Image from Le Bernardin website

On Friday night, DC foodies have a chance to see a pair of bonafide celebrity chefs doing what they do second best: sitting around laughing and chatting with each other on all kinds of topics.  Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert are coming to the Warner Theater for what is being billed as “an evening of storytelling and observation providing the audience with a frank and provocative back and forth about what really goes on behind the kitchen doors- from both ends of the spectrum.”

That’s right.  Bourdain and Ripert.  Onstage.  Together.  Just hanging out, you know, like a pair of bros.  And you can join them (maybe even ask them a question if you get lucky).

It’s a total foodie geek-out opportunity, and the bonhomie between the two chefs pretty much guarantees it’s going to be a good time.  To this day one of my favorite episodes of “No Reservations” involved Bourdain getting back on the line at Les Halles and eventually being joined by Ripert on the fish station.  Grub Street has a great reminder of just what fun the episode was to watch.

We had a chance to chat with Eric Ripert in advance of his visit, and we took the opportunity to ask him about the show, his “regular guest judge” role on the upcoming DC-based season of Top Chef, and how much the city’s dining scene has changed since he was cooking at the Watergate twenty years ago:

Capital Spice: Good afternoon, Chef.  Thanks for talking with us today.  We’re already looking forward to your show on Friday night – what can you tell us about it?
Eric Ripert: It’s going to be a lot of fun.  The setup is one of a moderated conversation, with a question and answer period at the end.

CS: Can you give us an idea of what you’ll be talking about?
ER: It’s hard to say…for us, it really is going to be a conversation, and we have a very easy dynamic.  But I expect we will be speaking about things like the current state of “fine dining” – what it means today, the state that it’s in.  Of course, we’ll likely also talk about things like Top Chef, so there will be something for everyone.

CS: It looks like you’ve only got two of these evenings scheduled (the second is in Baltimore on Saturday night).  What made you pick DC for this?
ER: Washington is an easy choice – it’s relatively close to New York, where Tony and I are both based, I have a restaurant here, and it is a city that enjoys good food.

More of our interview with “The Ripper” – including some of his favorite recent dining experiences and some Top Chef gossip – after the jump. (more…)

Image by Aude, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image by Aude, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

<<EDIT #2:  Not sure exactly what’s going on, but the listing is still active at as of 11 AM today (9/30).  To find it yourself, click on the link above and do a search for properties in ZIP code 20037.>>

<<EDIT:  As you can see from today’s (9/27) comments below, the owner has withdrawn Brickskeller from the market.  Thanks to John Nemeyer with Randall Hagner for the update.>>

You’ve been there – several rounds into an evening of “Around the World” at DC’s most famous beer bar – when someone in the group has a brilliant idea.  “We could totally do this,” is usually how it starts, before listing all the reasons that you and your friends are ideally suited to run a place just like the Brickskeller.

Well here’s your chance.

Though you won’t see a “For Sale” sign out front or a listing for an open house this Sunday, the Brickskeller is officially on the market.  Randall Hagner Ltd. Showcase lists 1523 22nd Street – the “Brickskeller Dining House and Inn” – as being available immediately for the low, low price of only $12.5 million (down from $15 million a week ago).  The best way to find it from the home page is to do a search for properties in ZIP Code 20037.  The entire five-floor building is for sale, including 40-plus guest rooms on four floors and the two-floor restaurant/bar.  The alcohol license will convey to the new owners, but you won’t be able to keep the memorabilia or even the Brickskeller name – the current owners will be holding onto those.

I can’t speak from personal experience, having never drunk enough downstairs to necessitate an overnight stay, but the general consensus is that the rooming house-style Inn has seen better days.  Guest rooms share common bathrooms in the hallways and are accessed via stairs or a hand-operated elevator.

Though the new owner will have to build a name for the new place from scratch, it’s hard to believe that the Brickskeller’s cache won’t carry over and help them start strong.  Assuming the place remains a beer bar (and why would you mess with success?), they would do well to focus on delivering what they promise; these days, the Brickskeller’s reputation isn’t entirely positive on that front.  As the manager of another popular bar joked, the $12 million dollar price tag is “about a million for every beer they have in stock.”

Check out the flyer, a .pdf found on the sale listing page, for more details.  And if you’re already drunk when you read this, do yourself a favor and sleep on it before making an offer right away.


Lock Up Your Grocers! Wal-Mart is on the Move
Brace yourself Bridget: Wal-Mart announced plans for a “neighborhood” food store this week.
Marketside, a “small community grocery store” (I swear, this is how they are described on the website) will open a handful of locations soon in various Arizona neighborhoods.

The principle here is that Arizonans, and presumably the rest of the country in due time, need a quick meal grocery store option. Marketside will offer “complete meal solutions” to the busy shopper. The store places a heavy emphasis on prepared meals, fresh ingredients and affordable prices. Yes, in theory these are all good things but this whole evil plan leaves a pit in my stomach. First off, I’m concerned that Wal-Mart will apply it’s well-polished business attack of driving small producers out and inflating prices in these neighborhoods they claim to care so much about. (more…)