- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Summer is almost over and in less than a week, it will be Labor Day and the beginning of the fall season for dining. September augurs well for Washington’s new restaurant scene.

On Tuesday, two talented local chefs are opening a new restaurant at 4301 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington. Tracy O’Grady, formerly Bob Kinkead’s executive chef at Kinkead’s on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and Kate Jansen, a founder of Firehook bakery, will open Willow (703/465-8800). Miss O’Grady will head up the kitchen work and Miss Jansen will be at the pastry board.

The chefs will combine American ingredients with classic French and Italian techniques in dishes such as braised pork cheek ravioli, mustard-coated rack of pork, fontina and prosciutto fritters, and pineapple creme brulee.

Coming on the heels of Willow, Acadiana (901 New York Ave. NW; 202/408-8844), the newest creation of Passion Hospitality Inc., owners of DC Coast, TenPenh and Ceiba, will open for business Sept. 12. During the late 18th-century, 5,000 French-speaking people came from Acadia on the eastern seabord of Canada to southwest Louisiana’s bayou country.

The Acadians developed a culture and cuisine of their own, and chef Jeff Tunks, who worked in New Orleans for a number of years, is bringing the cooking and techniques of Louisiana to Washington.

Acadiana will feature some classic Louisiana dishes: baked oyster and fresh artichoke gratin, Natchitoches meat pies, crawfish stew, New Orleans style barbecued shrimp, jambalaya risotto, bananas Foster crepes and, of course, po’boys.

The electrical problems delaying the opening of Chez Mama San (1039 33rd St. NW; 202/333-3888) have all been sorted out and the little Japanese homestyle restaurant is now open for business at the entrance to Cady’s Alley in Georgetown.

There are still some tasty summer holdovers too. At Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202/861-1310), executive chef John Wabeck’s Festival of Rose Wines will run through the end of September. The festival features several roses: two fruity Australian vintages, three French roses, a tart rose from Spain and another fruity one from California.

Mr. Wabeck is pairing his roses with some new dishes such as polentina soup with barbecued duck breast, rockfish with ratatouille and basil oil, and roasted peaches with thyme and caramel ice cream.

At 1789, (1226 36th St. NW; 202/965-1789), chef Ris Lacoste is making her special summer three-course menu available until Sept 14. For $35, diners can have a choice of appetizer, main course and dessert, with drinks and gratuities extra.

The Washington Youth Garden fundraiser to support educational programs for at-risk youths and families, originally scheduled earlier this year, will now take place Sept. 13 at the National Arboretum. Three Washington chefs will volunteer their services: Johnny Monis of Komi, Koji Terano of Sushi-Ko and Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by a program and dinner at 7:30.

The locale is the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, housing one of the largest collections of bonsai trees in North America. Tickets are priced at $125 per person, with proceeds going to fund three programs which teach plant science, food and nutrition through gardening activities. To register for the event, call 202/544-8733.

Chef Paul Luna has introduced a bring-your-own wine night on Saturdays in the Oval Room (800 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202/463-8700). Guests are invited to bring their own wine and will not be charged a corkage fee while dining on one of Mr. Luna’s fine dishes.

The weekend of Sept. 24-25 is the time to take a guided trip through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, a 27,000 acre bird, mammal and reptile sanctuary in Cambridge, Md. Andrew and Liz Evans of the Inn at Easton (28 S. Harrison St., Easton, Md.; 410/822-4910) are organizing a special weekend for nature lovers.

The package includes a two-night stay with a dinner prepared by Mr. Evans on one night, a continental breakfast buffet both mornings, and the day-long guided wildlife tour, including transportation to and from Cambridge. Prices per couple range from $920 to $1,320 for the package, depending on the type of room selected.

Corinna Lothar’s What’s Cooking appears in the Food section on the last Wednesday of each month.

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