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R.J. Cooper’s Gypsy Soul in the Mosaic District will open July 23

Two years in the making, chef R.J. Cooper's Gypsy Soul finally has a due date: July 23. "Take all my favorite restaurants" -- Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Husk in Charleston, the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville -- "and put it in a suburban setting," is how Cooper describes the future 135-seat restaurant in the Mosaic District in Fairfax.


Gypsy Soul will be “more approachable than Rogue 24,” Cooper says, referring to his novel dining destination in Washington. The menu will reflect the chef’s travels in the South and Mid-Atlantic, emphasizing food sourcing over “fluff,” Cooper says. Expect a relish tray and fried biscuits, then. And crab cakes, 100-day dry-aged rib-eye, a burger made with short rib, roast chicken for two and fish, including wreckfish and clean-tasting wild catfish.

One of two sous chef positions has been filled by Allyson Lara, who comes from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg. Cooper says he hopes to find “an eager kid who wants to go for it” for the vacant kitchen position.

Good call: The menu will be rounded-out with cocktails from Rogue 24’s ace mix-master Bryan Tetorakis. While the wine list will roam the world, only American craft beers will be served. Most of the sodas will be made in-house, Cooper says. “Except Coke and Diet Coke. We can’t get away from them.”

Finally, forget current design trends: “We’re not doing reclaimed lumber or Edison lights,” cracks the chef. “I love leather, motorcycles and metal.” A whopping 40 percent of the space, in tones of gold with “lots of slate,” will be devoted to an elevated kitchen. A central feature of Gypsy Soul will be a rooftop deck with a chalkboard menu and a wood-fired grill and hearth.

Gypsy Soul, 2910 District Ave., Fairfax. Opening July 23. 

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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