Pinea, the W hotel's new restaurant, debuted today at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast, and Eater is here to chronicle opening day.
10:30 a.m. Pinea's dining room in what was formerly the J&G Steakhouse space has a fresh coat of turquoise paint to fit the restaurant's Mediterranean theme. It's not going to stay like this for long though. The plan is for the restaurant's walls to get even more ocean blue, with a glazing treatment.
10:45 a.m. Hotel guests are finishing up their breakfasts, and the dining room is being transformed for lunch. See ya, breakfast buffet.
11:20 a.m. I asked Pinea's general manager Adrian Mishek what dishes will be popular for lunch service today, and he guesses sandwiches. He says that the beet sandwich is "shockingly good." Beet sandwich, you heard it here first. Lunch service starts at 11:30 a.m.
12:00 p.m. Eater photographer Rey Lopez arrives to capture the scene.
12:10 p.m. Chatting with chef Barry Koslow is in the dining room, and he's not sweating opening day too much. "This is my third opening, and my second opening within the last three years. i’ve got a pretty good grip on what happens during openings," he said.
12:15 p.m. Now that lunch is in full swing, what to order? Koslow calls out the charred octopus, tuna nicoise salad, and the spaghetti nero with pancetta, clams, and crabs. "That's a pasta to fill you up for lunch," Koslow said.
"It's the simplicity of what we’re doing, it’s all really fresh and clean flavors. making a lot of things in house. Really the labor that’s involved, the quality of ingredients, and the approach," he said.
12:40 p.m. Sneaking a peek at another table, and their crab and guanciale croquetas are calling to me.
12:50 p.m. Aaaand now we're drinking. Sean Bradshaw is walking us through the wine by the glass menu, starting with the most affordable option, a $9 "patio pounder" from Spain. The wine menu has been totally revamped for Pinea's opening. You won't find any American wines at all, although if you really need an American chardonnay, the hotel can hook you up. "We're really sticking with Southern France, as well a lot of Italian wines, Spanish wine, and one Greek wine," says Bradshaw, who considers Spanish wines to be the best value out there right now.
1:15 p.m. A quick scan of the dining room reveals I am one of the few people drinking. Guess Washington isn't into boozy lunches this Wednesday.
1:30 p.m. GM Adrian Mishek gave me a rundown of Pinea's cocktails. "The entire cocktail list, I wanted to take traditional American cocktails and traditional European cocktails and flip flop them," he said, using American ingredients in European cocktails and vice versa. So the Kir Normandy uses local Foggy Ridge Virginia dry cider, and a spin on a martini called the Vow of Silence uses green chartreuse. Mishek didn't touch the negroni at all though. "I just used ingredients that I like," he said.
1:35 p.m. I'm trying the Cocchi Cola, with Cocchi Americano and sparkling water. "You know when you're at the movie theatre and there's that little bit left of Coca Cola in the bottom of your cup? It reminds me of that," Mishek said. I can see it. Except this drink packs a punch.
2 p.m. We got into the kitchen to check in on Koslow and Richard Wiggins, executive chef of the W. Things are looking calm. I asked Koslow if he'd made any changes to the menu based on diner feedback. "The harshest critic is my wife," Koslow said. "She has a culinary background and I asked her to be very critical." They met in culinary school!
Koslow's wife visited the restaurant twice during mock service and offered her feedback. "That's what openings are about, paying attention to the details," he said.
2:05 p.m. The dining room is about half full now with late lunchers, and dinner is going to be a much bigger production. "Dinner is lot more intense," Koslow said. "It's a bigger crew and a lot more covers."
2:30 p.m. The crab and guanciale croquettes are just as good as they look. They've got a little zing to them.
2:45 p.m. The dining room's lunch crowd has emptied out but I'm still here, typing and drinking red wine (a $16 glass of Rioja that's been aged for seven years). And diving into the beet tartine, which is topped with charred red onion and olive tapenade. Next time, I'm getting the tuna nicoise salad.
3 p.m. Here's a nice little perk of dining at Pinea. Sean Bradshaw says that everyone will get a palate-cleansing free glass of pompelmocello after their meal. It's similar to limoncello, but with grapefruit. The restaurant is making it in house, with lots and lots of juiced grapefruit combined with grain alcohol and simple syrup. Bradshaw describes the taste thusly: "It's a lot of sweet, some kick and then the grapefruit."
3:13 p.m. Still here. Getting one more cocktail, even though the lights are flickering on and off in the dining room.
3:50 p.m.: Have you been checking out Rey Lopez's photos of opening day? Just uploaded some behind-the-scenes kitchen shots.
3:53 p.m. One Kir Normandy cocktail later, and I'm calling it a lunch.
4:45 p.m. W's Zineb Tourougui says Pinea ended up serving 47 covers for lunch. Since it's opening day, only nine reservations have been made on OpenTable, but time will tell what the crowds will look like. Dinner service starts at 5:30 p.m.