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Breaking News: David Ashwell Leaving Bistro Le Zinc, Moving to Ireland


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In what I think is an extremely sad day for the DC dining community, and a huge loss for this town, today (Sunday, December 18th) will be David Ashwell's final day at Bistro Le Zinc. He will be going to Belfast, Northern Ireland for family reasons.

I've had David's cooking many times at Marcel's, then Brasserie Beck (sometimes when he didn't think I noticed that he saw me (David, I notice everything!)). He was there the first night I had dinner at Mussel Bar, and finally, for two excellent dinners at Bistro Le Zinc.

Tom Sietsema understands that, just as a restaurant is fair game for his criticism, his reviews are also. Neither one is personal; it's just one person's observation and opinion about a business or a piece of writing - nothing more than checks and balances, an audit, or a peer review. Tom, I think you're an outstanding restaurant critic, but in my opinion, your review about Bistro Le Zinc was scaled too low. If I must refer to the star system, you and I are generally calibrated, or maybe 1/2-star apart; in this case, you gave the restaurant one star, and I strongly believe it deserves at least two and a half. (I should add that I'm not personal friends with anyone associated with that restaurant, and have never seen anyone there outside of a restaurant environment. I couldn't even name three people that work there.)

David doesn't embellish his cooking with hot chiles or galanga; his is a classical, old-school, fully reduced - one might even say "stolid" - no-apologies, French style, one that I could imagine in Paris during the fin-de-siècle. If his cooking was a musical instrument, it would be a viol de gambe, working primarily in the low-to-mid range of the register.

There is already a new chef slated to arrive at Bistro Le Zinc, a known area chef, but that won't be until January, and I don't feel I have the right to reveal her identity.

I've never spoken a word with David, although we've recently become Facebook friends. I don't know why I feel so sad that he's leaving, but I do. Thank you, sir, for many a wonderful meal - may the road rise up to meet you.

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