A head-spinning number of new restaurants opened in 2013, and old favorites continued to serve us well. Which ones were the best? That's the question the Rammy Awards attempts to answer. Finalists for the 2014 Rammys, which will be held June 22, were announced Tuesday evening at the Hamilton.
There are seven new categories up for grabs this year, including recognition for cocktail and beer programs, regional food producers, "fast bites" and separate categories for both "upscale casual" brunch and "everyday casual" brunch. The list contains a few surprises, too: One can't help but hear Big Bird singing "One of These Things is Not Like the Others" when the beloved Tune Inn appears on the list for favorite gathering place of the year alongside Bar Pilar, Cashion's Eat Place, Hank's Oyster Bar and Bistrot du Coin.
Only restaurants that are members of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington can be nominated, a caveat which results in several apparent omissions each year. Rose's Luxury, widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in the city, is nowhere to be found among the nominees, because it's not a member of the RAMW. Derek Brown's Shaw watering holes are absent from the cocktail awards list for the same reason.
You might get a strong sense of deja vu reading the nominees in some categories. Three of the five nominees for chef of the year -- Haidar Karoum, Tarver King and Cedric Maupillier -- are repeats from last year. The same goes for restaurant group of the year, where Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong's Eat Good Food Group, Jose Andres and Rob Wilder's ThinkFoodGroup and Michael Babin's Neighborhood Restaurant Group all earned repeat nods.
Here's the list. Let us know who you think should win in the comments.
2014 Rammy Award Finalists
* indicates new category
FORMAL FINE DINING RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
UPSCALE CASUAL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
EVERYDAY CASUAL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
CHEF OF THE YEAR
RISING CULINARY STAR OF THE YEAR
PASTRY CHEF OF THE YEAR
WINE PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
*COCKTAIL PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
*BEER PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
*SERVICE PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR
Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong - Eat Good Food Group
José Andrés and Rob Wilder - ThinkFoodGroup
Michael Babin - Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Mark Kuller - Doi Moi, Estadio, Proof
Gus DiMillo, David Wizenberg, Jeff Tunks - Passion Food Hospitality
*REGIONAL FOOD AND BEVERAGE PRODUCER
JOAN HISAOKA ALLIED MEMBER OF THE YEAR (chosen by RAMW Board)
Acme Paper and Supply Company
Republic National Distributing Company
SYSCO Food Services of Baltimore
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
FAVORITE GATHERING PLACE OF THE YEAR
*UPSCALE CASUAL BRUNCH OF THE YEAR
*EVERYDAY CASUAL BRUNCH OF THE YEAR
*FAVORITE FAST BITES OF THE YEAR