Capitol Hill dynamo Rose’s Luxury and a trio of Shaw bars from mixologist Derek Brown all made Bon Appetit magazine’s "50 Best New Restaurants in the U.S." list, one that recognizes exciting new dining options but also managed to reinforce an outdated stereotype of D.C. dining that continues to dog the District.
The feature praises Brown’s Spanish-tinged sherry bar Mockingbird Hill, oyster-tastic Eat the Rich and the bourbon-laced Southern Efficiency, noting that their locations in three neighboring storefronts on 7th Street NW make them “ practically built for bar-crawling.”
Rose’s Luxury in Barracks Row gets the other D.C. nod, which isn’t shocking given the accolades the restaurant has pulled in so far. The no-reservations spot is perpetually packed, and Bon Appetit’s editors highlight chef Aaron Silverman’s pickle-brined fried chicken, as well as the smoked brisket sandwich to-go that comes with every private, rooftop meal. (Ten of the 50 will make the magazine’s “Hot 10” list, to be released Aug. 19.)
The nominations, however, get in a couple digs at D.C. The first — “If only the rest of Washington were this functional ... ” — is clearly meant for the other Washington. The second is a much sharper dagger from the Rose’s Luxury blurb: “In a city whose food culture is otherwise known mostly for power lunches …”
Really? Still with this? How many more unique, chef-owned restaurants, artisan charcuterie producers and craft cocktail bars have to open before D.C. sheds the power-lunch persona? How many more of our chefs have to take home James Beard awards before our "scene" is no longer defined by poached salmon and ribeye? How many more national publications have to come to D.C. and realize that our food and beverage scene is actually cool?
Bon Appetit may be dwelling on the power lunches of yore, but many of D.C.'s diners have moved on — to late-night, special-guest menus, biscuit pop-ups, gelato factories, food incubators, local beer and so much more. Maybe someday the national food media will get with the program.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.