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When he does step out for a bite, Puck said he makes a point of catching up with pals José Andrés and Michel Richard, ticking off Zaytinya, Citronelle and the revamped minibar as spots he’s stopped to sup in recent years.
But he’s most excited about the fresh crop of local chefs who are putting out exceptional food first and worrying about everything else later.
“Before, especially in Washington ... everything was very formal and very complicated almost and not fun. People forgot that going out to a restaurant you should have fun,” he said, equating some dinner outings to church-like experiences “where you have to sit still and pray.”
He’d much prefer to be dazzled by the food than an elaborately appointed foyer.
“To have friendly service and prompt service is always important. But it shouldn’t have this formality,” he posited.
Along those lines, Puck said he’s planning a soup-to-nuts renovation of The Source’s kitchen and bar area, tossing out terms such as “sexy” and “inviting” for the décor, while leaning toward smaller plates (dumplings, rolls, etc.) and vibrant cocktails for the carte.
“I want people to come for comfort, yes. But I want to take them on an adventure, too,” he said of his desire to shake things up.
Puck also remains open to the idea of expanding his operations here in Washington.
“I think it’s time, maybe, to do another restaurant. We just have to find the right location,” he said.
So, might we all one day be jockeying for a seat at Spago East or CUT–DC? Puck didn’t rule that out entirely.
But, like every great chef, he’s most interested in starting from scratch.
“I think if I would do Spago, I would do a new version right from the start where people don’t come and just get one big dish. Maybe where you have to order two or three things. Make it more interactive and make it more so people can talk about the food,” he predicted.