I’ll never forget my first encounter with celebrated chef, cookbook author, restaurateur, food innovator, entrepreneur and all around global brilliant business mind, THE Wolfgang Puck. And no, it wasn’t in D.C. at The Source, it was in fact at the famedÂ Spago in Beverly Hills in 2002. Because my friend whom I was visiting in L.A. happened to be a Wolfgang pal and frequent guest of his restaurants we were privy to a private room AND a visit by the man himself.Â
As this was pre-social media, my friend took a photo with his camera of Wolfgang and me after he had signed his cookbook (above) which sits never used, but longingly looked upon, in my kitchen.
Fast forward to 2007 when The Source by Wolfgang Puck opened as part of the NewseumÂ property. A few comrades and I started hitting up this hot spot early and often and became friendly with one of the best chefs in town whom we respect and adore, ChefÂ Scott Drewno, WHO may I add, saved my life when I lost my wallet one night. That’s a story to share over a glass of wine. I can’t give enough praise to this consummate gracious professional who is community minded and consistently client-focused. He even kindly endured my “weird diet” aka my vegetarianism for a few years.
Since The Source opened, I’ve attended various Wolfgang Puck on-site events (like Chinese New Year celebrations), functions in the lower level private room, happy hours, and post-Caps games cocktails, but my favorite moments at the restaurant always have been with big groups of friends. These are special times, when the group is lively and the white table linen is scarcely seen, what with the array of cocktails, bottles of good wine and delectable plates, bowls, and dishes strewn throughout. We are loud, we are happy, we are filled with good energy. It’s hours of socializing and stuffing our faces (we admit!). When the group departs, we leave with genuine smiles on our faces, completely satiated and pleased with having created lasting memories.
Suffice to say, everyone, even if award-winning and well-attended, needs a bit of a refresher. There are a number of properties in the city who are in the facelifting stages and The Source has just completed its own. The restaurant hasÂ re-opened after a month-long interior redesign, featuring a renovated lounge and dining room, and new elements including a custom designed hot pot table for four and a special chefâ€™s tasting menu counter for two.
In the dining room, guests can book a four person hot pot table experience. The custom table was designed by woodworker Art Drauglis, and features Chef Drewnoâ€™s 20 hour aromatic broth made with chicken feet, pork ribs, beef and chicken bones, whole chicken, Sichuan peppercorns, chilies and chili oil. As anÂ homage to traditional Chinese hot pot found throughout the Sichuan region, Chef Drewno guides his guests through an interactive tasting menu in which they participate in the preparation of the meal which features a progression of wagyu beef, pork belly, local rockfish, wild mushrooms, noodles and dumplings, coursed to build maximum flavor throughout the meal. Each hot pot comesÂ with “hot pot enhancers,” such as house-made chili paste, soy sauce, sesame paste, and Sichuan peppercorns.
The Sourceâ€™s renovated first floor bar has a new lead bartender at the helm, Jesse Raines, who previously oversaw the cocktail program at Founding Farmers and Farmers, Fishers and Bakers. He has expanded the cocktail program with a new menu which debuted this month. The renovated lounge featuresÂ Chef Drewnoâ€™s acclaimed dumplings, wok-fired dishes such as roast duck fried rice with crispy duck tongues and a goose egg, and barbeque dishes including a grilled Sichuan sausage with cilantro, toasted cumin and coriander pickles.
I recently had a taste of some out of this world sushi (don’t forget to order sushi here!), my favoriteÂ Wok Fired Thai Drunken Noodles, the ever popularÂ Spicy Tuna Tartare in the Sesame-Miso Cones and a few other plates, but as crazy as this might sound, one of my favorite additions is their little onion roll which has been brought on Chef Drewno as the “bread”. It’s melt in your mouth good (like with your eyes shut).
If you meet Chef Scott Drewno, please tell him Pamela’s Punch sent you.
575 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (entrance on 6th Street). The dining room is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. The bar is open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant serves a Saturday dim sum brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations please call (202) 637-6100.