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Busy summer for D.C. foodies

Restaurant Week, ‘Top Chef’ and return of an H Street favorite



VINOTECA (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: This is the debut of the Blade’s restaurant news column. It will appear every other week. Send news and tips about the local dining scene to writer William George at [email protected].

After suffering a crippling electrical fire on the morning of June 20, H Street eatery The Argonaut has reopened the upstairs bar area and patio for limited service. During the weeks leading up to the reopening, many members of the Atlas District community banded together to provide assistance to the staff, either in the form of helping clean out the gutted downstairs area, signing petitions to adjust the restaurant’s licensure, or leaving many inspirational messages via Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites.

Two benefits were held for the Argonaut, one at nearby Rock and Roll Hotel (which, incidentally, is the site of the temporary Argonaut kitchen), and the second at H Street nightspot The Palace of Wonders. Proceeds from both benefits went toward an employee assistance fund put in place to provide bridge funding for full-time employees to take care of housing costs and other bills.

Now that the restaurant is open, the menu is slightly different. Standout items include the “PB & N,” made with house peanut butter and Nutella, the creamy hazelnut spread popular in Australia, and a crisp cold gazpacho served with fresh avocado. As the restaurant finds its footing, more items will be added to the menu and the popular themed nights like Wednesday night Pub Quiz will return to drive business.

A projected full scale reopening looks to be at least four months away, taking into account investigations and reconstruction. This week marks Argonaut’s five-year anniversary, and this Sunday the staff will be hosting a birthday party for the restaurant catered by local barbecue house Fat Face BBQ. All week, drinks are $5, from draft beer to top shelf liquor in honor of the event. Hours, menu and an online merchandise store can be found at the restaurant website,

Quill Bar, located in the lobby of the super swanky Jefferson Hotel (1200 16th St., N.W.), has crowned a new king of the mixologists in Duane Sylvestre of Bourbon Steak. His winning cocktail, whimsically named “Stained G.L.A.S.S.” incorporates Heavy Water vodka with fresh fruits and herbs from local garden properties in the area. Other highlights included the famed “White Cosmopolitan,” a drink brought to the District from New York’s Upper East Side that showcases white cranberry juice, St. Germain vodka, and, in a spirit of ostentatious decadence, an orchid encased in ice. Sylvestre’s drink will appear on the Quill Bar menu in the near future. (

Not to be outdone by its bar, Plume Restaurant, also housed in the Jefferson, has a new feather in its cap. In June, it was voted Best Overall Restaurant in the Washington D.C. area by OpenTable. It holds the top position in Ambiance, Service, and Special Occasion. Executive chef Damon Gordon has put together a series of four-course prix fixe menus for the summer season that change weekly with themes like Tahitian Vanilla, Tamarind, Matcha Green Tea, and Summer Beets. (

The Capital Grille in Tysons Corner is in the midst of its 2010 Master Wine Tasting Event. Master Sommelier George Miliotes has hand-selected an incredible list of 21 wines from “the finest wine…regions on Earth.” For $25 you will get an unlimited tasting (with dinner), complete with a guided tour provided by the servers, and, if you’re fortunate, Master Miliotes may stop by himself. The featured regions until Sept. 6 are California, Spain and Australia. Reservations are accepted for dinner service. (

Restaurant Week arrives

Monday, Aug. 16 marks the kick-off of the week-long D.C. Summer Restaurant Week. This semi-annual event showcases more than 200 of the area’s restaurants’ finest offerings with both lunch and dinner prix fixe menus. Begun in 2001 as a strategy to boost business after Sept. 11, this event offers diners the opportunity to get a feeling for a restaurant’s signature dishes without the commitment of a full-course meal. Prices are $20.10 for lunch and $35.10 for dinner (not including tax, alcohol or gratuity). The festival lasts until Sunday, Aug. 22, and the full list of participating restaurants can be found at

In food entertainment news, TLC’s brand new show “DC Cupcakes” (Friday 10/9c), centered around the Georgetown bakery, has been renewed for a second season following its six episode summer trial run. The series follows sisters and business partners Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis as they navigate the everyday trials of running an increasingly successful business. In standard reality food show format (think “Cake Boss”), the show aims to shine a light on the relationships between having a family member as your business partner, as well as highlighting the sweets that the pair cranks out every day. It will be interesting to see if the family-owned bakery will survive the big reality TV machine and recover from lukewarm reviews from critics. (

Food competition juggernaut “Top Chef” continues to bring the drama out of the kitchen and into your living room with a scandal dubbed “Pea-gate 2010.” For those who didn’t watch the July 28 episode, chef Alex Reznik of Hollywood, Calif., won the elimination challenge held in D.C. institution The Palm with an applewood smoked salmon dish served with black forbidden rice and English pea purée. The scandal stems from the fact that Reznik was not shown prepping the purée at any point, but fellow chef Ed Cotton was. On challenge day, Ed was unable to locate his finished purée and ended up having to improvise something else on the spot. It really wouldn’t be so bad if the judges hadn’t praised chef Alex specifically for the purée during judging and awarding him the win based on that component. Chef Ed showed great restraint in not calling Reznik out on the apparent theft, but later that evening the Internet exploded with debates on whether or not Bravo TV is rewarding shady behavior for the sake of ratings.

This week, the chefs undertake one of the most difficult and most anticipated of all the challenges with Restaurant Wars airing Aug. 11. (


Bars & Parties

Support HIV research with a drag show

Tara Hoot, Evry Pleasure, TrevHER to perform



Tara Hoot performs at Cherry Sundays on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

El Techo will host, in partnership with Cherry Fund, a special edition of “Cherry Sundays” on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. 

This event is a one-day fundraising bottomless brunch. There will be performances by Evry Pleasure, Tara Hoot and TrevHER, with DJ Lemz. All tequila shot purchases will be donated to the Cherry Fund.

The Cherry Fund raises money for LGBTQ non-profits whose primary goal is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS with prevention, treatment and education, and mental health services.

The event costs $45, inclusive of bottomless brunch on margaritas, mimosas, Bloody Marys and Tecates.

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Bars & Parties

MAL kicks off Jan. 11 with Bootcamp

Mid-Atlantic Leather begins with party at Bunker



MAL Weekend kicks off next week. (Image courtesy of Bunker)

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend arrives next week with a kickoff event Thursday, Jan. 11 from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. at Bunker. Organizers at Kinetic promise a surprise drill sergeant who will whip you into shape. Joshua Ruiz DJs the event. This event is for VIP pass holders only; visit for details.

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Bars & Parties

A roundup of New Year’s Eve parties in D.C.

Celebrate the start of 2024 in style



Xavier Entertainment LLC will host the seventh annual Times Square NYE Celebration at 10 p.m. at Ivy City Smokehouse. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

New Year’s Eve 2024 at Lost Society will be at 7 p.m. at Lost Society. There will be unique entertainment all night along with a journey of the senses through captivating light shows and LED displays, music, and bottle service presentations throughout the evening. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Busboys and Poets will host New Year’s Eve Open Mic and Party at 10 p.m. at 2021 14th St., N.W. This will be an evening of poetry, live DJ, dancing, food, and good company in a vibrant atmosphere where local artists take the stage, showcasing their talents in various genres. The night will be hosted by the talented Charity Blackwell and will feature award-winning poet Black Chakra. Dyanna Monet will deejay. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

QueerTalk DC will host Sapphic New Year’s Celebration at 8 p.m. at FigLeaf Bar & Lounge. The event will celebrate Sapphic, trans, and non-binary communities and feature complimentary hors D’oeuvres, a Champagne toast and DJ sets by DJ Clamazon and DJ Q. For more details, visit Eventbrite

The Queers Upstairs will host Heels & Ties: A Queer New Years Eve Surprise at 9 p.m. at Aliceanna Social Club. This evening will be an unforgettable LGBTQ New Year’s Eve party where you can sip your favorite cocktails and enjoy small bites while dancing the night away with music from DJ Rosie & DJ Missy. Tickets start at $30 and can purchased on Eventbrite

BuffBoyzz Gay-Friendly Male Strip Clubs will host a male revue that caters to men and women at 8 p.m. at Buffboyzz Male Strippers. The event will be an exciting, entertaining and sexy show of exotic male dancers in that will entertain your pants off. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

International Events Washington DC will host the 2024 Black Tie New Year’s Eve Gala at 7:30 p.m. at the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C. There will be free-flowing Champagne, an open bar, a spectacular balloon drop in the Euro Discotheque Ballroom and live bands and DJs. For dinner, guests can choose from an elegant sit-down, three-course dinner with Champagne or a dinner buffet of international cuisine. Tickets start at $189 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Social Architects will host the 12th Annual New Year’s Eve Casino Night at 8 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, Va. There will be six rooms of entertainment spread across three floors. The DJs will spin hip hop, R&B, salsa, Afrobeats and old school music. Tickets start at $60 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Pitchers and A League of Her Own will host a NYE party with complimentary Champagne toast at midnight, party favors, and a DJ all night long.

Shaker’s plans a drag extravaganza with Tatianna and Crystal Edge among others starting at 10:30 p.m.; the $10 cover includes a glass of Champagne. 

Bunker hosts a 12-hour masquerade ball with several DJs, including Joe Gauthreaux. The party starts at 9 p.m. and goes until 9 a.m. on Jan. 1. Tickets start at $45 and are available at

DJ Alex Love spins NYE at Dirty Goose with drink specials at midnight.

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