2017: Unpredictable, Often Unsettling. But Let’s Just Focus on the Food!

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time for me to reflect on the year in food, and some of the highlights for Been There, Eaten That. It’s been…. a year.

DC continues its ascent as a one of the best food cities in the country, and those of us who live here are fortunate to partake in the bounty.  Many people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions, most likely focused on how to improve their health, weight, relationships, etc. Yes to all of that. BUT, my resolutions also include visiting the new restaurants I’ve yet to explore, as well as continuing to patronize those restaurants that I’ve already come to love and admire.  Living and working in the suburbs makes it challenging to fulfill all of my dining hopes and dreams, but I continue to push myself to fulfill my goals.

One of the very best aspects of being a food blogger is meeting many wonderful chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, bloggers, and PR professionals who make DC’s food community so great. Thanks to all of you who inspire me every day. And thank you to my friends and family who accompany me to restaurants, and are forced to hold off on digging into their food until I have a chance to snap a few photos. I understand that it’s annoying, and I’ll resolve to speed up the process in 2018.  Just kidding, suck it up people.  It’s what I do.

Here is a look back of some of the highlights of my year as a blogger.



Eater DC asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. I was delighted to be included. Responses were parsed out throughout the course of a few days.  It’s worth going to the website to see what the professional food writers and critics have to say.  Here is the summary of my answers.


Sum up the 2017 dining scene in one word  


 Best restaurant meal of 2017

 Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Most disappointing restaurant/meal of 2017 

Q BY PETER CHANG.  I was so excited about the flagship opening in Bethesda, but found the best dishes to be those showcased in his previous restaurants, including the scallion bubble pancake and dry fried eggplant.  

Biggest dining surprise of 2017

Fine/fast casual like ChiKo. And, I never expected to fall in love with the veggie burger at Shouk.

Biggest gripe about 2017 dining

Can you hear me now? NO!

Top restaurant newcomers of 2017

Bresca, Del Mar, ChiKo, Arroz, Kith & Kin, Maydan, Rasa (I could keep going. What a year!)

Top restaurant standbys of 2017

Rose’s Luxury, Osteria Morini, Tail Up Goat, Hazel

Best dining neighborhood(s) of 2017 

The Wharf took DC by storm

Saddest restaurant closure(s) of 2017

Nido, TapaBar

Dining news predictions for 2018 

 The Wharf will continue to draw hordes of diners with openings like Florentijn, Kaliwa, Lupo Marino, Mi Vada and more, putting the squeeze on other DC establishments. 


Real Housewives of Potomac

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my very brief appearance on an episode of the “Real Housewives of Potomac.”  In June 2016 I was invited to a media dinner at Oz Restaurant in Arlington.  The restaurant is owned by Michael Darby and Ashley Darby, his wife/ex-wife/estranged wife. (It’s unclear. We will have to wait until the show returns for Season 3 to find out the status.)  Ashley is one of the primary housewives featured in the series, and they were filming an episode during the dinner.

In order to attend, I had to agree to write a post about the restaurant.  I was not allowed to mention the Bravo television series.  I wrote a somewhat snarky review. A year later, the episode aired.  I was identified as one of the “media” in attendance.  The actual reviews were glossed over, with the episode focusing on the drama between the Darby’s that occurred behind the scenes that night.

I participated in this with trepidation, but in the end decided it would be fun.  And it was.  A few people I lost touch with reached out when they saw me on the show.  When someone new starts working for my company, I’m often introduced with “She was on The Real Housewives.”  And, if I need a fun fact for a game of Two Truths and A Lie, I now have a great one to accompany the “I was on the Howard Stern  show.”

My review:  Oz:  Beyond the Vegemite Sandwich

Jewish Food Experience

This year I began writing for Jewish Food Experience (JFE), a program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Launched in 2012, “JFE brings people together through the universal language of Jewish food, which is so much a part of Jewish culture, tradition and even religion.”

My articles focus on the careers of DC chefs and other food industry professionals, and how they’ve been influenced by their Jewish heritage.  Here are links to my stories.

“Rocking it in the Restaurant World” is the story of DC restaurateur Jackie Greenbaum (Little Coco’s, El Chucho, Quarry House, Slash Run and Bar Charley).  A punk rocker in the 1980’s, she’s now a successful restaurant owner.  She is also a lifetime member of Hadassah.

“A Recipe for Healing” is about Meredith Goldberg, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Jefferson Hotel. The article discusses how Goldberg’s approach to food played a role in her treatment and recovery from breast cancer.

“Bring on the Borscht” profiles Doi Moi Executive Chef Sasha Felikson. Felikson is a Ukranian Jew who dreams of popularizing borscht and other Eastern European foods. The chef shares his views on cultural appropriation when it comes to food.

“From Gejdenson err Generation to Generation” is the story of Ari Gejdenson of Mindful Restaurant Group (Acqua al 2, Ghibellina, Sotto, Denson Liquor Bar, Harold Black, Ari’s Diner, La Puerta Verde and Dock FC).  Gejdenson’s ancestors include grandparents who were Holocaust survivors who ran a dairy farm in Connecticut, and his father who was a former congressman.

“She’s Got Her Pulse on the DC Food Scene”  Nycci Nellis is the voice behind TheListAreYouOnIt.com and the radio show Foodie and the Beast, She credits her Jewish upbringing for her love of food.

Fired Up About Al Ha’Esh is a profile on Al Ha’Esh the kosher Israeli grill restaurant in Rockville.


Outside of DC

My blog focuses primarily on DC restaurants, but I have enjoyed some stellar meals in other cities around the U.S. this year.  Here are a few highlights.


Mabel Gray lamb chops

It’s been a real pleasure to visit my son and daughter-in-law, who are now living in the suburb of Oak Park, just outside of Detroit.  Every visit features a frenetic food tour of as many restaurants as we can manage in a few days. Two of my best meals of 2017 were in the Detroit area.

Takoi (formerly Katoi) has received tons of accolades during its first year, even though arson took it out of commission for months.  The food is inspired by the markets of Thailand and Southeast Asia. The tasting menu at Takoi is sublime, although I’m not sure it’s offered any longer, as I can’t find it on their website. Don’t let this deter you.  Don’t miss crispy spare ribs, grilled branzino, grilled mushrooms, som tum Thai… order as much as you possibly can and take home leftovers if you must.  This restaurant alone warrants a visit to a city that is continuing to up its culinary game.

Mabel Gray is another candidate for favorite meal of the year.  To quote my own blog post:  “Chef James Rigato’s cooking is original, imaginative, and ambitious.”  My review is here, along with highlights of a few of our other Detroit dining experiences.

More favorites:  Al Ameer and M Cantina in Dearborn, Selden Standard, Slows Barbecue, Sister Pie, Public House and Voyager in Ferndale, Axle Brewing Company, Apparatus Room, Mudgie’s Deli and Wine Shop.  This is from three visits- we’re heading back in February for more!




Thanks to my job, I had two trips to Chicago this year, where I was able to squeeze in a fair amount of eating.  Favorites include meals at Elske, Monteverde Restaurant and Pastificio, Bonci USA, Bad Hunter, FunFun Chinese, and Giant. I would return to any of these restaurants, but if I had to pick only one it would be Monteverde.  Chef Sarah Grueneberg  won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes 2017 and was a “Top Chef” Season 9 finalist.

My post on Bonci: A Memorable Slice of Rome.


Res Ipsa

We visited Philadelphia this summer, where we had dinner at Vedge and lunch at Michael Solomonov’s Goldie (featuring falafel, fries and tehina shakes).  My favorite Philly meal was earlier in the year at Res Ipsa Cafe.  Named by “Bon Appetit” as one of the best new restaurants in the country, Res Ipsa features eclectic house-made pastas and vegetable dishes that will have you reminiscing about the flavor combinations for days.


New York 

Nur smoked chocolate custard

Dinner at Cosme will be remembered for the famous corn husk meringue, and the people at the table next to us who shared their food. I also went crazy over Atoboy, the restaurant with a unique Korean tasting menu. And Sadelle’s for the sticky buns, bagels, and smoked salmon.  But my favorite New York City restaurant meal this year was at Nur, the modern Israeli restaurant from Chef Meir Adoni.  This was not an easy reservation to obtain, but worth it for unique Middle Eastern flavors that dazzle.

My post on Cosme and Atoboy.


Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and delicious 2018.


Al Ha’Esh: Fired Up About New Israeli Grill in Rockville

Gideon Sasson, co-owner of Moti’s Market and Carmel Caterers, was perusing Michael Solomonov’s cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking when an idea began to take shape. Reading the section on salatim (salads), he recalled with fondness the shipudiya grill restaurants he enjoys on frequent visits to Israel with his wife Debbie. Al Ha’Esh owners Gideon […]

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