September 9, 2010 | by William George
A slew of restaurant openings for fall

As summer ends, the D.C. area will be awash with several new dining options in every quarter of the city. Whether your tastes run toward the upscale or more down-home fare, the fall season has many offerings on the horizon to make sure that nobody goes home hungry.

Chef Jason Kaufman takes the helm of the new Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar (801 Ninth St., N.W.), opening this month, and looks to cast traditional Cuban fare in a more modern light. Expect lighter sauces, expert use of cilantro and the omnipresent black beans to infuse the standard Latin-inspired offerings. In order to get your palate ready for the Cuban flavor profile, try Capitol Hill veteran Banana Café to get a feel for the subtleties of Cuban cuisine as opposed to the sometimes heavy-handedness of traditional Tex-Mex dishes.

With fall comes a welcome break in the heat wave, so diners will be seeking outdoor options before winter sets in. Those wishing to eat under the stars should check out the newest eatery in Clarendon, Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill (2424 Wilson Blvd.).  This new hotspot, located atop the Delhi Dhaba and Subway restaurants in the heart of one of the trendiest up-and-coming spots near the Courthouse Metro, hopes to draw crowds with a rotating menu of American focused cuisine, though the owners are keeping the liquor offerings a secret. Look for a weekend brunch service and a contemporary menu centered around “value and variety.”

A New York City staple will make its way into the District this October. The legendary saloon P.J. Clarke’s will bring its signature burgers, steak and raw bar menu into the space near the White House that once housed Olives. Décor will pull from the classic urban experience of tin ceilings, subway tiles on a weathered bar and red-and-white checkered tablecloths. For those wanting a slightly swankier experience as an option, the downstairs will offer a separate restaurant whimsically named Sidecar; a spiffy gentlemen’s club with overstuffed leather banquettes and fancier American fare (1600 K St., N.W.).

Two new gathering places will try to capitalize on the success of recent German schnitzel spot Biergarten Haus in the Atlas District. New gastropub Queen Vic (1206 H St., N.E.) looks to offer British fare like curries and meat pies along with English breakfasts and pub foods to disprove the myth that the British can’t eat well. A full slate of British ciders and ales round out the dining experience. Down the street, Smith Commons (1245 H St., N.E.) will offer a broader international menu with a focus on craft beers and cocktails. Smith will present itself as an urban lounge in a former industrial space (the building was once a carpet warehouse).

Tysons Corner in McLean will play host to Michel (1700 Tysons Blvd.), the latest venture by famous chef Michel Richard. Specializing in elegant French-American cuisine, Richard has taken over the space that once housed Maestro of the Ritz-Carlton and has furnished it with a sleek color palette of burgundy and steel gray. Look for classic French offerings such as coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon accompanied by Chef Richard’s inspired plating designs.

Sadly, with so many new restaurants opening, there are bound to be some closings as well. Bethesda’s underground noodle house Ren’s Ramen was scheduled to close its doors over the holiday weekend. The owners are looking for nearby space, however, so a rebirth may be on the horizon. Enology Wine Bar is also no more, but it has been rebooted as Alliance Tavern (3238 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.). Look for a shift in focus toward pub fare like the new Southwest tuna sliders and an effervescent pesto pizza.

In reality competition news, the cheftestants of “Top Chef D.C.” have left our fair city and have headed to Singapore for the home stretch of the competition. The remaining four chefs will compete in a two-part finale with the Top Chef being named on Wednesday.

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