Rock the Vote

Posted May 23, 2007 at 3:44pm

Which restaurant attracts the most boldfaced names on Capitol Hill? Bistro Bis or Charlie Palmer Steak? Or does White House neighbor The Oval Room have the most power cachet? Or maybe you prefer the scene at downtown’s Oceanaire or local politico favorite Georgia Brown’s? [IMGCAP(1)]

This is just one of the important questions you can help answer by casting your votes for this year’s Rammy awards from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. Voting runs through May 29 at ramw.org.

The restaurants mentioned above are all nominees for the Power Spot of the Year award. The public also will decide the winners of the following categories: Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year (Ardeo, Busboys and Poets,

Hank’s Oyster Bar, Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar or Willow Restaurant), Hottest Bar Scene of the Year (EatBar, Mate, Oya, Urbana Restaurant & Wine Bar or Zaytinya), and the People’s Favorite, which is an open category.

Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala on June 17. May the most powerful spot win!

Free Food! It’s nearly summer, and that means the interns are coming. Hungry interns. And free food is an intern’s best friend. Sure there are the 10 cent wings and cheap-o tacos, but when you’re shooting for something a little more sophisticated, options are limited.

That’s where Il Mulino New York (1110 Vermont Ave. NW) comes in. The dignified Italian restaurant offers free pasta at the bar from 4:30 to 7 p.m. with the purchase of a drink. The choices change from day to day and may include penne a la vodka, pasta primavera and the like.

Just remember to leave the kickball T-shirt and flip-flops behind.

Sustainable Sustenance. The drumbeat is growing louder for the cause of sustainable seafood, and several area chefs are leading the way. Chef Barton Seaver opened Hook (3241 M St. NW), a restaurant devoted to the cause, in Georgetown just last month. Diners are introduced to species of fish that don’t make regular appearances on many menus, including weakfish and wahoo. Don’t miss the fresh crudo — small servings of raw fish enhanced with various ingredients — such as salty trout roe with crème fraiche and brioche and wahoo with grapefruit and olive oil.

And at Oceanaire (1201 F St. NW), chef Rob Klink recently introduced a sustainable spin on surf and turf that combines barramundi, a fish that is gaining in popularity, with osso bucco jus. The fish also is offered with asparagus and tomato truffle vinaigrette.

Vapiano Rolls Into Town. Vapiano, a casual Italian restaurant chain based in Germany, recently made its stateside debut. The first location opened at Ballston in April. The first Washington outpost is slated to open June 1 at 1800 M St. NW, with a second following close behind in Chinatown at 623 H St. NW.

The menu offers an extensive variety of pizzas, from a basic margherita to one topped with prosciutto, fresh figs and honey. Pasta is made fresh at the restaurant and is available in numerous preparations, including ricotta and spinach ravioli, topped with crawfish and lobster sauce, and with spicy Italian sausage, white beans and sun-dried tomatoes.

Diners are given a card upon entering that they use to order from the bar or various stations. The most expensive items on the menu top out at about $10.