Food Park: Second Anniversary Party @ Duke’s Grocery — 9/16/15

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Daniel Kramer (second from right) appeared on Good Morning Washington today to chat about Oktoberfest.

Today is National Cheeseburger Day, and tomorrow is the beginning of Oktoberfest.

That means it’s a good weekend for one Washingtonian in particular: Daniel Kramer, co-owner of Duke’s Grocery (1513 17th St. NW, DC) in Dupont, home of one of the city’s best cheeseburgers, and organizer of the District Oktoberfest party in Chinatown, which offers eight beers at eight bars with one ticket.

Daniel wowed a private party of his guests for the second anniversary of Duke’s Grocery on Wednesday, offering a tasty buffet inspired by the Duke’s menu and an open bar that included Warsteiner Oktoberfest along with other beers, wine and cocktails for guests.

The buffet offered sliders that were a dead ringer to your mouth for the full-sized Proper Burger, which consists of a thin burger topped with Gouda, chili sauce, aioli, pickles and arugula. Washingtonian magazine today named it one of the “most crave-worthy cheeseburgers around DC.”

In addition to the “Proper Sliders,” the buffet offered an assortment of charcuterie, hummus and Asian spring rolls.

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The knowledgeable Matt Loscolzo guided guests through tequila tastings.

In the upstairs bar at Duke’s, Daniel will occasionally host tastings of select liquors, and Wednesday’s party was a great opportunity to do just that. Matt Loscalzo, sales rep for Washington Wholesale, served up a popular selection of Roca Patron tequila — including the Patron Silver (unaged tequila), Patron Reposado (aged up to six months), and Patrol Anejo (aged up to a year).

It was a fantastic party all by itself, but the best thing about it is that it heralds another year of Duke’s Grocery. Congratulations, Daniel!

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A great buffet included the Proper Burger — albeit in “slider” form.

Stars and Bars: Grand Opening @ Mad Fox Taproom — 8/17/15

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Mad Fox Brewing Co. Taproom (2218 Wisconsin Ave., NW, DC) opened Monday in the Glover Park neighborhood of DC, offering beer from 10 different kegs and two casks.

The taproom also offered appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a few meals on opening day, showcasing a menu that featured nine “sociables” (apps) and six “handhelds” (sandwiches) as well as three plated meals.

A typical beer runs about $7 at the taproom, an extension of the main Mad Fox microbrewery in Falls Church, Va. (444 W Broad St., Falls Church, Va.). The taproom discounts beers by $2 each for happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 3-7pm.

The opening of the taproom came after roughly two years of renovations to the restaurant, which provides a cozy old-style pub space for visitors to drink beer and watch sports on flatscreens behind the bar.

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The timing of the opening seemed purposefully to come on a day when it would draw a lighter volume. DC Beer Week occurred last week, exhausting the beery revelries of many, while the latter half of August is traditionally a slow time in the city as many leave for extended vacations while Congress and other institutions are closed for a spell.

That said, the Mad Fox Taproom had moderate traffic as mostly local guests sampled both beer and food.

The beers offered yesterday included:

Draft tap
Kellerbier Kolsch
Defender American Pale Ale
Borad Street IPA
The Maneuver IPA
Big Chimney’s Porter
Orange Whip IPA
Cabernet Oaked Reynard Black Saison
Bacth 500
English Summer Ale
Oaked Wee Heavy 2014

Cask pump
Defender American Pale Ale
Big Chimney’s Porter

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Grapevine: Chef Alex McCoy Departs @ Duke’s Grocery

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Chef Alex McCoy, one of Duke’s Grocery’s three founding partners

Alex McCoy, former chef and founding partner at Duke’s Grocery, left the Dupont Circle-area gastropub in December and plans to open a new restaurant focused on southeast Asian food, Tim Carman of The Washington Post reported Monday.

On his Facebook page Monday, McCoy said, “Friends, after a year and a half of working with my awesome partners over at Duke’s Grocery, I am excited to announce that I will be leaving to work on a new project in the DC area. You guys and gals have been legends and I appreciate all of the amazing support you have given myself and the Duke’s family. The team is still working hard in the Duke’s kitchen and the burgers are still flippin’! 2015 is going to be a very tasty year!”

Carman delivered the scoop on McCoy’s new project: “a restaurant that will focus on Southeast Asian cooking, continuing the District’s trend of opening eateries that channel the authentic flavors of Thailand, Laos and other countries.”

McCoy vowed to travel throughout southeast Asia over the next few months to refine his menu, which comes as no surprise to me, as the chef is very fond of traveling to a dish’s country of origin before he perfects it, as he told me a few months ago.

Daniel Kramer, another co-founder at Duke’s, announced Rick Koplau, who has been overseeing the late night food program at Duke’s Grocery, will become head chef. Koplau previously worked at Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Lake Tahoe and Sarasota, along with stints in England, Germany and Poland.