The Washington Post

Rob Weland steps into the kitchen at Cork

Chef Rob Weland starts at Cork Wine Bar on Tuesday. (Michael Harlan Turkell)

Weland, a familiar face on the local food scene, left the restaurant in the Hotel Monaco last month to, as he said at the time, “take my values to the next level.”

What's the connection between Flynn and Weland’s moves? Cork co-owner Khalid Pitts called Weland to check Flynn’s references.

Talk about fortuitous timing! Weland returned the restaurateur’s call around the same time Tanaka told Pitts that he had plans to move on to New Heights in Woodley Park.

Which meant the top job at Cork was open. Which meant Pitts asked Weland if he might be interested in applying. Which Weland said he was.

What sealed the deal, say both parties, was a dinner they shared with their wives at Palena in Cleveland Park. “We’re a very small restaurant,” says Pitts. “We want to like the people we work with.”

Everyone clicked. “Several bottles of wine didn’t hurt,” cracks the restaurateur.

Weland says he will gradually add dishes of his own to the menu Tanaka left behind. (For the short term, regulars can still get their avocado bruschetta.) Already he’s eyeing some free space at Cork’s multi-story wine shop across the street from the restaurant, where, in memory of the delicious work he did at Poste, Weland hopes to install a wood-burning grill and “plant some living things.”

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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