Young and Hungry

Too Soon? Pumpkin Beer Season Has Already Arrived


How early is too early for pumpkin ale? Not the start of August, apparently. Last night at the the Logan Circle Whole Foods, I spotted a six-pack of Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. Then I turned the corner to behold an entire mountain of the "fall" beverage.

The seasonal creep seems to come earlier and earlier every year. In fact, August is pumpkin beer season now: Looking to be among the first on the market, most breweries that make the stuff have resorted to summer release dates. (Read a Y&H column about the subject from last August here.)

There's nothing inherently seasonal about most pumpkin beers: they're typically made with canned or frozen pumpkin, or no pumpkin at all (just "pumpkin spices"). Not that it even matters much from a taste perspective. Pumpkin doesn't lend much flavor to beer. It's pie spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg that characterize the style.

But the real disappointment of pumpkin beer is that it's released so early that by the time it's seasonally appropriate to drink, it's not as easy to find. The most popular brands sell out almost immediately. Big grocery stores like Whole Foods may have plenty of storage to hold some for fall, but small bars that are tight on space are often out of luck if they want to serve pumpkin beer in, say, October.

So if you're a pumpkin beer fan, stock up while you're still wearing tank tops and flip-flops. By the time you've moved on to scarves and socks, we will already be well into Christmas beer season.

Photo by Jessica Sidman

D.C. Food Network Star Contestant Will Open Southeast Asian “Expat Bar” in Petworth


Former Duke's Grocery chef Alex McCoy was among the final four contestants on Food Network Star before he was cut in Sunday night's episode. But the chef isn't wasting any time moving on to the next big project: He's set to open his own bar and restaurant—whose name he's not yet revealing—at 845 Upshur Street NW in Petworth sometime in October.

McCoy is taking the idea of the expat bars he encountered while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and opening one up at home. (Meta, yes.) These bars frequented by travelers are the kinds of places "where you can get a really phenomenal authentic curry, but then you can also get some of the dishes that the owner has brought with them from their travels, whether it's from home or from living in Bali or traveling to Japan," McCoy explains. Read more D.C. Food Network Star Contestant Will Open Southeast Asian “Expat Bar” in Petworth

Last Night’s Leftovers: Restaurant Week Edition


Nine new spots to try for Restaurant Week [Zagat]

What nine influential Washingtonians eat for breakfast [Washingtonian]

The Chesapeake Room reopens Friday with a more Southern menu. [Eater]

What to expect from Alfa Piehouse [Post]

14th St Cafe Asian Bistro now open in Logan Circle. [PoPville]

Mike Isabella's Pepita takes advantage of new Virginia law that allows pitchers. [WBJ]

Photo from Fig & Olive by Jessica Sidman

Cava Grill Launching Breakfast Bowls and Yogurt Bar… At The Airport Only


Another glimmer of hope for D.C.'s lackluster breakfast scene? Sort of.

Cava Grill is introducing a Greek yogurt bar and build-your-own breakfast bowls with eggs and potatoes or grains. The catch? The new menu items will only be available at the Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant's Reagan National Airport location, opening in terminal B near the end of August.

Cava Grill CEO Brett Schulman says there are "absolutely no current plans" to introduce breakfast elsewhere. "I don't know that there's quite enough breakfast crowd for some of our other locations," he says. But he adds, "never say never in the future."

The restaurant is venturing into breakfast because the airport requires them to be open during breakfast hours. Still, it will be a big upgrade from Auntie Anne's pretzels. Cava Grill's Greek yogurt bowls will come with toppings like chia seeds, granola, hemp hearts, honey, and seasonal roasted fruit.

The other breakfast bowls are made with "frambled" (fried and scrambled) eggs, a choice of potatoes and grains, plus meats like applewood smoked bacon or spicy lamb meatballs. The toppings will be slightly pared down from the lunch offerings, but will still include things like feta, harissa, Sriracha Greek yogurt, tomato and onion, arugula, pickled onions, and more.

Compass Coffee will supply a morning cup.

Photo courtesy Cava Grill

Last Night’s Leftovers: District Taco Edition


District Taco founder hires company that laid him off to build Rosslyn restaurant. [ARLnow]

Do we really need D.C. Beer Week? [Post]

Trusty's celebrates 10 years in Capitol Hill. [Eater]

Six can't miss restaurant openings [Washingtonian]

Purple Patch launches Filipino brunch. [DCist]

Behold the ramen ice cream sandwich [BYT]

Bar Otsukare pop-up returns to Crane & Turtle tonight. [New Columbia Heights]

Photo of District Taco owner Osiris Hoil by Darrow Montgomery

Trump Sues ThinkFoodGroup For $10 Million For Backing Out of Hotel Restaurant Deal

IMG_6104-e1436380670608The Trump organization has made good on its threats to sue ThinkFoodGroup after chef José Andrés announced he was backing out of a deal to open the flagship restaurant in Donald Trump's swanky new Old Post Office hotel. Trump Old Post Office LLC filed a lawsuit in D.C. court today seeking $10 million in lost rent and other damages over breach of contract.

On July 8, Andrés said in a statement that the Presidential candidate's remarks disparaging immigrants made it "impossible" for him to move forward with his planned Spanish fine dining restaurant. "More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests,"Andrés said. "And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Read more Trump Sues ThinkFoodGroup For $10 Million For Backing Out of Hotel Restaurant Deal

Restaurants and Bars Offering Cigar Menus

cigars_masseriaChef Nick Stefanelli loves a good cigar, so at his new upscale Italian restaurant, Masseria, smoking will be on par with the eating and drinking. “For me, it’s just another piece of gastronomy, a really nice cigar after a beautiful meal,” he says. “You have tobaccos that are aged for years and years. There’s really a true art form to it.” Looking for other bars and restaurants with cigar menus as serious as their food and drink menus? Here are some of the city’s top places to light up—or if you can’t stand the smoke, to avoid altogether.

1340 4th St. NE

The Union Market-area restaurant will offer a rotation of about 10 cigars, which can be enjoyed on the California-esque patio lounge with fire pits and sofas. W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist is curating the menu, which will include some limited releases and other special offerings as well as cigars for beginners. Read more Restaurants and Bars Offering Cigar Menus

Last Night’s Leftovers: Heller’s Replacement Edition

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Paisley Fig bakery coming to former Heller's Bakery spot in Mount Pleasant. [Express]

The 17 best waterfront bars in Maryland [Thrillist]

Who has the best chain lobster roll? [Washingtonian]

Three D.C.-area restaurants that could use a little more seasoning [Post]

Fishnet in Shaw closing temporarily for a revamp. [PoPville]

Union Kitchen helps small businesses access capital. [WBJ]

Photo via Google Maps

Chef Mike Isabella Opens Booze-Centric Mexican Eatery in Ballston Today


The last time Mike Isabella ventured into Mexican food it didn't go so swell. Bandolero—the Georgetown restaurant from which the chef split two years ago—was plagued by middling reviews and a messy legal dispute between the landlord and the owners. (Not to mention more recent, post-Isabella era allegations of sex crimes by employees.) But just over a week after Bandolero closed, Isabella is opening a new Mexican restaurant called Pepita in Ballston. This time, the operation is all his own. Read more Chef Mike Isabella Opens Booze-Centric Mexican Eatery in Ballston Today

Underserved: Kazbegi Sunrise at Compass Rose

Kazbegi Sunrise 1

Underserved is a recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you're not ordering.

What: Kazbegi Sunrise with chacha, Perun pear brandy, St. Germain, peach puree, lemon, and a Pirosmani wine float

Where: Compass Rose, 1346 T St. NW

Price: $12

What You Should Be Drinking
Forget tchotchkes—the best souvenir from a trip around the world is inspiration. That’s what the Compass Rose team brought home with them from a June trip to Georgia (the country, not the Peach State). Beverage Director Janelle Whisenant was particularly moved by a visit to a small town in the Caucasus mountains because of the view of Mt. Kazbek. The area is officially called Stepantsminda today, though most still refer to it by its original name, Kazbegi, now the namesake of one of her cocktails. “The drink is pretty much an ode to Georgia,” Whisenant explains. That’s why it contains the country’s chief spirit, chacha, a grape-based pomace brandy that sips like grappa. She combines it with a Serbian pear brandy for a kick, St. Germaine liqueur for sweetness, housemade peach puree, lemon, and a float of Georgian Pirosmani red wine. It looks similar to a Tequila Sunrise—another source of inspiration.

Read more Underserved: Kazbegi Sunrise at Compass Rose