Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 16, 2014

Posts in "Restos"

April 4, 2014

Solons See No Slam Dunks in Alabama BBQ Bracket

Alabama’s tourism authorities have flipped March Madness into a food fight, pitting many of the Yellowhammer State’s revered barbecue purveyors against one another in an online popularity contest.

Based on the most recent balloting, one of the following contenders will walk away with the title once voting closes April 7: Jim ‘N Nick’s in Birmingham (chicken, pork), Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence (ribs) and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer (sauce).

Trouble is, some of the folks here on Capitol Hill would beg to differ with the vox populi. Full story

April 1, 2014

Team Boehner Recasts HIMYM Stars as Budget ‘Splainers

Look out, President Barack Obama: House Republicans are done ceding the hipster vote to your social media savvy ways.

Less than a month after social conservatives browbeat 44 for dragging his bully pulpit to “Between Two Ferns,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, took to the Web to drum up support for House Republicans’ latest spending blueprint via a series of GIFs culled from the just-wrapped sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

Team Boehner Recasts HIMYM Stars as Budget ‘Splainers

(Screenshot)

Boehner’s debut BuzzFeed post breaks the ongoing budget fight into seven easy pieces — most of which focus on deriding Senate Democrats for effectively passing the buck on budget writing during the past few years.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

The long-awaited return of baseball season (The Nationals’ home opener is Friday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves) means restaurants can once again slip their Nats-related promotions back into the rotation.

Tortilla Coast has wasted no time resurrecting its “Strasburger,” a double-decker meal deal erected in honor of D.C. hurler Stephen Strasburg.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The price of the big-mouth burger remains pegged to Strasburg’s career highlights — first pick (1) in the first round (1) of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft + jersey number (37) = $11.37 — and includes a heaping mound of french fries.

According to Tortilla Coast General Manager Bill Anderson, the Strasburger continues to be made the same way it always has: Two, 6-ounce patties of roughly 80/20 ground beef are flame grilled, glazed in chipotle-honey sauce, covered in Jack cheese, topped with fried onion strings, smothered in shredded lettuce and sliced tomato and parked between buns slathered with chipotle-spiked Thousand Island dressing.

Yet, somehow, today it tastes even less like it was supposed to when it left burger buff Jody Fellows wanting two summers before.

Back in 2012, the Burger Days blog founder gave the Capitol Hill watering hole high marks for presentation, but was struck by the disconnect between what was listed on the menu and what registered on his taste buds. “For all the stuff that goes into the Strasburger, it loses a whole hell of a lot when the entire thing gets into your mouth,” he warned. “We expected to be hit with a lot more taste.”

We dare say the kitchen may have actually lost a few more steps since then.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The patties placed before this hired mouth were adequately beefy and surprisingly juicy (with just a hint of smoke), but bore absolutely no sign of the promised honey sweetness or chili pepper-fueled heat. Ditto for the chipotle-Island dressing, which lacked the oomph of even fast food-grade special sauce. The melted cheese served as a decent binder and the tangle of breaded onions provided some crunch. But the mountain of damp lettuce caused the bottom half of our bun to collapse after just one bite.

We hoped the fries might save things, but, alas, the no-frills spuds were as dry and flavorless (the one time a bar decides to ease up on salt) as the burger was disjointed.

Still, people seem to love it.

Anderson said the restaurant sells up to a 20 of the specialty burgers a day during the season. And very few folks appear to be intimidated by its sheer bulk.

“The size and age of the guest has no bearing on their ability to finish the burger; we have been witness to ladies in their 70s and kids in grade school taking it down in one sitting,” Anderson shared.

As it’s done in the past, Anderson said the original Capitol Hill Tortilla Coast will crank out Strasburgers from open to close on days Strasburg takes the mound.

“TCCH will also do a bonus Strasburger day should Stephen Strasburg pitch during the All Star Game,” he said.

March 31, 2014

Prying Dining Tips From Jim Himes

While we here in the Mid-Atlantic were busy screaming on social media about the screwy weather (surprise snow/hail storm, anyone?), Rep. Jim Himes spent Sunday evening in a paradise of his own design: the kitchen.

 

 

The Connecticut Democrat spent the weekend doing something we only wish we could’ve done: harvesting clams and then baking them up.

“I go out and take oysters, clams and mussels every 2 weeks or so during late fall, winter and early spring. I particularly like to go out when there is a below average ebb tide because that exposes clamming grounds and oysters that are usually under water,” Himes told HOH via email.

Prying Dining Tips From Jim Himes

(Courtesy Jim Himes)

The seafood lover bills Long Island Sound and Greenwich Point Park, aka Tod’s Point, as his favorite digging grounds. And he credits local authorities with feeding his passion for fresh caught food.

“The former First Selectman of Greenwich, Dick Bergstresser and his wife Jean taught me most of what I know about shellfishing,” Himes shared. Full story

March 27, 2014

Public Can Propel Capitol Hill Restos to RAMMY Glory

A panel of secret judges may control the fates of the 60-plus contenders vying for the area’s top hospitality prizes, but everyday diners have one month to help crown their favorite brunch spot, fast-food haven and all-around hang out.

The RAMMY Awards traditionally honor the superstars of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s core membership, heralding those who go above and beyond in the pursuit of providing exceptional food, beverage and service. The 2014 winners are scheduled to be revealed June 22 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW) during the group’s 32nd annual gala.

As in the past, RAMW is opening up a handful of categories for public debate.

This year, armchair critics have until April 27 to weigh in on:

Upscale Casual Brunch of the Year

  • Art and Soul
  • Blue Duck Tavern
  • Mintwood Place
  • The Source by Wolfgang Puck
  • Vermilion

 

Everyday Casual Brunch of the Year

  • DGS Delicatessen
  • Et Voila!
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
  • Pizzeria Orso
  • Ted’s Bulletin (Barracks Row)

 

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year

  • Bar Pilar
  • Bistrot Du Coin
  • Cashion’s Eat Place
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar (Dupont)
  • Tune Inn

 

Favorite Fast Bites

 

RAMW is sweetening the pot for brunch lovers.

As part of the inaugural “Best Brunch Passport” contest, anyone who tweets a picture of a meal from any of the nominees between March 29-April 13 to @RAMMYAwards or tags it with #RAMMYSBrunch will be entered to win two tickets to the June 22 gala. Per the promoters, the winner will be announced on April 28.

Public votes can be cast via media partner the Washington City Paper or RAMW.

March 25, 2014

The Coupe Attempts to Stir Up D.C. Mayoral Contest

The Coupe is seeking to capitalize on the swirling race to take the reins of D.C. by running a straw swizzle stick poll featuring cocktails married to the current crop of mayoral hopefuls.

The Coupe Attempts to Stir Up D.C. Mayoral Contest

(Courtesy The Coupe)

Staff at the Columbia Heights hangout (3415 11th St. NW) were upfront about the fact that the signature beverages, which formally debuted last week, bear no direct relation to the corresponding pols. “They were very randomly assigned,” a Coupe aide told HOH.

Still, the restaurant is hoping to stir up some civic discourse by encouraging patrons to “vote” via drink orders — the official tallying of the boozy bellwethers begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will continue through midnight on April 1 — and welcoming candidates to drop off campaign materials while the contest is on.

Ballot bait includes:

  • Vincent Gray — “French Bikini” (white cane juice rum, coconut cream, lime, hibiscus syrup)
  • Carlos Allen — “Bas Bulles” (armagnac, Benedictine)
  • Muriel Bowser — “Harvard” (cognac, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters)
  • Bruce Majors — “Suzette” (Suze liqueur, brown butter, French gin, Licor 43, dry curacao, lemon)
  • David Catania — “Royal Reviver” (gin, yellow chartreuse, cognac, dry curacao)
  • Jack Evans — “Byrvardier” (rye, byrrh, Aperol)
  • Tommy Wells — “Fraise Royal” (strawberry puree, sparkling wine)
  • Reta Jo Lewis — “Pomme d’Or” (calvados, dry vermouth, yellow chartreuse, thyme)
  • Vincent Orange — “ Kir Royal” ( crème de cassis, sparkling wine)
  • Andy Shallal — “Left Ear” (absinthe, flaming sugar cube)

As our friends in Chi-town might say, “Vote early and often.”

March 24, 2014

DC-3 Shuttles Hot Dogs to the Hill

Gourmet wiener joint DC-3 is hoping to take a bigger bite of the congressional dining pie by rolling out delivery of its signature tube steaks to Capitol Hill.

The new service promises to connect hungry mouths in the halls of Congress with the nearly dozen well-dressed links heaped together on Barracks Row (423 Eighth St. SE) seven days a week. A minimum order of $15 is required — which works out to three stand-alone dogs, two combo meals (dog, chips, fountain drink) or four orders of deep-fried Oreos with a cotton candy chaser — and delivery is limited to a 1 mile radius of the restaurant.

DC 3 Shuttles Hot Dogs to the Hill

(Courtesy Matchbox Food Group)

Apart from the locally inspired half-smoke (which features the hybrid link, sweet relish, yellow mustard and raw onion), the restaurant tips its hat to regional delicacies including: the Philly Cheesesteak, fully sport peppered and dill pickled Chicago-style offerings, dueling chili-covered Coneys (NYC and Cincinnati) and the cole slaw slathered West Virginia dog.

Bon appetit!

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:40 a.m.
Food, HillSide, Restos

March 13, 2014

Cruz, Booker Already Fussing Over Future Dinner Dates

Well, that didn’t take long.

 

 

Mere hours after they were photographed grabbing a bite together at Bistro Bis, New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker and Texas Republican Ted Cruz have reached an impasse as to where to book their next table.

Cruz , it seems, would prefer to stay away from prying eyes

 

 

Booker is done with chewing up the scenery. He’d rather focus on what’s on his plate

 

 

A congressional aide told HOH the political odd couple touches base on the Senate floor from time to time; staff reportedly arranged the March 12 sit-down.

No word on when — or where — any future rendezvous might take place.

March 12, 2014

Flacks Invited to Bipartisanly Commune at Tortilla Coast

Professional mouthpieces from both sides of the aisle are priming the pumps for recess via a “Bi-Party-San Communications Mixer.”

Flacks Invited to Bipartisanly Commune at Tortilla Coast

(Courtesy DCNet)

The media-related happy hour is scheduled to take place Thursday at Tortilla Coast (400 First St. SE) from 6 to 8 p.m. (That won’t crimp your style, will it, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas?)

The event, which is being sponsored by iConstituent and Broadnet, is designed to welcome new and returning members of the Democratic Communicators Network and Republican Communications Association.

According to DCNet board chair Hannah Kim, first-timers joining the respective advisory panels include:

  • Kezmiché “Kim” Atterbury, communications director for Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
  • Brett Morrow, communications director for Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.
  • Alex Nguyen, communications director for Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.
  • Rob Runyan, press secretary for Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del.
  • Michael Marinaccio, digital coordinator for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
  • Ben Miller, communications director for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
  • Michael Rekola, deputy press secretary for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
  • Trevor Foughty, deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind.

Those who swing by to congratulate the ascending messengers will be privy to two free drink tickets apiece and complimentary Tex-Mex-style appetizers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story inadvertently listed the positions panelists hold within their respective networking groups instead of their posts on Capitol Hill.

BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

BLT Steak plans to reward those who stick around town next week with a specially designed “recess menu” featuring nearly a dozen gourmet snacks.

The power lunching haven’s (1625 I St. NW) “10 Till 10” promotion will be available March 17 through March 21, 5-10 p.m. each evening at the main bar.

A restaurant spokeswoman said Executive Chef Jeremy Shelton experimented with the concept in February and has since decided to roll out seasonally inspired nibbles each time lawmakers are scheduled to high-tail it home.

Featured items ($10 each) for this month include:

  • Sweet & Sour Sweetbreads
BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

(Courtesy BLT Steak)

  • House-cured American Wagyu bresaola with toasted brioche bun and frisee
  • Artisanal cheese plate
  • Creamy polenta with spring pea ragout
  • Bacalao croquets paired with spicy tomato aioli
  • Yellowtail crudo accompanied by white balsamic, avocado and fennel
  • Bone marrow spring roll with  gorgonzola fonduta and candied walnuts
  • Head cheese escorted by violet mostarda and soft-boiled egg
BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

(Courtesy BLT Steak)

  • A “Corned Beef & Cabbage” creation forged from corned beef sausage, pickled baby Brussels sprouts and Dijon cream
  • Grilled baby octopus tied together by feta, olives and oregano

Shelton said he is particularly fond of the corned beef  (“It’s very fitting for St. Patrick’s Day,” he opined) and multi-layered polenta (“Works very well with the fresh flavors of English peas and chanterelles with parsley and mint,” he said), but really hopes folks give the head cheese a whirl.

“Maybe it’s a chef thing, but we all love it. I just haven’t been able to get it to catch on with the clientele,” Shelton said of the offal challenge.

No word on what he’s got in mind for April. But if history is any guide — during February’s soft launch he dished out beef tartar with house-made fries, Parmesan-crusted bone marrow with green tomato mostarda, polenta with pork ragu, escargot with garlic cream, roasted vegetables accompanied by date butter, sheep’s milk ricotta and hazelnuts, lobster fritters with lemon aioli, grilled sweetbreads married to marinated mushrooms, and local oysters — those left behind in the future might eat better than their district-bound counterparts.

March 4, 2014

Pols Eat Up James Beard ‘America’s Classics’ Honors

Just thinking about the landmark restaurants the James Beard Foundation will formally crown as “America’s Classics” this May has lawmakers who have dined at the treasured eateries licking their lips with anticipation.

The hospitality industry awards celebrate a handful of timeless establishments each year; the 2014 honorees include: Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in New Orleans, Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, Ore., Olneyville New York System in Providence, R.I., Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas, and Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin has fond memories of fueling up at Olneyville during his college days.

“I remember going there sometimes after class or after a night out downtown,” Langevin recounted, noting that he prefers the signature hot dogs dressed with meat sauce and celery salt (“Not to be confused with ‘all the way,’ which includes onions and mustard.”)

“It’s been a while, but I’m looking forward to going back,” Langevin said.

News of the national recognition made Rep. David Cicilline nostalgic for a taste of home.

“Olneyville New York System has served the best wieners for decades and when I walk in today, the same smells and sights remind me of my visits there years ago,” the Rhode Island Democrat shared.

In addition to enjoying the food and the familial atmosphere, Cicilline hailed the restaurant for participating in his “Main Street” initiative to bolster local businesses. “I congratulate Olneyville New York System on receiving this much deserved award,” he said.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer hailed the gourmet community for finally getting wise to what he already knows: Perini’s is good eating. Full story

February 21, 2014

Digesting News a la Spike Mendelsohn

Restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn doesn’t just make headlines in this town, he now also serves them up to those plugged into the gastro-themed feeds he’s created for news-sharing upstart Trove.

Digesting News a la Spike Mendelsohn

Mendelsohn, center, is sharing his interests via Trove. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The media aggregating service tapped the reality-TV-star-turned-culinary-empire-builder — Good Stuff Eatery, We, The Pizza and Béarnaise have all taken root on Capitol Hill — to serve as one of its featured curators. Mendelsohn has, so far, carved out three dedicated channels: Full story

February 19, 2014

Rose’s Luxury Puts Barracks Row on National Dining Map

Capitol Hill diners, your secret’s out.

If anyone thought scoring a table at critical darling Rose’s Luxury (717 Eight St. SE) was crazy hard before, good luck snagging a seat now that chef Aaron Silverman is in the running for a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award.

The captivating locale, which debuted last fall, is one of 30 semi-finalists vying for the coveted Best New Restaurant prize. The winner will be revealed in New York City on May 2 and 5.

Other D.C.-metro entities in contention for the nationwide honors include:

  • The Columbia Room – Outstanding Bar Program
  • Rogue 24 – Outstanding Bar Program
  • Neighborhood Restaurant Group pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac – Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Jaleo – Outstanding Restaurant
  • Vidalia – Outstanding Restaurant
  • Knightsbridge Restaurant Group founder Ashok Bajaj – Outstanding Restaurateur
  • Komi – Outstanding Service
  • Marcel’s – Outstanding Service, Outstanding Wine Program
  • CityZen – Outstanding Wine Program
  • Ripple/Roofers Union chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley – Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Restaurant Eve chef/founder Cathal Armstrong – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Iron Gate chef Anthony Chittum – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Proof chef Haidar Karoum – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Patowmack Farm chef Tarver King – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Mintwood Place chef/founder Cedric Maupillier – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
  • Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Congrats to all the nominees.

Best of luck in the finals!

January 17, 2014

Exit Interview: Philip Minardi

With just hours to go before he officially cuts ties with Congress, GOP aide Philip Minardi took a little time to reflect on the rollercoaster ride that is working on Capitol Hill.

The House flack, who most recently handled press for Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., will be juggling communications duties for the Travel Technology Association starting Monday.

Minardi told HOH there are a number of things he’ll miss about working on the Hill. Full story

December 27, 2013

Rand Paul Boo-Hoos the Lack of Burgoo

Dry those tears, Sen. Rand Paul.

For while you may not have used the regular channels fellow Hill denizens Dave Gustafson, Sara Bondioli or Shana Teehan utilized to have me hunt me down their favorite foodstuffs, this dining sleuth picked up on your online bellyaching about the dearth of burgoo stew in Congress all the same.

 

 

The Kentucky Republican made note of the hole in his diet earlier this week whilst channeling his inner Frank Costanza.

Rand Paul Boo Hoos the Lack of Burgoo

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

A huntsman’s feast, not unlike Virginia’s own Brunswick stew, burgoo is based upon slow-cooking your choice of meat — beef, chicken or pork will do in a pinch; strict traditionalists might clamor for gamier fare (squirrel, mutton) — with a full complement of fresh vegetables. A splash of bourbon hitches a ride as well.

The wintry dish was typically assembled by reducing said ingredients in an iron kettle over a roaring flame — all of which sounds quite heavenly given that I can feel a seasonal chill numbing my fingertips even as I tap away on this keyboard. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:05 a.m.
DC, Food, HillSide, Restos, Sens

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