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It’s been 15 years since chef Jeff Buben last opened a restaurant. But this week, Vidalia and Bistro Bis got a new sibling: Woodward Table and its fast-casual offshoot Woodward Takeout Food (or WTF).
“The other ones are getting old,” Buben says. “This is the next generation.” If opening a restaurant is like having a child, he says, “this is like having a grandkid.”
Buben says he’s dropped almost 40 pounds walking back and forth between the restaurants over the past six months. “I’m like Bill Clinton. I’m going to triangulate here,” he says of splitting his time between the eateries.
Woodward Table, located in the former Potenza space downtown, is meant to be a little more casual than Buben’s other restaurants. He says the restaurant is more eclectic in its influences. Whereas Vidalia is focused on Southern cuisine and Bistro Bis is French, Buben says Woodward Table has something from a bunch of different regions across the country.
Among Buben’s favorites are the flatbreads as well the barbecue-glazed Denver lamb rib with cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds. Other starter dishes include a turtle bisque, barbecue shrimp, and fried chicken livers. Entrees include many classics like grilled New York strip steak, braised beef brisket, pan roasted Maine lobster, and crab cakes. Dinner entrees range from $25 to $32 and lunch entrees range from $15.50 to $18.
For those looking for a cheaper on-the go bite, WTF next door is focused on breakfast pastries, soups, salads, and sandwiches. Buben says all the sandwiches are meant to be something people would not make at home or be able to find elsewhere. Among the selections at the breakfast-and-lunch spot are a corned beef tongue sandwich with grilled red onions, chopped egg, lettuce, and tarragon dressing on toasted ciabatta as well as the “Porky Pig” with pate, bacon, ham, and bacon marmalade on toasted brioche. You can top it off with a root beer float, too.
Now onto the question that’s been in the back of your mind this whole time: What the fuck is up with the name WTF?
Buben claims he didn’t learn the other meaning of the acronym until he’d committed to using it. “[My wife] Sally told me afterwards,” Buben says. Intentional or not, it may actually be a smart marketing scheme: “It’s unbelievable how many people stop and take a picture with the logo,” Buben says.
Woodward Table, 1426 H St. NW; (202) 347-5353; woodwardtable.com
Photo by Jessica Sidman