The dining landscape around the District has changed dramatically since the inaugural Michelin guide put area restaurants under the microscope.
A slew of new eateries are slowly rolling out at the newly minted Wharf complex. James Beard Award-winning chef Aaron Silverman is in the process of splitting Michelin-starred Pineapple and Pearls in two, moving his daytime cafe to forthcoming bakery and wine bar, Little Pearl, while retaining the fine dining destination he’s created on Barracks Row. And Top Chef alum turned empire builder Mike Isabella unveiled his first Spanish-Moroccan outpost, the critically acclaimed Arroz.
The anonymous inspectors’ final evaluations are set to be revealed Tuesday, October 17.
Here are some things to keep in mind before the fabled Red Guide once again weighs in.
The Hunt for Three Stars
The first time around, Michelin inspectors decided that only three local establishments were worthy of two stars: tastemaker José Andrés’ whimsical Minibar; Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls; and the venerable Inn at Little Washington.
Twelve months later, Inn chef and co-founder Patrick O’Connell — who just received a four star-review from Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema — is gearing up for the exurban restaurant’s 40th anniversary, Andrés is racing from one natural disaster to another to feed the world’s neediest people, and Silverman is adding a third restaurant (and year-round gelateria) to his plate.
Does any of that warrant a bump up to the next level?
Those that don’t make it into the guide are a constant source of fascination.
Meanwhile, if the inspectors are willing to take detours to Little Washington, does that mean a trip to the Rammy award-winning Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is also on the table?
There’s plenty of newcomers to the area that could be in the Michelin mix.
One that’s out of contention is Sfoglina, the neighborhood restaurant Rammy award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi installed in Van Ness. Although heralded by Sietsema as a winner (“everything about it … spells indulgence”), team Michelin placed it on the latest Bib Gourmand list — which excludes it from star treatment.
Do any of D.C.’s hottest new restaurants — be it classically French Mirabelle, Szechuan showplace Q by Peter Chang, or Isabella’s Mediterranean-themed Arroz — have what it takes to make it into the Michelin guide?