A former sous chef from Equinox and his wife are poised to replace the shuttered Mendocino Grille in Georgetown later this month with a contemporary American restaurant called Unum.
Phillip Blane, a New York native who previously worked in health care, and Laura Schiller, a Senate employee, have yet to announce a launch date for the venue, but they have already auditioned the menu with family and friends during mock services. Among Blane’s offerings: crawfish with grits and barbecue sauce, grilled hanger steak, a riff on bouillabaisse set off with a parsnip-potato cake and a Caesar salad presented with a parmesan-artichoke custard for slathering on baguette slices.
Not to be confused with the insurance giant, Unum is derived from the Latin “E pluribus unum” (Out of many, one), the phrase that appears on the Great Seal of the United States, coins and paper currency. Blane, 42, says he liked the connotation as it applied to his cooking.
As at Mendocino Grille, a 12-stool bar opens the new restaurant, which will feature a nook filled with some of the couple’s favorite reads, including a cookbook from Claudia Roden and “Independence Day” by Richard Ford. The small dining area in the back is distinguished by a backlit “tree” crafted from sheet metal.
Schiller plans to pitch in at Unum as necessary, but she won’t be leaving her day job: chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.