Turning Tables: José Andrés Group Alum Opens Casa Teresa in Washington, D.C.

Wine

Who’s behind it: Rubén García, an acclaimed Spanish chef, has worked with culinary leaders such as the late Jean Luc Figueras and Martín Berasategui, and at celebrated restaurants such as Ferran Adrià’s now-closed El Bulli. As the creative director of José Andrés Group (formerly ThinkFoodGroup) for 16 years, he also worked with the avant-garde, chef’s table–style, tasting-menu-only Minibar, which holds a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

Why you should know about it: Restaurants spotlighting the culinary traditions of Spain continue to grow in popularity and significance across the U.S., thanks in no small part to chefs like García and Andrés. This new spot strengthens the reputation of Washington, D.C., as an exciting bastion for Spanish dining.

When it opened: Casa Teresa opened its doors in early November; it serves lunch and dinner every day except Sunday.

The culinary approach: García looks to his own background for the menu at Casa Teresa, drawing from the cuisine of Spain’s Catalonia region. The chef is also inspired by the life and cooking of his great-grandmother, Teresa Espinosa Moreno (the restaurant’s namesake), a social and political activist who was imprisoned for three years by Francisco Franco’s government during the Spanish Civil War.

Casa Teresa’s dining room offers an inviting atmosphere for enjoying Rubén García’s menu. (Scott Suchman)

García taps local and seasonal ingredients and uses open-flame cooking for many of his plates. Dishes include escalivada Catalan (roasted eggplants, onions and peppers in a Sherry vinegar dressing), botifarra Catalana amb seques (house-made Catalan sausage with navy beans, bacon and aioli), chuletón de buey (a 30-ounce, bone-in ribeye) and las croquetas de la Dolors (chicken and bechamel fritters based on a recipe from García’s mother). Among the smaller plates are piquillo peppers, Cantabrian anchovies, jamón Iberico (there is also a jamón cart) and more. Two prix-fixe menus—Teresa’s Menu for lunch ($38 per guest) and Teresa’s Table for dinner ($105, plus $75 for optional wine pairings)—are served family style and honor the cooking traditions of Espinosa Moreno’s hometown.

What’s on the wine list: Wine director and assistant general manager Sarah Vanags oversees a list of about 100 wines, 75 percent from Spain. “Our wine program takes our guests on a sensory expedition through Spain’s dynamic terroirs,” Vanags told Wine Spectator via email. “The selection captures each region’s essence.” This includes bubbly from sparkling wine house Llopart and a range of Sherries from houses such as Emilio Lustau, as well as Albariños, Riojas and Garnachas from Priorat. Going forward, Vanags plans to rotate in new wines to pair with García’s seasonal cuisine.

 Bottles of wine on metal shelves at Casa Teresa, with wood boxes of wine stacked nearby

Spain is the star of Casa Teresa’s beverage program, making up about three quarters of the wine list. (Scott Suchman)

The list showcases bottles from wineries owned or operated by women and wines made using sustainable and biodynamic techniques. “This collection celebrates the diversity of Spanish wines while honoring the significant contributions of women in shaping the industry,” Vanags explained. In the future, the restaurant will host dinners to highlight specific wineries. Among other beverage options are about a dozen Spanish vermouths, plus Spanish-influenced cocktails from bar director Owen Thompson.

The design: Barcelona-based group El Equipo Creativo designed Casa Teresa’s 95-seat dining room with terracotta-hued elements; the space features a 32-seat bar, a private dining room for up to 18 guests and a 12-seat chef’s table.

The neighborhood: Casa Teresa is located just north of the White House and south of Dupont Circle, near the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Smithsonian Museums and other attractions. The restaurant adjoins the Square, a larger food, beverage and market space that García opened with chef Richie Brandenburg—also formerly of José Andrés Group—through their Unfold Hospitality, working with real-estate developer Tishman Speyer. The space also contains Shoals Market (a not-yet-opened retailer selling foodstuffs and wines), the Atrium Bar for cocktails, García’s Spanish street food–focused Brasa, his ham-focused Jamón Jamón and the seafood restaurant Cashion’s Rendezvous from Ann Cashion and John Fulchino, among other food and beverage vendors.—C.D.

Flight Wine Bar to Close in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is set to lose a beloved wine destination. Earlier this month, the co-owners of Flight Wine Bar announced that it will be shutting its doors permanently on Dec. 21. Swati Bose and Kabir Amir opened Flight Wine Bar in January 2014, offering locally sourced, seasonal cuisine and an impressive wine list that was notable for its reasonable pricing and that has earned a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence since 2016. Among the more than 750 labels, the main strengths were in France, Italy, California, Spain and Austria, but Bose and Amir sourced wines from key regions all over the world. Many bottlings were from family-owned wineries and lesser-known regions—the likes of Uruguay, Serbia, Georgia and Armenia, France’s Jura, Lebanon and the Canary Islands—and were often made with native grape varieties.

 Swati Bose and Kabir Amir leading a tasting for guests at Flight Wine Bar at a wood bar with wood chairs in a room with other wood elements and wine bottles on wood shelves

Swati Bose and Kabir Amir—shown here leading a tasting—offered one of D.C.’s most informative wine experiences at Flight Wine Bar. (Scott Suchman)

The restaurant also offered more than 20 flights of three wines for $20 and more than 35 selections by the glass. Altogether, Flight Wine Bar provided D.C. locals and visitors with a welcoming and educational space for enjoying a wide range of great wines on the border of the capital’s Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods. At this time, Flight Wine Bar’s team is inviting guests to visit and celebrate the restaurant; they are also offering much of the wine inventory for purchase at retail prices Dec. 26–30.—C.D.


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