ZOMG everybody: Graffiato's Mike Isabella will open a modern Mexican restaurant named Bandolero in the Georgetown space that once housed Hook — even though Graffiato itself has only been open for a matter of months. Apparently owner Jonathan Umbel decided not to reopen the seafood restaurant after it was badly damaged in a fire this summer and instead get Isabella to work his magic there.
According to a press release, the menu will involve "small plates including salsas, guacamoles, ceviches, tacos, vegetables and more" as well as fajitas with fillings like duck, goat and off cuts. There will be an emphasis on the cocktail program and they've have tacos and guacamole available late-night after the kitchen closes.
So that's the good news. And now for the juicy drama sideshow to this whole story.
Of course, this news was surprising in itself. But also surprising is the way in which it was presented — now causing somewhat of a revolt in the food blogging community. Earlier this morning, Russell Warnick of the much-loved blog Endless Simmer had the story in rumor form from an interview with the Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis. At that point, though, Isabella flatly and emphatically denied that this was in any way true, saying that 1) it was a "miscommunication" with De Laurentiis 2) he's too far behind on his cookbook to work on another project right now, and 3) he just plain "wouldn't do a Spanish/Mexican concept."
Well, it's amazing what a difference a couple of hours can make. Just a little bit later in the day the Washington Post's Tom Sietsema came out with a story reporting this very same thing! But this time without the denials. So a lot of bloggers and people on the Twitter are kind of a little bit upset that Isabella didn't at least use the typical non-denial denial when talking to Endless Simmer. Eater reached out to Isabella's camp, who furnished the following response from the chef:
"When rumors first come out the information wasn't all accurate and we weren't ready to share news about Bandolero. Once we were ready, we called Tom Sietsema with the news first and before talking to other media we wanted to honor that exclusive."
OK. So that doesn't entirely answer why he didn't just refuse to comment, but it's something. Will it mollify the blogging people?