TAKES ONE to know one, right?
It may sound like a busman's holiday, but even restaurant chefs get tired of cooking and look to another chef to serve up dinner once in a while -- and they don't leave their taste buds in the back room. Besides, they need to know what else is going down around town, both gossip-wise and goodies-wise. So here are some of the places Washington's chefs go for their meals out:
D.C. Coast uber-chef Jeff Tunks loves dim sum at Fortune in Falls Church (5900 Leesburg Pike; 703/998-8888), with an occasional quickie run to Chinatown's Full Kee(509 H St. NW; 202/371-2233); while pastry chef David Wizenberg and fiancee/superflack Simone Rathle head to Foggy Bottom's Zuki Moon (824 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202/333-3312) or Georgetown's Aditi (3299 M St. NW; 202/625-6825).
Zuki Moon's Mary Richter has a sentimental Sunday dim sum date with her 4-year-old son ("It's a ritual") at Mark's Duck House in Falls Church (6184-A Arlington Blvd.; 703/532-2125), where wine expert Robert Parker has been trying out Asian cuisine-wine pairings. (Jeff and Sallie Buben of Vidalia and Bis add that with a couple of day's notice, Mark's will roast a baby suckling pig, thank you.) Richter's weeknight drop-ins include Ruppert's (1017 Seventh St. NW; 202/783-0699), Cashion's Eat Place in Adams-Morgan (1819 Columbia Rd. NW; 202/797-1819) and the generous anonymity of the bar at Gabriel (2121 P St. NW; 202/956-6690).
Ann Cashion and John Fulchino of Cashion's and Johnny's Half Shell, like many Washington chefs, "love" Georgetown's classic Bistro Francais (3128 M St. NW; 202/338-3830). (In fact, if Washington has an official "kitchen cabinet," it's the one that meets there.) Carole Greenwood of Greenwood at Cleveland Park (3529 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202/833-6572) goes to Mark's Duck House with Mary Richter, Kaz Sushi Bistro (1915 I St. NW; 202/530-5500), Chinatown's New Big Wong "at 2 o'clock in the morning" (610 H St. NW; 202/628-0490), Dupont Circle's Pizzeria Paradiso (2029 P St. NW; 202/223-1245) or Pesce (2016 P St. NW; 202/466-3474), and Arlington's IOTA (2832 Wilson Blvd.; 703/522-8340).
Brian McBride of Melrose goes to Kaz and Sushi-Ko (2309 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202/333-4187); Equinox (818 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202/331-8118); and Cafe Deluxe (3228 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202/686-2233). John Wabeck of New Heights says, "The best food I've had in this town is from Mr. Sandro," meaning Sandro Gamba of Lespinasse (16th and K streets NW; 202/879-6900), but that's for special occasions: More frequently he'll head for Zuki Moon or "put myself in Jose Ramon [Andres]'s hands" at Cafe Atlantico (405 Eighth St. NW; 202/393-0812) or Jaleo (480 Seventh St. NW; 202/628-7949).
Frederic Lange of Lafayette at the Hay-Adams Hotel heads to Peter Pastan's Obelisk (2029 P St. NW; 202/872-1180) and Chevy Chase's in-town country inn La Ferme (7101 Brookville Rd.; 301/986-5255). Meanwhile, Hay-Adams Hotel manager Hans Bruland has been scarfing Italian food from San Marco in Adams-Morgan (2305 18th St. NW; 202/483-9300) twice a week for weeks now.
Will Biscoe of Indigo at Great Falls likes Matisse Cafe (4934 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202/244-5222) or, since he lives in Bethesda, Cafe Bethesda (5027 Wilson Lane; 301/657-3383), Persimmon (7003 Wisconsin Ave.; 301/654-9860), Rio Grande Cafe (4919 Fairmont Ave.; 301/656-2981) or Foong Lin (7710 Norfolk Ave.; 301/656-3427). Cafe Bethesda chef Susan Waterson goes along with Biscoe, meaning she also trades off at Indigo (774 Walker Rd.; 703/759-4650), and adds Bethesda's Haandi (4904 Fairmont Ave.; 301/718-0121) and for Sunday brunch the great Gabriel's spread (2121 P St. NW; 202/956-6690).
Gabriel's Greggory Hill likes Cashion's Eat Place; Barbara and Jeff Black of Addie's, and Black's Bar & Kitchen like Kinkead's (2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202/296-7700), Cashion's, Pesce and Obelisk. Obelisk's Peter Pastan ducks into Makoto (4822 MacArthur Blvd. NW; 202/298-6866) and Full Kee.
Chef Michael O'Dell, lately of Market Street Bar & Grill in Reston and now at the Grand Hyatt Washington, goes for either Pan-Asian at Raku in Dupont Circle (19th and Q streets NW; 202/265-7258) or dim sum at Paul Kee in Wheaton (11305-B Georgia Ave.; 301/933-6886).
If Robert and Polly Wiedmaier of Marcel's stay near work, they go to One Fish, Two Fish (2423 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202/822-0977); otherwise, they too tend to circle around Bethesda, too; stopping down at Tara Thai (4828 Bethesda Ave.; 301/657-0488), Cesco (4871 Cordell Ave.; 301/654-8333) or occasionally Rio Grande.
Pesce's Jamie Stachowski heads for Kaz, Bistrot Lepic (1736 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202/333-0111); Mexicali Blues in Clarendon (2933 Wilson Blvd.; 703/812-9352) and La Copa Argentine steakhouse (5171 Lee Hwy.; 703/536-1884). Elizabeth Bright of Coppi's and Coppi's Vigorelli is extremely sensitive to additives (she breaks out in hives), so she heads for the mostly organics: Asia Nora (2213 M St. NW; 202/797-4860), Cashion's, Ruppert's, Makoto and her current fave, Georgetown's Ching Ching Cha (1063 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202/333-8288).
Josu Zubikarai of Taberna del Alabardero usually has to eat after work, so he favors the late-nighters: Cafe Milano (3251 Prospect St. NW; 202/333-6183), Les Halles (1201 Pennsylvania NW; 202/347-6848) or Bistro Francais. On weekends, when he has more time, he likes Dante in Great Falls (1148 Walker Rd.; 703/759-3131) with backups Kinkead's, Citronelle (3000 M St. NW; 202/625-2150) and La Chaumiere (2813 M St. NW; 202/338-1784).
Bill Jackson of the Carlyle Grand in Shirlington and Inn at Little Washington honchos Patrick O'Connell and Reinhardt Lynch dine every Tuesday, which is their night off, at the Vietnamese Hong Que, which means "Just Like Home" (it also has a sign identifying it as Four Sisters) in the Eden Center in Falls Church (6769 Wilson Blvd.; 703/538-6717). "The flavors are very clean, it's healthy, and it's very relaxed," according to O'Connell. "The mama cooks, and the four daughters, who are very striking, run the dining room. And I saw Bob Kinkead there once, and he said it was his favorite restaurant, too." So there.
THE FEED BAG
Okay, we predicted that in the year 2000 (I refuse to use the M-word) people would get back to catered parties. Here's a way to be cutting-edge, classy, coolly collected and culinarily clever all at once -- and on New Year's Eve, at that. The sparely elegant Zuki Moon is small enough to play party room, and will, for a group of 50 to 75. Richter will help design the menu -- anything from cocktail party with dancing to seven-course, sit-down banquet -- and you could probably wander outside toward Virginia Avenue and get a pretty good view of the fireworks on the Mall. First call, first catered.