March 8, 2013 | by Jonathan Howard
New tastes for spring
cherry blossoms, spring, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Spring is right around the corner, and at least in this foodie’s mind, that means more eating out. This spring there are many new restaurants opening around town, giving us all the chance to taste something new and hopefully worthwhile.

Bryan Voltaggio’s Range is now opened for lunch starting at 11:30 a.m. seven days a week. The lunch menu is a three-course tasting menu featuring the most popular options available at Range. If you haven’t been able to get a reservation for dinner, try Range for lunch. [see our previous review of Range here]

Art and Soul (415 New Jersey Ave NW) reopened after a month-long renovation, now with a fresh new look and fresh menu items by gay chef and owner Art Smith.

In February, partners Daisuke Utagawa, Yama Jewayni and Katsuya Fukushima opened Daikaya (705 6th Street). The first floor Sapporo-style ramen restaurant was the first phase to open and in March they will be opening up the second floor, izakaya.

The Gryphon (1337 Connecticut Ave NW) has opened in Dupont Circle; this 5000 square-foot eatery is the marriage of a gastro pub and upscale sports bar. Executive Chef Joseph Evans will be serving up hearty yet refined plates that are modern versions of classic bar food. This closet lover of bar food is excited to try out what The Gryphon has to offer.

Late this spring, D.C. is expecting another Mike Isabella eatery with Kapnos (2201 14th Street NW). Kapnos will draw its inspiration from Northern Greece; dinner will begin with a choice of carvings from whole animals that have been spit-roasted the entire day. Along with Kapnos, Mike Isabella is opening G next door, which will serve Italian sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch six days a week (maybe I will finally be able to find the perfect Chicken Parmesan sandwich) and at night it will feature a four course tasting menu.

On March 15, Marjorie Meeks-Bradley becomes the executive chef of Ripple (3417 Connecticut Ave NW). Meeks-Bradley will replace Roger Marmet. The menu will continue to be creative American cuisine prepared with only the finest local and seasonal ingredients.

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The 101st annual Cherry Blossom Festival returns to D.C. from March 20 until April 14 and many D.C. restaurants are helping celebrate the festival with creative cherry-inspired cocktails or meals.

Tel’Veh Café and Wine Bar (401 Massachusetts Ave NW) is offering a $35 prix fixe menu to coincide with the festival including a baked cod in a cherry sauce.

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana (401 7th Street NW) is pouring “La Japonesa” during the festival. This drink is made from a combination of tequila, cherry liqueur, cherry blossom soda and lime.

Jaleo (480 7th Street NW) will be serving up the Sakura D.C., a cocktail comprised of gin, cherry blossom syrup and Triple sec. [See our previous review of Jaleo here]

Newly opened Ambar (523 8th Street SE) is offering a special dessert prepared by Serbian-born pastry chef Danilo Bucan during the festival. The Cherry and Valerona Chocolate Cake is made with Cherry Foam and served with Micro Basil.

Astro Donuts and Fried Chicken (1308 G Street NW) is scheduled to open in mid-to-late March and openly gay chef Jason Gehring will be setting the menu for this creative establishment. My sweet tooth is excited to sit down with Chef Gehring and try out some of the gourmet donuts this establishment will be serving up. (Look for a review and chef profile here soon).

From March 31 until May 5, Jose Andres and his team at Zaytinya  (701 9th Street NW) will be celebrating Greek Easter with a menu inspired by traditional Greek Orthodox Easter and Lenten meals reimagined including Lachonsalata, Zatinya’s own take on traditional shredded cabbage and carrot salad and Clam Stew from Lefkada.

In April, NoPa Kitchen+Bar (800 F Street NW) will be opening with Chef Greg McCarty as the executive chef. This restaurant is American Brasserie style and guests can expect fresh vegetables, as well as select meats and fish prepared with a touch of French style to dominate the menu.

This is just a select preview of a few of the many opening, specials and new chefs in Washington. As always, the D.C. restaurant scene is bustling and ever changing.

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