Special Guest Post: Food Trends by Ashley


Ashley runs the Web site, From Komi to Marvin which she describes: “After living in D.C. my entire life, I realized that I had only eaten at a third of the restaurants on the Washingtonian 100 Best list. So I decided to take a year, and eat at every single one–no matter how geographically far away, or culinarily unappealing. I’m not a reviewer, just a gal who loves to eat.” In this guest post Ashley covers some of the food trends she has encountered along the way.

First there were charcuterie plates and sweet potato fries. Then came the juggernaut known as cupcakes. Then frozen yogurt “restaurants” and sliders came on the scene. Food fads are nothing new, but it seems lately that restaurants in D.C. have been forced to take sides in the trendy foods versus classic menus. Those restaurants that have stayed true to their roots have either flourished (like Kinkeads, which still puts out solid if not a little predictable seafood), or failed (such as La Paradou, which closed this spring after many years as the go-to French restaurant in Washington). For the most part though, the restaurants that hop on the trendy cuisine gravy train are the ones Washingtonians are talking about.

And what are the trends? Well, last year it was undoubtedly wine and cupcakes. It seemed like within months, wine bars were popping up all over the city. Cork, Mendocino Grille, Vinotecca, and Veritas were the pioneers with Enology, Inox and Room 11 joining the party later in the game. To follow a boozy night out, along came the cupcake bakeries—because the cure for a tannin hangover is no doubt sugar and food coloring. Georgetown Cupcake paved the way, with their too-cute Range Rover parked outside and their inexplicable long line of size zero girls wrapping around Georgetown. Smelling a sugary gold mine, bakeries like Hello Cupcake and Lavender Moon in Alexandria opened up. Counter service places weren’t the only ones in love with adorable baked goods—well respected, expensive, can’t-wear-jeans restaurants join in on the fun. Art & Soul, an expense account friendly restaurant on the Hill, has them on their menu, as well as Bar Pilar and Clyde’s. Continues after the jump.

In the wake of the wine and cake movement, chefs in town have stepped it up and come up with some pretty far-fetched trends that seem to have actually caught on. The first is undoubtedly the deviled egg. What most would consider at home next to the Jell-o mold on Grandma’s July 4th spread, deviled eggs are showing up on the menus of plenty of well-respected restaurants around town. Founding Farmers, with their down-home feel, has not one but two different interpretations. 2 Amy’s gives their eggs an Italian spin with a garlic pesto served along side. And Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food in Reston goes wacky with their version, mixing in watermelon rind and jicama in the filling and serving them with candied bacon. And the list goes on: Carlyle, Acadiana, Hudson, and Ray’s the Classics (albeit with decidedly un-picnic steak tartar as the filling) all put these ’60s era delicacies on their menu.


Another new and improved menu item on the scene is the haute BLT, which seems to be popping up all over town. No longer is it a sandwich made by your mom when she’s got leftover bacon and not much else in the house, now its cuisine. Westend Bistro has a very fancy version with an avocado mousse (neither B, L nor T) and pistachio oil. Or the one from Nage, with crispy pork belly (a distant, delicious cousin of bacon, so it counts) and caper aioli. Or if you’re feeling nostalgic for times spent sweating through summers in the Deep South, you can munch on Blue Ridge’s BLT with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese spread.

The truth is, as long as inventive chefs like Michel Richard and Morou are on the scene, wacky things are going to be coming out of the kitchen of D.C.’s more exciting establishments. So what’s next? Pork belly rinds? Roquefort Cheetos? Only time will tell, but without a doubt, all this trendy ingenuity only serves to remind us home chefs how utterly unoriginal we are.

Or are you? What clever dishes have you come up with?

21 Comment

  • I love this chick’s blog and deviled eggs! And I’d probably love roquefort Cheetos!

  • Wow, I’ve only eaten at *2* of the Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurants. I’ve only lived here a year, but still! And I’ve gone out a lot, somehow I’ve just managed to miss 98 of the 100 best restaurants in the city. Wow.

  • I had the blt at the black squirrel the other night. Wow. Simply another reason to go to the best bar in dc.

  • I ate a black squirrel the other night too! Thank god my dog is still catching ’em!

  • Great Post! It restored some faith in DC’s food scene for me. Not much, but some.

    That said, I’ll probably stick to my once every couple of months trip up to philly where I can get twice the quality and creativity for half the price (and half the noise/wait/’buzz’). DC’s farmers markets are too excellent to not cook at home. I’d much rather make my own creations until this city pulls its restaurant head out of its scene ass. just sayin.

  • What strikes me as funny, though, is that all these “trends” that are hitting DC hit other cities years ago. Cupcakes were all the rage in NY after the Sex and the City Girls ate at Magnolia bakery. Frozen yogurt…. ummm, more popular than Starbucks in California for decades now. Wine bars, perhaps also a NY and California thing, but nothing new. Now, I’m not in way disappointed that things have finally made their way to DC, I just think it’s funny how very, very behind the curve this city is.
    Nice post though. Made me hungry.

  • The food trend I hate – and it doesn’t even involve food! – is that more and more people are mispronouncing the word culinary as “KULL-i-ner-ee” instead of the correct “KYOO-luh-ner-ee.” I don’t get it!

    Also: the plant cumin is pronounced like it is spelled: “CUM-in,” not “KYOO-min.”

    I pedantically digress… Now, let’s hear more about that delicious squirrel!

  • a trend that isn’t mentioned here is the move toward tapas/small plates. it seems like more and more restaurants are doing this, some of which were previously well-respected for their full-size regular menu items (perrys, for instance). i don’t mind small plates per se, just the fact that they are suddenly popping up all over the city…. and that, without noticing, you can rack up a pretty hefty tab on those things!

  • Actually, cumin is pronounced “KOO-min” not “CUM-in” which is what your partner yells after two hours of tantric sex.

  • Thanks Ashley for turning me on to your blog…. I’ve got 23 down, 77 to go. I’ve been here 4 years, so I’m pretty proud of that figure 😉

  • Nice to see Pete’s Apizza on that list…not sure it is Top 100 material, but it deserves praise and it is a good fixture in the neighborhood, I was afraid when it opened that it wouldn’t make it.

  • Monkey, you’re a funny one! But you’re wrong on the pronunciation bit: as disgusting as it sounds, “CUM-in” is the original and preferred pronunciation. I get around having to say this word by just not cooking…

  • Not sure I can afford to eat at all 100 best in a year — but following the blog is free! Thanks letting me cyber-tag-along.

  • I agree with anonymous: there are far too many fantastic farmers markets in the DC area to not cook at home. I find that the restaurants with all the hype in DC are disappointing…and I can cook better at home.

  • I agree with DelRayMom, but I would love if Ashley ranked the best Haircuttery’s in the DC- VA area. I usually get my haircut once every 6 months since I like the Fluffy Jonas look. I also sat next to Sashia and Malia during the Jonas Bros concert. I abs love them!!!! Go ASH. TTYL g2g cm.

  • JohnnyReb, I want to see your source. I’ve heard kyoo-min, but the experts I know all say koo-min. Never ever heard of your preferred pronunciation, so I think you’re having us all on.

    Oh, and kyul-in-ary, or however YOU say it, sounds like nu-cu-lar in its wrongness. I’ll stick with kull-in-ary, thanks.

  • wow we made it 5 posts before someone compared DC’s food scene to Philly’s. impressive. Seriously though, this – “That said, I’ll probably stick to my once every couple of months trip up to philly where I can get twice the quality and creativity for half the price (and half the noise/wait/’buzz’).” – might be the most annoying sentence ever on PoP.

  • WDC, I had written a long post with sources backing up “my” pronunciations, but I lost the post. Basically – go look up the words in a good dictionary (you can start with dictionary.com). I am right and you are wrong. And also rather snotty. “Your” pronunciations of cumin and culinary only came into vogue in the 1960s, and are used by uneducated people who think that “KYOO-min” or “KOO-min” and “KULL-in-ery” sound more elegant.
    Check out “The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations” by Charles Harrington Elster the next time you try to correct someone else. Or, just open a dictionary.

  • I got too curious and had to look in the dictionary here (Webster’s). Yep, it’s CUM-in. In fact, they provide an alternate spelling as “cummin.” As for culinary, it provides both pronuncations, with Kyoolinary preceding Kullinary. I love words, and I learned something today. How about “cupola” anyone?

  • KYOO-puh-luh!

  • I was skeptical about this post because of the cupcakes, but it wasn’t a re-tread – nice job, Ashley, I’ll be checking out your blog!

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