Amsterdam Falafelshop’s Arianne Bennett on Her Favorite Restaurant That Closed
This week’s Young & Hungry column plumbs the depths of my despair over the pending closure of Ren’s Ramen in Bethesda. As part of the column, I asked a number of chefs, restaurateurs, and writers to share their own stories about beloved eateries that have bit the dust. Some of the stories, unfortunately, didn’t make it into print. Like this one from Amsterdam Falafelshop owner Arianne Bennett:
For Scott [Bennett, her husband] and myself, who have been married 19 years now, our early lives were populated with eating indulgences that were lesser-known spots in D.C...
Fio's (that was in the Woodner on 16th), with its amazing Italian food. It was a real gem that always served squid-ink pasta. It was a favorite for years of all the restaurant people we know. We spent many nights indulging in plates of pasta and great stories in a place that seemed like a trip to another country in the midst of this strange apartment monolith.
And, who can forget the amazing buffet at Gabrielle for all those years at the former Radisson Barcelo on P Street. We would go there every weekend for brunch, and avail ourselves of the sweet-cream polenta with strawberries, the succulent roasted pig at the end of the table, and chocolate bread pudding made from croissants, followed by a nap each time! When it closed, we followed the chef and begged for his bread pudding every holiday for our family!
We heard about Fio's closing in a paper (don't remember which), and it was like the earth had fallen away from us — we were shocked, devastated. There were rumors that their landlord didn't want to renew, and rumors that they were tired of it all, but we didn't care why — we just wanted them back. There was an instant hole in us because of it.
Gabrielle was a mixed bag — we heard about it from Greg Hill, the chef, but it was a celebration for him, because he was getting his own place. Moving on. And we were excited for him and had to celebrate his success, but then inside we were dying, devastated when we realized that the Sunday Brunch event was going to be gone. No more crispy pig skin. We tried to go there a few times after he left, but then they changed over the whole theme, and then renovated the rest of the hotel, and it was forever gone. Now we just don't go to brunch anymore. Nothing pulled us out to join the weekend crowds like that brunch. I can even taste the sweet-cream-polenta now... tears...