8 Restaurants to Replace Isabella Eatery
Three months after disgraced chef Mike Isabella shuttered his multi-concept Isabella Eatery in Tysons Galleria, the mall has announced that A Taste of Urbanspace will replace it. The new food hall is expected to open this month with eight diverse restaurants from the DMV, including Thip Khao, Donburi and Ice Cream Jubilee.
Stomping Ground, Del Rey’s biscuit-focused coffee shop, will also open in the former Isabella Eatery space, which Isabella abruptly abandoned in August, one of several closures after he and his partners were sued for sexual harassment by Chloe Caras, the former operations director at Isabella Eatery. The suit was settled out of court. At least three other unnamed concepts will also join A Taste of Urbanspace.
The new food hall is being developed by Urbanspace, the New York branch of a company that has developed public markets and pop-ups in London, Manhattan and other cities.
Urbanspace’s debut has been a scramble. Urbanspace president Eldon Scott hopes the food hall can open Nov. 28, but he told the Washington Post the debut could be pushed back. Scott and mall operators want A Taste of Urbanspace to be open as the holiday season kicks into high gear, but because of the rush, the food hall will not open with alcohol. The company is still working through the permitting process.
A Taste of Urbanspace will look much the same as Isabella Eatery, with just a change of signage. The restaurants will simply take over existing spaces: Stomping Ground will replace Isabella’s Non-Fiction Coffee. Thip Khao will take over the Arroz space. Ice Cream Jubilee will fill the Retro Creamery counter. Donburi will fill the Yona space. And Andy’s Pizza, a new New York-style slice shop by the founder of Eat Pizza, will take over Graffiato’s ovens.
Since surrendering his high-profile project at Tysons, Isabella filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for his parent company, Mike Isabella Concepts, and its individual restaurants. As the bankruptcy proceedings continue, Isabella has reportedly been fighting with two of his partners, brothers Nicholas and George Pagonis, for control of the company. An attorney for the Pagonis brothers sent a statement that read, in part, “As MIC Concepts works through its restructuring, Mike Isabella will be stepping aside to allow George Pagonis to provide the culinary vision of the organization.”
In response to the statement, MIC’s new spokesman, Edward Segal, sent refuted the statement with one from Isabella:
“I have not made any decisions about my role with or the leadership, operations or future of my restaurants. Anyone who says or speculates otherwise or claims to know my thinking about these important matters is wrong. I will make an announcement at the appropriate time about my decisions and plans.”
There may be more restructuring to come, but Segal said the plan, which has been approved by courts, will result in the Dec. 1 closing of Kapnos Taverna in College Park. Segal said the company will surrender the space to the landlord, Southern Management, which had sued for back rent.
When Kapnos Taverna closes, it will mark the fifth Isabella concept to shut down since Caras sued. The others include Requin Brasserie in Merrifield, the original Graffiato in Chinatown and Graffiato Richmond, and Isabella Eatery.
Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca offers white truffle specials
Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, 1100 New York Ave. NW, has debuted new seasonal specials showcasing the white truffle.
Italian white truffles are highly esteemed and the most valuable on the market. The imported delicacies are only available in November and December. Diners can take advantage of this seasonal opportunity and enjoy regional Italian fare featuring a variety of antipasti, house-made pastas and entrées, each highlighting the white truffle. The featured dishes will be available throughout the truffle season. Each special incorporates three grams of white truffles with prices ranging from $35-$75 per dish. Diners can also order a three-course white truffle tasting menu priced at $150 per person or $225 with wine pairings.
Specials include blanco mangiare ($35), crispy poached egg with parmesan foam, porcini mushroom soil and parmesan air; tagliolino ($65), house-made tagliolini with parmesan fondue and poached egg; risotto bianco ($65), Acquerello rice with parmigiano reggiano and montasio; and carré di agnello ($75), roasted rack of lamb with red wine chocolate sauce, smoked sunchoke purée and butternut squash confit.
Additional white truffles can be added to any dish for $15 per gram.
Bastille hosts French cidre dinner
Bastille, 606 N. Fayette St., Alexandria, will host a five-course, prix fixe French cidre dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov 28. The cost is $58.
French cider, mostly produced in Normandy and Brittany, distinguishes itself from other ciders by the use of specific apple varieties and a particularly strict making process. Unlike many ciders, which are made from table apples, French cider is traditionally made from dedicated apple varieties, called cider apples, which gives it this unique taste.
The meal begins with an amuse bouche of gougères served with Cave de Gabriel, La Maison Ferré Cidre du Perche, Brut Fermier, Normandy; followed by sea scallops sautéed in butter, sea salt, mushrooms, leeks and crème fraiche sauce paired with Cave de la Loterie, Regis Aubry, Cidre Brut Fermier, Swiss-Normand. The next course is sautéed Dover sole with lemon butter sauce, glazed salsify and carrots with Le Val de la Chèvre, Regis Tropée, Cidre Fermier, Brittany. The entrée is braised pork belly with cider jus, parsnips, Brussels sprouts and cipoline onions paired with Le Lieu Chéri Brut, Serges Desfrieches & fils Cidre Fermier Brut, Pays d’Auge. Dessert is pecan cake with sautéed apples and cider sabayon with “Le Préféré de Marie”, La Maison Ferré Cidre du Perche, Demi-Sec, Normandy.
The Nutcracker dances into the Occidental
Beginning Thursday, Nov. 29 through Dec. 28, the Washington Ballet will be pirouetting into the Warner Theater for a limited-time, special production of the traditional holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. Before the curtain is pulled back each evening to reveal the jetés, pliés and pas de bourrées, dance down the street to the Occidental Grill & Seafood, 1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, for a pre-theater meal.
The three course, pre-fix menu priced at $55, features a selection of theatrically-inspired dishes. Beginning with The Arabian Coffee March, a foie gras torchon with richly aromatic bites of Arabic coffee dust, candied husk tomatoes, concord grape jam and brioche. The second course includes the Spanish Chocolate Dance composed of chocolate braised veal cheeks with whipped kabocha squash and almond-pumpkin seed brittle. Finish with the Twirl of the Sugar Plum Fairy, a sweet buttermilk panna cotta with candied purple plum gelée.
Pair your meal with a Nestled in Bed cocktail made with Slivovits plum brandy, palmetto blackberry shine, sugar plum syrup and pomegranate juice served tableside with a personal dusting of powdered sugar to finish.
Jardenea serves up holiday-inspired cocktails
Beginning Saturday, Dec. 1, Jardenea Lounge at the Melrose Georgetown Hotel, 2430 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, will offer a couple holiday-inspired cocktails meant to leave guests feeling merry and bright.
Inspired by the Flowers of the Holy Night’ the poinsettia cocktail includes calvados brandy, apple and cranberry puree, lemon juice, spiced simple syrup and prosecco, garnished with a scarlet blossom. The spiced nog cocktail provides a spirited twist on the traditional holiday drink, made with Captain Morgan spiced rum and local eggnog, topped with whipped cream, cinnamon and nutmeg dust.
Both cocktails are priced at $12 each.
Holiday tea returns to the Hay-Adams
This December, the Hay-Adams, 800 16th St. NW, brings back its holiday tea service. The special tea offers an all-inclusive tableside presentation on Sunday, Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23, with reservations available from 3-4 p.m in the Lafayette Room. The costs is $75 per person and includes an extensive tea selection from the Mighty Leaf Tea Co., a glass of Taittinger Champagne and a tiered tray showcasing savory indulgences and sweet confections. Tea is $35 for children 12 and younger.
With expansive windows offering views of Lafayette Park, tea-goers can celebrate the holiday in the sun-lit dining room adorned with festive Christmas decorations. Pianist Tom Vogt will perform holiday music during tea.
Participants can choose from 13 different teas from black and oolong, white and green, as well as herbal selections. A sampling includes organic English breakfast, organic Himalayan Peak Darjeeling, acai pomegranate black decaf, organic Earl Grey, ti kuan yia, white locus, organic emerald pearls, organic sencha, chamomile citron, organic African amber and wild blossoms and berries.
Diners can enjoy a selection of tea sandwiches including English cucumber with tomato and mint; farmhouse egg salad with bibb lettuce; smoked salmon and lemon chive cream cheese; and tarragon celery tuna salad. Children can order from their own special menu that features hot chocolate and fruit teas, assorted tea sandwiches, including ham and cheese, peanut butter and marmalade, and a fresh fruit salad.
For the sweet side of tea service, there will be a selection of Viennese and French confectioneries, including warm orange and cherry scones with Devonshire cream and organic strawberry preserves; raspberry pistachio opera cake; chocolate choux puffs; French fruit tartlets; passion fruit, coconut, mango and pineapple vacherin; and salted caramel macarons.
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.