Young and Hungry

Cava Grill Raises $16 Million, Plans West Coast Expansion


Local chainlet Cava Grill will open its first locations outside the D.C. area this year. With the help of $16 million in new investment funds, the Greek-inspired fast-casual restaurant has secured two locations in Los Angeles and has plans for additional local expansion.

CEO Brett Schulman says they were interested in L.A. because of its health-conscious populace and the mix of commercial and residential neighborhoods. "We just felt like it was a great market with a long-term opportunity for us to grow like we are growing here and will continue to grow here," Schulman says. Co-founder Ted Xenohristos will be moving out to California to help with the expansion, and a few managers will join him.

Cava also recently expanded its line of dips and spreads (hummus, harissa, tzaziki, and more) to Whole Foods in Chicago and the midwest. The group is looking to make its products available in California's organic and natural markets as well.

Another thing to look out for: a new vegetarian option for menus beyond falafel. Cava Grill has been experimenting with local, seasonal roasted vegetables, which will likely be added as a protein option in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Cava Grill continues to actively seek locations in and around D.C., although there are no specific goals or timelines for expansion. Among the neighborhoods Schulman is interested in are Dupont and Logan circles, but he hasn't been able to find the right property yet. "We've always try to be patient to find the right locations in the right neighborhoods where we'd be a good fit," he says. "So when those opportunities come up, we'll try to find deals."

Cava Grill is coming to Fairfax in May, Ashburn in August, and Reagan National Airport in late June or July.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Oceana Study Uncovers Massive Crab Cake Fraud in D.C. Area


Three years ago, I did a little experiment to find out how often restaurants that advertise "Maryland crab cakes" on their menus really serve Maryland crab. At P.J. Clarke's, I asked a server about the origin of its "Maryland crab cake," and he assured me it was "all local." But when I later asked the then-chef the same question, he told me the bulk of the seafood actually came from Indonesia and the restaurant sometimes gets “a few pounds” of Maryland crab and blends it in.

Busboys and Poets likewise advertised "Maryland crab cakes" at the time. (It no longer does.) "It says it’s from Maryland, but it’s from China,” the server told me when I inquired about its origin. The restaurant's Director of Operations, however, later countered that it actually came from Venezuela.

Needless to say, it's hard to know where your crab is really coming from, no matter how it's labeled.

Oceana has only confirmed this with a new study released today that found 38 percent of Chesapeake Bay crab cakes tested in this region were mislabeled. The ocean conservation and advocacy organization was inspired by my story on "Maryland Crab Fakes" and decided to repeat the investigation on a much larger scale with the help of actual DNA testing. "You did a whole mislabeling story without submitting one test and I thought, 'That's brilliant,'" says Oceana senior scientist Kimberly Warner, the report's author. Read more Oceana Study Uncovers Massive Crab Cake Fraud in D.C. Area

Last Night’s Leftovers: Bad Saint Edition

Filipino restaurant Bad Saint launches a Kickstarter campaign. [PoPville]

Food and drink festivals to look forward to this spring [Eater]

Where to find Passover menus at D.C. restaurants [Post]

Six places where you should never skip dessert [Zagat]

Five places to eat in Clarendon [Washingtonian]

The Curious Grape closes in Shirlington, but an Italian restaurant will take its place. [ARLnow]

Bardo Brewpub Is Raising Funds For a Bike-Friendly Beer Garden and Dog Park in Navy Yard

Bardo, Trinidad’s massive brewery/beer garden, is opening a second location on the Anacostia River next to Nationals Park. Founders and brothers Andrew and Bill Stewart have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the 100,000-square-foot space, which aims to include the “city’s biggest” dog park, an on-site bike shop, sculpture garden, kids’ sand playground, and a floating screen for waterfront movie nights.

“We have enough cash to do a bare bones build out, but the last time we opened before the permanent bathrooms were built and it was not well received,” says Bill Stewart in a press release. He’s aiming to raise $200,000 to “do this thing deluxe,” which includes flush toilets.

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail runs through the property, so Stewart is expecting a cycling-oriented clientele—which explains the planned bike repair shop and parking lot for up to 500 bikes.

Bardo is selling sets of pints and pitchers to people willing to help jumpstart their next beer garden. If you give $20 to the Indiegogo campaign, you get four pints of beer this summer. “Marion Berry” t-shirts (named for one of the brewery’s summer beers) are also on sale for $25. The high rollers out there with $5,000 to contribute will get the run of the place for a whole weekday, along with 100 pitchers.

“Help make this the only park in D.C. where you can walk around with a drink in your hand legally and your dog can run around off leash legally, while your kiddies play in the sandbox!” implores Bardo’s “Bardog” in the brewery’s promotional video.

If all goes well, Bardo on the riverfront should be open this July. The beer garden will occupy the lot on a year by year basis until the developer of the property, MRP Realty, begins construction on a mixed-use project.

Who’s Nominated for a RAMMY Award This Year?

Restaurant awards season is upon us: Last week, two locals—Toki Underground chef Erik Bruner-Yang and Bread Furst baker Mark Furstenberg—were named nominees for James Beard Awards. And last night, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington announced the finalists for its annual RAMMY awards.

Among the big winners this year were Fabio and Maria Trabocchi. In addition to a nomination for Restaurateurs of the Year, the couple's Penn Quarter restaurant Fiola was recognized for its wine program, service, and pastry chef, while their Georgetown spot Fiola Mare is among the finalists for New Restaurant of the Year. Neighborhood Restaurant Group racked up a dozen nominations for restaurants including The Partisan, Iron Gate, Red Apron, Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, Evening Star Cafe, and Vermillion. Meanwhile, Mintwood Place, RasikaRestaurant at Patowmack Farm, Marcel's, and Trummer's on Main received nods in three categories each.

In answer to the perennial question, "Why wasn't Rose's Luxury or Komi nominated?," restaurants must be RAMW members to be considered.

A group of anonymous judges will decide the winners in most categories, but the public can vote for the winners in four categories, including Favorite Gathering Place of the Year, Upscale Brunch, Everyday Casual Brunch, and Favorite Fast Bites. You can cast your vote online at from March 31 through April 28.

Below is the full list of nominees and category descriptions provided by the RAMW. The winners will be announced at an awards gala on June 7 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Read more Who’s Nominated for a RAMMY Award This Year?

Last Night’s Leftovers: Dim Sum Edition


14 places to try for dim sum [Eater]

How to enjoy happy hour for 10 straight hours [Thrillist]

Every Maketto opening-date prediction since 2012 [Post]

Tuscana West space to become Pennsylvania 6, from City Tap House owners [WBJ]

Sweet Mango Cafe "closed until further notice." [PoPville]

Nine new restaurants to try this April [Washingtonian]

Photo via Shutterstock

Maketto Is Really Finally Opening on April 10

toki4After delays upon delays, it looks like Maketto is finally happening. The H Street NE food-meets-fashion market from Toki Underground chef Erik Bruner-Yang and men's clothing brand Durkl will officially open April 10 at 7 a.m.

When plans for the market were first announced in the summer of 2012, the founders initially said they hoped to open by early 2013. As that date got pushed back further, a series of pop-ups have built up anticipation for the project. Bruner-Yang held a Maketto "residency" at what was previously Hanoi House, previewed some of the food at Union Market, and popped up at Baltimore's Shoo-Fly.

In case you can't wait until its official debut, Maketto will host a "house warming party" on April 4 at 7 p.m. The evening will feature performances by Chuck Inglish, Avers, M.I.L.F., Bond St. District, and Gavin Holland. Tickets, $25, are available here.

Stay tuned for more details.

Photo of Erik Bruner-Yang by Darrow Montgomery

French Restaurant Maxime Replaces Rialto in Georgetown


A year and half after it opened, the owners of Rialto have transformed the Georgetown Italian restaurant into a French place called Maxime. Restaurateurs Ben Kirane, Moe Idrissi, and Joe Idrissi, who are also behind Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge and Thunder Burger & Bar, felt Rialto wasn't fitting with their brand of restaurants. It also never took off the way they hoped. The restaurateurs always intended for Maxime to be their next concept, but rather than find a new space, they decided it would be best to replace Rialto. Maxime, located in the same building the Guards occupied for more than 60 years, opened late last week.

Chef Ryan Fichter, who also oversees the menus at Thunder Burger and Bodega (and was chef for Rialto as well), is behind the food at Maxime. One of the main attractions is steak frites. For $19.95, guests receive a prix-fixe menu including a baguette with salted butter, a mixed green salad, and a half-pound top sirloin steak with fries. Diners can sub in a New York steak or filet mignon or add some foie gras for an additional charge. Broiled Scottish salmon or an assembly of vegetables can also be swapped in for the steak.

Hors d'oeuvres are classically French: escargots, beef bourguignon, and quiche Lorraine. Moules frites are available in entree or appetizer size in eight different flavors. There's also a French onion soup. The fairly straightforward array of desserts includes standbys like creme brûlée, profiteroles, and chocolate lava cake.

Aside from some martinis and bubbly drinks, cocktails don't always keep up with the classic French theme. There's a mojito and a Moscow mule. Happy hour will run daily from 4 to 7 p.m. with half-priced draft beers a discounted bar food menu.

The decor, according to a press release, is "inspired by the French Revolution" with a fireplace and black and white photos on the walls. The restaurant has a 75-seat dining room and a 100-seat private event space. As for the name? Maxime was chosen for its Latin translation as "special."

See the menu below. Read more French Restaurant Maxime Replaces Rialto in Georgetown

Last Night’s Leftovers: Food Politics Edition

IMG_6104José Andrés gets political at food conference in D.C. [Post]

Buffalo & Bergen now serves a bloody mary with a lox bagel garnish. [Washingtonian]

D.C.'s 10 hottest restaurant newcomers [Zagat]

Food truck association launches online platform to swap parking spaces. [WBJ]

Jrink and chef Erik Bruner-Yang team up to turn pulp into vinegar and seasoning. [Eater]

Tobacco and coffee shop called Burn & Brew opens in Crystal City. [ARLnow]

Lesbian bar Phase 1 reopens on Capitol Hill. [DCist]

Photo of José Andrés by Jessica Sidman

Sally’s Middle Name Pops Up at Boundary Road on Sunday

SMN_Pop-up_poster_webA new restaurant called Sally's Middle Name is coming to 1320 H St. NE in June. But you can try some of chef Sam Adkins' food for the first time Sunday, March 29, from 10 p.m. to midnight, at Boundary Road.

The limited menu (see below) will include dishes like braised goat with roasted fairytale squash and smoked-pepper raita as well as fingerling potatoes with sauerkraut and pork fat.

Cashion's Eat Place and Pop's SeaBar chef John Manolatos will help out in the kitchen, while former Boundary Road Beverage Director Brenden Mulder-Rosi, who will move over to Sally's Middle Name, is creating drink pairings. Allegra Guinan is doing desserts like carrot and orange ice cream with a maple pizzelle.

Read more about the story behind Sally's Middle Name's name in this previous Young & Hungry postRead more Sally’s Middle Name Pops Up at Boundary Road on Sunday