Here’s a foodcentric round-up of what’s happening in the ‘hood:

Eatonville Restaurant, soon to open

Eatonville Restaurant, soon to open

Walking up 14th street the other day, I saw that Eatonville Restaurant to open on 14th and V, by the owners of Busboys and Poets, had/is having a competition to determine who will be the executive chef of the restaurant. The restaurant is an homage to Zora Neale Hurston, the writer who was good friends with Langston Hughes, who of course Busboys and Poets celebrates. Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, FL, the first incorporated African-American town in the country.

Busboys and Poets, and the City Paper’s Young and Hungry blog have been chronicling the chef search. There have been three rounds, chronicled here, here, and here. The finalists were Trent Conry, Rusty Holman, Dennis Clark, Chris Newsome, Jacques Ford, and Jason Tepper. Top Chef finalist Carla Hall (a U street girl favorite), owner Andy Shallal, and Mike Curtin from DC Central Kitchen were the judges. Apparently a winner has been chosen but their name has not been announced yet, and will be announced at a later date in the City Paper. I’ll be sure to update once the chef’s name has been announced.

The restaurant is said to open in either April or May of this year. Should be exciting, another Southern soul-food focused restaurant in the area (will be interesting to see how it contrasts with the food at Next Door, and to a degree, Marvin).

The Washington Post informs us that Hell’s Kitchen winner, Alexandria native Rahman Harper will be the chef at Next Door. Apparently the original concept for Next Door is changing – once meant to be a relaxed place to get a beer with a half smoke, in the past few weeks the Ali family has decided to make it more “upscale” – while half smokes will still be on the menu, so will ravioli stuffed with turkey, marscapone, and sweet potato.

I don’t know about this. I know it would be silly for Next Door to have a copy cat of Ben’s menu with beer. And I like that the the inside has a different look than Ben’s: cool, inviting, warm, with all of the wood. And I’m fine with changing the menu to offer some other dishes, it only makes sense. But bringing in a quasi-celebrity chef? I’m skeptical.