Chef Scott Drewno is The Source
The Bare Naked Critic
Chef Scott Drewno is the man behind Wolfgang Puck’s The Source, adjacent to the Newseum in Penn Quarter. On the surface, Drewno is the epitome of the all-American man: 6 feet 5 inches, handsome, happily married to his high school sweetheart, lover of Diet Coke and, I can only assume, baseball. What isn’t captured by the bare naked eye? Drewno has seriously stepped it up as a fierce D.C. contender in modern Chinese cooking.
Reentering Western society from his Vol. II trip to China, Drewno brings with him a wonton of ideas in the form of duck, pig, dumplings and noodles. Taking restaurant recommendations before his trip from local Chinese phenoms such as Ming of Ming’s in Chinatown and friends like Chef Lee Heftner, Drewno went to China with a list of 80 restaurants to hit up.
With a new bag of Asian tricks, the wok has been fired and The Source is now hotter than ever. There were a few dishes I was itching to try and share with our readers. Here’s what I found sizzling:
Duck Bao Buns folded with lacquered duckling, hoisin sauce and cucumber. A sweet, doughy bite with a cool crunch makes these heavenly buns one of my favorite small plates on the menu. While visiting Beijing, Peking Duck was a topic of study for Drewno. Post research, he feels he has evolved this ancient Chinese dining experience into something more contemporary and easy to eat.
Crispy Suckling Pig is served as a small plate accompanied by a sweet bean paste and black plum puree. This signature dish is the product of a three-day process of deconstruction and reconstruction of a whole pig. After slow roasting, the meat is removed from the bone and the skin is made crispy separately. It’s Drewno’s secret to succulence. Once put back together and plated, this dish sends diners into squealing delight. After sampling suckling pig at a banquet meal in Shanghai, Drewno boasts with confidence that his pig is just perfect. I certainly agree.
Sheng Jian Bao is a new edition to the menu and a result of an intimate cooking lesson with a 64-year-old expert in Shanghai. Drewno watched over her shoulder as she carefully taught him to pleat each dumpling with precision. Ask for these pork filled treasures in the lounge and you be the judge. I vote some of the best dumplings in D.C.
Chili dan dan noodles are smothered in sweet, slow-roasted pork and flipped together with chili oil. Inspired by his visit to a hot-pot restaurant in the Xi’an region, Drewno is proud to present this spicy addition. The noodles provide the texture needed to offset the tenderness of the pork. Chopsticks down: you will finish the whole bowl.
Deals and Steals at The Source
While the dining room menu may throw the bill in the region of pricey, it is not necessary to break the bank at The Source. Small plates in the lounge, Happy Hour and Saturday Dim Sum Brunch are all open avenues to get your fork in some of the best Chinese food in the District.
The deal: The Source offers a “food centric” Happy Hour catering to a sexy and diverse clientele. On weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., I watched the lounge fill up with a collection of young professionals, food loving fools and museum goers. Amidst soft lighting, small-plates, intriguing seasonal cocktails plus a selection of 28 wines by the glass, The Source is a great place to chill-out after work or meet up with a friend. Plenty of suits and skirts make this Happy Hour a secret single spying spot.
The steal: Your choice of three plates for $20 (can also be ordered individually à la carte.)
The deal: Forget pancakes, how about steamed buns? It’s time to switch it up and impress your family, friends and morning-afters with a trip to The Source for brunch. Saturday Dim Sum Brunch is another way to experience The Source without sitting down for a full dinner. From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. guests may choose from 28 dim sum-style plates. While there is no special on drinks, why not go bold with a Bloody Mary in a pilsner glass? There are three to choose from: Classic, Shanghai Mary (spicy) and District Mary garnished with a half-smoke sausage.
The steal: Five plates for $30 or eight plates for $40
The Source 575 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, D.C. 20001