Of course, many of José Andrés’ restaurants partook in the event (China Chilcano, Jaleo, Oya, Oyamel, Pepe, and Zaytinya), making it a total of 17 businesses in Penn Quarter of Washington D.C. serving hungry Dine N Dash’ers this year. Proceeds from this event will benefit World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization (which the chef is an active Chairman in) that passionately trains people to develop and nurture skills to build “smart kitchens.” Coming together for the love of food to support a great cause to help others? Pure brilliance.

    I was determined to hit all the Dine N Dash restaurants from 6pm to 9pm, but ultimately failed and hit 13 out of 17. Which honestly, in my opinion, is still pretty good for a first-time Dine N Dash rookie. Also, due to early morning work priorities, I was unable to attend the after-party at Carnegie Library (close to Ping Pong, Dine N Dash’s starting point), so I am intrigued to see photos and hear about what happened. I will be Dine N Dash’ing next year for sure, including the after-party.



  • 13Sep

    In my inbox.






    Washington, DC (September 12, 2011) – José Andrés, the James Beard award-winning and critically acclaimed chef and food policy advocate, welcomes longtime friend, mentor and culinary legend Ferran Adrià to Washington with an exclusive and intimate discussion at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. On Thursday, September 29th at 7:30 P.M., Andrés and Adria whose friendship began more than twenty years ago in Spain, will share insights on their storied careers, Adrià’s future as one of the most creative chefs in history and now as the head of the El Bulli Foundation, as well as his new cookbook, The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià (Phaidon). With introductions from the Washington Post’s Food and Travel editor, Joe Yonan, the event will include a Q & A session, followed by a book signing by Adrià. This rare talk is one of Adrià’s few public visits to the East Coast since the closing of his renowned restaurant El Bulli.

    Tickets are available at Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW, and through Ticketmaster. Tickets are General Admission and are offered at two price levels: $40 includes a copy of Adrià’s new cookbook (which retails for $30), or $20 without a book. Tickets will be available for $10 for culinary students at the Lisner Box Office with valid i.d. The Box Office is open Tuesday to Friday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. and accepts cash, Visa and Mastercard. For more information on tickets, contact the Lisner Box Office at (202) 994-6800 or visit lisner.org. A portion of the event proceeds will benefit World Central Kitchen and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

    This unique evening is presented by the George Washington University, Phaidon Press, José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, and Politics and Prose.

    About World Central Kitchen (WCK): Founded by Jose Andres, WCK will operate in countries affected by humanitarian crisis and chronic food insecurity by cooking for and feeding vulnerable people, supporting local agriculture and promoting nutritious foods, recipes and environmentally sustainable cooking fuels and technologies.

    About the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC): The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.

  • 08Jun

    In my inbox.



    “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”
    Come celebrate the opening of the new National Archives exhibit with José Andrés. The James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef discusses the history of American food and cooking with Atlantic Senior Editor, Corby Kummer.

    Friday, June 10, at 7 P.M.
    The National Archives
    William G. McGowan Theater

    Join us for the inaugural program of “America Eats,” a series developed in conjunction with José Andrés, who is Chief Culinary Advisor for the new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” This opening program features the award–winning chef himself. Chef Andrés will discuss the history of American food and cooking, science and cooking, and why food is the solution to many of the challenges we face as a nation. Joining Chef Andrés in conversation will be Atlantic Senior Editor, Corby Kummer. A book signing of Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen will follow the program.

    This is a free event; reservations are not required. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For McGowan Theater programs, the doors to the building will open 30 minutes prior to the start of the program. Use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue.


  • 20May

    Jose Andres.

    I recently attended the announcement of the National Archives and Jose Andres’ restaurant group, ThinkFoodGroup.  Andres is the culinary adviser for the exhibit, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”  The food at the announcement event was of course excellent and I got to finally meet Andres.  The breakfast menu included:

    • Watermelon skewer with tomato caviar
    • Bagel & lox cone (This was salmon roe and creme cheese in a tiny cone.)
    • Chilled gazpacho
    • Olive oil pancakes and creme fraiche

      Watermelon skewer with tomato caviar.

    • Grilled asparagus (This had a nice Romesco sauce.)
    • Papas arrugas (These salty wrinkled assorted baby potatoes were very good.)
    • Mini torrijas (Think Spanish French toast that is also custard-like inside.)


    Below is a press release about the program.




    May 17, 2011

    National Archives Celebrates New Food exhibition in June with Free Public Programs

    “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet” opens June 10

    Washington, DC. . . The National Archives presents a special series of programs in June including an evening with celebrity chef José Andrés , a presentation on American folk hero Johnny Appleseed, and a food themed return of Archives Jeopardy – with Archivist David. S. Ferriero as game show host – all inspired by the new What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? exhibition that opens June 10.  All programs are free and open to the public, and will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.  Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Street.

    WHAT’S COOKING? OPENING PROGRAM: The First Kitchen – Dining at the FDR White House

    Friday, June 10, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater

    President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a lifelong gourmand and his wife Eleanor was a generous and thoughtful hostess, but the food in the Roosevelt White House was the worst in the history of the Presidency. Everyone complained, including FDR, but Eleanor wouldn’t hear of revamping the cuisine. Food writer and author Laura Shapiro discusses Eleanor’s passionate commitment to plain, economical living during the nation’s hard times. Attendees will receive a special celebratory edible treat – not based on a recipe from the FDR White House chef.


    Friday, June 10, at 7 P.M., William G. McGowan Theater

    The inaugural program of our series ‘America Eats’, developed in conjunction with What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? Chief Culinary Advisor José Andrés,  features the James Beard award winning chef himself.  Chef Andrés has made a study of American food and will discuss the history of American food and cooking, science and cooking, and why food is the solution to so many of the challenges we face as a nation.  A book signing of Andrés’ Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen will follow the program; the book is available at a discount from the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) before and during the event.

    BOOK TALK:  High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

    Wednesday, June 15, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater

    The work of cookbook author Jessica B. Harris on the food and foodways of the African Diaspora culminates in High on the Hog. Harris discusses how these foods formed African American culture, history, and identity.  A book signing will follow the program; the book is available at a discount from the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) before and during the event.

    GAME SHOW:  Return of Archives JEOPARDY!

    Thursday, June 16 at noon, William G. McGowan Theater

    Back by popular demand, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero returns as host for a food-themed “Archives Jeopardy!”  Audience members will be selected to test their historical knowledge and win prizes.

    BOOK TALK: Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, and the American Story

    Wednesday, June 22, at noon, Jefferson Room

    Author Howard Means discusses his book on John Chapman, better known as American folk hero Johnny Appleseed, and looks at the man behind the myth. A book signing will follow the program; the book is available at a discount from the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) before and during the event.

    PRESENTATION:  “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”

    Thursday, June 23, at noon, Jefferson Room

    Exhibit specialist Alice Kamps shares the surprising discoveries she made while researching food records for “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” in the National Archives.

    FILMS:  Johnny Appleseed and Ratatouille

    Saturday, June 25, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater

    Winner of the 2008 Oscar® for Best Animated Feature Film, Ratatouille (111 minutes) tells the story of a rat named Remy who dreams of becoming a great Parisian chef. Johnny Appleseed, a 1948 short from Walt Disney Productions, will be shown first (19 minutes).

    PANEL DISCUSSION:  The 1959 Kitchen Debate

    Wednesday, June 29, at 7 PM, William G. McGowan Theater

    The National Archives Experience and the Office of Presidential Libraries present an eyewitness account of the impromptu debate between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev on July 24, 1959.  This debate took place alongside a model of a kitchen of a suburban model house on display at the U.S. National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow.  Timothy Naftali, Director of the Nixon Presidential Library, will moderate a panel including former Ambassador Gilbert A. Robinson, who was coordinator of the Exhibition, and Exhibition guides Tatiana Sochurek and George Feifer.

    About “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”

    “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” explores the Government’s effect on the American diet. Unearth the stories and personalities behind the increasingly complex programs and legislation that affect what Americans eat.  Learn about Government’s extraordinary efforts, successes, and failures to change our eating habits. From Revolutionary War rations to Cold War cultural exchanges, discover the multiple ways that food has occupied the hearts and minds of Americans and their Government.  There are over 100 original records in the exhibit—including folk songs, war posters, educational films, and even seed packets.  The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, opens June 10, 2011, in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building.  Museum hours (through Labor Day) are 10A.M. to 7 P.M. daily.  For information on “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” see http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/whats-cooking. The exhibition was created by the exhibit staff of the National Archives Experience with support from the Foundation for the National Archives.

    To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: (202) 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events on the web at: http://www.archives.gov/calendar.   To request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program, email public.program@nara.gov or call 202-357-5000 two weeks prior to the event.

    #    #    #

    Follow us on:

    Twitter: twitter.com/archivesnews

    Facebook:  USNationalArchives

  • 12May

    Jose Andres, on the left.

    The 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards held Monday, May 9th finally brought recognition to DC’s own Jose Andres, naming him Outstanding Chef for his most exclusive and creative D.C. endeavor, minibar, after three previous nominations in the same category.  That award, which last year went to celebrity chef and Top Chef host/producer/judge Tom Colicchio, capped the raucous and enthusiastic event.  And, in accepting his award, Andres did not disappoint.  Addressing the crowd as “People of America,” not only did he give thanks to lots of deserving people (including his mentor Ferran Adria, his wife Patricia – whom he forgot to thank in his 2003 acceptance speech for Best Chef: Mid Atlantic, and his staff), but he interspersed joy with seriousness, noting the power of food— asserting that it can end hunger and end obesity.

    This is a banner year for Andes.  He will also receive the Duke Zeibert Capital  Achievement Award at this year’s RAMMY awards—DC’s own version of the James Beard Awards run by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington to be held on Sunday, June 26; and the 60 minutes segment on Andres won Best Television Segment at the Beard Media Awards held on May 6.

    Yigit Pura's dessert.

    Other than Andres’ somewhat expected win, the event provided a number of surprises.  Rising Star Chef of the Year went to Gabriel Rucker of Portland Oregon’s Le Pigeon, the first such award for an Oregonian.  Rucker beat out NYC’s darling Cristina Tosi who helms David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar.  In the regional category, for Best Chef: New York City, underdog Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune Restaurant beat out heavy hitters Wylie Dufresne (wd-50), Michael White (Marea), Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern), and April Bloomfield (nominated for The Spotted Pig, but also touted for Breslin Bar and the new John Dory Oyster Bar).  In the Mid-Atlantic category (which previous winner Andres presented before his win), DC’s Johnny Monis (Komi), Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve), and Peter Pastan (Obelisk) lost out to Philadelphia’s Michael Solomonov (Zahav).  And in Best Chef: Southwest,  Tyson Cole of Austin, TX (Uchi) grudgingly shared the award with Saipin Chutima of Las Vegas (Lotus of Siam) as the result of a tie.

    Other awards were less surprising.  Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s well-regarded ABC

    The crowd, including WD-50s Wyle Dufresne.

    Kitchen won Best New Restaurant; Outstanding Wine Service went to Belinda Chang of Danny Meyer’s the Modern; and Thomas Keller’s pricey Time Warner Center Per Se took the Outstanding Serviced Award.  New York’s beloved Danny Meyer, and his popular and highly regarded Eleven Madison Park, took home both Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Pastry Chef (for the lovely Angela Pinkerton).

    Once the awards were handed out, guests flowed out of Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall theater into the Awards Gala reception, featuring tastings from several of the nominees and winners, including three D.C. locals: Andres (who served as Gala Co-Chair along with Top Chef Masters alums Floyd Cardoz and Susan Feniger), Rasika’s Vikram Sunderam, and Michel Richard of Citronelle and Central. Guy Savoy’s Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup with Toasted Mushroom Brioche and Black Truffle Butter was the consensus favorite, although Top Chef: Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura’s chocolate concoction (ridiculously named Tonka Bean-Infused Chocolate Cremux with Organic Mulberry Compote, Floral Red Fruit Tea, and Chocolate Puffs) surely delighted chocoholics.

    Michel Richard's "eggstravagaza."

    After parties were plentiful.  Daniel Boulud’s newly opened French market Epicerie Boulud and his not yet opened (it opened the next day) Boulud Sud, which share a kitchen, propped the doors separating the two, and threw the whole place open for extensive apps and flowing drinks.  Eleven Madison Park, which last year was apparently “trashed” at the after party, hosted again, and again was the wildest place to be. Andres, who began the evening at Epicerie, left walking arm in arm down Broadway with White House Assistant Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator  Sam Kass, presumably towards the more refined after party at Per Se.  No word on whether he made it to the party hosted by the guys behind Best New Restaurant nominee Torrisi Italian Specialties and David Chang’s Momofuku team at the Jane Hotel.

    The entire list of winners can be found at http://jamesbeard.org/files/2011_JBF_Awards_Winners.pdf

    -Written by recurring Guest Blogger, Lisa Bornstein (LMB)

  • 11Apr

    In my inbox (and rephrased a bit).



    Lifting Voices is a nonprofit organization that reaches 200 under-served young people in DC. They’ve got a food-related project going on now, Counter Culture, a big, beautiful coffee-table book that shares 10 of its kids’ food histories in words and images.

    • Culinary masters José Andrés, Robert Egger, and Spike Mendelsohn are contributors.
    • The idea behind the book is that food brings people together. We hope this will be a gathering place for readers and the kids we serve.
    • The book will be launched at a 300-person warehouse party.
    • There’s a kick-ass video here.

    Your Help? Essential.

    We need $5,000 by April 29 to publish Counter Culture through a creative consortium.
    If we raise even one dollar less,
    the project will not be funded.
    We need your help.
    Please make a tax-deductible donation.
    $25 gets a free burger; $50 gets a free book!
    And please spread the word by
    sending this email to friends and family.
    Honestly: we can’t do this without you!

  • 10Mar

    “Ramon Martinez is head chef of Jaleo, Jose Andrés’ award winning tapas concept in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, DC. Jaleo was the nation’s first critically and commercially successful Spanish restaurant and helped to launch the small plates craze in America. Martinez works closely with Andrés on menu development and helps to maintain quality control for all three Jaleo restaurants.”

    I met with Ramon today; he is personable, funny, has great energy and is very passionate about food.  He is originally from Barcelona, Spain.

    I stole of few of these question’s from JDS’s interview with Spike Mendelsohn. :)  Ramon and I are both talkers; we did stray from the actual questions at times.

    JAY: What is your guilty food pleasure?

    RM:  Hamburgers.  I eat at 5 Guys or Ray’s Hell Burger every 4 or 5 months.   5 Guys for the fast food fix and Ray’s for a more upscale burger. When you move to America, the diet is different, and if you go with the flow,it is easy to let oneself go and get fat with alcohol and food.  I’ve seen it happen to other Spanish chefs and I gained 10 pounds here in 2 months.  Now, I watch what I eat.

    JAY: Do you enjoy the French fries too?

    RM:  No, I don’t order them, but I do occasionally eat patatas bravas or the chips at the restaurant (Jaleo) or at home because I prefer them to French fries.

    JAY: What else do you enjoy cooking at home?

    RM:  At the restaurant I taste our dishes (instead of having lunch) and at home for dinner I eat simply; an example of this is al dente boiled vegetables with olive oil, and some fruit (especially pineapple, which I love) and maybe yogurt.  On my 2 days off, I eat out and and enjoy myself; I eat less healthy when I eat out.  When I am entertaining at home, I cook traditional dishes like paella and cannelloni.  My favorite paella to cook includes botifarra (Catalan sausage), Iberico de bellota (acorn-fed) pork ribs, and artichokes.  I love artichokes and even put them in omelets.

    JAY: What dishes do you miss from back home?

    RM:  I miss my mother’s and my grandmother’s cooking.  After lunch (when I was a kid), my mother would already be prepping for dinner.  I have such enjoyable food memories associated to their cooking.  Dishes like my Grandmother’s pig’s feet with sofrito and potatoes; the meat was falling off the bones.  (Ramon makes a slurping sound.)  I can smell this one soup that I love before I’ve entered my Mother’s door.  The soup contains pig’s feet, ham bones, ham scraps, chicken feet, meat balls, blood sausage, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, celery, etc.  When I was a kid, the 5 of us would each have a bowl of broth in front of us, which the items from the soup were all served on a platter.  We would them fight over which items we wanted.

    JAY: That definitely brings back memories of my mother making beef soup with marrow bones, pieces of beef, sweet potatoes, carrots, corn on the cob, potatoes, etc, when I was a kid.

    What are your favorite DC area restaurants:

    RM:  2 Amys, Citronelle and Yechon.  Yechon is a 24-hour Korean restaurant in Annandale that has a great seafood pancake.

    JAY: Any ingredients you don’t like?

    RM:  Spam.  The frozen peas we have in Spain. Canned vegetables, especially canned artichokes.

    JAY: Have any interesting stories about customers?

    RM:  I wasn’t here, but someone fell asleep at the wheel and drove through the front door.

    JAY: What is it like working for Jose Andrés?

    He is amazing.  He gave me an amazing opportunity to learn about different foods in the company.  I can learn about Greek food (Zaytinya), molecular gastronomy (Cafe Atlantico) and Mexican Food (Oyamel).  I’ve even helped out in the restaurant in Los Angeles.  And, we went to Valencia on summer to learn how to make paellas on wood fires, an opportunity that most chefs in Spain would not have.  Andrés is a big name in Spain, but here he is like the Ambassador of Spanish food.

    JAY: What are you excited about on the Jaleo menu?

    RM:  You have to try the paellas, especially the one with iberico de bellota pork ribs.  We also have iberico de bellota ham and cured products on the menu.


  • 02Sep

    You can read Lisa Shapiro’s post about this.




    On Friday, September 3rd, guests are encouraged to stop by Café Atlántico to enjoy a rum tasting featuring rums from top producers including Rhum Barbancourt, Mount Gay and Appleton Estate. The tasting is free to the public and runs from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Guests must be 21 or older to participate and will need to present valid ID. For information, guests should call (202) 393-0812.

  • 26Jul

    Pics by LMB

    Fresh off its World Cup win, Spain is again victorious as Estadio, the Spanish-themed restaurant from the team that brought us Proof, opened last week, to great fanfare.  Chef Haidad Karoum, proprietor Mark Kuller, Bar Manager Adam Bernbach, and Wine Director Sebastian Zutant, pooled their talents to create a Spanish-themed restaurant blessed by D.C.s own Spanish son, Jose Andres, who offered guidance as Kuller planned his trip with Chef Karoum to the motherland in preparation for this venture.

    The menu includes tapas, pintxos (the Basque version of tapas-sized portions often served on a cocktail stick), and small sandwiches (bocadillos).  The bar features Spanish and Argentine wines, sangrias, and a Spanish, alcoholic version of the very American slushie, affectionately dubbed “slushitos” by Bernbach.

    On the restaurant’s first night, despite a downpour during peak serving hours, the room was relatively full, and the consensus seemed to be that the food was fabulous but that the service was slow and confused.  My experience certainly reflected that:  the octopus with potato caper salad was meltingly tender, the jamon wrapped fig with cabrales and marcona almond was the perfect combination of sweet and salty, tender and crunchy (though I wish it had lasted longer than just one bite), and the sauteed chorizo picante bocadillo was flavorful and smokey although the bread, which was made in-house, was unremarkable.   I sat at the bar of the open kitchen, and watched the calm but methodical work of the staff, with Chef Karoum checking, plating, and making notes.  My waiter, while providing spot-on recommendations, didn’t return after my food was delivered until the cooks were scrubbing the grill, leaving me yearning for a few more morsels.  Even worse, by the time I arrived, the slushitos had run out, apparently after the restaurant had gone through four batches of the nectar.

    Over the weekend, on my second trip to this 14th street hotspot, the place was past capacity, with servers and managers and even the chef having to jockey among waiting patrons to move through the room.  Estadio does not take reservations for parties of less than 6, unless you want to eat between 5 and 6pm, and every arriving guest was quoted (by a very calm, pleasant and patient hostess) a wait time of at least one and a half hours.  Because there are many more tables for two, and several large parties had made reservations that night, my group of four waited about an hour and forty minutes to be tapped for a table, but luckily, in the interim, we had secured bar seats, and happily chatted with the bartenders as we sampled the menu’s offerings.  This time, I got my slushito (a creation made up of quince, paprika, lemon, sherry and scotch) while my friend opted for the strawberry, lime, tarragon, campari and gin version.  After the first sip, we both reacted hesitantly—the herb in each drink hits you a little too strongly at first.  But after a few more sips, we simultaneously acknowledged that the drink grew on us, perhaps as we got accustomed to the taste of spice/herb in our drink.  However, we both opted for the Tinto de Verano (Red Wine and Lemon Soda) for our second drink (the drink I had to console myself with on my first visit when the slushitos were 86ed), and that was a clear hit from start to finish.  Next time, however, I may have to try one of the porro, a pitcher filled with wine which you tip directly into your mouth – no glass required.

    Once our drinks were secured, we were able to turn to the food.  Sadly, the octopus was not available that night, so we opted for squid a la plancha (grilled on a metal plate).  The squid was smoky and slightly chewy, and while it didn’t quite rise to the delicacy of the octopus, it drew fans among my friends.  We ordered a selection of cheeses which came with a piece of house-made bread, a square of quince, and a delightfully sugary date, and some chorizo, thinly sliced and simply served on a wooden board with a piece of bread as well.  We each ordered the jamon wrapped fig (which I had been thinking about since my previous visit) and added a second pintxo, a chorizo, manchego, and pistachio crusted quince bite.  The sweet quince, tart manchego, and smoky, meaty chorizo proved a delicious combination.  The heirloom tomato salad was simple (with red onion in a vinaigrette) but exploded with flavor and freshness.  The roasted hen of the woods mushrooms (known as maitake in Japan, not sure they are actually found in Spain) had a strong char which brought out the hearty, earthy flavor.  And finally (and unnecessarily), we ordered the hanger steak, described as coming with “crushed potatoes and mojo verde.”  The steak was perfectly acceptable—well cooked and thickly sliced, but the small streak of essentially mashed potato was unremarkable and frankly rather pitiful.  In comparison to the other uniquely delicious, perfectly executed, and incredibly composed dishes, the steak was unmemorable.  But if that’s Estadio’s worst offense, it’s in for a long, smooth, successful ride.

    In addition to the food and drink, the décor itself is getting a great deal of buzz.  Not only does the space boast reclaimed timber, wrought iron details, and a large concrete bar, but the murals throughout, including a cheeky one featuring shirtless soccer players in the women’s restroom (as well as the photos of newly, secretly married Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, each on the door of the gender appropriate restroom), are sure to leave diners atwitter.

    Estadio, 1520 14th St. NW, is open for dinner at 4pm every night and hopes to offer brunch in the fall.


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