Agraria's Team Shapes Up

I must admit that when I first heard about Agraria, the forthcoming waterfront restaurant from a farmers union in North Dakota, I wasn't quite sure what to think. The whole thing seemed kind of, well, random.

The union partnered with a lobbying and financial group in the new venture, which made things a little clearer: Bring a farmer-owned restaurant to the nation's capital to put the issues American farmers face right under Congress' nose. OK, fine, but we've all seen what happens to restaurants tied too closely to lobbying.

But would the food be good? Tucked in the tourist trap of the Washington Harbour, where no one bats an eye at laying down $28 for a plate of terribly mediocre crabcakes, Agraria would have to overcome the reputation of its location to earn the respect of locals.

Then came the announcement that they brought on D.C.'s most well-known restaurant designers, Adamstein and Demetriou, to overhaul the space that was formerly the shortlived Harbour Club. And Paul Anthony Morello, formerly of Les Halles, was named executive chef. Agraria is "a chef's dream," he was quoted as saying in the Washington Business Journal. All right, Agraria, you have my attention.

Now comes word that Agraria has snagged the talented Derek Brown, known for his spectacular cocktails, from Firefly. Brown will serve as restaurant manager and sommelier, and he promises more exciting cocktails.

Someone (the farmers union's partner, The Magnate Group, perhaps?) clearly knows what they're doing. So move me from the skeptic column into the optimistic one.

And look for Agraria to open sometime this spring.

3000 K St. NW