Small Plates: Drinks and Art Meet at Corcoran

Posted February 25, 2009 at 4:53pm

Art and cocktails go hand in hand next month as the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s 1869 Society presents Artini, a fundraising event for the gallery’s art and design school.

Throughout March, 12 area bars and restaurants will serve up fresh new cocktails inspired by a work of art created by a student at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. For example, mixologist Scott Worsham of Art and Soul (415 New Jersey Ave. NW) will create an “artini” based on the piece “North Dakota” by Caitlin Lennon.

Participating bars and restaurants include Founding Farmers, PS 7’s and Enology. The bars will host feature nights and offer their art-inspired cocktails at discounted prices.

The month will be capped with a March 28 gala held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art at which the winner will be revealed.

Eating Dutch With Gallery Show

Have a craving for Dutch food after you’ve taken a virtual visit to 17th-century Holland with the National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition, “Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes of the Golden Age”?

Cafe Amsterdam — billed as the only authentic Dutch food in town — has opened at the gallery near the entrance to the West Building at Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest.

The fare is closer to old-fashioned American country cooking than to traditional Dutch cuisine such as pea soup or sausages, but it’s still a more refined option than the usual cafeteria offerings and is a filling meal for a cold winter day.

A la carte options (called “adaptations” of traditional Dutch foods) include a beef stew and mashed cauliflower combo and sole wrapped around sautéed mushrooms and spinach. The cafe’s buffet offerings brought me right back to Sunday dinner at my Dutch grandmother’s house: braised red cabbage, roasted root vegetables, chicken and a lattice-topped Dutch apple pie for dessert. And of course, there’s a nice selection of gouda, edam and goat cheese.

The cafe is open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Best Dumpling Poll Has a Winner

Tony Cheng’s held on to its title of best dumpling in Chinatown this week when a poll on RollCall.com proclaimed it the tastiest.

Last week, Roll Call held an in-house taste test to see which Chinatown restaurant offered the most delicious dumplings. After eating more dumplings than we’d care to count, we concluded that Tony Cheng’s (619 H St. NW) was the winner. The restaurant had a great dough-to-filling ratio and offered some of the most flavorful dumplings we tasted.

Earlier this week we asked readers to participate in an online poll and tell us whether they agreed with our verdict. After several days of voting, the people have spoken and proclaimed Tony Cheng’s the best dumplings in Chinatown.

With a whopping 63 percent of the vote, Tony Cheng’s blew the competition away. Chinatown Express (746 Sixth St. NW) came in second place with 25 percent of the vote, while Wok and Roll (604 H St. NW) took 13 percent.

Vapiano Opens In Chinatown Spot

Chinatown welcomed its latest dining hotspot on Tuesday night with the official opening of Vapiano, which serves pizza, pasta and drinks like a cafeteria would — but in a setting that’s more nightclub than dining hall.

Vapiano works like this: Guests are provided a plastic card when they enter and grab seats. When ready to order, they head to a long food station, where they swipe their cards as they take their food back to their seats. At the end of their visit, the guests pay.

There also is a lounge area for people who want to grab a few drinks after work but don’t want to chow down.

Vapiano is a worldwide chain, with locations in mostly urban settings in more than 40 countries. And it is one of the few businesses actually thriving despite of the economic downturn — the new spot is the fourth in the D.C. area, and locations are set to open in Dallas and other cities within the next year.

It was a long road for the Chinatown location, however. The building, at 623 and 625 H St. NW, was plagued with structural problems. It took a year and a half to complete the building, officials said.

But now that it’s open, Vapiano could prove to offer a faster (and cheaper) alternative to nearby Matchbox, which has a similar menu but in a more formal setting.