Neighborhood Eats: Ray’s to the Third Opens, Galileo III and Lupe Close

by Rebecca Cooper

The main dining area at Ray's to the Third. Owner Michael Landrum (on the right) gets ready for his soft opening Wednesday.
Mystery abounds in this week’s Neighborhood Eats column as Ray's the Steaks' Michael Landrum quietly opens a new spot in Rosslyn, Lupe closes unexpectedly, and no one knows what’s next for chef Roberto Donna. Open: A new spot from Ray’s the Steaks, et. al. owner Michael Landrum had a quiet soft opening last night. Ray’s to the Third at 1650 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn (map) doesn't deviate much from Landrum's other concepts, serving up steak more than a dozen ways at prices that are more reasonable than most of the larger steak restaurants in the region. For those looking for a red meat alternative, skillet fried chicken, jumbo lump crab cake, cajun catfish, and portabello mushroom caps round out the menu. Decor is sparse in the space, which is more casual than Ray’s the Steaks and seats less than 50 in the main dining area. Landrum was on hand for opening day on Wednesday, greeting diners throughout the night.
Ray's to the Third libation options.
Closed: Galileo III, the latest restaurant from the notorious Roberto Donna, has closed its doors after being open less than a year. Donna tells The Washington Post that negative articles in the Post about him and the restaurant didn’t help matters. He didn’t say what his next endeavor will be, and there’s no word at this point on what might take over the restaurant’s space at 600 14th Street NW (map). Galileo III's website was already down Wednesday evening. Another restaurant casualty of the week is Lupe Mexican Cantina, the Mexican restaurant and bar from the owners of Public Bar and Sushi Rock. Someone already seems to have a plan for the restaurant's former space, though; a sign on the door is advertising a nightclub called MIA that is coming soon. Opening soon: Mintwood Place, a new French- and American-inspired restaurant from former Central chef Cedric Maupillier, is aiming for a mid-October opening, although construction crews are still putting the finishing touches on the space at 1813 Columbia Road NW (map). The small menu will include fare such as cioppino and cassoulet, the chef tells Best Bites Blog. And at the bar? Small plates featuring less common ingredients, including frogs legs and blood pudding. Because where there’s room for one fast-casual concept there’s room for another, BONMi, a Vietnamese sandwich shop, is opening next month at 900 19th Street NW (map), not far from where the Chipotle folks opened their fast-casual Vietnamese concept, ShopHouse, last week. The restaurant will serve traditional banh mi -- usually a baguette filled with pork or other meat and pickled vegetables -- as well as vegetarian options. BONMi aims to “provide guests an eating experience that accentuates taste, texture and flavor in just one bite,” according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. Opening…eventually: London-based YO!Sushi will open its first DC location in Union Station in early 2012, thanks to franchisee extraordinaire Richard Pawlowski, Young & Hungry reports. The restaurant will serve sushi and sashimi, Asian-themed salads, and hot Japanese dishes, all doled out on conveyor belts. Pawlowski, who already owns several Qdoba Mexican Grill and Cosi restaurants in the area, aims to open at least 10 more YO!Sushi locations throughout the mid-Atlantic. Changes: Arlington fine dining spot Willow is adding two new restaurants-within-a-restaurant to its space at 4301 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston (map). Supplementing the fine dining restaurant will be a more casual spot called Nosh, described as a “Willow-esque bistro,” in the front section of the dining room. Separating the two will be Kate at Willow, a new bakery counter which will serve cookies, brownies, and other sweets made by the restaurant’s pastry chef, Kate Jansen. Willow owner and chef Tracy O’Grady tells ARLNow that the changes are designed to offer alternatives to the upscale restaurant. Events: The best event of the fun-and-free variety this weekend would have to be VegFest, a full day of vegetarian themed food demonstrations, exhibitions, lectures and book signings at George Washington University this Saturday. Stop by before 1 p.m. if you want to compete in the vegan cupcake eating contest sponsored by Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats, or just grab some food from one of the two-dozen vegetarian friendly local restaurants and food trucks that will be on hand exhibiting. This weekend also marks the end of Turkish restaurant week, meaning you only have a few more days to get over to Agora to sample the four-course traditional Turkish menu [PDF] for $30. Our recommendation? Start with a little htipiti (roasted red peppers and feta served with warm, puffy bread), and move on to more of the restaurant’s signature Turkish dishes -- the goat cheese in phyllo borek and the lamb and beef skewers are both excellent. Rebecca Cooper is a freelance journalist and avid eater that has contributed to TBD, DCist, and Washingtonian. If you have any tips about restaurant or bars openings or closings, email Rebecca at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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