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March 4, 2011 
 
 
Rock On, Robert

 
Robert Wiedmaier has been a fixture on the DC dining scene for the past 20 years. The chef and owner of Marcel's, Brasserie Beck, Brabo Restaurant and Tasting Room, and Mussel Bar, tells us what restaurant he hopes to open next, which fellow chefs share his love of hunting, and which famed guitarist he fed lobster risotto.
 
Robert Wiedmaier
Robert (here at Marcel's in Foggy Bottom) says he's already looking to expand his newest restaurant, Mussel Bar, in the next seven or eight months. The Bethesda joint is modeled after a place he frequented for post-work beers, mussels, and frites in Belgium called La Poubelle (translation: the trash can). He's scouting second locations in areas like Clarendon or Reston Town Center. Despite offers to do restaurants in Vegas and elsewhere, Robert wants to stay in the DC nucleus. (In his honor, we wrote a new slogan;
DC: What happens here, stays here . . . despite our best efforts to tell everyone.) In five years, he may open even more Mussel Bars. "I just think it's fun," Robert says. "We play a lot of rock and roll."
The only thing better than playing rock? Having a rocker in your restaurant. Robert (here with Marcel's Chef de Cuisine Paul Stearman) tells us he's most proud to have cooked for Eric Clapton and Derek Trucks. The Allman Brothers guitarist ordered lobster risotto and chatted about motorcycles. (Robert rides a Harley and Derek couldn't have one because Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident.) "He was just so humble. He said, 'Do you know who I am?' I said, 'Yeah I know who you are! I just saw you in concert the night before.'"
Chef and restaratuer Robert Wiedmaier
No, this isn't how Robert gets you to vacate a table after you meal. He hunts deer, geese, turkey, and duck and cooks everything he kills. He often brings along chef buddies David Guas of Bayou Bakery and RJ Cooper, who will soon open Rogue 24. Robert also enjoys fishing in the Chesapeake. Like his restaurants, his boat, Marbeck, is named after his kids Marcel and Beck. (By combining their names he has cleverly avoided having to buy two boats.) The restaurants already provide plenty of sibling banter between the 8- and 12-year-old. Beck will brag to his brother that his restaurant makes more money or does more volume. Marcel will retort, "Yeah, but mine's fine dining."

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Sensorium
 
Sensorium chef Bryon Brown
If Lewis Carroll had prepared a 12-course tasting menu instead of writing Alice in Wonderland, we imagine the result would look something like Sensorium. The 6-week pop-up dinner series will pair food and wine with music, costumes, and dramatic lighting—all under a giant geodesic dome to be constructed at the Capitol riverfront. Think experimental theatre for foodies. We got a sneak peek of the culinary production, which opens in April for $150 a pop, at a media preview at the Fridge Gallery Thursday. The self-proclaimed "madman" behind the project is lobbyist-turned-chef Bryon Brown, who previously worked at José Andrés's Minibar and has spent the past year hosting a nomadic supper club called Artisa Kitchen in local art galleries. Bryon tells us the "visually provocative" setting of the galleries inspired the idea to create an "ecosystem for your senses." Trippy, we know.
Sensorium dinner
Memories from your taste buds fade quicker than other sensory memories, Bryon tells us. "The goal that we have here is: What if we created strong visual memories that are directly linked to your taste buds? How would you then recall your taste bud memories?" So, for example, gel-encapsulated mimosa liquid mixed with Pop Rocks to mimic the fizz of Champagne is accompanied by three actors howling, giggling, and spinning in circles to upbeat music. Each course is accompanied by a different act—whether it's singing, dialogue, or movement. The meal ends with miracle fruit, a berry that rewires your taste buds so that even a lemon wedge (which is what you're served) tastes sweet. "We like to think we are trailblazers in this field," Bryon says. Check it out for yourself in our video montage.

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Rosa Mexicano To Open New Location
 
Rosa Mexicano
Rosa Mexicano is heading to Chevy Chase. The upscale modern Mexican restaurant just signed a lease for a 7,300 sq. ft. space formerly occupied by Bambule Bistro at 5445 Wisconsin Ave. It will be the third Rosa Mexicano in the DC area (with locations already in Penn Quarter—above—and National Harbor) and the 13th nationwide. Look for a November opening.

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Power Meal
 
United Way of the National Capital Area CEO Bill Hanbury

Welcome to the feature where the city's business leaders share their favorite restaurants. This week, United Way of the National Capital Area CEO Bill Hanbury (who previously led Destination DC) tells us his go-to spot for a business meal.

Georgia Brown's, 950 15th Street, NW

Why it's his go-to spot: Close to my office and my home.

How often he's there: Once a month…but every day if I could.

The atmosphere: Always upbeat and great Southern hospitality.

Favorite dishes: Shrimp and grits!

The staff: Absolutely the best…it must be in the water there.

Best place to sit: We host groups in the private area in the back.

Who he's dined with: Former Mayor Williams.

 
Tell us what you think! Send your feedback, story ideas, and juicy restaurant gossip to Dining Editor Jessica Sidman, dining@bisnow.com.
 
 
 
 
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