Column Editors: Nicole Ameduri (Licensing Manager, Springer Nature)
Introduction by Leah Hinds, Executive Director, Charleston Library Conference: ATG is excited to present a brand new column, “ATG Food + Beverage Roundup,” by Nicole Ameduri and Melanie Masserant of Springer Nature. The idea came about from a conversation between Nicole, Melanie, Tom Gilson, myself, and a few others at the Springer Nature booth during ALA Midwinter 2019 in Seattle. Tom and I were joking that each time we stopped by a booth to chat with our Charleston Conference sponsors and ATG supporters, the topic of food and cocktails always came up when Charleston is the topic. We’d ask, “What’s your favorite restaurant in Charleston?” and everyone had a different answer. Food and drinks can make or break a good conference experience! Although Charleston has no shortage of wonderful restaurants, having suggestions for which ones to try out as well as what the signature dishes or signature cocktails are for each location is invaluable information to get the most bang for your buck in Charleston. The conversation turned to the myriad locations for various conferences and meetings in the information industry throughout the year, and Nicole mentioned that she keeps a running list of the best restaurants, and Melanie keeps tabs on bars she frequents when she travels. Tom and I said that it would make a great column for ATG, that our readers would appreciate the information and suggestions, and it took off from there. We’re happy that Nicole and Melanie agreed to contribute their food + beverage knowledge for the greater good of the ATG and Charleston audiences, and we look forward to trying some of their suggestions at ALA Annual in Washington! — LH
Nicole Ameduri, Springer Nature Licensing Manager loves eating her way through conferences. Through some random twist of fate or luck, she ended up with a number of chefs, restaurant managers, famous sommeliers and food writers in her close circle of friends. They have steered her in the right direction for every destination on her calendar. Melanie Masserant, Springer Nature Account Development Manager fancies unique cocktails while gallivanting to conferences across Canada and the U.S. She collects interesting cocktail vinegars and syrups to concoct her own creations. Her favorite is a Bloody Mary mixed bourbon, cider vinegar and pickle juice. We’re excited to share fabulous DC restaurants and bars with you!
#1. Minibar: This two Michelin-starred restaurant is the most popular of all-star chef José Andrés’ original restaurants. Offering a tasting menu presented around an open kitchen, Minibar is more of a food lab than traditional dining room. It’s a study in avant-garde cooking, where each bite is designed to thrill the senses by pushing the limits of what we have come to expect — and what is possible — from food. The creations combine art and science, as well as tradition and technique. This imaginative and progressive tasting menu is done in shifts for groups of six. Reservations are required. Address: 855 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004, minibarbyjoseandres.com/.
#2. Le Diplomate: Stephen Starr’s French restaurant is popular among DC’s social set — countless U.S. and world leaders dine here. Its Paris bistro vibe pays homage to french café culture by providing a comfortable and versatile gathering place. The extensive menu features Gallic classics — onion soup gratinée, steak frites and escargots — along with daily plates like bouillabaisse and cassoulet. Address: 1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, lediplomatedc.com/.
#3. Oficina: Fresh on the scene last October, chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Oficina is a create-your-own foodie adventure that spans three floors. The first floor is a café, bar and market/butcher shop; the second is a trattoria and bar; and the third features a terrace and fire pits. Oficina serves classic Italian fare along with adventurous dishes. The Burrata is imported from Puglia, and the octopus is one among their popular dishes. Great for large groups. Reservations are recommended. Address: 1120 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, officinadc.com/.
#4. Little Serow: Little Serow (rhymes with sparrow) is James Beard award winner Johnny Monis’s Northern Thai restaurant in Dupont Circle. This casual sister to Monis’s fine dining restaurant Komi serves Issaan cuisine. Its affordable $54 tasting menu includes seven courses. Dinner is spicy and almost always includes pork, seafood and nuts. A Singha beer or sweet rice milk will offset the food’s considerable spice. The offerings are always changing, but a few favorites include khao soi with egg noodles, laap gai chiang mai with chicken or whiskey pork ribs. You can peer into the kitchen and see all the action right from your table! Address: 1511 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, littleserow.com/.
#5. DBGB: My favorite NYC restauranteur Daniel Boulod headlines this sleek City Center DC brasserie. It offers textbook perfect renditions of French classics with casual American fare. House-made sausage plates are wonderful, especially the Thai pork with basil fried rice or Moroccan lamb marguez. Other favorites include shishito peppers with soy and cured egg yok, tuna crudo and steak tartare. Save room for dessert — their baked Alaska with mandarin sorbet, dark chocolate and vanilla ice creams and a vanilla vodka igniter is the best in town. Address: 931 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001, https://www.dbgb.com/.
#1. Tiki TNT Bar: Party like a pirate! This giant Tiki bar and riverside rum distillery features three bar areas across three stories. Their Captain Morgan spiced rum and cola slurpee served in a beheaded Coke can is a house favorite — and a throwback to owner Todd Thrasher’s first ever illicit drink. Tiki TNT’s classic “cheeky but still Tiki” cocktails include mai tais, zombies and pina coladas, to the not so classic Tiki cocktail “This Will Make Your Belly Feel Better, I Promise” which mixes Cruzan Black Strap rum, Branca Menta, mint simple syrup and mint bitters. Thrasher — a three-time James Beard Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional semi-finalist — also serves his own brand of Thrasher’s Rum that is distilled on premise by his Potomac Distilling Company. Address: 1130 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, tikitnt.com/.
#2: Green Zone: This Middle Eastern craft cocktail bar has finally found a permanent space in the multi-cultural Morgan Adams neighborhood, after touring DC as a pop-up. Leaving the World Bank to concoct cocktails, Iraqi owner Chris Francke has created over 100 recipes that appear on the often changing menu. The lineup includes a classic like the Janisary Corps — made with local Green Hat gin, pistachios and lemon. They also serve a small variety of wines, beers and non-alcoholic drinks. After loosening up from libations explore the upper level to shimmy and shake to Middle Eastern and Latin tracks. Address: 2226 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009.
#3: Sidecar Bar & Lounge: Be the epitome of librarian studiousness while sipping classic cocktails in a historical atmosphere. The new bar area at Georgetown’s 1789 Restaurant features a long mahogany bar, wooden columns and leather seating. Notable drinks include the Irish old fashioned — with Jameson Black Barrel whiskey — and the namesake sidecar with spiced pear liqueur, brandy, triple sec and lemon. Address: 1226 36th St NW, Washington, DC 20007.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.