Turning Tables: Pastis Makes Its Way to Washington, D.C.

Wine

Who’s behind it: On the heels of Pastis Miami’s opening, restaurateurs Stephen Starr and Keith McNally are bringing French bistro concept Pastis to the nation’s capital. It joins the acclaimed Starr Restaurants portfolio, which includes Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Pastis in Manhattan, as well as Restaurant Award winners Le Zoo in Bar Harbor, Fl., Le Diplomate in Washington, D.C., and Buddakan in New York. McNally is the founder of the original Pastis location and the owner of Balthazar, a cornerstone of New York’s Soho neighborhood.

When will it open: Pastis D.C. is set to open for dinner in January 2024, with lunch and brunch services to follow.

What’s on the wine list: Starr Restaurants corporate wine director Mikayla Avedisian-Cohen has put together a wine program of about 300 labels, representing some 3,500 bottles in the cellar. Beverage manager Ian Cruz (formerly at Pastis Miami) will oversee the list day to day. “The wine list is going to be what I consider a beautiful fusion of the [original] restaurant, Pastis in New York, and the Pastis in Miami,” Avedisian-Cohen told Wine Spectator, adding that the list is likely to evolve and grow. Appropriately, France is the star, with picks from the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and farther afield.

The lobster cobb salad at Pastis D.C. (Pastis)

While Pastis locations consistently highlight classic French wine regions, said Avedisian-Cohen, “I think that the D.C. palate is really excited by things that can reach off the beaten path.” Among wines from smaller regions and lesser-known appellations, that includes white, orange and red Coteaux Champenois; wines from French regions such as Jura, Savoie and Corsica, and little-known appellations like Burgundy’s St.-Bris and Basque Country’s Irouléguy. “The vibrance and the sentiment and the energy of Washington is, ‘What can you tell me about this wine? What can I learn?’” Avedisian-Cohen observed. “[Washingtonians] seem thirsty for wine but also thirsty for knowledge.”

Rarer wine gems: The program features vertical depth and horizontal breadth. For instance, Avedisian-Cohen taps six vintages from Burgundy’s Château des Quarts and multiple cuvées of Egly-Ouriet Champagne. Guests can also expect selections from wineries such as the Rhone’s Yves Cuilleron and Bordeaux châteaus Batailley, Pavie and Rauzan-Ségla (the second wines for the latter two). The list also has significant selections of large-format bottles, as well as half-bottles.

 A croque madame sandwich at Pastis

In true bistro fashion, add an egg to your croque monsieur at Pastis and enjoy a croque madame! (Pastis)

The culinary approach: Pastis fans will find dishes on the D.C. menu such as bouillabaisse, croque monsieur (or croque madame, for egg fans), Wiener schnitzel, lobster frites and escargot. “There will definitely be some new items,” Avedisian-Cohen added.

The design: The 250-seat restaurant is housed in an 11,000-square-foot former warehouse and, as at other Pastis restaurants, the dining room (designed by Ian McPheely of Paisley Design NYC) is decked in classic bistro trappings: red banquettes, a zinc-top bar and white tiles. Vintage mirrors advertising Pastis’ namesake liqueur were crafted by designer Robert Padilla, who created similar mirrors for Pastis in New York.

The neighborhood: The new Pastis is located within D.C.’s Union Market district, not far from Brentwood Hamilton Park and a range of hotels and restaurants. That includes Starr’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning St. Anselm, co-owned with Joe Carroll.—C.D.

Team Behind Boston’s Alcove Opens Seafood-Focused Hook + Line on the Waterfront

Who’s behind it: Restaurateur and wine professional Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, who also owns Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Alcove on Boston’s Lovejoy Wharf. “I love seafood and have spent many of my formative years working in great seafood restaurants,” Schlesinger-Guidelli told Wine Spectator via email. “I wanted to get back to my roots. When I was presented with a prime piece of real estate on the waterfront in Boston, I knew that this was the time and the place to create my seafood restaurant!”

Why you should know about it: While Boston’s dining scene already excels with Italian eateries, seafood and world-class restaurants like Grand Award winner Grill 23, the city’s newer restaurants have also been attracting attention for their cuisine and wine lists. Hook + Line gives wine and seafood lovers even more to be excited about.

When it opened: Hook + Line opened in November 2023.

The culinary approach: Working with a wood-fired grill for the core of the menu, Hook + Line chef Mark Cina focuses primarily on seafood and contemporary interpretations of New England cuisine. “Mark already had relationships with our local fleets, but now it’s even better since Boston’s historic Fish Pier is just blocks away,” Schelsinger-Guidelli explained. “[He] has even biked to the fish pier from the restaurant to go check out fresh product and speak with the fleet. It’s amazing.” Expect starters such as kingfish crudo with jalapeno, za’atar-crusted tuna loin, clam chowder and herb shrimp toast, followed by entrées like baked stuffed lobster, a wood fire–grilled Atlantic swordfish steak in a citrus sauce and baked sea scallops with lemon butter. There are fried clams and lobster rolls as well.

 A table of fried calamari, grilled fish and baked clams

True to its name, the restaurant puts seafood center stage. (Drew Katz, Graffito SP)

What’s on the wine list: Schelsinger-Guidelli oversees the global, 175-label wine program, with particular strengths in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and California. By-the-glass and half-bottle selections total nearly 40 wines, including bubbly from Josep Maria Raventós i Blanc, Grüner Veltliner from Salomon-Undhof, white Burgundy from Olivier Leflaive and Sonoma Pinot Noir from Hirsch.

“First and foremost we are champions of great white wines,” said Schelsinger-Guidelli, noting Hook + Line’s robust Loire and Chenin Blanc selections. “The wineries we work with are typically smaller and not dogmatically natural, but instead focus on strong farming practices that echo organics and biodynamics, whether certified or not.”

For the end of the meal, dessert wines include Sauternes and TBA Sauvignon Blanc. “I want guests to have fun with wine,” Schelsinger-Guidelli explained. “Like every dish is hand-crafted, so are the wines we serve. We are mere stewards of the agricultural product the winemakers are bringing to us and with that comes a responsibility to show why it is fun and interesting.”

Hook + Line will begin hosting wine-focused events in 2024: “People are interested,” Schelsinger-Guidelli said, “and I appreciate that they trust me and want to hear more about wine.”

 The interior of Hook and Line, with blue chairs, green tiles and a shelves of wood logs

This seafood spot is among the newest restaurants to arrive in Boston’s Seaport (Drew Katz, Graffito SP)

The design: The 275-seat Hook + Vine features a waterside patio, which leads into a modern-design dining room. Glass and reclaimed wood elements are prominent, as are bright blues on the restaurant’s benches, chair legs and square centerpiece bar. There are also tiles reminiscent of fish scales. “I love the result,” said Schelsinger-Guidelli. “It is playful, whimsical and eye-catching with beautiful, deep textures and colors of the ocean.”

The neighborhood: The restaurant is located within Boston’s Seaport, not far from Fan Pier Park, Waterfront Park, Seaport Park, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Boston Fire Museum and a number of local seafood mainstays.

Adjoining the restaurant is H + L Market, which offers fish freshly caught in Boston area waters. The market also offers prepared entrées and foodstuffs like lobster rolls, seafood salads, sandwiches, fried clams, tinned fish and caviar.—C.D.

Chefs Hillary Sterling and Nancy Silverton Unite for a Great Cause

What you should know about it: On Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., acclaimed chefs Hillary Sterling and Nancy Silverton will come together at Sterling’s Ci Siamo (a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner) for a one-night-only dinner supporting the Food Bank for New York City. The event kicks off a new charity dinner series called Eat for Good, which will continue with at least two other meals in 2024. According to a press release, the dinner will be “an evening that celebrates Italian cuisine with a menu inspired by chef Sterling and chef Silverton’s experience cooking in Italy, NYC, [Los Angeles] and beyond.”

More about the cause: The largest hunger-relief organization in New York City, the Food Bank has worked to feed low-income New Yorkers in all five boroughs since 1983. Driven by the mission to “empower New Yorkers to achieve food security for good,” the Food Bank provides a range of services, including advocacy, nutrition education, income support, direct food distribution and more.

 Hillary Sterling and Nancy Silverton

This charitable endeavor represents the combined efforts of Hillary Sterling, left, and Nancy Silverton. (Giada Paoloni / Courtesy of Osteria Mozza)

What the chefs are saying: “I’m incredibly excited to be participating,” Sterling told Wine Spectator. “Having the chance to welcome Nancy and her team to the Ci Siamo kitchen is a true honor, made more special by the opportunity to raise money for an organization that’s positively impacting the lives of hungry New Yorkers.”

“Hillary is such a talented chef and a great friend. I’m honored to be able to cook alongside her for this special event,” said Silverton, the co-owner of Best of Award of Excellence winner Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. “Food insecurity is something I’ve worked to combat on the West Coast, and I am grateful to be able to do my part to raise awareness for this great cause on the East Coast.”

How to get tickets: Tickets are available for purchase on Resy. The $500 ticket includes a multi-course meal with wine pairings, and 60 percent of the purchase price will go directly to the Food Bank for New York City.

Future dinners in the series: The Jan. 22 event is the first of three planned for 2024. In March, David Chang’s Los Angeles outpost, Majordōmo, will collaborate with Momofuku Noodle Bar (the group’s original East Village restaurant) for a charity dinner that brings together “Majordōmo’s eclectic, seasonally driven menu … with Momofuku Noodle Bar’s cult-favorite menu of noodles, buns and handrolls.”

In June, chef Fermín Núñez of Este in Austin, Texas, will team up with chef Luis Herrera of Brooklyn’s Ensenada to “prepare a feast that celebrates Mexican cuisine, fresh seafood and charcoal cooking, along with mezcal and more.” Ticket prices for the upcoming dinners are yet to be announced.—K.M.

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