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

Top 5 Surprise Picks for Vegetarians

Vegetarians

Chances are, if you’re a vegetarian in the District, you’ve already “steaked” out your go-to restaurants that reliably offer vegetarian fare. However, with more and more inside-the-beltway diners celebrating fresh produce done right, vegetarian stunners are springing up on menus in unexpected places. In an effort to expand your options, we share with you Top Five Surprise Picks for Vegetarians:

Mandu

Potato

While Korean BBQ and vegetarians don’t necessarily sound synonymous, Mandu (now with two locations) is a vegetarian mecca. Almost every dish can be made vegetarian (if it’s not born that way to begin with). Choose from sizzling bibim bap, egg-dipped zucchini and eggplant, glazed veggies and tofu off the grill or chap-chae sweet potato noodles, just to name a few. This is a chance for vegetarians to get in on Korean cuisine that’s surpassing sushi as the frontrunner Asian food in pop culture. See the menu here.

Kapnos

Eggplant

Kapnos, which BTM visited earlier this month, captured our veggie-loving hearts. They have 20 items on their menu that are vegetarian, and many of them contended for our top pick. From smoky hen of the woods mushrooms to potato garlic phyllo pies, you really can’t go wrong. Not that you have to, but you could easily make a meal out of their delicious bread and flavorful dips (four of which are vegetarian). See Mike Isabella’s menu here.

Firefly

Cabbage

Also ringing in with around 20 vegetarian options is Firefly. It’s no surprise that this forest-canopied restaurant treats its veggies with tender loving care. We can personally attest to the Goat Cheese Gnocchi, which we selected as the Best Thing on the Menu. Also delicious:  Farro Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes and 3 Bean Risotto. See the menu here.

Volt

Raddish

Why should fancy tasting menu adventures be for meat eaters only? We imagine that’s what star chef Bryan Voltaggio asked himself when he designed the “Tasting of Fruits and Vegetables” menu at Volt. Six mouthwatering courses showcase earth’s natural candy in ways we’ve never thought of. See for yourself, here. We’re headed there in two weeks and will report back.

Taylor Gourmet

Bok Choy

Moving now from gourmet tasting menus to Taylor Gourmet. Why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy a hoagie just because you don’t eat hog? Taylor Gourmet, with its multiple locations, has five great hoagies (subs, grinders, heroes, sandwiches …) just for you. We’re particularly intrigued by “Christian Street,” containing portobella mushrooms, arugula, roasted red peppers and goat cheese. In case you have room after hoagie heaven, don’t forget Taylor Gourmet’s risotto balls. We’ve already requested these in lieu of a birthday cake this year. Here’s hoping the candle stays put. See the menu here.

Other suggestions for surprise vegetarian-friendly spots? Share with us in the comments section.

Kapnos: Roasted Duck Phyllo Pie

Kapnos: Duck Phyllo Pie

At Top Chef Mike Isabella’s foray into Greek cuisine, we ended our evening with a little game called Duck Duck Dinner. The Best Thing on the Menu: Roasted Duck Phyllo Pie with Cress, Cherries and Pistachio Yogurt was so good, we called in a second order for dessert. The plate shuffling and utensil conundrum we caused our server by throwing an appetizer in with our dessert order was as awkward as a duck on water-skis, but when it came to devouring a double dose of the BTM, we didn’t care.  Tender shredded duck fills freshly-baked phyllo dough and the tart cherries and tangy pistachio yogurt are the perfect accompaniments. Each order comes with two triangles, so order accordingly or you’ll contribute to making doubling-up at dessert a true trend.

Duck wasn’t the only protein we were passionate about at Kapnos, which translates to “smoke” in Greek. It should come as no surprise that all of the spit-roasted meat was divine. We tried the lamb, suckling pig and the baby goat. If you’re only a table of two and need to pick one, definitely go for goat, which by the way is increasing in popularity.

Contrary to its meat-centric menu and carnivorous vibe, Kapnos has the potential to be a real haven for vegetarians. There are 20 items on the menu that are purely vegetarian. For herbivores sick of cobbling together a meal out of side dishes, you can call Kapnos home.

Finally, a word on imbibing. Come to Kapnos with an open mind when it comes to the wine list. Simply saying, “I’ll have the Greek wine to go with my Greek food” won’t get you very far, as there are an overwhelming number of hard-to-pronounce varietals offered. Perhaps this is one of those situations where you really do need a sommelier, or at least an oenophile server. Just for fun, here are seven top Greek varietals.

Roasted Duck Phyllo Pie with Cress, Cherries and Pistachio Yogurt not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you like this, you may also like: ZaytinyaAgora, or Kellari Taverna.

ZooFari: Redwood’s Donut Hole Fried Chicken

IMG_0826

Today’s entry makes a departure from the norm to detail, instead, the Best Thing at the Party. BTM had the great pleasure of attending ZooFari Thursday evening and, with elastic waistbands and empty stomachs in tow, we set off to try almost every offering from more than 100 restaurants.

There were big names in attendance, including Top Cheftestant Mike Isabella who was debuting a fish dish from his soon–to-debut Greek restaurant, Kapnos (coming to 14th and W). Also serving up bites were 1789, Central Michel Richard, Jackson 20, Masa 14, Plume at The Jefferson Hotel, Rogue24 and so many more. As usual, the Georgetown Cupcake stand had the longest line, and the greediest double-cupcake hoarding patrons.  Pork belly was featured in all imaginable incarnations, and the crowd definitely picked up on the piggy popularity.

But, it was Redwood Restaurant & Bar that created a dish worthy of luring animals out of their dens. The Best Thing at the Party: Glazed Maple Donut Hole with Fried Chicken and Arugula Salad was a hot sticky mess served as neatly as possible on a stick.

To our dismay, this flavorful concoction is not offered on Redwood’s brunch, lunch or dinner menus. However, if the morsel served at ZooFari is any indication of the chef’s ability to combine flavors and textures, Bethesda Row’s Redwood, is definitely worth a visit.  We’re excited to try their Elvis Burger and Moonshine Eggs.

Redwood not your favorite offering at ZooFari? Share your favorites in the comments section.