Young and Hungry

A Slavish Devotion to the New New Thing

A well-established D.C. chef/owner once bitched to me that his restaurants don't get the same coverage as the flashy new joints with the multi-million-dollar build-outs and the pedigreed toques pushing yet another take on New American cooking. I was sympathetic. It's true, food writers, like most journalists, tend to have a slavish devotion to the new. I guess that's why many of us work for newspapers.

New restaurants are news.

Hate to say it, but here I go again: My most recent segment on Metro Connection was devoted to some of new restaurants that have opened in the D.C. region, including such rank newbies as Eventide, BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier, and Inox. When host David Furst and I recorded the segment, I hadn't yet visited any of the three aforementioned establishments, but as part of my ongoing Best of D.C. research, I recently ate at Inox, the sleek new crib from chef/owners Jon Mathieson and Jonathan Krinn.

Is it worthy of Best New Restaurant?

Maybe. I mean, I don't really want to tip my hand yet, but here's the thing about Inox:

At present, it isn't even close to what it will be in, say, six months or a year from now. Mathieson and Krinn, the former brain trust behind 2941, seem to be trying awfully hard to live up to the unrealistic hype that preceded Inox's opening. Their flavor combinations are often challenging—seared day-boat scallops with pickled green mango or pumpkin peirogi with black eyed peas—but they don't always gel into that expected moment of ecstasy. They make you think more often than they make your mouth water. If I'm going to have my paradigm shifted, I at least want to drool over it, like I do with the chefs' brilliant appetizer of butter-poached Maine lobster served with braised-short-rib ravioli.

Now, with that said, I love the ambition at Inox. I think it will serve Mathieson and Krinn well for years to come, long after the hype has died down and Inox has to compete, like the bitching chef at top, with all the other restaurants in the area without the benefit of media saturation coverage.

Image courtesy of Inox

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