Mike Isabella can’t sit still. His forthcoming Mexican restaurant, Bandolero, opens in Georgetown early this spring, but he wants to give diners a chance to get an advance screening. So he’s doing a pop-up version of the tacos ‘n’ tequila loving concept in Cleveland Park’s Tackle Box.
I got a chance to get a sneak peek, along with talented CityEats shutterbug Elizabeth Parker. Though Isabella and his crew are only temporary guests in the space, they make it feel like their own. Sketches of bull skulls are scattered across the walls and a soundtrack of alt-rock and hip-hop blasts through the room.
Our evening begins with a basket of tortilla chips and featherlight chicharrones – known on this side of the border as pork rinds – which make perfect scoops for guacamole studded with hearty chunks of avocado. I also dip them into the Maya-inspired sikil pak made with ground up roasted pumpkin seeds, then dappled with a shower of sesame seeds and bits of orange.
For my second course, I’m told to choose any three dishes from four categories: Taquitos, Soups & Salads, Tacos, and Traditional. I wasn’t able to make up my mind though, so chef Isabella was kind enough to let me pick out a few extras.
Finish reading this post and see the rest of Elizabeth Parker’s amazing photos over on CityEats’ Plate blog now.
Photos courtesy of the tremendously talented Elizabeth Parker.
Sitting down in the salon of Rogue 24 before my inaugural Rogue Session with Bryan Voltaggio, the strains of a rocked out cover of the Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” drift over; “To die by your side/Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine.” Considering that I’m about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, it’s a fitting opening couplet.
Looking into the dining room beyond is like a peek into a heavenly otherworld. A gauzy curtain separates the central space, where floating orbs of light softly illuminate the proceedings. The house is packed tonight — the whole week sold out in a flash — so culinary team and the servers have their work cut out for them.
These Rogue Sessions came about after chef-owner RJ Cooper was diagnosed with a life threatening heart defect that required immediate and extensive surgery that would keep him out of the kitchen for several months. So, he started calling culinary colleagues to see if they could take over his duties while he was away. Ultimately, ten chefs stepped up to helm the burners — with Bryan Voltaggio kicking things off. Weekly emails from Gilt City DC reveal who is coming in next for 24 rounds. Each chef in this impressive lineup will be cooking for 50 people a night for just five days, so scoring a seat will be challenge. The only way to get tickets is through Gilt City DC and the reservations themselves are then handled by CityEats.
The menu is divided into twelve dishes from the visiting chef’s recipe collection and a dozen culled from RJ Cooper’s arsenal. Menus aren’t revealed in advance, though, so you don’t know just what will happen until you sit down. By the look of the focused flurry around the center stage kitchen, it looks like Voltaggio is pulling out all the stops. No matter what, I’m sure that the pleasure and the privilege will be mine.
Get the bite by bite breakdown by clicking over to CityEats’ Plate blog now.
Walk into a restaurant kitchen these days, and you might think that you accidentally stumbled into Q’s laboratory full of high-tech gear for James Bond. There are cutting-edge apparatuses that resemble futuristic ray guns, intricate torture devices and even high-end bongs. These culinary contraptions would have made Rube Goldberg proud, but they’ll also make you some of the most surprising dishes and drinks around.
The gadget: Macallan Ice Ball Machine
What it’s used for: The Jessie Clark cocktail made with chamomile-infused scotch, mandarin marmalade, and chocolate bitters.
Why it’s awesome: It creates a perfect icy sphere, which melts slower than traditional cubes. This way your drink is chilled out without getting watered down.
Finish reading this post on CityEat’s The Plate now.