As Washington, D.C.-area residents shake off the snow and get into full gear for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, several restaurants are gearing up to celebrate the season. Here’s a report from local D.C. public relations gurus. Also, catch some of the most exciting events by reviewing participating restaurants and local businesses here:
As the new year has gotten into full swing, we’ve already seen some new trends permeating through the food industry. While much attention is being given to restaurant trends and exotic new foods, we thought it was time to showcase the best new beverage trends Below, find three of the most exciting new healthy beverage trends for 2018.
Not your grandfather’s spirit anymore
If you’ve been out to any bars within the past year, there is a good chance that either you or someone you were with ordered a cocktail with gin. Previously thought of as a traditional, gentleman’s drink, gin has experienced a rise in popularity during recent years and can now be found in diverse recipes at bars around the country. Specifically, this spirit has blossomed locally, with the DMV region being home now to over five gin distilleries. Below, we explore some of the factors behind gin’s recent upswing.
By Roshan Thomas
If you’ve been out to any bars within the past year, there is a good chance that either you or someone you were with ordered a cocktail with gin. Previously thought of as a traditional, gentleman’s drink, gin has experienced a rise in popularity during recent years and can now be found in diverse recipes at bars around the country. Specifically, this spirit has blossomed locally,
And the 2018 RAMMY Award finalists are…
The 2018 RAMMY Award finalists were announced this evening at a Nominations Party at The Hamilton, sponsored by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Nominees were selected from an eligible pool of restaurants that are members of the association.** It was an evening party like no other, with top food and drink selections from acclaimed restaurants, including Minibar by Jose Andres, Chiko and many more. The initial set of finalist announcements was headlined by renowned, local reporter and personality Eun Yang, NBC4 Washington.
By Max Testa
As the number of independent coffee shops in the D.C. area has exploded in recent years, several best practices for serving truly excellent coffee and succeeding as an independent coffeehouse have emerged. The wide variety of new coffee houses in the area includes Compass Coffee and Lil’B Coffee and Eatery, as well as coffee houses from regions outside of the DMV (D.C.-Md.-Va.) area, like Rwandan brand Bourbon Coffee.
These are just a few of the new offerings in the last few years and these businesses represent several dramatically different business models. For example, Bourbon Coffee advertises itself as an African-based development enterprise, while Lil’B Coffee and Eatery is the latest offering from celebrity chef David Guas. However, there are a few ideas which seem to be mutually acknowledged by all of these shops.
Variety is a common aspect across the board, with each coffeehouse offering several distinct blends, varying not only in darkness of roast but also in where the coffee beans themselves originate. Compass Coffee offers nine distinct roasts categorized from light to dark, and by the origin of the coffee beans in the three major growing regions of the world; South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
According to David Guas, proprietor of Lil’B Coffee and Eatery, “Diversity is critical—Even if you come in every day, we will have provided six, eight, or maybe even 10 different varietals within a year’s time.” Kigali-based Bourbon Coffee also puts a premium on variety, offering blends made with coffee grown in distinct regions across Rwanda, each with unique flavor characteristics.
For some of the most successful coffee houses, the emphasis, interestingly, is not on serving complicated coffee drinks, but more focused on the natural complexity of the coffee roast itself. Compass coffee prides itself on unlocking the naturally occurring blend of flavors present in each of their roasts. According to its website, Compass Coffee’s idea of the perfect coffee is “Nothing fancy, nothing too crazy or hard to pronounce, just really good.”
In contrast, David Guas believes that “The serving and finishing styles are what truly elevate coffee programs and that is what separates a distinct coffee house from the mass-market of fast brewed coffee establishments.”
But while there are disagreements about style, the substance remains the same across all of these coffeehouses; quality coffee sourcing is an absolute must for any serious coffee establishment.
Lil’B Coffee and Eatery sources its roasts from Counter Culture Coffee, a high end provider based in Durham, N.C. Bourbon Coffee sources its own direct trade coffee from farms and estates across Rwanda, and Compass Coffee roasts its own, single origin coffee in-house.
Also key is the choice of pairings offered with coffee. It’s not enough to have great coffee blends and serving styles; a truly excellent coffeehouse has to bring more to the table. Lil’B Coffee and Eatery offers an adventurous take on this; founder David Guas says that “coffee is not only consumed alone or with breakfast goods or sweets, but with savory dishes as well.”
Whether it’s the variety, the roasts themselves, or the pairings, it is clear that the truly excellent coffee houses are the ones that blend not only great coffee, but also encompass great ideas of what a coffee shop should be.
DC restaurateurs of the year plot aggressive expansion
Cava was identified as one of the fastest-growing fast-casual restaurants in 2016. The Mediterranean-style chain has its roots in the DC area, and originally debuted in Rockville, Md. in 2006 as the Cava Mezze sit-down concept, then launching Cava Grill (now simply Cava) in 2011 in a quick-serve format. It offers customized, made-to-order entrees, including pita wraps, salads, and rice, protein & grain bowls. Last year, the chain had about 21 units, now tallying 38 stores at the time we reached out to the DC-based chain for this update.
$35 Dinner and $22 brunch arrive
The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is presenting DC Winter Restaurant Week January 22-28, 2018. Several high-profile, acclaimed and award-winning restaurants from the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area are being featured during the week-long event. Catch the artisanry and impressive techniques of area restaurateurs, chefs and their culinary teams, for the special price of $22 for brunch and lunch, and $35 for dinner.
The Sips and Suppers event returns this year to D.C. to benefit Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table Saturday and Sunday, January 27-28, 2018. Chefs José Andrés, Joan Nathan & Alice Waters are presenting the 2018 Sips and Suppers 2018 in style. Proceeds from the exciting cocktail and culinary evenings, which feature and spotlight leading artisans and mixologists preparing signature dishes and drinks help the work of these charitable organizations.
Takoma Park’s Republic is a crowd favorite and an integral part of the community there. This year, the hard work of the staff and the nature of the eatery as a local hangout was recognized with a 2017 RAMMY award at the must-attend gala. In this interview with Danny Wells, executive chef, we dive deeper into what makes Republic stand out during brunch and what lessons the popular eatery can offer up as a result of its success.