This might be the first time I’ve ever broken news on this site: Tonight, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington announced the nominees for this year’s awards. I say “break” because at the time of posting, the nominees have only just gone up on the RAMW site and a search still brings up mostly last year’s stories (except for my new friend Michael’s post).
I attended tonight’s reception at the Ritz Carlton—stocked with big egos and small bites—to meet other food writers and keep my finger on the food pulse in this new town of mine. Thank goodness a sister blogger was there to sip Casablanca Crustas with—The Tabard Inn’s own cocktail contender. (I’m only half kidding about the egos. There were a lot of inspiring, hard-working souls humbly strutting their stuff.)
I don’t follow celebrity chefs or watch Top Chef much. Moreover, the RAMW’s motto, “Dine Out, Dine Often, Dine Deliciously,” is only a third of the way accurate in my life, where eating out is more of a novelty. Still, the art of public cookery is something valuable, and it was fun to witness the red carpet glory … er, tablecloth … glory.
The iPhone pictures leave much to be desired, but they do give a glimpse into some of the exciting things happening in this city’s food scene.
The RAMMYS are, as one Washingtonian Magazine writer said last year, the Golden Globes of D.C.’s restaurant awards. If the James Beard Awards are the Oscars of the food world, that is. So while now you can go to the site to see the full list and descriptions of the categories, I’ve narrowed them down to the ones that most people will actually care about. (“Manager of the Year” is a great award, but does that matter when we’re hungry?)
And the innovative cocktails served up by the nominated Mixologists were also captivating: My favorite, a lemon-verbena “Grog” from Restaurant Eve, was like a spiked lemon iced tea as refreshing as a creek in the hot summer. Most of the featured drinks were surprisingly subtle, not too sweet, and in (what I’m guessing to be) the old school style. The Tabard Inn served their Casablanca Crustas, made up of Plymouth gin, Cointreau, chamomile honey lemon syrup, lemon juice, and bitters. Brasserie Beck’s Appertiivo had Tres Generacions Tequila, sour mix, Campari, ginger ale, and a cinnamon and Hawaiian sea salt rim. PS7s‘ Bittersweet Isla featured vodka, Campari, honey, cinnamon, rose and marigold tea, and fresh grapefruit juice, and was served with an edible flower garnish. Founding Farmers garnished their sophisticate take on the Daiquiri with grilled pineapple chunks.
Yeah, my evening workout was a little, shall we say, groggy?
Enough of me. Here are the nominees. (Winners will be announced at a dinner on June 6th, but in the meantime, you can visit Young and Hungry for a more comprehensive analysis of the process and politics of the awards.)
Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year
Michel Richard Citronelle
Minibar by Jose Andres
Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year
Central Michel Richard
Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year
Kemble Park Tavern
New Restaurant of the Year
Birch & Barley
Chef of the Year
Bertrand Chemel – 2941
Scott Drewno – The Source
Daniel Giuste – 1789
Vikram Sunderam – Rasika
Haidar Karoum – Proof
Rising Culinary Star of the Year
Michael Isabella – Zaytinya
Liam LaCivita – The Liberty Tavern
Shannon Overmiller – Majestic Café
Nicholas Stefanelli – Bibiana
Jon Mathieson – Inox
Pastry Chef of the Year
Anthony Chavez – 2941
Amanda Cook – CityZen
Josh Short – Neighborhood Rest. Group
Fabrice Bendano – Adour
Travis Olson – 1789
Wine Program of the Year
Beverage Program of the Year
EatGoodFood Group – Eve, Majestic, PX…
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
Birch & Barley – Church Key