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Primrose Executive Chef Jonathan De Paz typically cooks French-accented dishes like duck leg confit a l’orange or Parisian gnocchi, but for two days later this fall he’ll get to serve his native Guatemalan cuisine. The Brookland wine bar will be transformed into a pop-up called Refutar for dinner service on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 to give De Paz and his cooks a louder voice in the kitchen.
Refutar is the Spanish word for refute. “I talked with everybody that works here,” De Paz says. “I asked them what it feels like when they go to work. Sometimes they feel there’s this preconceived notion that a Latino or immigrant cook can only do such and such. With this, we’re going to present the food we want to do.”
De Paz immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was a child. “I’m the product of first generation immigration—someone trying to make his way up here,” he says. “We’re collaborating on things we all remember eating growing up as little kids. We’re letting them shine and tell their story.”
The a la carte menu will start with ceviche and small bites and progress into larger proteins for tables to share:
Amuse: Lightly salted cabbage cores with lime and cilantro
Scallop with horchata emulsion, pearl onions, rice chip
Red snapper with leche de tigre, Aji dolce, burnt lime, cabbage
Shrimp with avocado, tomato water, peach, basil
Flor relleno with chicken and jalapeño mousse, squash blossoms, salsa picante
Tostadas with red pepper coulis, crème fraîche, cilantro, and a choice of beef cheek or roasted vegtables
Tacos with pico de gallo, cilantro, and a choice of steak, pork belly, or fried fish
Chuchito with dark meat chicken and tomato mole
For The Table:
Roasted leg of lamb with sauce pepián and cabbage (repollo)
Fried whole snapper with chimichurri, arroz con loroco, and Guatemalan pickles
Arroz con leche
Platinos fritos con crema
De Paz recommends the roasted leg of lamb because of the sauce pepián that accompanies it. Some consider pepián the national dish of Guatemala. It typically features slow-cooked meats, vegetables, peppers, and an array of seeds and nuts like peppercorns, pumpkin seeds, and cumin seeds. De Paz it describes it as “curry like.”
A portion of the proceeds from the two days of dinner service will go to charitable organizations. While the team is still finalizing where they will direct funds, De Paz says the focus will likely be on organizations supporting immigrants’ rights.
A bartender from Service Bar DC, Mai Templeton, is planning to be behind the bar both nights making cocktails that go with the Guatemalan menu.
Primrose, 3000 12th St. NE; (202) 248-4558; primrosedc.com