Watershed set to sail on Friday

April 18, 2011

Few restaurants open when their owners predict they will, so it’s a treat to report that Todd and Ellen Gray, who forecast a late-spring launch for Watershed, are opening their second restaurant in Washington in the Hilton Garden Inn this Friday for dinner.

When Watershed was announced in October, the Grays had yet to name a chef. Over the weekend, the owners of Equinox told me that they’ve hired two people to helm the operation north of Massachusetts Avenue: Chris Kenworthy, a former sous chef from Hook in Georgetown, and Wade Hoo-Fatt, who once worked for local caterer extraordinaire Susan Gage. Kenworthy will oversee the 62-seat dining room; Hoo-Fatt will be responsible for Watershed’s banquet and catering business.

The restaurant’s menu will spotlight fish and seafood “from Maine to Florida,” including lesser-used ingredients such as tile fish and triggerfish, says Todd Gray. Sharing space on the list will be a crab cake, roast chicken, pork ribs and an “East Coast” gumbo made with surry sausage and Florida rock shrimp.

Watershed’s 30-seat lounge features a raw bar that goes beyond fresh bivalves to embrace raw meat and produce, as in beef carpaccio and uncooked vegetable and fruit salads.

Watershed’s opening date falls on a special occasion for the couple — it’s 16 years to the day after they got married. Todd Gray jests that Watershed is “my anniversary present for my wife.”

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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