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Bigeye tuna, avocado cream, nori seaweed, caviar, Mediterranean ponzu sauce, and assorted tapioca strips.
John Rorapaugh for LeadingDC

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A Luxe New Mediterranean Restaurant Hopes to Get Maryland Its First Michelin Star

A big-name Spanish chef with impressive Vegas credentials brings The Grove to Potomac this summer

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Alexandria-based Common Plate Hospitality (Mason Social, Urbano, Augie’s Mussel House, Junction Bistro) steps out of its casual comfort zone in July with the opening of an ambitious Potomac restaurant with gastronomic appeal.

Nestled in the Cabin John Village shopping center, the Grove’s Mediterranean-hopping menu will showcase flavors and techniques synonymous with regions of coastal Spain, Italy, and Greece (7747 Tuckerman Lane, Potomac, Maryland). Newly named executive chef Jose Lopez-Picazo is a huge fine-dining hire for Common Plate. Lopez-Picazo’s stateside cooking career kicked off in the late 1990s under José Andrés in D.C. and flourished across the U.S. in large Las Vegas roles at Aria’s Julian Serrano Tapas and the Bellagio’s French-Spanish showpiece Picasso, which earned two Michelin stars and the James Beard Award for outstanding restaurant during his time there.

Opening dishes under Lopez-Picazo’s watch include everything from grilled octopus with zesty lemon vinaigrette to succulent lamb shank slow-cooked in aromatic spices.

The Grove’s duck breast confit with celery root puree, pearl onions, roasted potato, red beet gel, orange sauce, and tapioca pearl crackers.
John Rorapaugh for LeadingDC
Iberico chorizo pintxos with tomato confit, and quail egg over toasted bread.
John Rorapaugh for LeadingDC
The Grove’s executive chef Jose Lopez-Picazo.
John Rorapaugh for LeadingDC

The Spanish-born graduate of the Madrid Cooking Institute worked under renowned chefs Maestro Manuel Tabares and Maestro Javier Otaaduy, mastering the art of seafood preparation, paellas, and sous-vide. More recently, he helped spearhead the opening of Fabio Trabocchi’s Spanish stunner Del Mar on the Southwest Waterfront.

“Bringing him in was a huge feather in our cap. He has the potential to win a Michelin star here,” Common Plate’s founder Chad Sparrow tells Eater. “We have the pedigree we need to get it done.” The Grove’s sous chef worked under chef Robert Wiedmaier, he adds.

Look for la carte dinner to start, followed by brunch and lunch. Sparrow doesn’t anticipate getting into the prix fixe game.

Common Plate’s original plan was to put another Augie’s in the 195-seat location that includes a 55-seat patio. But turns out a Belgian beer garden vibe wasn’t what Potomac customers were asking for. “We realized there’s nothing there to cater to a higher-end, fine-dining experience,” says Sparrow. “People don’t have to go to D.C. — we can offer that at the Grove.”

The Edens-owned shopping center is undergoing an extensive facelift that calls for new townhomes, office space, and a fresh wave of retail tenants (Georgetown’s French bakery Boulangerie Christophe expanded here last year). The Grove slides into a corner space that formerly housed Irish bar Lahinch Tavern and Grill. A full-scale renovation includes the addition of herringbone floors and a ceiling slathered in pinks, purples, and florals, joined by a massive wine rack stocked with Mediterranean varietals fit for the food. Lopez-Picazo plans to lean into local and seasonal ingredients all year.

A Caprese salad with burrata, heirloom tomatoes, tomato cherry confit, fresh basil, balsamic dressing, and balsamic caviar.
John Rorapaugh for LeadingDC

Common Plate’s first-ever Maryland project is slated to arrive ahead of The Grove. Its anticipated Heights Food Hall near the Friendship Heights Metro, scheduled to open in late June, will feature a full-service restaurant (Urbano), full-service bar (The Heights Bar), speakeasy (The Turncoat), and eight local food stalls. That includes sushi and ramen from Vietnamese chef Kevin Tien, whose acclaimed Moon Rabbit suddenly closed at the Wharf this month. Newly named Lebanese tenant Yasmīne, born in Union Market last fall, comes from alums of Michelin-rated Maydan (5310 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland).

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