The Washington Post

Chef changes at Bourbon Steak

Bourbon Steak, the best meat market in Washington, is losing its top chef to San Francisco and replacing him with a local rising star.

Packing his bags: Adam Sobel, who has been lured west to serve as chef and partner at the wine-themed RN74. Taking his spot at the Four Seasons property in Georgetown: John Critchley, currently the executive chef of Urbana in the Palomar hotel near Dupont Circle.

John Critchley is moving from Dupont's Urbana to Georgetown's Bourbon Steak. (Pfau Communications)

The news was announced by Michael Mina, the San Francisco-based celebrity chef behind the Mina Group, which owns both the Bourbon Steak brand and RN74.

Under Critchley’s watch, Urbana grew into a dining destination, with its own garden, globally inspired seafood dishes and a dazzling pizza bar. The Massachusetts native, 35, couldn’t resist the invitation to cook across town, however. “First, the room is gorgeous,” he says of the tony steak house. More significantly, “I’ve been following Michael Mina for a long time.” Mina was, among other things, an early advocate of sustainable seafood.

While it’s too soon to think about how he will tweak the concept, Critchley says he’s “thinking about spring” ingredients and hopes to weave “exotic spices” into his future menu.

Critchley reports for duty March 18. How long he mans the grill at Bourbon Steak is anyone’s guess. Both his predecessors, starting with opening chef David Varley, the Mina Group’s corporate chef since 2011, have eventually moved to the Bay Area to work closer to their boss.

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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