Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 30, 2015

Posts by Warren Rojas

21 Posts

July 30, 2015

Farewell, My Indigestion: Bidding Adieu to Restaurant Associates

But if youll eat it, you never have to prove your courage in any other way.”

— Gen. Corman, “Apocalypse Now”

It is the end of an era. Restaurant Associates, a paragon of institutional food service, is leaving the House side of the Capitol complex. House administrators, facing the end of Restaurant Associates’ contract, changed course, opting for new blood.

That new blood will come from Sodexo, which will arrive with promises of Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts. The transition, from the Ford Deli to the House Restaurant, will be complete on Aug. 10. Full story

June 10, 2015

Capitol Lounge Bids Farewell to One of Its Own

The proprietors of Capitol Lounge Wednesday will finally say goodbye to former employee Mike Schwarz via a happy hour benefitting his surviving family.

(Courtesy Capitol Lounge)

(Courtesy Capitol Lounge)

Schwarz, whom acquaintances say was a regular part of the Capitol Hill bartending scene for the better part of a decade, was found dead on May 27. Full story

June 8, 2015

CityCenterDC Scores Women’s World Cup Watch Party

The boorish behavior of certain FIFA officials has cast a pall over the beautiful game.

But goodwill ambassadors at the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Embassy of Australia are hoping to retrain the focus on world-class athletics Monday by co-hosting a free watch party of the U.S.-Australia group match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at CityCenterDC.

(Courtest U.S. Soccer Foundation)

(Courtest U.S. Soccer Foundation)

Kick off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.; event promoters are expected to project the international showdown on a large screen (circa 10th and I Streets NW).

Admission is gratis, but donations will be accepted in support of USSF’s philanthropic efforts.

Per organizers, a number of prominent futbol fans have been invited, including D.C. United players, Washington Spirit players and members of the Congressional Soccer Caucus.

DC Slices, The Orange Cow and SOL Mexican Grill have been tasked with keeping attendees well fed.

See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

June 1, 2015

SAVOR Something Different Every Night This Week

(Courtesy Negroni Week)

(Courtesy Negroni Week)

The confluence of classic Italian cocktails and budding craft brews has created the perfect storm for those interested in ushering in the arrival of June with a beverage in hand.

It once again being Negroni Week, local restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi and Capitol Hill haunt Wisdom are each paying homage to the bitters-fueled tipple. Full story

May 21, 2015

Find Your Flavor of Philanthropy

In the mood to put your money where your mouth is? A number of non-profits would love to help you do just that in the coming weeks.

All that’s left to decide is how you’d like to throw down.

Chefs Behind Bars

(Courtesy Kiley Fischer)

(Courtesy Kiley Fischer)

Local toques will, on May 28, once again try their hands at fashioning can’t-miss libations during the latest installment of the ongoing “Chefs Behind Bars” series.

In the year since the role-reversing fundraiser for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign debuted here in the District, dozens of chefs and mixologists have rallied to the cause — facing off in a number of competitions that have borne bragging rights for a growing roster of self-styled cocktail shakers.

Art and Soul vet Douglas Alexander nabbed the People’s Choice Award in July 2014. Beuchert’s Executive Chef Andrew Markert became the People’s Choice winner in September 2014. And restaurateur and “Top Chef “ alumnus Bryan Voltaggio snagged the People’s Choice prize just last month.

Those hoping to partake in the upcoming festivities, which are scheduled to take place at Capitol Hill newcomer Stanton & Greene, can secure tickets (join.nokidhungry.org/ChefsBehindBars) ahead of time for $45. (It’ll be $50 at the door.)

The tasting is scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. and will feature small bites supplied by Stanton & Greene (think: canapés, fritters, sliders and skewered items) as well as specialty drinks created by:

  • Birch & Barley Chef Kyle Bailey (his “Rain When I Die” is expected to include dark rum, smoked cherries and blood orange).
  • Vidalia Chef Hamilton Johnson.
  • Mango Tree Chef Adrian Salazar.
  • Rural Society Chef Louis Goral.
  • Sticky Fingers Eats & Sweets/FareWell Founder Doron Petersan.
  • Jack Rose Dining Saloon Chef Russell Jones.
  • Juniper Chef Mariah Tysz (her “French Twist” should feature St. Germaine, vodka, cucumber water, lime and a lemongrass-ginger reduction).

An event organizer noted that Buttercream Bakeshop Founder Tiffany MacIsaac is also hard at work on a batch of “boozy desserts!”

K Street Farm Dinner

DC Greens Advisory Board Member Maggie Gyllenhaal is bringing along younger brother and fellow film star Jake to the food advocacy group’s inaugural K Street Farm Dinner.

The family-style feast, scheduled to take place June 2 at the non-profit’s urban garden (located on the corner of New Jersey Avenue and K Street Northwest), is expected to feature locally sourced dishes tag-teamed by some of the area’s gustatory heavies.

Participating chefs, include:

  • Ruben Garcia of MiniBar.
  • Sunnyside Restaurant Group Founder and DC Food Policy Council Chairman Spike Mendelsohn.
  • Mike Friedman of The Red Hen.
  • Jeremiah Langhorne of The Dabney.
  • Voltaggio.
  • Restaurateur Mike Isabella.
  • MacIsaac.

Per organizers, celebrating fresh, wholesome ingredients is what it’s all about.

“Some elements will be harvested from The K Street Farm and from school gardens across the District,” an event coordinator told CQ Roll Call. Cocktail guru Owen Thomson has been tasked with providing adult refreshments, while Charlottesville, Va.-based winery Early Mountain Vineyards will supply pours.

Instead of arranging a separate auction, party planners constructed perks — including “Hot Tables” (dinner for four at China Chilcano or Kapnos), “Cool Experiences” (gelato making class at Dolcezza) and “Unforgettable Events” (rooftop dinner for 10 at Rose’s Luxury, VIP passes to the 2016 sweetlife festival) — built-in to varying ticket packages. General admission starts at $250 per person, while a VIP pass (which includes a welcome reception and gift bag assembled by Salt & Sundry) will set you back $600.

Reserve your seat at: dcgreens.org/farmdinner.

Third Annual Dine-N-Dash

(Courtesy ThinkFoodGroup)

(Courtesy ThinkFoodGroup)

Seasoned coalition builder José Andrés aims to again turn the streets of DC into a playground for the epicurious courtesy of his homegrown Dine-N-Dash on June 9 .

Now in its third year, the Penn Quarter-based taste-around boasts unfettered access to a dozen established eateries and participating food trucks, as well as an after party at the neighboring Carnegie Library, all in the name of providing much needed resources to Andrés’ global relief arm, World Central Kitchen.

At press time, general admission tickets ($129) remained available for those content to get underway at Cuba Libre, Del Campo, Jaleo, Oya, Oyamel, The Partisan, Ping Pong Dim Sum, Poste Brasserie, Proof, SEI and Zaytinya. VIP passes ($299) — which entitle guests to complimentary pedicab service between the participating restaurants, exclusive access to specialty drinks/food at the ThinkFoodGroup properties and after-party — were still available for those looking to launch from Jaleo, Oyamel or Zaytinya.

Per organizers, the after party will be larded up with extra special goodies, including:

  • Signature cocktails created by mirth makers at 2 Birds 1 Stone, El Camino (think: “instant” ginger beer spiked with jalapeno, and mezcal-fueled Old Fashions) and Mockingbird Hill.
  • Custom sweets whipped up by Dog Tag Bakery, Buzz Bakery and Pitango Gelato.
  • Craft beer service.
  • Performances by City of the Sun, the indie rockers staff Andrés apparently fell in love with at South by Southwest.

The culinary trek is slated to take place from 6 to 9 p.m. The after party is projected to rage on from 9 to 11 p.m.

Moving forward, Andrés said he’d love to invite the rest of the world to the party.

Score tickets on LivingSocial.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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May 4, 2015

Have a Ball With DC Vote

Disenfranchised District denizens who dare to dream of one day having a say in how Congress handles its business can once again raise their voices in unison during DC Vote’s 3 Star Ball.

The fledgling fundraiser is scheduled to bring together advocates for home rule on the rooftop of the National Association of Realtors Building (500 New Jersey Ave. NW) Wednesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Newly minted host committee member Spike Mendelsohn is slated to handle the refreshments; organizers indicated his catering arm, Spike’d, has been tasked with plying partygoers with passed hors d’oeuvres. An open bar is expected to tend to the needs of the absolutely parched. Full story

May 1, 2015

NoVa Invades Atlas District for Tag Team Beer Dinner

Granville Moore’s (1238 H St. NE) on May 4 is hosting fellow “Beer Program of the Year” nominee Mad Fox Brewing Company for a collaborative four-course dinner.

The intimate affair, scheduled to kick off with a “happy half-hour” at 6:30 p.m., is expected to feature complementary food and drink pairings arranged by the barley-and-hops loving establishments.

Per organizers, the projected carte includes:

  • Spice-rubbed duck breast with Reynard foie gras spread, charred peach and celery salad, spiced pecans and white balsamic paired with Reynard Black Saison.
  • Smoked corn & mustard mussels and frites with tomatoes and tarragon paired with Mad Fox’s new seasonal saison.
  • Orange Whip-brined roasted chicken with butter-braised radishes, artichoke puree and spring vegetables paired with Orange Whip IPA.
  • Homboldt Fog cheese, assorted jams, beer mustard and toast points paired with Mad Fox’s Oaked Diabolik.

Tickets for the boozy love fest are $58.50 per person (tax and tip included).

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Republic Kolache to Prime the Pumps at Bardo

Lone Star Staters jonesing for homespun pastries Saturday can feed that need — for free! — during Republic Kolache’s preview party.

Republic Kolache's five-spice cherry creation. (Screenshot)

Republic Kolache’s five-spice cherry creation. (Screenshot)

The startup bakery is hosting a sneak peek event at Bardo Brewpub (1200 Bladensburg Road NE) from 2 to 5 p.m.

In addition to the gratis samples (while supplies last), co-founders Chris Svetlik and Brian Stanford are offering up live folk music; Bardo is on the hook for liquid refreshments (long live the Chuck Brown Ale!), although that’s slated to be a cash bar situation.

That same day, Team RK is projected to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help ramp up the official rollout.

Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:21 p.m.
Drink, Eat

April 16, 2015

Versatile Toques Aim to Tantalize Seafood Fans

Profish has reeled in a who’s who of award-winning local chefs for its fourth annual “Charity Off the Hook” event, a gourmet dine-around designed to net much needed funds for food- and education-related charitable organizations.

This year’s tasting bonanza is scheduled to take place on April 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place (3000 K St. NW). Tickets for the all-inclusive event are $125 per person; as a courtesy, the organizers have offered readers a discount for the dinner. Entering “ROLLCALL” in the promo code spot will shave $25 off the price of admission. (Roll Call has no business relationship with the event.)

According to Profish Director of Sustainability John Rorapaugh, the evening is all about sensational nosh, good fun and supporting the patchwork of charities that strive to assist those most in need across the region. Full story

March 5, 2015

Rolling With the DC Brew Crew

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“By the end of the day, we’ll all be drinking buddies,” DC Brew Tour Guide Max Moline pledged as he pulled away from the curb and began inundating those of us who’d signed on for a mid-day swing through the various beer-making operations that have bubbled up across the area with trivia about barley- and hops-related beverages.

Moline’s curious career was made possible by visionary Chad Brodsky, the founder and CEO of a budding tourism experience that caters to folks who never balk at a chance to bend the elbow.

“D.C. has incredible breweries and we love to showcase them in different ways,” the entrepreneur said. Brodsky began shuttling beer fans around Burlington, Vt., in 2008, and later expanded to Boston. He set up shop in the nation’s capital last fall.

At the heart of each five-plus hour pleasure cruise is beer — a dozen (or so) tastings, to be exact — plus a custom designed meal pairing conducted at a participating location. Full story

February 25, 2015

Touring Tastemaker Wants D.C. in His Regular Rotation

While dazzling patrons with mind-blowingly fresh ingredients is certainly part of his master plan, dining impresario Michael Stember is currently most obsessed with making his traveling food show self-sustainable.

The world-class athlete (a record-setting track and field star, Stember represented the United States at multiple Pan American Games and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney) hasn’t given up running around since founding Upstream Foods. If anything, he’s more on the move than ever. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 12:52 p.m.
Drink, Eat

February 12, 2015

Sonoma, Beuchert’s Team Up to Trick Out Stanton & Greene

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The brains behind Sonoma are hard at work on their next venture. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Artisan spirits and historic accents make up the foundation of the collaborative hospitality project slowly taking shape behind the soon-to-be reopened doors at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

Stanton & Greene, the three-story, 180-seat restaurant expected to replace the Pour House/Top of the Hill construct that shuttered last April, is an experiment in upscale boozing. The powers that be behind Sonoma and Beuchert’s Saloon — which is formally reviewed in Roll Call’s inaugural dining guide — have joined forces to carve out something different for the neighborhood: a serious drinking spot.

“We’re trying to be to cocktails what Sonoma is to wine,” partner August Paro told CQ Roll Call. That objective does not, however, include setting the bar so high “that you can’t just roll into happy hour and get a great drink.” Full story

January 22, 2015

Chilling Out Is What It’s All About at the Dolcezza Factory

The little, local gelato maker that could has come a long way from solely dishing scoops of handmade refreshment to college kids and thrusting samples in the faces of those perusing different stalls at the farmers market. The decade-long trek to the top of the frozen dessert heap in D.C. has culminated in the development of the bright, welcoming Dolcezza Factory at 550 Penn St. NE that took up residence in the shadow of next-gen shopping hub Union Market last winter.

The multipurpose compound — there’s an active gelato-making operation, limited retail space and a full-service tasting room all tucked under one roof — officially opened in December 2013, with the coffee/gelato bar following suit a few months later. The somewhat out-of-the-way space remains fairly busy, yet never tips over into uncomfortably crowded territory.

When the weather’s nice, folks routinely camp outside on the rusty metal chairs, watching the world zoom by along Sixth Street Northeast while they savor steaming cups of brew forged from freshly ground Indonesian coffee beans. Circle the neatly arranged display table a snack showcase crowded with assorted Kinderhook staples, including triple ginger cookies, orange-tarragon candied almonds, black pepper shortbread, baked cheese crackers and boozy brown butter blondies long enough, and you are likely to be joined, as I was, by a pair of first-time visitors who couldn’t help but gush about their latest find at Union Market. (“They’ve got pork butts!” one just about squealed after wandering across a Toki Underground-run outpost.)

Settle in at the spacious bar and you just might bear witness to random testaments to the generosity of the human spirits. “I brewed too much. You can enjoy this here or top off your drink,” one accommodating barista surprised a customer who appeared ready to shuffle out the door by sliding over an extra shot of piping hot Ethiopian roast.

It’s been my experience that most folks tend to find their way to this industrial park-packed slice of D.C. for a frozen pick-me-up. They’ve certainly come to the right place. Co-founder Robb Duncan estimates the factory cranks out some 400 gallons of gelato and sorbetto per day. Some of those efforts are funneled into the prepackaged pints that beckon (think: salted caramel, Thai coconut milk and Valrhona dark chocolate for gelatos; crookneck pumpkin, pineapple mint and pomegranate sorbettos, plus rotating single-serving push-pops) from the stand-alone freezer case. The rest flow over to the bins watched over by the baristas.

“All of these come out of those machines right there,” one attendant explains, nodding toward the industrial mixers opposite the service counter as she ushers a glistening ball of exotic fun right under my nose. “They’re super soft. But they’re also as fresh as it gets.” Featured flavors are served solo or can be built into custom flights (four mini servings at $8).

Indonesian vanilla bean is elegantly spicy. The timeless classic weaves together creamy bliss with a hint of piquancy. Salted caramel is an absolute stunner. The top seller (per Duncan) plays for keeps, adding an almost pudding-like mouth feel, very dense and exceptionally rich, to the warmed sugar that lends the highly prized phenomenon its name. The cleverly composed candy apple coppeta is the frozen analog to apple pie; honey-spiked sorbetto is coupled with oaty granola (extra crunchy) and then doused with syrupy dulce de leche topping. A black sesame-based production was an eyebrow raiser. The ashen-colored cooler spreads toasted nuttiness across the palate. (Not necessarily my bag, but certainly interesting.) Virginia peanut butter is surprisingly light yet potent.

Duncan said the company currently sources the freshly roasted, ground and salted source material from two purveyors in rural Virginia. The homemade peanut butter is then folded into the gelato, resulting in pale bulbs of perfectly nutty deliciousness. In the future, Duncan hopes to conquer another legume-based fantasy.

“I am still dreaming of doing a Thai peanut butter,” he said, laying out plans to cram freshly ground nuts, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, lime juice, Thai coconut milk and Thai chilies into the same crystalized spoonful.

Dolcezza Factory: 550 Penn St. NE; 202- 333- 4646. Average entree: under $12 ($). Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Read more about the Capitol Hill dining scene in our “Nom, Nom, Nom-nibus” e-book, available for download at roll.cl/Nom-nibusDiningGuide.

January 14, 2015

Resolve to Feast the Rest of January

Those ribs aren't going to eat themselves! (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Those ribs aren’t going to eat themselves! (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

We’re now a few weeks into the New Year. So we’ll go ahead and assume any nonsensical diet plans or ill-conceived commitments to calorie counting have been wisely tossed aside.

If not, prepare to have your mettle tested by a three-pronged attack from myriad tastemakers.

Winter Restaurant Week

The opening salvo in the full-fledged assault on our collective well-being is Winter Restaurant Week. The biannual promotion (the next round’s in August) is slated to run from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25 and provides prix fixe dining options at venues spread across the D.C.-Metro area. Full story

December 31, 2014

Brunch Your Way Into 2015

Amateur night is over. Now it’s time to get down to business.

Hung over or not, the new year waits for no one. So you might as well greet 2015 head on — and with a full, rounded belly. Fuel your recovery at the following locations:

Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:53 p.m.
Drink, Eat
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