On Tap Magazine: New & Notable: October 2019
“On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.
Open: August 26
Location: Dupont Circle
Lowdown: The original Mandu has been transformed into a new restaurant from the Fried Rice Collective. It’s the second new concept from the group behind CHIKO, comprised of chef Danny Lee, chef Scott Drewno and partner Drew Kim. Anju is a contemporary Korean restaurant and pub inspired by the country’s culinary and cultural traditions, from street markets to royal court cuisine. The kitchen is overseen by executive chef Angel Barreto, who worked with Danny’s mother, chef Yesoon Lee of Mandu, to develop the menu. “Mama Lee’s Classics” like bibim bap and dak jjim, appear alongside Korean pub fare (‘anju’ refers to food eaten with alcohol) and modern creations. Start a meal with a selection of panchan, from sweet lotus root and gardenia-pickled baby radish to shredded bellflower root and house-fermented kimchi. The shareable bar snacks like the tornado potato and pan-fried pork and kimchi mandu are perfect to pair with a glass of soju or a teapot of infused makgeolli sparkling rice wine. 1805 18th St. NW, DC; www.anjurestaurant.com
CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Open: August 5
Lowdown: Chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck debuted his second restaurant in DC – a mid-Atlantic iteration of CUT. The upscale steak restaurant has locations around the world, including Las Vegas and Doha. Puck wanted DC’s CUT to be rooted in the bounty of the region. That’s exactly what executive chef Andrew Skala has done, with a kitchen where vegetables and seafood shine just as brightly as the red meat. Skala has worked at Puck’s various restaurants for the last 13 years and he’s now building relationships with local farmers and fishermen to build his menu. It begins in the garden, with a coal-fired artichoke salad and charred leeks presented in a single translucent layer topped with Meyer lemon and toasted hazelnuts. The seafood bar offers bright ceviches, oysters and sashimi. The beef selection spans nose to tail, with steak tartare, oxtail bouillon, wagyu beef heart and beef cheek as well as the headlining cuts like dry-aged sirloin and a whopping porterhouse. The whole duck playfully is presented as tacos, with myriad toppings on a Lazy Susan. Don’t miss the chance to see a live cocktail show – old fashioneds are dispensed via a roving cocktail cart featuring various WhistlePig whiskies. 1050 31st St. NW, DC; www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/washington-dc/dining/Cut
Open: September 9
Lowdown: A decade after Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca opened downtown, restaurateur Ashok Bajaj decided to give his Italian restaurant a makeover. The space underwent a quick design refresh and extensive menu change before reopening as a brand-new concept. Modena is helmed by executive chef John Melfi, who previously served as the executive chef of Bajaj’s restaurant, The Oval Room. He’s worked with other big names in DC including Robert Wiedmaier, Fabio Trabocchi and Jeff Buben. In his current role, he aims to prove that fine dining can be fun, with unique touches like an antipasti trolley showcasing a rotating selection of salads, charcuterie and savory tarts on attractive vintage china. While much of the menu is seasonally driven by local products, the cuisine also spotlights imported ingredients from the restaurant’s namesake city, like balsamic vinegar, mortadella, prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano. House-made pastas are not to be missed, especially the potato gnocchi with water buffalo butter and shaved truffles. Adept at both savory and sweet techniques, Melfi also oversees the desserts, which are as aesthetic as they are delicious. 1100 New York Ave. NW, DC; www.modenadc.com
Open: August 14
Location: Falls Church
Lowdown: Katherine Thompson’s move to open a neighborhood restaurant in Falls Church felt like a homecoming for the pastry chef, who grew up in Arlington. She and her husband, chef Gabe Thompson, moved back to the area after working in high end kitchens and running Italian restaurants in New York. They wanted to be close to family and to create a place where refined fare and a kids’ menu weren’t mutually exclusive. Thompson Italian is just that, welcoming diners young and old to enjoy shareable small plates, seasonal salads, hearty entrées and of course, Gabe’s fresh pasta made from scratch. Adults will appreciate the ricotta gnocchi with lamb ragu or sweet corn ravioli, while pint-sized diners can mix and match their pasta shape and sauce. Katherine handles the dessert menu, which includes Italian staples like cannoli, budino and affogato. The clear favorite is the rich olive oil cake with crème fraiche mousse, raisin marmellata and maldon salt. 124 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA; www.thompsonitalian.com“
Featured photo by Kelli Scott.