A snapshot of what’s going on with food in the news…

Around town…
Spending a Sunday afternoon getting lunch and a movie at the Arlington Cinema N’ Drafthouse is a favorite activity. Looks like our Maryland neighbors will have the opportunity to do the same with the new Montgomery Drafthouse. We can’t wait to try out the adorable sounding Locke Modern Country Store, especially if their pear, goat cheese and leek tart is available.

Big food… 
Have you tried the oatmeal at Starbucks? It’s their most successful food launch in the company’s history. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you know Pez. If you’re especially cool, you may have even had a Pez dispenser collection. Make a little room on the shelf: Chick-Fil-A is teaming up with Pez for an Eat Mor Chikin Pez dispenser. Krispy Kreme is testing new factory stores in Arizona to deliver their donuts to “neighborhood donut shops.” After the jump, news from food on the road and how the economy is taking a toll on dining. (more…)

A quick round up of food news…

Olive Garden Scratches Its Head Over Rogue Spokesperson: Kendra Wilkinson, Hugh Hefner girlfriend and “star” of E!’s The Girls Next Door is an outspoken fan of Olive Garden. The “when you’re here, you’re family” chain isn’t quite sure what to make of it.MediaPost

Sex Sells… French Fries? New York Fries, a Canadian company (ahem), released a series of print ads that argue its preservative-free fries are kinda sorta natural, at least compared to other fake things like toupees and big boobs. I would argue that they should have a location in the state of New York before calling out other things for being fake. These guys wish they had Olive Garden’s problem.

After the jump: are you drinking as much? how greasy is your breakfast?


The restaurant chain Bennigans has declared bankruptcy and will close its doors. RIP fried club sandwich Monte Cristo. Oh Bennigans. Your sampler platter was the deadliest of all. 

On the other side of the food spectrum, Seattle company Organic to Go opened the doors to its first DC lunch spot this week. Their first open location is in the former High Noon at 1311 F St NW (metro center area). Swing by and take a look, you’ll barely recognize the place. Future establishments are opening soon in McPherson Square, DuPont and Rosslyn. Thanks to Going Green DC for the heads up.
Organic To Go on Urbanspoon

Responding to obesity rates, Type II Diabetes, hypertension and a host of other diet-related issues, DC’s local food pantries are giving their foods a health-focused makeover.    

Apples and Bananas reports that Tallulah has a new chef in town. Chef Andrew Markert will take the reins as Executive Chef “before the end of the month.” Which is pretty much right now.  We’ve only been to Tallulah for dinner once and really enjoyed it. Let’s up these changes keep the Arlington neighborhood favorite on the up and up.

Kool-Aid, Ben & Jerry’s and what the Congolese are eating after the jump! (more…)

If you took our advice last week and pre-booked some reservations for the week of August 11-17, you may want to check and see how your predictions did as soon as you’re able: the list of participating restaurants is now up!

We went 1-for-3 on our reservations: though we were able to lock in a dinner at Cafe Atlantico, we had speculated on whether or not CityZen and 1789 would participate (they have on several occasions in the past).

At this point, though, it seems like news is just starting to get out that the list is up.  There are still plenty of choice reservations available for participating restaurants on Saturday, August 16th – likely to be the most sought-after reservations of the week.

So whether you made advance reservations and now need to adjust them or you opted to wait until the list was posted, it’s go time.  Head to OpenTable and start making your reservations now!

I’ll be updating this post later today with some recommendations based on our past experiences, but please feel free to chime in with any of your own.  There are some places that do Restaurant Week REALLY well and others that just don’t seem to get it.

He’s got a great poker face.

Twice a year since November of 2001, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the DC Convention & Tourism Corporation have teamed up to present Restaurant Week.

For participating restaurants, it’s officially a chance to boost sluggish sales during historically slow periods (mid-August and mid-January).  But Restaurant Week has come to take on a number of additional meanings as we approach the Thirteenth Washington Restaurant Week August 11th – 17th.

For diners, it’s a way to test-drive new restaurants at a manageable price ($20.08 for a two-course lunch, $35.08 for a three-course dinner).  This single dining experience, despite being conducted under less-than-ideal conditions, can cement our opinions for years to come.

For restaurateurs, consequently, it’s an opportunity to show off the best they have to offer…or else it’s a burden that forces them to cater to bargain-hunters who aren’t likely to come back anytime soon.  It’s pretty easy to tell which way the establishment sees things as soon as you take a look at what’s on their Restaurant Week menu.  Lots of choices selected from their regular menu?  A very good sign.  Numerous upcharges, poor selection or ‘specials’ that aren’t part of the normal repertoire?  They’re not exactly out to blow you away.

We here at Capital Spice humbly offer a bit of advice for everyone who is eagerly awaiting the announcement of the participating restaurants…after the jump. (more…)

So maybe you didn’t win a RAMMY.  Maybe you were a glaring oversight on Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of…” List this year.  Maybe you failed to get a mention in the Washington City Paper’s 2008 Best of DC issue. 

Fear not!  Between now and Friday, you can still rally your friends and supporters (much like the Monocle did to win the RAMMY for Best Restaurant) to vote for you in AOL’s City’s Best polls – or at least you can if you managed to catch the eye of AOL’s editorial team who selected nominees in 19 ‘Best Dining’ categories and 11 ‘Best Nightlife’ categories.

As you may have already guessed, this doesn’t strike me as a great way to find the best of anything, and the selections that the editorial team put forward leave more than a bit to be desired.  Since those of us who have actually eaten and drunk in these places didn’t get a say in which establishments made the ballot, you can bet there are more than a few clunkers.

Even so, the restaurants and bars that win these awards will surely be trumpeting the ‘accomplishment’ in the form of plaques and press releases, drawing in unsuspecting tourists and newcomers.  So if you care enough to spend 10 minutes each day between now and Thursday, you’ll have a few chances to nudge the results toward the best of what they’ve given us to work with. 

A few categories that could use some knowledgable input after the jump. (more…)

Three months ago, I broke the news on DCFoodies and Endless Simmer that DC’s own Teddy Folkman was competing against Bobby Flay in an episode of ‘Throwdown!’ that was filmed on Tuesday, March 18th.  Though we were told to expect an air date in late May or early June, no one heard anything from the Food Network until a few weeks ago.  Now, sixteen weeks later, it’s finally showtime!

On Tuesday night, July 8th, the Food Network will be airing “Mussels & Fries” at 9 PM.  Filmed on location at the Argonaut (a bigger space – the better to accommodate the film crew and the crowd), the Throwdown gives Teddy a chance to show off the Moules Fromage Bleu and hand-cut, twice-fried frites that have been earning praise from pretty much everyone who tries them since Folkman started as executive chef at Granville Moore’s last September.  More about the taping and Granville Moore’s allure after the jump. (more…)

The Photographer\'s GalleryOn Sunday night, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (slogan: “Dine Out.  Dine Often.  Dine Deliciously.”) held their annual awards gala at the Marriott Wardman Park.  Local chefs, celebrity and otherwise, were joined by other RAMW Members and assorted food-loving guests to honor some of the best that the Washington restaurant scene has to offer.

Don’t worry – we weren’t there, either.

But now that everything is said and done, we’re happy to take a look at the list of winners and weigh in with our own thoughts.

The 2008 RAMMY winners, as announced by RAMW:

Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year: Hank’s Oyster Bar – DC
Hottest Bar Scene of the Year: Central Michel Richard
Power Spot of the Year: The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Voters’ Choice Restaurant of the Year: The Monocle on Capitol Hill
New Restaurant of the Year: The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Equinox
Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: Poste Moderne Brasserie
Chef of the Year: Eric Ziebold, CityZen
Restaurant Employee of the Year: Joel Guagliano, Zaytinya
Pastry Chef of the Year: Heather Chittum, Hook
Wine and Beverage Program of the Year: Passion Food Hospitality
Restaurant Manager of the Year: Molly McWhorter, Chef Geoff’s Downtown
Rising Culinary Star of the Year: Barton Seaver, Hook

Did you do your foodie duty and vote online for the first four categories?  They were all decided by public vote, unlike the remaining nine awards that were decided by an anonymous panel of food writers and hospitality industry insiders.

If you missed the voting, which took place from May 18th to May 30th at the RAMW website, you have no one to blame but yourself (and everyone who voted for the winners) if your favorites didn’t win.  A run-down of the also-rans in the open voting categories and some of our favorites among the winners after the jump. (more…)


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…)