Thursday, July 08, 2004

DINING: Mayor Williams at Lauriol Plaza? Sietsema Is Shell-shocked

In The Washington Post's "Ask Tom" chat on Wednesday, food critic Tom Sietsema was shocked when he was told that D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams was spotted in Lauriol Plaza, the uber-popular 18th Street pan-Latin American restaurant known for its tetchy host staff, tortilla chips, overpriced bulk margaritas, long waits and strict no-seating-until-your-entire-party-has-arrived-or-lose-your-table policy. Newcomers to Washington love Lauriol Plaza and though the Oculus dislikes the restaurant's captive audience marketing scheme, they make good ceviche.

From The Washington Post's "Ask Tom" chat:
Washington, D.C.: Well, we now know that Mayor Williams has poor taste in restaurants and could really use your recommendations -- he was spotted at Lauriol Plaza last night?? What is next, the Cheesecake Factory?

Tom Sietsema: I recall that shortly after 9/11, in a display that the city was safe again, the mayor and the President dined together -- at Morton's of Chicago, a chain restaurant.

Tony, how COULD you?

(To my knowledge, President Bush does not enjoy dining out in the capital city. From what I recall, he's dined at Cactus Cantina with the first lady. Cactus Cantina is Lauriol's sister restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue in Cathedral Heights, which is coincidentally one of Monica Lewinsky's favorite dining spots in Washington. Additionally, the president has been out to that strip-mall Chinese restaurant in Arlington that the Bush family has enjoyed for years.)

"Ask Tom" []
Lauriol Plaza
Cactus Cantina

... In Other Restaurant News.
According to Sietsema's "Weekly Dish", restauranteur Giles Becker says he isn't intending for his new venture, Aria, to compete with the "Toscas and Galileos in town." He says his aim is to be the "neighborhood restaurant" for the 17,000 federal workers in and around the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Reagan Building was home to Michael Jordan's now-defunct restaurant, as well as the late Palomino. So Becker offers an antipasti bar at moderate prices. Sietsema says that "[i]f the prices are modest, so is the cooking, at least for the moment." The restauranteur says that he is searching for the right chef to ramp-up Aria's food.

"Weekly Dish" [The Washington Post]


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