Young and Hungry

Claudia’s Steakhouse Sells a $125 Martini—And People Are Actually Buying It

IMG_3051Who orders a $125 martini?

As of last Friday afternoon, at least seven individuals and groups have been willing to throw down that much for one of the signature drinks at two-week-old Claudia's Steakhouse. One guy has ordered two of them. And a couple celebrating an anniversary sipped the martini out of straws (gasp!) for a photo op.

The drink contains two ounces of Nolet's Reserve Dry Gin—$700 a bottle—semi-dry Noilly Prat Ambre Vermouth, and saffron bitters. The gin is the world's most expensive because its mix of botanicals includes saffron, one of the world's priciest spices. Only 500 bottles are produced globally each year.

"We did have a few guests that ordered it that had never had gin in their lives," says Beverage Director David Bowen. "They just had to see what a $125 drink tastes like." Read more Claudia’s Steakhouse Sells a $125 Martini—And People Are Actually Buying It

Where to Get Your Tiki On This Summer


D.C. tiki bar Hogo may have closed last year, but plenty of other spots are keeping umbrella drinks alive. In fact, tiki is taking over menus in all sorts of unexpected spots this summer. So if you can’t afford that tropical vacation, here are some places where you can at least get a decent mai tai.

855 E St. NW

José Andrés’ cocktail bar is hosting its second annual Tiki Week now through July 11. The tiki-inspired cocktails include drinks like the Polynesian Vacation with citrus vodka, aloe liqueur, pineapple, lime, ginger, and yellow chartreuse as well as a treasure chest with three types of mai tais.

Del Campo
900 7th St. NW

On July 10 from 7 to 10 p.m., the South American steakhouse will host its annual Del Campo at Dusk Tiki Party on the building’s rooftop. Chef Victor Albisu and restaurateur Jeff Black (Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, BlackSalt) will serve suckling pig, oysters, and other tiki-inspired bites. Tickets, which include food, are available online for $37. Tiki cocktails, beer, and wine will be available from a cash bar. Tropical attire welcome. Read more Where to Get Your Tiki On This Summer

Last Night’s Leftovers: Stadium Food Edition

1310594014_m_Cheap-1Who's got better food? Nationals Park vs. Camden Yards [Post]

Italian grandmas try Olive Garden for the first time. [BuzzFeed]

Petition urges José Andrés to reconsider plans for D.C. Trump hotel. [Washingtonian]

Sorry, protestors. Subway opens in Mount Pleasant. [PoPville]

Number Nine owner will open a tavern below Black Whiskey. [Borderstan]

Where to experience an Ethiopian coffee ceremony in D.C. [DCist]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Buredo, Now Open in Franklin Square, Super Sizes Your Sushi


By noon today, the line at Franklin Square's new burrito-sized sushi joint, Buredo, was down the block. Who would have thought? Apparently not even the owners.

"We've been blown away. We've been grappling to keep up with the demand," says co-owner Travis Elton, who comes from a business consulting background. "We had to double and triple our orders from our vendors."

The fast-casual restaurant opened this week and serves jumbo sushi rolls with nori, seasoned white rice, and different combinations of ingredients and flavors from around the world.

"We are fusion," says Elton, who's half-Peruvian, half-Norwegian, of the fusion flavors. His business partner Mike Haddad, a record producer and former DJ whose family has operated local delis, is Lebanese.

Haddad and Elton spent a year experimenting and fine-tuning the menu with help from chef consultants, including Tom Madrecki of Chez Le Commis. They went through 30 types of nori before settling on the one they use now.  Read more Buredo, Now Open in Franklin Square, Super Sizes Your Sushi

The ’Wiching Hour: A Baked Joint’s Veggie Sandwich


The Sandwich: Veggie #1

Where: A Baked Joint (tentative name), 440 K St. NW

Price: $10

Bread: House-baked focaccia

Stuffings: Smoked eggplant puree, roasted sweet potato, goat cheese, crispy kale, roasted onion, and red pepper. Add a poached egg for an additional $1.50.

Thickness: 4 inches

Pros: In one bite, this sandwich hits every major flavor profile: sweet from the potato and eggplant; bitter from the roasted, smoky kale; creamy and tangy from the thick spread of goat cheese; and salty from the bread that holds it all together. While it’s packed with flavor, the sandwich isn’t too heavy, thanks to the simple ingredients and the airy focaccia. In this case, the bread is the star of the show. Read more The ’Wiching Hour: A Baked Joint’s Veggie Sandwich

Brew In Town: 3 Stars Brewing Company Ghost White IPA

3 Stars Ghost White IPA cans

3 Stars Brewing Company Ghost White IPA

Where in Town: 3 Stars Brewing Company, 6400 Chillum Place NW

Price: $11.75/four-pack

Tallboy Oh Boy

Craft beers are more and more often appearing in large-format cans, a vessel formerly relegated to watery beers with names ending in “ice” and “lite.” Not yet sold on the allure of aluminum? Unlike glass bottles or growlers, cans let in no light, making it impossible for ultraviolet rays to skunk the beer inside. And unlike bottle caps and corks, the airtight seal of a can completely eliminates the threat of oxidation. Sure, mining bauxite for aluminum cans isn’t exactly green, but crushed cans take up little space, making them easier to transport, and are more efficiently recycled. As for tallboys, they’re just more of a good thing (four ounces more, to be precise, and the ideal size for sharing). Read more Brew In Town: 3 Stars Brewing Company Ghost White IPA

In D.C.’s Booming Dining Scene, Restaurants Renovate to Stay Relevant

Sitting in the lounge of his four-star Indian restaurant, Rasika, restaurateur Ashok Bajaj notices the wood on one of his orange-cushioned chairs is all nicked up.

“As a guest, you may not see a lot of things, but I do, ” he says. “Look at this. Time to change.”

By the end of this week, all the chairs will be on their way out. With the Penn Quarter restaurant’s 10-year anniversary approaching, Bajaj is spending nearly half a million dollars to give the dining room a makeover. He’s hired British designer Harry Gregory to outfit the dining room with a new ash and olive color scheme, “artichoke” light fixtures from England, patterned fabrics from Venice, artifacts from India, and more.

Bajaj is also adding some soundproof panels in the walls. When he opened Rasika, everyone wanted loud, happening restaurants. But now that the clientele is getting older, the opposite is true.

The changes won’t be limited to furnishings. As Bajaj discusses his plans, chef Vikram Sunderam walks in with 10 years’ worth of menus in his arms. The two have a meeting later in the afternoon to discuss which dishes they might bring back or add for a revamped menu.

Bajaj is also selecting new china and glassware, which he says is a six-month project in and of itself. One of his employees brings over a stack of half a dozen plates in different shapes and sizes—some white and some dark brown. “We’re thinking about sorbets on this one. We’re thinking about a lamb shank on this,” Bajaj says, sifting through the plates. He picks up one of the brown dishes: “I’m going to eat on this today to see how I feel about eating on this plate.”

It’s not necessarily that there’s anything wrong with the existing tableware, but Bajaj doesn’t want Rasika to get stale. In an ever-competitive dining landscape, a refresh is often necessary to keep an edge. And many restaurateurs are willing to pay big bucks to do it.

“It’s like wearing a new suit,” Bajaj says. “It makes you feel good.” Read more In D.C.’s Booming Dining Scene, Restaurants Renovate to Stay Relevant

Last Night’s Leftovers: Sweet Green for Sweetgreen Edition


Sweetgreen brings in $35 million in new funding. [Eater]

R.J. Cooper agrees to return Gypsy Soul space to landlord. [Post]

At Claudia’s Steakhouse, martinis go for $125 and grocery store wines are poured at a premium. [Washingtonian]

Dolcezza owners open Mom & Pop in Mosaic District. [NoVa Mag]

Beef ‘n Bread coming to Chinatown. [PoPville]

Pho Deluxe opening in Courthouse this weekend. [ARLnow]

Photo via Sweetgreen

Hot Pot Table and Roving Soup Cart Coming to The Source With New Renovation

HEADSHOTWolfgang Puck's modern Asian restaurant the Source will close for two weeks on Aug. 3 to undergo a full makeover of its dining room and lounge. But it looks like the more interesting changes will be to the menu, not the aesthetics. Here are five things to look forward to from chef Scott Drewno this fall:

A Wok Station With Two-Person Chef's Table

When the Source opened in 2007, a small kitchen in the downstairs bar and lounge area served pizza. But the restaurant quickly realized that people were gravitating to the modern Asian food upstairs and ditched the pizza. Needless to say, the kitchen was never set-up to serve to Chinese food. The renovation will remedy that with a new wok station and Chinese steamers. The area will also have a two-seat chef's counter where Drewno plans to eventually offer a special tasting menu that isn't available elsewhere in the dining room. Read more Hot Pot Table and Roving Soup Cart Coming to The Source With New Renovation

Southern Restaurant Magnolia’s On King Opens In Alexandria Today

magnoliaThere's no end to the embellished ways to describe dishes like fried chicken and shrimp and grits. Magnolia's On King opens in Old Town Alexandria with what it calls "southern immersion cuisine."

The refined takes on comfort classics includes bison meatloaf, deep fried oyster po' boy sliders, and baked mac and cheese made with local cheeses and "house pork rind dust." That fried chicken? Chef Brian Rowe brines it in sweet tea and serves it with sweet potato hushpuppies and greens. Rowe, an Annapolis native who's cooked from Beverly Hills to Lyon, France, aims to source meats and produce from within a 60-mile radius of the restaurant when he can.

"Shareable plates"—not to be confused with the "shareable sides" also on the menu—range from $11 to $16. Entrees cost between $15 for the sole vegetarian main dish (eggplant and mushroom cassoulet) to $28 for a 10 oz. "Denver" steak. Read more Southern Restaurant Magnolia’s On King Opens In Alexandria Today