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

Ripple: Cru Beaujolais Dinner

Ripple

Have you tried wine from all ten Beaujolais appellations? How about trying them all in one night? Oh, and by the way that night is a Monday. This Monday funday wine safari, called a Cru Beaujolais Dinner, was held at Cleveland Park’s Ripple. Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley and her team joined forces with Best Thing on the Menu’s favorite wine shop, Weygandt Wines, which also calls Cleveland Park home. The two were a perfect pairing from the start.

Wines from Saint Amour, Juliénas, and Chénas started the night, paired with farm fresh beets, red onion and orange salad; broccoli raab, tomatoes and chili; and a mini charcuterie platter. All dishes were served family style at this intimate gathering of 40 Ripple and Weygandt Wines loyalists.

Ripple Cru Beaujolais Dinner

Chef Meek-Bradley put together an earth-driven dinner to match the earthy wine. In an interview with Best Thing on the Menu, she shared her inspiration for cooking. “I believe that my biggest inspiration is the farmers and people that I work with,” she said.  “Being from California, I was raised to believe that food is something to be shared with people and nurturing. Also that you should cook seasonally and locally. I try to follow these rules when writing our menu,” she continued.

photo

After savoring the first course, we moved on to Cote de Brouilly, Brouilly and Régnié, which boldly accompanied the chef’s scallop served with Andouille sausage, sweet corn and uni. The chef took a different approach to the class scallop and bacon combination by going with smoky, spicy sausage instead. And, who doesn’t love a little dollop of uni now and again.

The main course of Berkshire pork shoulder, farro risotto, mushrooms, crispy kale and braised swiss chard was served with the Morgon, Moulin à Vent and Fleurie.

Ripple

Dessert was vanilla bean-ginger panna cotta, which received a pour of the last remaining “cru,” Chiroubles. We no longer trust folks who say you can’t drink red wine with dessert. The pairing was magical.

There you have it, all ten crus were consumed before the check came. But what do we mean exactly? Beaujolais generally refers to the powerhouse wine region of southern Burgundy. There are ten small villages (aka “crus”) that comprise the upper echelon of the area. Experts say that each one has a unique terroir that is imparted during the wine making process. The goal of the dinner was to taste, appreciate and differentiate between the ten different terroirs of neighboring villages. An even playing field was created because all of the wines (except one) were from the same vintage. The grape you ask? It’s gamay.

The food and the wine both impressed, so we will surely return to Ripple to dine off of Chef Meek-Bradley’s menu. The Chef recommends her Carrot Cavatelli with Lobster. “People seem to love the combination and say the dish is rich, yet light at the same time,” she said.

Now that we’ve taken Ripple special events for a test drive, we happily recommend their upcoming Farm Dinner Benefitting the American Cancer Society on September 4th. Learn more here.  Before dinner, be sure to check out Weygandt Wines across the street. Tim O’Rourke and his team are always pouring samples over a great map of France and will enthusiastically educate you on what you’re drinking.

Been to Ripple? Share your favorite dishes in the comments section.

Brainfood Burger Battle: Best of the Best

Mad Fox Brewery Co. Burger

Sunday’s Brainfood Burger Battle was a quintessential summer activity that left us smelling of mesquite and sleeping sitting up. Ten of the DC area’s top chefs got sweaty and smoky in the Poste courtyard to compete for bragging rights, and a good cause. It was so hot that the chefs had more wardrobe changes than a magician’s assistant, but they still managed to flip fantastic burgers. Click here for photos from the event available on the Best Thing on the Menu Facebook page.

While three official awards were given out, People’s Choice (Poste), Chef’s Choice (The Source) and Judge’s Choice (The Source), BTM had its own take on the carne contenders.

Best Meat Blend: The “110% Burger” by Poste’s Chef Dennis Marron

Poste's 110% Burger

This mathematically impossible sous vide burger was made out of brisket, chuck, short rib, beef cheek and bone marrow.

Best Lamb Burger: Firefly’s Chef Todd Wiss

Firefly's Lamb Burger

Lamb is encouraging burger lovers to think outside the beef. Until recently, you could only get a lamb burger at a Greek restaurant. Thank goodness for the newfound popularity and sweet, gamey flavor. The aioli on this bad boy was amazing.

Best Bun: Granville Moore’s Chef Teddy Folkman

Granville Moore's Beef Bulgogi Burger

Teddy used a pretzel bun to house his beef bulgogi burger.

Best Schmutz: Ripple’s Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley

Ripple's Burger

Marjorie’s California-inspired burger game with two colorful dollops to dip your burger in: smoked egg yolk yellow and avocado green.

Best Outside the Bun: Iron Gate’s Chef Anthony Chittum

Iron Gate's Lamb Pita Burger

There’s only so much brioche one can eat. Kudos to Anthony for going with pita instead. We can’t wait for Iron Gate to open this August!

Best Overall: Our pick for best burger went to Mad Fox Brewery’s Chef Andrew Dixon.

Mad Fox Brewery Co. Burger

Andrew’s short rib burger was topped with crispy pork belly, beer cheese, relish, arugula, and a friend potato chip. It also came served on a pretzel roll.

Mad Fox Brewing Co. is located in Falls Church, VA. The best day to visit is Wednesday because they offer a uniquely concocted “Epic Burger” that continually changes. You can wash down your Epic Burger with another Wednesday special, the Crazy Cask. Mad Fox’s beer scientists go to work in creating a funky brew; a recent one involved Fresno chilies. The team at Mad Fox are fun, friendly and offer 10-12 of their own beers on tap. We can’t wait to make the trip.

All proceeds from the burger battle went to Brainfood, a non-profit youth development organization. The DC organization uses food as a tool to build life skills and promote healthy living. Local high school students participate in programs that include hands-on cooking classes, lectures, field trips and community service projects. Learn more at http://brain-food.org/.

Where can you get the best burger in DC? Post your favorites in the comments section.