Three of Edible DC's Best Soups for Surviving Winter Storm Gia

By Thomas Martin, Edible DC Intern

Winter Storm Gia is bearing down on the District this weekend, and there’s only one way for Washingtonians to endure the storm’s wrath: soups. Three of them, to be exact. We’ve rounded up some of our best soups from our recipe box to share with you a second time around this weekend. If you’re going to be snowed in all day, why not try your hand at White Bean Soup with Chorizo, or Eastern Shore-Style Oyster Stew, or Lamb and Barley Stew with Rutabaga and Kale?

White Bean Soup with Chorizo

From chef Seth Brady (formerly of Rustik Tavern), this recipe for White Bean Soup with Chorizo “has strong Proustian powers that take me immediately back to those sweet times kibitzing with a dear friend over life’s possibilities,” writes our publisher and editor-in-chief.

Eastern Shore-Style Oyster Stew

Corporate Executive Chef Jason Miller of Balducci’s delighted in his grandmother’s Eastern Shore-Style Oyster Stew all throughout his childhood. Featuring the region’s most famous spice mix — Old Bay — this hearty stew is sure to cure any and all Jack Frost blues this weekend.

Lamb and Barley Stew with Rutabaga and Kale

A 2015 Snow Day recipe winner, this Lamb and Barley Stew from Taste of Place’s Kathryn Warnes’ kitchen has everything you could ask of a winter soup: seasonal veggies, a savory broth, and tender, flavorful lamb. Check out Amanda Delabar’s Lemon Blueberry Bread, also a 2015 Snow Day recipe winner, for another weekend culinary project.

The “OGs” of Logan Circle Restaurateurs are Farmers Too?

They are. And their new restaurant this fall will take it all to the next level

By AJ Dronkers, photography by Sarah Culver

Farmers at EatWell Natural Farm harvest produce, then deliver to the EatWell restaurants. They also help with composting efforts with each restaurant.

Farmers at EatWell Natural Farm harvest produce, then deliver to the EatWell restaurants. They also help with composting efforts with each restaurant.

“The creativity of incorporating produce from the farm is like a quick-fire mystery basket challenge.” - Madison Han, Head Chef, EatWell Group’s Commissary Restaurant

Sourcing local and seasonal food continues to be a growing trend across restaurants globally. While we’d love to say it is being driven by pure altruism on the part of food businesses, the ones behind the wheel are actually consumers.

A 2017 study by the National Restaurant Association found “local sourcing” and “fresh produce” continuing to rise as business trends. But meeting that demand can be costlier and downright challenging in some seasons, not to mention the fact that lemons and avocados simply don’t grow in the mid-Atlantic. A 2016 exposé in the Tampa Bay Times1 went viral after it documented restaurants doing what some consumers had long suspected: faking the farm-to-table thing. It’s not surprising that trying to benefit from consumer interest in eating locally sourced food opens the door to fraud, or to those only partially walking the walk. (We’ve previously reported on a local start-up, Greenease, that allows users to find restaurants that have a genuine commitment to local and provide audited lists of farms from which restaurants source.)

But if you don’t want to have to wonder about the source, consider a restaurant that not only works with local farms—but owns one. In the DC area, one of the original gangsters, if you will, of local sourcing is the EatWell Restaurant Group, whose eateries include Logan Tavern, Commissary, The Bird, Grillfish and the Pig.

In 2003, the group decided to purchase and operate its own 13-acre farm in La Plata, MD, to source for the family of restaurants. This fall they will launch their newest restaurant, The Charles Public House & Farm Table, also in La Plata, which will bring their farm-based inspiration to the forefront.

In the DMV, sourcing locally plays out in many ways. At various FRESHFARM markets like Dupont Circle or Penn Quarter you can routinely catch Executive Chef Jeremiah Langhorne from the Dabney or Chef Michael Costa of Zaytinya walking around with their teams purchasing crate after crate of local produce.

Chef Amy Brandwein formed a partnership with DC Urban Greens in Southeast DC. She supports their efforts to provide affordable fresh produce in a food dessert by purchasing products for her menu and even volunteering to work the farm with her team. Chef Rob Weiland of the Garrison installed and pulls from multiple small urban chef gardens near his restaurant as a means to get local produce.

We took a visit to the EatWell Natural Farm and chatted with the team—the farmers, the chefs, the manager—about what it’s really like to source from and grow for a restaurant group-sized farm.

Farm-to-table dining keeps EatWell’s restaurants’ menus flexible and innovative.

Farm-to-table dining keeps EatWell’s restaurants’ menus flexible and innovative.

About the Farm with EatWell Natural Farm Manager Keith McNeal

Edible DC: How do you run the farm?

Keith McNeal: We currently operate the farm with one full-time farm manager (that’s me), one full-time crew member and two to three part-time farm crew and delivery members as the season gets increasingly busy.

We hire local folks who have an interest in small-scale, sustainable agriculture. It does help to hire those who have an interest and understanding of farming, as well as those who have experience in production-based agriculture focused on the culinary side of things.

EDC: Does the produce only go to your restaurants?

KM: Currently all our produce goes to our restaurants. In the future, we may sell to our local community, but now it is very important to EatWell DC as a company to ensure we are getting as much of our produce from our farm as we can. 

We have just over an acre under cultivation. Our goal would be to deliver to our restaurants up to three times per week and to source up to 60 percent of the produce that can be regionally grown directly from EatWell Natural Farm.

EDC: Where do you get produce that doesn’t come from the farm? 

KM: We partner with local farmers in our immediate area. At the new The Charles Public House & Farm Table, we will have a perfect opportunity; our menu will reflect the great work our local farmers and food systems producers do.

EDC: What’s coming from the farm this fall? 

KM: On the farm, we are growing vegetables that can be used by all of our chefs, in all of our restaurants. In the fall, we use season-extension techniques to continue to grow a wide variety of baby lettuces, root vegetables and cold-hardy crops to keep things as close to year-round as we can. This year, we are growing some new squash varieties: Blue Hubbard and Delicata. We are introducing Brussels sprouts to our crop list. Farm-pasture-raised hens are here with excellent eggs that usually go to The Bird. We would like to expand our egg production to get more into the other restaurants. We also focus on perennial crops: sunchokes, rhubarb, asparagus and lesser-known baby greens varieties. 

Utilizing local farm produce often results in seasonal dishes, such as this autumn-inspired stuffed gourd.

Utilizing local farm produce often results in seasonal dishes, such as this autumn-inspired stuffed gourd.

We asked the chefs of the EatWell restaurants how they work with their weekly deliveries from the farm.

EDC: How do you weave the EatWell Farm produce into the menu?

Isaiah Ruffin, head chef, The Bird: I base our menu on what is available, so when the farm manager lets us know what he has or what will be coming, the menu gets developed around it.

Madison Han, head chef, Commissary: The creativity of incorporating produce from the farm is like a quick-fire mystery basket challenge. I usually use fresh produce in daily specials or add to items that are already on my menu.

EDC: What are the challenges and benefits? 

William Crutchley, head chef, The Charles: One of my biggest challenges is going to be meeting my food cost margins. I will be serving delicious, quality food—however, I would also like that food to be rather affordable. The Charles is designed to be a place that people will frequent regularly, not a special-occasion-only spot. That said, one of the most fulfilling things is the ability to support the local community. Our dollars spent in purchasing our restaurant’s food will be spent in the community, we will be supporting real small businesses, not being siphoning off cash to some multinational food aggregate with headquarters in New York City.”

Shabier Bahramy, head chef, The Pig: When you get 20 pounds of farm radishes, you have to think on the fly and come up with creative ways to weave them into the menu and specials. Our farm is 100 percent organic with no pesticides, preservatives or additives. The shelf life isn’t as long as commodity produce, so it’s at its peak the moment it comes through our doors. It forces us to think outside the box and reflect a hyper-seasonal menu.

Chef Will Crutchley works on developing seasonal menus, planning ahead for fall farm produce. Pictured here is a tandoori chicken salad with butternut squash, EatWell Natural Farm greens and apples.

Chef Will Crutchley works on developing seasonal menus, planning ahead for fall farm produce. Pictured here is a tandoori chicken salad with butternut squash, EatWell Natural Farm greens and apples.

Getting the message that across with General Manager Heidi Minora

EDC: How do you think the farm helps brand your restaurants, if at all? 

Heidi Minora: Sourcing locally can mean anything—from a farm way outside the city, hours away to one in a different state. The EatWell Natural Farm is literally one hour outside the city. This sets us apart from any other restaurant in DC. Yes, we are serving a burger, but the bread came from a local bakery, the lettuce and tomato came from our farm and the beef was grassfed from a local butcher. This is a product that our staff can be proud to serve. And if your staff is proud of the company they work for, they will pass that along to their guests.

As business owners, we feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to not just take from this earth but also give back to it. We are an eco-friendly restaurant group that composts in house. We use only biodegradable products in our restaurants, do not use plastic bags and have both energy-efficient and water-conservation efforts in our restaurants.

EDC: How do your guests react to knowing you have a farm and grow your own produce? 

HM: Parents especially appreciate any restaurant that’s going to make natural foods tasty and approachable for their children. We offer volunteer days at our farm, which are excellent ways for parents and children to work on a farm and make lunch together. Folks are always eager to know more and we love that we can give them that opportunity. 

Chefs Christian Irabién and Adam Greenberg Take On Summer

By Adam Greenberg and Christian Irabién, photography by Jennifer Chase

Corn, peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes are the stars of a pool party menu.

Corn, peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes are the stars of a pool party menu.

Christian Irabién and Adam Greenberg. Two chefs opening new restaurants in DC this fall. Two very concepts and cuisines. The team at Edible DC asked them to come together for a collaborative menu for a pool party using four of our favorite summer fruits and vegetables. Bravo, chefs! The wonderful result was a colorful explosion of summer flavors. Both Irabién and Greenberg explain their concepts:

Ensalada de nopalitos con quelites (Fresh cactus salad with field greens)

Ensalada de nopalitos con quelites (Fresh cactus salad with field greens)

Irabién grew up in his family's restaurants in Mexico and Texas and in his grandmother's kitchen. After spending several years in finance and international development, he searched for some sense of purpose and slowly found that in food. He did culinary studies at night while working full time, staging wherever he could on weekends until he felt ready to make a hard left and cook full time. 

Pickled blueberry mignonette with oysters

Pickled blueberry mignonette with oysters

He tells us, “There are two main roots the restaurant concept is born out of: The first, my need to share my story and experience as a Mexican-born, American-raised person in a quest to find identity through the flavors and ingredients I grew up with. Secondly, to push back against the notion that the Mexican diet is purely made up of tacos and tamales. I'm tired of people telling me what Mexican food is and isn't. I am just trying to create a great place to eat great food in a place I would go eat and hang out in with a lot of soul, a lot of masa and a lot of mezcal.

Aguachile de camarón con durazno (Shrimp and peach aguachile)

Aguachile de camarón con durazno (Shrimp and peach aguachile)

This place will be Amparo Fondita, a modern and authentic Mexican restaurant that pays homage to the heritage-based cuisine of Mexico’s many and diverse coastal regions. According to Irabién, Amparo is all about disruption, and a representation of what the modern Mexican's diet is, beyond tacos and quesadillas. Disrupting the notion that Mexican food must continue to be a caricature born out of the same cut and copy template.

Brined pork chops with peach compote

Brined pork chops with peach compote

Greenberg has been cooking since he was a teenager, with a lot of varied experience. But he found his inspirations for his first restaurant, the upcoming Coconut Club, on the West Coast. He loved the atmosphere and cuisine at San Francisico’s highly rated Liholiho Yacht Club, a restaurant credited with delivering a true taste of Hawaiian island food life. Greenberg’s vision to create his own version is well underway as he is completing the buildout of space working with DC-based design firm Edit Lab, that will have diners experiencing an airy, light-hearted, escapist feeling of being away. He aims to cater to guests who love adventure and travel, and everything from the music to the carefully created tiki drinks with locally sourced ingredients will reinforce the island vibe.

Chefs Adam Greenberg and Christian Irabién

Chefs Adam Greenberg and Christian Irabién

The menu at Coconut Club will feature fresh raw fish in poke, crudos and ceviches and small plates of island-styled food. Greenberg wants to exemplify the simplicity of cooking that he has learned through his travels, and offer options like octopus, duck, bulgogi while also paying homage to Hawaiian classics as well.


Christian Irabien is a Mexican native who has led teams in renowned kitchens, receiving accolades for his Executive Chef role at Calavera in Oakland, Ca. and Jose Andrés’Oyamel in Washington, DC. Christian has been an integral part of the rising DC restaurant scene, collaborating with non-profits, restaurants, food banks and farms in the area as an active participant for better working conditions and wages for restaurant workers; while also strongly advocating for a better local food system. His restaurant, Amparo, will open later this fall at 3110 Mount Pleasant St NW in the historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood of D.C.

Adam Greenberg started his culinary career at the age of 18 and attended Johnson & Wales. After years honing his skills as a sous-chef, including at the Providence Oyster Bar under Tom Colicchio, learning how to cook the perfect steak at The Capital Grille and finally landing as Chef at Barcelona Wine Bar in West Hartford, CT in 2008, he moved up in the group, becoming Executive Chef at Barcelona Wine Bar on 14th Street in D.C. A four-time champion of Food Network’s Chopped, Greenberg is currently filming another soon to be announced television show and readying to open his restaurant, Coconut Club, in the Union Market “Blue Shed” in the fall.