Off The Menu, Staff Meals from America's Top Restaurants by Marissa Guggiana includes recipes like Wild-Boar Ragu; Herb Biscuits with Cheese; Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Applesauce; and Roasted Whole Croaker and Cabbage Slaw.
Recipe: Wild-Boar Ragu
Claiborne & Churchill
Pinot Noir 2008
"Hotel guests are people that are okay with the quirkiness of a one-hundred-year-old building," Chaim the bartender tells me as he sets up for the lunch shift. I ask him if he has many drink orders to fill at lunch. "People adopt the international vibe and have a glass of wine at lunch." This is a lunch spot in the neighborhood of World Bank headquarters and Embassy Row, after all. When in Rome....
The bottom floor of Tabard Inn is a very busy restaurant serving very busy people, in several dining rooms and an outdoor garden with a living roof. A living roof, by the way, is a green space on top of a building that naturally insulates. Most of the square footage of the inn, which occupies two row houses just off Dupont Circle, is in hotel rooms, all different from one another and from most other hotels. The look is Parisian Flea Market meets Colonial design. Wrought-iron beds and big ottomans with charming paintings of unknown subjects.
Tabard Inn is especially dear in its setting five blocks from the White House and the accompanying palpitations of politics. There is a feeling of escape in the dining room, or at least of mutual indulgence.
Everyone here is having a good long lunch. Every room feels like a nook, especially the Brown Parlor, fitted out in chinoiserie, and the rooftop deck, with brick walls high enough to keep the whoosh of the street out of view.
There are whole sections full of regulars here. One regular even gave herself a job. She occupies a stool at the end of the bar, a junction where people are always wondering which way to turn for the restroom. So she made a sign that she hangs on her back, which directs customers the right way while she enjoys her lunch. She was also invited to the Christmas party.
Though there are many old timers on the Tabard Inn staff, the crew I met at family meal were youngbloods. We ate spaghetti with Wild-Boar Ragu and an unpretentious green salad. I love this meal because it is so familial. How many nights did I eat this very thing at home as a kid, albeit with ground beef instead of wild boar? I did not, however, ever have a meat sauce as enjoyable as chef Paul Pelt's. And this is the linchpin of this book-a simple, quick dish, which can be so much more delicious, consistent, and nourishing if you know how to make it like a great chef would.
Tabard Inn (Washington, DC)
Paul Pelt has risen from line cook to lunch chef to executive chef at Tabard Inn'. Over the years, he has focused his culinary odyssey on learning many traditions, most voraciously the foods of the African Diaspora, which feeds the soul of the Tabard menu.
What was your favorite food as a kid?
Shrimp fried rice.
What was the first meal you made that you were proud of?
Polish sausage and French fries.
What three adjectives describe your cuisine?
Two sum it up: diverse and venturesome.
What book most influences your food—cookbook or otherwise?
Thai Street Food by David Thompson.
What chef do you most admire?
What is your favorite ingredient?
What music do you like to hear when you cook?
What is your favorite hangover meal?
What is your favorite midnight snack?
What restaurant in the world are you most dying to try?
St. John (Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver) in London.
What kitchen utensil is most indispensable to you?
If you could do one other job, what would it be?
Music appreciation teacher.
What do you most value in a sous chef?
What food trend would you most like to erase from the annals of history?
What one food would you take with you to a desert island?
A whole cow.
What is your favorite guilty-pleasure treat?
What most satisfies your sweet tooth?
Ice cream and chocolate.
What would you eat at your last meal, if you could plan such a thing?
Barbecue spare ribs.
Cheeseburger or foie gras?
What's your favorite place (and what is your favorite thing to order) for:
Home, for club soda.
A splurge meal?
Komi in D.C. for everything.
A late-night/after-work meal?
Kaz Sushi Bistro in D.C. for everything.
A greasy-spoon meal?
Jimmy T's Place in D.C.
Harris Teeter in D.C.
Cold Stone Creamery.
Schakolad Chocolate Factory.
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This page created January 2012
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