PoP Profile: Looking Glass Lounge Executive Chef, Adam Stein


After posting some new items from the Looking Glass Lounge menu I thought it was only fair to speak to the man behind the options, Adam Stein. Stein, 26, grew up in Northern Virginia and went to Antioch College in Ohio. At Antioch he majored in gender studies and ceramic sculpture. It was sculpture that brought him to Rhode Island where he originally concidered getting an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Unfortunately, RISD only accepts very few applicants and Stein was not one of them. Which, actually, is great for us. Despite having a studio space for his sculpture in Rhode Island, Stein also began “cooking around a bit”. And by “cooking around” Stein is being quite modest because he became Executive Chef at Nat Porter in Rhode Island. At Nat Porter he used all local produce, protein and the seafood was fresh everyday. The way Stein sees it working in a restaurant has two purposes. First is “feeding the people” and second is “building community”. [Profile continues after the jump.]

Once again misfortune for Stein proves to be fortune for us. Nat Porter closed its doors due to family related issues and Stein decided to return to the DC area where his family still lives and there is an abundance of restaurants. At first he interviewed at Argonaut in the H Street, NE neighborhood but they were not really looking for an executive chef. But while in the H Street neighborhood he met Teddy Folkman, Executive Chef of the great Granville Moore’s and he introduced Stein to Looking Glass Lounge and Wonderland owners Matt and Rose. And when Stein met with Matt they “just hit it off”.

Vegetarian Options

Stein had read the comments to the post I did on the new menu. So he wanted to address the vegetarian issue. Stein, said he was actually a vegetarian himself for five years so he understands the concern. But he wishes to allay those concerns by citing that there will be a house made veggie burger, vegetarian chili made with textured vegetable protein (TVP), vegetarian nachos, vegetarian chili cheese fries, an “awesome grilled cheese made with brie”, salads, and in the future a veggie meatloaf entre and veggie meatloaf sandwich.

Local Connection

Stein uses a local bakery called Lyon Bakery that makes the brioche and other breads. Stein also explained that when people adjust to the new menu he will seek to further incorporate local produce and protein. Future special may also be influenced by what is available locally.

Not so local

On a note so local tip, Stein also hopes to use his source for mussels and fish that he had previously used from the Boston area. And a bit further away he would like to bring in shrimp “that I used to get from Honolulu”.

Favorite Dishes

When pressed Stein said “I think the Ribs are pretty damn good”. The ribs are smoked and braised in a house bbq sauce. Stein also said “the pork chop is pretty awesome”. It is 14oz and “it is brined in house over night”. He also likes the sashimi grade tuna. The night I spoke with Stein, there was a 10oz steak with frites for 10 bucks which Stein summed up as, you guessed it, “pretty damned good”.

In Sum

I for one am pretty psyched to try out some of these new options. And that is not just because my oven is broken. I didn’t know how to use my oven even when it worked. Seriously, Stein came off reserved at first but when I spoke to him when he was at work as pictured above – he was in his element. He is super excited about making a connection with the neighborhood and making the neighborhood happy. His ideas for locally grown produce and protein are intriguing. I can’t wait to try some of the new daily specials.

16 Comment

  • When are we getting the hand made veggie burgers again?

  • veggie meatloaf = oxymoronic ish…

    if its vegetarian then lets call it “veggieloaf”… which sounds gross. but i’m not one for veggie foods to begin with.

    i’m curious to check out some of the new options, those ribs sound good to me. mmmm, meatilicious. i love meat. i’m hungry now.

  • went to have a burger last week and it was really really dry…just giving the chef a heads up. im hoping this was a one time thing. loved the fries.

  • …um, I think cooks/chefs are supposed to wear something over their heads aren’t they? Health code stuff and all…

  • Good to hear he is reserved. I like reserved people. Way too many people are way too open and personal, and friendly and all that nonsense the minute you meet them. 🙂

  • I have been there twice since the new menu started. First time I had the Ribs (you can get them wet or dry) and my partner had the pork steak. Second time we both had the burgers and got the garlic fries with it. BOTH times it was fantastic! I think it is a step up from TH.

  • Hey, at least he isn’t openly hostile to vegetarians like a lot of chefs. As a side note, when can we get him on Iron Chef? That ink on his forearms would make Bobby Flay wet himself.

  • This is awesome–thanks for doing the interview, and welcome, Adam! I love the local angle–good for the environment, yummy for us. Could this whole list get OFF the veggie-non-veggie deal–I mean, can’t we all just get along? Good food is good food–and when we start getting yummy cheese fries, good ribs, and man–a brie cheese sandwich–all I can say is YES!

  • Is it just me or are there a lot of people who read this blog ready to come to blows over this veggie burger issue? Guys, relax, it’s a veggie burger.

  • I’m SUPER upset that they got rid of the chicken quesadillas. They were AWESOME (seriously). I had the burger the last time I went and it was okay…not quite as good as I remember though. But loved the garlic fries! Hopefullythe chef is just getting used to the kitchen and things will be better the next time I go. Still love LGL!

  • I recently went to the Looking Glass Lounge for the first time this past weekend and the tuna nicoise salad was FANTASTIC love the poached tuna, although we did send our fries back because they were hard as rocks.

  • speaking of burgers….went to meridian last night and had the best burger with sweet potato fries….that place has awesome food. shrimp and grits is pretty amazing too.

  • PoP – show upper georgia some more love, can you do a profile of the owner of meridian and their great chef? Owner Rodney English

  • My wife and I tried the new menu on 03/31/08. I had the pork with apple sauce and found it to be terrific. we are very excited to see familiar staff faces from Temperance Hall and are hoping to get to know the new staff as well. As Petworth residents it is wonderful to see new flavors in the neighborhood!

  • Glad that there’s new ownership who are more community-oriented than the previous owners.

    Actually, we, too were disappointed at the lack of vegetarian options more so becuase
    We went with a meat-eating friend who got the burger and said it was, “okay.” Because we had limited options we ended up getting a salad (great), fries (great) and veggie chilli -which was also good. It’d be nice to see something a bit more imaginative than the standard bar food fare. We’d like to support a local establishment but need a bit more incentive.

    With a yoga studio above seems like a natural fit to bend it toward some healthier or non-meat based options.

  • I have enjoyed the food a lot more since Looking Glass took over, until last Friday night. It was as if the old cook from TH was back; my burger was over cooked and cut in several places. It was still over cooked! I also notice the fries were different, or they were just old. Cold and soggy. I miss the wings and would LOVE to see them back on the menu. It was not my best experience there. I was surprised the food was so bad, since they were very slow that night. I will give it another try.

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