January 2, 2015

It's Not Over for DC's King of Cocktails

Eggnog dusted with gold leaf was a fitting last sip at the Columbia Room in the very first hours of 2015. New Year's Eve marked the final night of service at the Mt. Vernon Square bar many consider to be the birthplace of DC's cocktail renaissance.

“It's a sad thing to say goodbye to this little closet that used to be an actor's dressing room,” owner Derek Brown shared shortly after midnight. “All of the memories that have come from this room over the course of five years have been incredible—all we've tried to do is make great drinks and make people happy.”

For its swan song, Derek brought in Chef Jeremiah Langhorne to prepare a tasting menu. Last week, we told you about Jeremiah's forthcoming restaurant, The Dabney. We snapped Jeremiah and Derek behind the (dimly lit) bar. The two will be spending a lot of time together in 2015 and beyond because Columbia Room is relocating to the space directly above The Dabney in Shaw. This is welcome news for loyal Columbia Room patrons, though the intimate atmosphere may evolve due to the new bar's larger size. New Year's Eve was also the last night for Columbia Room's sister restaurant—The Passenger. No word yet on its potential new home.

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Ringing in 2015 at Rose's Luxury

New Year's Eve at Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurant in America was both business as usual and a special occasion. For one night only, the line-worthy Rose's Luxury took reservations. It sold out within a minute and crashed the server. Those who dined were treated to three small plates per couple and one family style entrée, plus surprises like Aaron Silverman's signature popcorn soup with lobster morsels, for $95 per person. We snapped an evening favorite—black truffle-topped pasta. Ever the gracious hosts, the Rose's Luxury team passed around mini brisket sandwiches and free bubbly while diners waited for tables to turn.

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Who Had the Chutzpah to Serve Kung Pao Pastrami?

Chef collaborations were one of the best trends in 2014 (a nice contrast with all the events requiring chefs to “battle” head to head). That's exactly how the year came to an end at DGS Delicatessen. Co-owners Nick and David Wiseman invited Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang and Maple Ave/Water & Wall's Tim Ma to dish out a Chinese banquet on Dec. 23. It was quite the hat tip to the beloved tradition of ordering Chinese on Christmas Eve. We snapped DGS' Brian Robinson, Tim Ma, Nick Wiseman, Toki Underground's James Wozniuk and Erik Bruner-Yang during service.

Tim's kung pao pastrami was the main attraction at the family-style meal, but leading up to the entrée Erik's egg flower soup had tingling heat, and the Chinese 5 spice beef spare ribs fell right off the bone. Keeping with tradition, no pork was allowed. Diners paid $45 with an option to add wine pairings for $20. Co-owner David Wiseman made his rounds during the meal. He assured us that they'll try to outdo themselves next year.

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An Adams Morgan Spot You'll Crave

The term “family business” is used liberally today, but at BUL, it's the real deal. The new restaurant is from brothers-in-law Jonathan Cho and Jay Park, and their families. We snapped Jonathan, who explained how both sets of parents pitch in by making kimchi. You know Jonathan and Jay from their ramen shop—Sakuramen—located a few doors down. BUL, which means fire in Korean, specializes in an eclectic mix of Korean and Japanese street food, bar snacks and comfort food. They're pouring DC's own Craft Kombucha on draft, and come late January/early February they'll serve cocktails too. BUL is located at 2431 18th St NW.

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Passing the Torch at Table

Shaw's cozy corner restaurant has a new executive chef. But Patrick Robinson is no stranger to Table. He's been cooking there since the doors opened under Frederik de Pue (who recently separated from the restaurant). Patrick, who has also worn a chef coat at Citronelle, tells us he doesn't expect the flavor profile to change: “Our seasonal focus will remain intact, but I'll be focusing on our tasting menus.” You might even see their vegetarian tasting menu offered throughout the week. He's enthusiastic about what's happening in Shaw. “There's a lot more foot traffic; it has a real neighborhood feel,” he says. “Among the restaurants, we use each other for inspiration and borrow ingredients. We're a little family on this corner.”

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5 Best Bets for Restaurant Week

Hear that sound? It's people clicking like crazy on OpenTable because Restaurant Week is back. From Jan. 19-25 diners can try a three-course lunch ($20.15) or three-course dinner ($35.15) at participating restaurants in DC, Maryland and Virginia. We've hand-picked five top choices based on value:

2941 Restaurant—Three courses means you'll receive plates from both talented exec chef Bertrand Chemel and 2014 RAMMY award-winning pastry chef Caitlin Dysart. Use the money you save on wine—the list impresses. Offering lunch & dinner.

Nonna's Kitchen—Perched atop Alphonse on U Street is a tasting menu-only Italian escape. For Restaurant Week, they've paired down a lengthy menu to three courses (with choices) that serve as the perfect sneak preview of what to expect during the $90 real deal. Offering dinner only.

Sushi Taro (pictured)—Any chance to get a discount on lunch or dinner at DC's sushi authority is a win. Expect to try a variety of styles of Japanese cuisine and simple, elegant dessert. Offering lunch & dinner.

Poste—The new chef at this centrally located bistro has tipped the menu toward fine dining (which means fine dining prices). This makes Restaurant Week the perfect time to take Kyoo Eom's food for a spin. Offering lunch & dinner.  

Del Campo—If you're going to squeak a deal out of a steakhouse, do it at Del Campo. Chef Victor Albisu will likely make sure everything hitting your plate was smoked first. Offering lunch & dinner.

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