Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Star gazing

Michelin gives Washington, DC a prestigious vote of culinary confidence

By Elodie CUZIN  /  AFP, WASHINGTON

Clients enjoy their dishes at the Rose’s Luxury restaurant last month in Washington.

Photo: AFP

It’s a Wednesday night and Rose’s Luxury won’t open for nearly another hour, but a line is already snaking out from under the brightly colored awning of one of Washington’s buzziest restaurants.

The flock of eager diners is a testament to the capital city’s newfound foodie street cred, which grabbed the attention of international culinary tastemakers who published their first Michelin guide to the city last week.

“Every time I come here there is something new and exciting,” said Sandy Diamond, a perky retiree who with her daughter made a pilgrimage to the storied restaurant from her rural Vermont home.

“Everything is always a new experience for your taste buds,” Diamond adds.

The white door trimmed in forest green finally opens and the patient epicures stream in to the spacious dining room with walls of weathered brick, which looks into the open kitchen.

A CULINARY KINGDOM

Rose’s Luxury opened in late 2013 to grand fanfare, becoming an instant sensation on the city’s foodscape.

The restaurant opened with just 20 employees, a payroll that quickly jumped to 65. “We had to grow very quickly,” said owner Aaron Silverman, 34, who worked in New York and the southern city Charleston before returning home to open his first restaurant.

A no-reservations eatery featuring reasonably priced contemporary American cuisine with an international spin, Rose’s is known for its 13-dollar plate of spaghetti bathed in a spicy tomato sauce that is tempered by a sweet dose of strawberries.

In feats of endurance many diners wait for hours to snag a seat at one of the honey-stained wood tables — but one hometown celebrity managed to skip the long line. US President Barack Obama celebrated his 54th birthday last year at the small-plates restaurant, though the restaurant kept mum on what the commander-in-chief ordered.

Buoyed by the success of his first gastronomic venture, Silverman has begun building a small kingdom of Washington restaurants. Next door to Rose’s sits its higher-end spinoff Pineapple and Pearls.

Rumor has it the sibling restaurant that opened in April is in the running for a two-star rating from Michelin’s arbiters of haute cuisine.

The US$250-dollar menu that features more than a dozen courses includes a yogurt-filled bonbon sitting atop a slotted absinthe spoon — balanced over a glass of fennel juice, celery, green apple and absinthe — and a tart featuring the delicate “fairy tale” variety of eggplants.

‘CAPITOL HILL GAME CHANGER

Bon Appetit, one of America’s leading food magazines, recently dubbed Rose’s Luxury a “Capitol Hill game changer” — two years after naming the spot America’s top new restaurant, a major boost for Washington’s gastronomic notoriety. Long considered a culinary wasteland of power lunches and bland steakhouses, the US capital city has seen its popularity among foodies skyrocket in recent years.

“The DC scene is just growing so much,” Silverman said, sporting a chef’s smock over his tattooed arms. “It’s so exciting — everybody is excited about it.”

He attributes Washington’s evolution of taste to an influx of young people, which is noticeable in the newly bustling Capitol Hill neighborhood, where he opened his restaurants.

Thanks to the city’s epicurean ambition it will now become the fourth US city — joining New York, Chicago and San Francisco — to currently wear the Michelin badge of honor.

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