April 11, 2006


Uber chef Wolfgang Puck in the fall of 2007 will open a new restaurant, The Source, in the Newseum at 6th and Pennsylvania in downtown/Penn Quarter.

"The menu will offer some of my signatures dishes, as well as new creations inspired from fresh Maryland, Virginia, and East Coast ingredients and flavors," explained Puck. This statement only serves to remind us that DC has no indigenous cuisine. Thanks for rubbing it in Wolfgang. At least Puck did not promise to serve sun-dried tomato chili over tofu half smokes and steal a page from Ben's Chili Bowl's limited playbook.

But who really is the Source going to appeal to? When you have a marquee name out in front, the food does not matter so much as "the experience." In town on that lobbying trip, the folks back home in Kansas City won't be impressed if you tell them you ate at Palena or City Zen. Ditto if you venture to "the District" from Centerville. But if you report back that you ate where the menu was crafted by a food-channel star that translates.

Don't misunderstand. The fact that Puck is coming is good for DC. It does bring some badly needed excitement to a town that is fast losing its stodgy reserve. Let's not lose sight of the fact, though, that the Source is a chain restaurant that will simultaneously kick DC up a notch and make it less interesting too.

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