The Best Thing on the Menu at RAMMY Finalist Restaurants

Photo credit: David Claypool

Representatives from New Restaurant of the Year finalists. Photo credit: David Claypool.

The finalists for the 2015 RAMMY awards are out. See who received nods advancing them as contenders to win a RAMMY on June 7. As a reminder, only members of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) are eligible, and some categories disqualify those who’ve won in the past five years. Click on the links to see the Best Thing on the Menu!

New Restaurant of the Year: 

·       Crane & Turtle 

·       Fiola Mare

·       The Partisan

·       Republic

·       TICO 

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year:

·       Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

·       minibar by José Andrés

·       Rasika 

·       The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

·       Trummer’s on Main

Chef of the Year:

·       Victor Albisu – Del Campo

·       Nathan Anda and Ed Witt – The Partisan

·       Cedric Maupillier – Mintwood Place

·       Marjorie Meek-Bradley – Ripple, Roofers Union

·       Johnny Spero  – minibar by José Andrés

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year:

·       Bar Pilar

·       Cashion’s Eat Place

·       ChurchKey

·       Et Voila!

·       Evening Star Café

Upscale Casual Brunch: 

·       Birch & Barley

·       Kapnos – DC

·       Le Diplomate

·       The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

·       Seasons at The Four Seasons

Everyday Casual Brunch:

·       Beuchert’s Saloon

·       The Daily Dish

·       DGS Delicatessen

·       Duke’s Grocery

·       The Liberty Tavern

Favorite Fast Bites: 

·       Cava Grill – Bethesda Row

·       DCity Smokehouse

·       G by Mike Isabella

·       Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza – Friendship Heights

·       Red Apron Butcher – Union Market

Cocktail Program of the Year: 

·       2 Birds, 1 Stone

·       barmini by José Andrés

·       Bourbon Steak

·       Iron Gate

·       Trummer’s on Main

Beer Program of the Year:

·       The Arsenal at Bluejacket

·       Brasserie Beck

·       Granville Moore’s

·       Mad Fox Brewing Company

·       Pizzeria Paradiso – Georgetown

Wine Program of the Year: 

·       Charlie Palmer Steak

·       Fiola

·       Iron Gate

·       Proof

·       The Red Hen

Service Program of the Year: 

·       Bourbon Steak

·       Fiola

·       Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

·       Rasika 

·       The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Pastry Chef of the Year: 

·       Agnes Chin – The Grill Room, Capella Hotel

·       Naomi Gallego – Blue Duck Tavern

·       Kendra Grieco – Fiola

·       Michelle Poteaux – Bastille

·       Susan Wallace – BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: 

·       Austin Fausett – Trummer’s on Main

·       Tim Ma – Maple Ave Restaurant, Water & Wall

·       Harper McClure – BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier

·       George Pagonis – Kapnos DC

·       Danny Wells – Republic

Everyday Casual Restaurant of the Year:

·       DGS Delicatessen

·       Granville Moore’s

·       Hank’s Oyster Bar – Capitol Hill

·       Hill Country Barbecue Market

·       Ted’s Bulletin – Capitol Hill

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year:

·       Birch & Barley

·       Maple Ave Restaurant

·       Mintwood Place

·       Proof

·       Vermilion

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: 

·       Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

·       DC Brau Brewing Company

·       Dolci Gelati

·       Early Mountain Vineyards

·       New Columbia Distillers

Restaurateur of the Year: 

·       José Andrés and Rob Wilder – ThinkFoodGroup

·       Mike Isabella – Mike Isabella Concepts

·       Fabio and Maria Trabocchi – Fiola, Casa Luca, Fiola Mare

·       Jeff Tunks, David Wizenberg, Gus DiMillo – Passion Food Hospitality

·       Robert Wiedmaier, Brian McBride, Frank Shull, and Joe Lively – RW Restaurant Group

DC’s Top Food and Drink Trends 2013

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A food blogger’s log of top trends in our nation’s capital, based on too many meals to count. As Heidi would say, you’re either in or you’re out!

Chez Billy Saucisse Merguez

Chez Billy

1. Small plates: You either love them or you hate them, especially if you live and eat on 14th Street. But one thing’s for sure, small plate hate and continued complaining about them is in vogue. Good places to get full-size meals? Chez Billy, West End Bistro, Poste and Table.

Spraga's Brisket

Sbraga

2. Brisket is back. Done right, this cut of meat can steal the show. Where to get it in DC? Roses Luxury, DCity Smokehouse and Garden District. It is also the Best Thing on the Menu at Philly’s Sbraga.

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Del Campo

3. Fernet is having a renaissance. Try it and you’ll taste hints of eucalyptus, saffron, cardamom and chamomile. Most popular in Italy and Argentina, fernet is typically mixed with soda water or it can be used in cocktails as a form of bitters. In DC, you can try it at Del Campo and Urbana.

FB

4. New restaurants are forgoing traditional websites and are opting instead for robust Facebook pages. Or, restaurants are choosing to create a simple single page, meant solely to point you to their social media accounts. This is such a smart money saver. There’s no need to pay an IT company to build and maintain a website when Facebook has built-in infrastructure for diners to interact with their favorite restaurants. Our new favorite spot, Mockingbird Hill, is one example: Their simple web page vs. their Facebook page.

Shaw DC

5. Shaw has become THE neighborhood for new restaurants, including Eat the Rich, Dacha Beer Garden, Mockingbird Hill, Thally, Table and more.

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Casa Luca

6. More than a handful of restaurants are jumping on the charcuterie bandwagon. A trend many enjoy, but others skip due to the availability of fine meat and cheese selections at gourmet grocery stores. If you’re pro-charcuterie visit: Casa Luca, The Pig, Churchkey/Birch and Barley, Proof, Urbana, Vinoteca and Etto.

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Revive Catering

7. Waffles are crushing it, sorry cronuts. DC has some of the best waffles to offer the world including Revive Catering’s red velvet chicken and waffles, B TOO’s blood sausage stuffed waffle and Brasserie Beck’s gingerbread waffle.

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Petworth Citizen

8. Cosmos and appletinis are out. Prohibition era cocktails are in. Big name Founding Farmers has 11 different prohibition era inspired cocktails like a Sazerac and a New York Sour. Then there are places like The Gibson, PX, The Passenger/Columbia Room, Bar Charley and Petworth Citizen.

Oyamel Fried Egg

Oyamel

9. Remember being twelve years old and requesting breakfast for dinner for your birthday? Fortunately, you can relive this small joy by visiting several DC restaurants. Ted’s Bulletin serves breakfast all day long, Oyamel has a killer egg dish and DGS serves “Benedictberg” well into the night.

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Taylor Gourmet

10. Whether you’re curing a hangover, fueling your marathon (or 5K!) training, or just gearing up for a Sunday on the couch watching football, monster sandwiches are the answer. The arrival of spots like Duke’s Grocery and food trucks like SUNdeVICH plus the continued awesomeness of Taylor Gourmet and Stachowski Market & Deli means you’ll never be without a good sando in hando.

Got a trend you’d like to share? Let us hear it in the comments section! Plus, see where we ate in 2013.

Solutions to Your Dining Dilemmas

BTMegan's That Moment When ...

Best Thing on the Menu answers your Washington, DC dining dilemmas every Thursday on Twitter.  Find yourself in a comida conundrum? Want some ideas on where to dine? Look no further than some of our top tweets below. Don’t forget to follow @BTMenu. Enjoy!

#Thatmomentwhen … Evening plans call for sushi but you don’t touch the raw stuff. http://ow.ly/nK1d8

#Thatmomentwhen … You want 2 convert your man into a Brussels sprouts eater so you can cook them more at home. http://ow.ly/nK13g

#Thatmomentwhen … You have a mixed bag of vegetarian & meat-eating friends and want 2 try something trendy. http://bit.ly/14gcokX

#Thatmomentwhen … You just want to wear shorts and have a casual evening without sacrificing flavor. http://ow.ly/nK0IQ

#Thatmomentwhen … It’s 2:00 a.m. You’ve been on U Street since 7:00 p.m. You wanna be bad and eat something naughty. http://ow.ly/nxjO4

#Thatmomentwhen … You haven’t had a really good date in a long time. http://ow.ly/nxjsc

#Thatmomentwhen … You need really cool gifts for bridal/baby shower guests or a rehearsal dinner. http://bit.ly/10TwqKQ

#Thatmomentwhen … You visit Union Market for the first time and you’re overwhelmed with choices. http://ow.ly/nxiO8 

#Thatmomentwhen … You realize its the last full month of summer and you want some burger ideas for your next BBQ. http://ow.ly/nxiry

#Thatmomentwhen … You’re craving smoke and spice and everything nice. Even the cocktails are smokey. http://bit.ly/1aVnJbC

#Thatmomentwhen … You can’t look at another turkey sandwich & want something that will BLOW YOUR MIND. http://ow.ly/njxRc 

#Thatmomentwhen … Try as you might, you just can’t get a reservation at Estadio but crave high-quality tapas. http://ow.ly/njxvM

#Thatmomentwhen … You need a post-yoga lunch and don’t want to undo your sun salutation calories. http://ow.ly/njwVN 

#Thatmomentwhen … You have the urge to have an Anthony Bourdain-inspired evening without leaving the District. http://ow.ly/njwyi  

#ThatMomentWhen … You want that thing that everyone’s talking about and can’t believe you haven’t tried.  http://bit.ly/12Uob4M

#ThatMomentWhen … You want to expand your Japanese food vocabulary past sushi & dive into pub-style snacks. http://bit.ly/13cUPPf

#ThatMomentWhen … You forgot Bubbe and Zayde were coming to visit and have yet to make a reservation. http://ow.ly/n4dRL

#ThatMomentWhen … You are headed to Le Diplomate for dinner and as a pescatarian, can’t get the steak frites. http://ow.ly/n4dzQ

#ThatMomentWhen … Your sweet tooth outranks all of your other teeth and you need. dessert. right. now. http://ow.ly/n4dpt

#ThatMomentWhen … You’re in need of providing guests with a patriotic DC meal, yet want something new. http://bit.ly/125rbs9

#ThatMomentWhen … You just want something greasy to soak up your sorrow/hangover/happiness. http://bit.ly/1ajsf0H

#ThatMomentWhen … Tears run down your cheeks because it’s summer and you don’t have a grill in your condo. http://bit.ly/1aVnJbC 

Top Five Eats to Beat the Heat

DC is at the height of swelter season and so we thought we’d provide some recommendations on five treats to eat in the heat. If you venture out in the humidity, head to the following five spots for these cool dishes.

Mari Vanna's Borscht1. Mari Vanna’s Cold Borscht

Borscht is the perfect chilled, colorful summer soup. Unlike its hot winter counterpart, laden with beef, potatoes and sour cream, this vegetarian version is light and refreshing. Just don’t wear your best summer whites to eat beets. For more on what to order at this charming Dupont Circle Russian establishment (besides vodka), click here.

B TOO's Fried Orange Sherbet2. B TOO’s Fried Orange Sorbet

This is like the tempera ice cream you would beg your parents for when they “dragged” you to a sushi restaurant to “expand your horizons” when you were little. Fried ice cream is back with a bang at B TOO. This temperature impossibility sits atop sweet, candied fennel and is surrounded by fried basil leaves. Quite simply, it’s summer on a plate. For more on this Top Chef-studded Logan Circle restaurant click here.

Sushi Taro's Sashimi Omakase3. Sushi Taro’s Sashimi Omakase

You may not know the meaning of the Japanese word omakase, but chances are you’ve eaten a tasting menu or two in your time. Omakase essentially means you’re getting the top, chef-recommended selections of the day. And at Dupont Circle’s Sushi Taro, where they fly in a large portion of fish from Tokyo, you’re in for a wild ride. Sometimes, it’s far more fun to let the experts decide! There’s nothing steamy about sashimi, it’s light and fresh and the perfect summer eat. For more on Sushi Taro, click here.

Del Campo's Scallop Ceviche4. Del Campo’s Grilled Scallop Sushi Ceviche

It’s sushi, no it’s ceviche, no wait, it’s both! Del Campo continues to turn out great grilled items and this one in particular is perfect for warm weather. The scallops sit atop nigiri sushi-like rice mounds and are adorned with a smoked uni sauce. A little bit of raw, and a little bit of heat. We just visited Del Campo in Chinatown and had the special opportunity to interview Chef Victor Albisu. Click here to hear his thoughts on the most popular, and most daring, menu picks.

Teddy's Crab and Avocado5. Teddy’s Crab and Avocado

Teddy’s is a great second edition to the presidential-themed dining establishments in DC. We admit that Dupont Circle’s Teddy might be a little more fun in the winter, when it’s time to pack on the pounds by eating game meat, carbs from the heartland and rich desserts. However, there are a couple items on the menu today that are ripe for summer consumption. The best of which is their crab and avocado dish served with grilled corn and a sauce that’s worth soaking up with their homemade breadbasket. See our pick for Best Thing on the Menu here.

Agree/Disagree with our top dishes? Tell us in the comments section or on the BTM Facebook page.

Del Campo: Rolled Wagyu Skirt Steak

Del Campo's Rolled Wagyu Skirt Steak

Del Campo is exactly what DC has been waiting for: It’s the answer to our cooped-up in-condos-without-a-grill gripes. At Chef Albisu’s South American asado oasis, flames have kissed everything from cocktails to dessert.

In a special interview with Best Thing on the Menu, Chef Victor Albisu elaborated on his grilled cocktail menu, grilled ceviche, smoked caviar and a very umami-tasting smoked uni sauce. In addition to adding smoke to almost every dish, he also pays homage to his heritage. His mastery of meat comes from observing butchers from Uruguay and Argentina at his mother’s shop in Northern Virginia; his perfect empanadas are an inspiration from his Cuban baker father; and the fresh and feisty ceviche is a gift from his Peruvian mother.

Chef Albisu pointed out some of the most popular picks including the octopus causa and wagyu empanadas. He said more daring guests order the beef heart anticucho, which contains both grilled and raw elements. However, the Best Thing on the Menu is the: Rolled Wagyu Skirt Steak.

He got the idea for this rolled flavor powerhouse from a dish in Argentina called Matambre. Tender skirt steak is stuffed with Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard and burnt onions and then rolled and braised. We noticed that the dish came with grilled veggies and a stick of bone marrow, just for fun. In our interview, the chef explained that the bone marrow is a gift from the kitchen that plays the roll of adding richness, like butter typically does, at American-style steakhouses.

You may need to run your mouth through the neighborhood car wash after dining at Del Campo, but the addictive chimichurri sauce, creative cocktails and ability to get the gourmet grill fix we crave will keep us coming back.

If it’s easier for you to visit Del Campo by day, Chef Albisu has launched Street Food Fridays, where he steps onto the street to cash in on the mobile cuisine craze to offer chorizo sandwiches called “choripans.”

We also look forward to visiting Chef Albisu’s Taco Bamba next time we ‘burb out in Falls Church, VA.

Rolled Wagyu Skirt Steak not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.