In a long piece in the Washington Post magazine, Breadline and Marvelous Market founder Mark Furstenberg says what he believes D.C.'s food scene is missing. Among his complaints: a lack of intrinsic food culture, chefs expanding too quickly and not enough locally-owned grocery stores.
A lot of sophisticated eaters say Washington is now a "world-class" food city, whatever that means. When they say that, they generally are talking about our restaurants; and we have many good restaurants. We even have a number of excellent ones. Central Michel Richard, CitiZen, Palena, Obelisk, Vidalia all come to mind. But I have lived here for 52 years, and food has been my hobby all that time. In 1990 I turned that hobby into a career and opened Marvelous Market. In 1997 I started the Breadline, a downtown bakery and restaurant (I don't own either of them now). I am not nearly as encouraged as others. I do not believe that we have the elements of a really wonderful food culture.
The piece has generated a bunch of chatter on Twitter, a lot of it fueled with outrage. Some genuinely disagree with the author's points. Some see some valid arguments. And others just seemed bogged down by a tough week where everyone seems to be picking on Washington's food scene. Here are some of the Tweets going around today.
@tiffmacisaac: Reading Mark Furstenberg's piece about why DC is not a great food city has some decent points but most of it I don't agree with...
@SandwichJack: Some hard truths drown in a sea of negativity in Mark Furstenberg's @washingtonpost mag survey of the #DC food scene.
?@horwitz: @JoeHeim That's obviously your prerogative, but @betterdrinking was right. It's terrible and ignorant, even by low opinion piece standards.
@gansie: "Washington needs more discerning customers who care less about being the first to go to new restaurants..." bit.ly/176LWHa #preach
?@jamie_bear: Furstenberg's criticism of DC food is accurate, but contains the right amt of love for DC to be taken seriously.
@brianbillion: @betterdrinking @WaPoFood: never thought I'd see the guy who founded Marvelous Market complaining about high prices and rapid expansion
@SamsGoodMeats: After much positivity & progress in #DCfood, we finally hear from the local self-hating chefow.ly/mRLGY (h/t @betterdrinking)
@RighteousCheese @betterdrinking @WaPoFood @washingtonpost@JoeHeim: Our super attentive service, unique cheeses & delicious pairings = better than NYC (2/2)
@AnnaSpiegs: Certain sources (ahem @washingtonpost mag) hate on our food scene, but not @WineEnthusiast! See their 100 best list: bit.ly/18bC3N8
@jigolden @frijolita @washingtonpost: We are just getting killed by everyone. Even our own paper!
@mikemadden: Good choice by Post magazine to get curmudgeonly Mark Furstenberg to pour cold water on D.C. food scene buzz
@jsidman: @OpenDoorDining: Not truth-telling, opinion-telling. Dismissing all the progress this city has made.
@dchagedorn: Finally someone says this out loud: "Ben's is Washington's version of Pat's and Geno's...iconic but not good."
There were longer conversations, too. Food writers David Hagedorn and Sam Hiersteiner debated whether it was legitimate to criticize the piece on Twitter in 140 character increments. Twitter users like Aaron Morrissey and Nichole Remmert don't see the city's beer scene as separate from its food scene. And mixologist Derek Brown of the Columbia Room has plenty to say, even challenging Furstenberg to a debate. We'd listen to that.
· What's Missing from D.C.'s Food Scene? A Lot. [WaPo]