Every month Joyce Brayboy with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. gathers a group of fellow financial services lobbyists for lunch at 701 restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The “consistency” of the good service and menu offerings appeal to her. Mostly she keeps coming back because the owner Ashok Bajaj is a friend.
Last night she hit the dance floor with him in the ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park hotel after he was named Restaurateur of the Year at the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s annual awards gala, known around town as the Rammys.
Lobbyists Matthew Cutts with Patton Boggs and Kenneth Edmonds with the National Football League were also there to see one of their favorite hangouts, Blue Duck Tavern, win in the fine dining category. They are happy to eat the tavern’s burgers.
“I used to be a corporate attorney,” said Mark Kuller, the owner of Estadio in the 14th Street corridor. “This community is a hell of a lot more fun,” he said after winning for upscale casual restaurant.
The gala had an “in bloom” theme because of the 50 new restaurants that have cropped up in the District area this year.
“It’s going crazy,” Denny Lyon, the director of operations for Nellie’s Sports Bar in the U Street corridor, said about the growth in business. “I don’t know why, but it is.” His bar was honored as the best neighborhood gathering place.
Guests wore vivid floral prints and blooming accessories.
After the ceremony, buffet pavilions representing international cuisine had attendees standing in endless lines.
They didn’t seem to mind as lamb from Australia, grilled scallops from Chile, squid from Peru, and tequila from Mexico awaited them.
Food stations were paired with wines from the country’s vineyards while a chocolate fondue fountain rounded out the meal.
Robert Wiedmaier, the owner of Marcel’s, whose wine program bested four other restaurants last night, said that he’s noticed a significant resurgence in popularity of champagne and sparkling wines, which had fallen out of favor in recent years, as well as a demand for all natural ingredients in cocktails.
Jonathan Fain, the beverage director for Bar Pilar, the recipient of the Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene award, said that draft cocktails and housemade spirits are on the rise.
Fabio Trabocchi. of Fiola in the city’s Penn Quarter, was named Chef of the Year, Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan was the new restaurant winner, and P.J. Clarke’s near K Street, was honored as the power spot of the year. The awards are determined by an anonymous group of food writers and industry leaders.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Richard Vines on food, Zinta Lundborg’s interviews, Catherine Hickley on German art and John Mariani on wine.