Frank Ruta, Aggie Chin Out at Mirabelle
Executive chef Frank Ruta and pastry chef Aggie Chin have mysteriously left Mirabelle, Hakan Ilhan’s (Alba Osteria and Ottaman Taverna) ultra-luxe French restaurant known for its $24 ham sandwich at 900 16th St. NW, in a major shakeup at the restaurant. The pair, who have worked together since Ruta’s now shuttered Palena then at the Grill Room at the Capella/Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown, served their last meal on Saturday.
The restaurant closed after Saturday’s service and will reopen with a mix of fresh faces and returning talent on Aug. 7.
Keith Bombaugh, most recently chef de cuisine at Boston Harbor Hotel’s Meritage, will replace former White House chef Ruta in the kitchen. He previously worked as a sous chef at Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago. Former pastry cook Zoe Ezrailson, who helped open the restaurant and most recently at Mount Pleasant’s Elle, will replace Chin as pastry chef.
Also returning are former wine director/general manager Jennifer Knowles, who left last year to help open Requin at the Wharf, and bartender Zach Faden will lead the bar.
Ruta and Chin traveled to France and New York to visit one- and two-star Micheln Restaurants as they shaped the cuisine at Mirabelle, which opened in March 2017 to rave reviews. But lately, it has fallen in popularity, with complaints of poor service and quality on social media.
The shakeup was “purely a business decision,” Knowles told Washingtonian magazine. “There was an inability to consistently meet food and labor costs.” The often half-empty dining room didn’t help.
Earlier this year, Ilhan abandoned plans to open a tapas restaurant in Mount Vernon Triangle and he closed his other French restaurant, L’Hommage Bistro, last summer.
Bombaugh’s menu will include three ($75) to 12 course ($195) prix-fixe options in addition to a la carte choices that include French, Mid-Atlantic and New England influences. Dishes will include Maryland crab toast, a croque madame popover and a Cape Cod duo of clams with fried bellies and steamers. The dessert and Armagnac/spirits carts will stay as the new staff try to make the restaurant more approachable for a quick lunch or bar snacks in addition to elaborate dinners.
Original Sweetgreen to become The Tavern market
Founders Nicholas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman are converting their original 500-square-foot Sweetgreen location at 3333 M Street NW in Georgetown into a market called The Tavern, which will open in late August and is named for the Little Tavern burger chain that previously occupied the space.
The building has been vacant since Sweetgreen’s new two-story flagship location opened at 1044 Wisconsin Ave. NW in September 2017.
The Tavern will sell many of the same products and produce used in Sweetgreen’s salads, like greens, cheese from Maryland’s FireFly Farms and Soom tahini. It will also feature smaller and younger farms that don’t have the capacity to supply all of Sweetgreen’s DMV locations and will offer a community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription program.
The list of suppliers include Gordy’s Pickle Jar, Harper Macaw chocolates and Misfit Juicery. The owners are also planning to collaborate on new items also. Nick Wiseman, co-owner of Whaley’s and Little Sesame, will help curate the products and manage operations.
While the new store won’t sell salads, it will bring back the chain’s Sweetflow frozen yogurt, which has been missing in Georgetown since Pinkberry closed.
Taberna del Alabardero offers chilled summer soups
Taberna del Alabardero, 1776 I St. NW, has added five cold summer soups to its menu.
The chilled soups are $13 a bowl and available Monday through Friday with the selection changing daily. The menu includes gazpacho andaluz, traditional tomato gazpacho with cucumber, red and green peppers, on Monday; ajoblanco malagueño, garlic and almond soup with grapes and olive oil, on Tuesday; sopa de zanahoria y naranja, carrot and orange soup with fresh orange and mint garnish, on Wednesday; sopa de tomate y sandía, tomato and watermelon soup with pan seared watermelon garnish, on Thursday; and salmorejo cordobés, traditional tomato and bread puree with Serrano ham and hardboiled egg garnish, on Friday.
Knightsbridge restaurants celebrate return of tomatoes
Beginning July 16, three members of the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group will embrace the arrival of summer and the return of the vine-ripened tomato with special dishes showcasing the vegetable. The three restaurants will roll out tomato-centric, three-course menus priced at $50 with choices of appetizers, entrées and desserts during lunch and dinner from July 16-Aug. 12.
701 Restaurant, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, will feature appetizers such as tomato tartine with avocado smash, heirloom tomato and corn salad or heirloom salad with baguette, goat cheese, ice wine and tomato leather. For the entrée course, diners can enjoy Berkshire pork with tomato risotto, squash blossom and haricot verts; black olive ravioli with goat cheese, yellow tomato and parmesan; or ahi tuna with corn panna cotta, patty pan and cherry heirloom. Dessert includes caramel and corn with brioche, salted caramel and corn ice cream along with an assortment of seasonal house-spun ice creams and sorbets. 701 will offer a similar tomato menu priced at $27 for lunch.
Nopa Kitchen + Bar, 800 F St. NW in Penn Quarter, will feature starters such as watermelon and tomato gazpacho with Fresno chili labneh, agrumato and pickled watermelon rind; deviled eggs ‘pan con tomate’ with tomato mousse, espelette, basil breadcrumbs and smoked trout roe; and heirloom tomato carpaccio with serrano ham, roasted peach, tomato-buttermilk aioli, nasturtiums and castelvetrano olives. The second course includes choices of tomato gnocchi with Maryland blue crab, Calabrian chili, garlic scapes and bottarga; pan roasted salmon with tomato salsa cruda, local squashes, charred corn purée and lemon basil emulsion; and N.Y. strip “surf and turf” with squid ink potato purée, herbed jobs tears, tomato vierge and lobster mousse. Dessert is a choice of tomato and peach tart with buttermilk ice cream, honey-roasted pine nuts and mint, or vanilla bean cheesecake with oatmeal crust, tomato-strawberry compote and basil gel.
The Oval Room, 800 Connecticut Ave. NW, will feature appetizers including chilled golden tomato soup with smoked bream rillette, crème fraiche, tarragon and croutons; baby heirloom tomato salad with brioche, balsamic Villa Manodori, gorgonzola and arugula; and country fried preserved tomatoes with Fresno chili, garlic, herb salad and whey espuma. Entrées include acquerello rice with green tomato croutons, heirloom tomato relish and olio verde suds; tomato and St. Alban ravioli with crisps, sorrel and toasted brioche sauce; Atlantic salmon with tomato confit, pickled ramps, Virginia ham and sauce choron; and flat iron steak with green tomato chimichurri, heirloom tomato glaze, char, onion and panise. Dessert includes a choice of tomato with sorbet, gelée, fennel marmalade and pollen pizzella, or ricotta cheesecake with golden tomato relish and candied pine nuts.
Slate Wine Bar+Bistro participates BBQ Week
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, 2404 Wisconsin Ave. NW, is participating in BBQ & Grilling Week from July 16-22 with a menu of grilled, smoked and spiced dishes from July 16-22. Slate will offer a special two-course menu showcasing some grilling favorites and house-made BBQ which consists of dijon mustard, apple cider, brown sugar, garlic and house-made hot pepper sauce priced at $22 per person.
Appetizers include a choice of grilled asparagus and onions, smoked chicken eggroll with Carolina mustard sauce or the BBQ quail with semi-sweet mustard and mixed beans followed. Entrées include a grilled veggie Napoleon burger with eggplant, squash, zucchini, tomato and onion, served with a house salad or fries; grilled pork chop with hoisin soy chili sauce, onions and grilled vegetables; Texas-style smoked dry-aged brisket served open-faced on brioche toast with a choice of house salad or fries; or grilled hanger steak with chimichurri and fries. For dessert, diners can choose the featured ice cream or sorbet of the week for an additional $4.
Wandering Oasis truck serves frozen drinks at National Harbor
Gina Chersevani’s of Buffalo & Bergen has a new Wandering Oasis cocktail truck that will be parked National Harbor’s waterfront on weekends this summer. It might make a few cameo pop-ups at Nationals Park too.
The truck serves both frozen and tapped cocktails. Icy drinks include daiquiris with flirty flavors, like hibiscus lemon made with Cruzan Light and 151 Rum or sour citrus margaritas mixed up with Sauza Tequila. There are also crushes, featuring citrus flavors like orange and grapefruit made with Pinnacle Liquo. The eight cocktails on tap include a mint tea infused with Jim Beam Bourbon and lemon.
Find Wandering Oasis at the National Harbor waterfront on Fridays from happy hour to midnight, and Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m.-midnight. Every drink on the menu is 16 ounces and costs about $9.
Legal Sea Foods host clambake Mondays
Legal Sea Foods, 704 Seventh St. NW, 2301 Jefferson Davis Highway, Crystal City and 2001 International Drive, McLean, will offer a traditional New England clambake with all the fixings every Monday throughout the summer season.
From July 16-Aug. 27, three of Legal Sea Foods’ DMV restaurants will be offering C-Food Mondays, which includes a cup of New England clam chowder, 1-1.25-pound lobster, steamers, corn on the cob and coleslaw for $29.95 per person. The special is only available for those dining in the restaurant and will not be available for takeout.
Brasserie Beck, Mussel Bar & Grille offer all-you-can-eat mussels
Brasserie Beck, 1101 K St. NW, and Mussel Bar & Grille, 800 N. Glebe Road, Arlington, and 7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, are celebrating the Belgian National Day all week with any type of all-you-can-eat mussels for $28 all day from July 17-21.
To kick off Belgian Restaurant Week, Brasserie Beck will host a Sour Hour from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17, with Duvel, Liefman’s and Ommegang. The Belgian brewer has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for an evening of Belgian sours brewed both in Belgium and in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The patio party will feature selections including Liefman’s Goudenband, Ommegang Pale Sour, Ommegang Rosetta, Ommegang Nirvana IPA and Duvel Singel.
From 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, Brasserie Beck will celebrate the relaunch of Brasserie Dubission. The brewery has been churning out wine-influenced beers since 1769. The family-owned brewery will be serving fresh pours of Scaldis, Scaldis Peche Mel, Bush Tripel and Cuvee des Trolls. There will also be rare bottled-aged pours of Scaldis Prestige, Prestige de Nuits and Prestige de Charmes.
The week-long celebration will culminate on Belgian National Day, July 21, with Brasserie Beck hosting an oyster fest from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with all-you can-eat oysters for $38 paired with a Belgian inspired Kasteel Rouge and Shallot Mignonette. Festivities will also include rolling beer specials every two hours throughout the day with half-off deals and swag, glassware and giveaways from the featured breweries.
Will Artley will “pop-up” at Bastille
Chef Will Artley will “pop-up” at Bastille restaurant, 606 N. Fayette St., Alexandra, offering a $55 prix fixe five-course tasting menu from July 19-29 along with the regular menu.’
The pop-up menu will reflect the style of Artley’s forthcoming restaurant affiliation, Scotts Restaurant, Bar & Cask Club, an American brasserie slated to open in Penn Quarter this fall. The five-course menu will include: smoked crab cake with root slaw and remoulade; BLT gnocchi; sweet corn agnoloti with ham hock broth and popcorn; sea bass with succotash and horseradish; and Chef Michelle Poteaux’s banana trifle with caramel and candied pecans for dessert.
Artley most recently was executive chef at Kimpton’s Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach, Fla., where he oversaw the restaurants and room service. He previously worked at The Grist Mill, Nonna’s Kitchen, BLT Steak, Pizzeria Orso, Evening Star Café, Butterfield 9, Kinkead’s and Colvin Run Tavern in the DMV. He had staged at restaurants such as Aquavit in New York City and D’Amico Cucina in Minneapolis.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.