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Thirsty Bernie, Stachowski Is Out

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http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarti...

No longer much of a reason to go now..... now its just another sports bar.

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  1. Thanks for the heads-up Chaofun. What a disappointment. Was planning to go today to watch the games. May reconsider. If anyone's been in the past week I'd love to hear your feedback. Have they stayed true to any of his recipes?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Meg

      His empolyees may have picked up on a few things, but to the best of my knowledge...In this case is a lot.......his skills can't be copied.

      Plus rumor has it......We haven't heard the last from Cha Cha!

    2. This is getting to be a very "in crowd" thread. How hard is it to make sausages? And just how good was the food under the original chef anyway?

      Just curious. I never ate there, but thought about it a couple of times.

      12 Replies
      1. re: MikeR

        Ummm...very hard for the fermented/aged variety. Hence why so many "house made charcuterie" platters only include pates. Most chef's won't take the risk of having to toss rotten ingredients.

        1. re: Jason1

          I guess there's more to this than meets my unsophisticated pallet. I've never heard of fermented ingredients in "charcuterie." Still, a recipe is a recipe, unless it's a secret and he took it with him. And restaurants know how (or at least try) to budget their ingredients and make up their specialties.

          1. re: MikeR

            When you age meats they can get very distinct added flavor then when fresh. Prosciutto, salami, va country ham are some good examples. I'm not sure Jamie does this stuff but I can vouch for his Kielbasa and Bratwurst. They are really quite good. Nobody makes this stuff from scratch around here.... everybody brings them in from other cities (NYC, Chicago).

            1. re: chaofun

              Well, OK. So if all the aged stuff comes from elsewhere, is it all about the bratwurst and kielbasa? Or about the personality of the place?

              I'm interested in what was special about the food, but you must have a better reason for your "No reason to go there now" statement. What's missing? Or have you not been there since the original chef left?

              1. re: MikeR

                From the blog "will add pizza to the menu and turn to “convenience cooking”—buying everything premade that Stachowski had taken pains to make in-house". That makes me worry. I mean, if I wanted typical bar fare I can go else where. What was so cool was that it was unique. That's all. From the comments in the blog, the new chef is pretty good. We'll see how it goes.

                1. re: MikeR

                  EVERYONE STOP a second....
                  Jamie made EVERYTHING in house. Dry Cure Sausages, Kielbasa, Brats, Linguiesa.....Everything.
                  Jamie didn't purchase anything but the Raw products to make them, then spent his time, curing the products and developing the menu....
                  So in short, The new chef is obviously making Phone calls to find another product that will come close.....The problem with that is ....
                  THERE IS NOTHING CLOSE JAMIES STUFF.

                  1. re: themeatguy

                    Except that even Jamie has said that he's still selling his charcuterie to TB's. So for the meantime, you can still get the Butcher Board at TB's and be assured you're in good hands.

            2. re: Jason1

              And Also....Don't forget the turn around time that it takes to make the stuff...
              You can spend hundreds of $$$ making it and then you have to sit on that product for 3 to 4 and sometime 8 weeks, before you even are able to sell it.
              So how tuff is it MikeR?......Tough! Real Tough!

              1. re: themeatguy

                I went there right after thanksgiving and noticed that the wings, which had been awesome, were seriously lackluster. I realize wings do not qualify as charcuterie, but it was/is clear to me that something was wrong. I will definitely not be going back. I realize the economy is tanking, but this is lame.

                1. re: themeatguy

                  Few things in the food business are easy. Good food takes time to preapre, the cost of the raw materials fluctuates, the sales fluctuate making it a challenge to balance risk of running out with risk of spoilage. You can get mass produced hot dogs for half a buck and you can get "artisan" hot dogs for ten bucks. There's a market for both.

                  So what actually happened at Thirsty Bernie's? What was Stachowski's role? Chef? Owner? Sausage maker? If he's still making his charcuterie independent of the restaurant, then there's still a source and that's the important part. Perhaps his position at the restaurant was too much about other things and he just wanted to make sausages. Nothing wrong with that.

                  Maybe he'll open another restaurant. Maybe next time around he'll serve fish. A good chef who likes what he's doing will continue doing good things. And one who doesn't like what he's doing will quit. It's like any other craft-based work. I don't mean to belittle his talents - I have no basis to do so. I've never been to Thirsty Bernie's and probably wouldn't go just for the sausages no matter how special. I don't like the atmosphere of sports bars. If his craft shows up at a farmer's market or butcher shop, let us know. I'd like to give an aged sausage a try.

                  Sure, you lost a special watering hole. You'll find another.

                  1. re: MikeR

                    What is Jamie Up to...?
                    Jamie is working on something, though it isn't my place to talk about it. All I can say is that it is going to be very inviting and good.

                    Jamie's role is like any ex restuarant chef. None
                    He wasn't real happy with the way the ownership treated him, and I don't blame him. Owners too often make a restaurant about either them or the theme of the place, when truely it's the chef that is going to drive the people to the tables. I know that may sound like a bold statement, but it is a fact when it comes to foodies.
                    If you have been to a restaurant and had a horrible time, then found out that the chef that was at that restaurant moved to a new one, you would be more likely to NOT go to that new restaurant because of how that chef performed. Well with Jamie, you have the reverse issue. Everyone that knew his food over the years from Eciti, Kolumbia to Thirsty Bernies and even his little stints at Sam & Harry's knows that his food speaks for himself.

                    I am not sure if Jamie has any product at the famers markets, but will ask him soon. I only talk with him 4-5 times a week, so I will get it in on our next chat.....But here is something to ponder....

                    Would knowing that your idea or trade, being as good as it is, make you want to go and again work for someone else? Or would it make you move to do your own thing, so that the rewards will be true and yours? Just a thought.

                    And Jamie does do good fish, but I don't know if that is what he is thinking of....

                    1. re: themeatguy

                      I hope somebody is encouraging Jamie to come back to the city and open either a small cafe or a sweet little retail charcuterie shop, or better yet, both.

            3. Jamie is gone, and its too bad, but you can still get all his stuff at TB. They never added pizza as the article claimed. The place is still packed with the sophisticated N Arlington Crowd. The menu is almost identicle, only the salads have changed as far as i can tell. Also they added some more incredible sandwiches: rueban, turkey rueban are amazing.

              Also, the service is infinately better than it used to be

              13 Replies
              1. re: BeTripr

                And you are?

                1. re: Jason1

                  My thoughts exactly......

                  Betripr sounds like the owner or manager doesn't he?

                2. re: BeTripr

                  how can you "get all his stuff" if he's not the chef? just curious. plus a little picky.....

                  1. re: alkapal

                    is it because he still sells the restaurant the same products he used to make in-house?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Yeah he still sells his stuff to them:

                      http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bl...

                      I had trouble finding his stuff at the Lebanese Butcher, I don't know if this was resolved.

                      1. re: chaofun

                        how can lebanese butcher sell his products? aren't the stachowski products mostly pork? isn't the lebanese butcher halal? (i know halal is the way the animal is slaughtered, but i'm really referring to the lebanese butcher as a non-pork establishment).

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Good question... Tim (the city paper blogger) could have been mistaken. They certainly thought I was crazy when I went in there and asked.

                        2. re: chaofun

                          I don't know Jamie, but I know of him. I only had the chance to eat once at his place down on K Street.

                          If anyone knows him, and talks to him (DanielK?), tell him he should call on Doug Rosen at Arrowine in Arlington. Doug has a great cheese counter run by a guy named Perry. They have a little meat section next to it, but it has nothing unique. This might be a great opportunity for Jamie to have a showplace for his goods, and Doug to have a psuedo-monopoly on his products, hopefully bringing in customers who will buy some wine, some cheese, and some bread while they are there.

                          1. re: Pappy

                            Excellent suggestion. I would definitely buy his stuff at arrowine.

                            The comment above about having his sausages at Lebanese Butcher reminds me of the time that I was in there to buy lamb chops for Easter. When it was my turn I asked for pork chops and got the strangest look from behind the counter and a poke in the ribs from my husband.

                            1. re: bacchante

                              Thanks for sharing that! I spent 60 or 70 words praising the phenomenal pork chops at Ravi Kabob on this site a couple months ago. I looked at the thread the next day and just shook my head. I mean, I thought it was a pork chop, in a muslim owned cafe... Sigh...

                              Oh, and on edit, I will second Pappy and Alkapal on Arrowine. The people at Arrowine are true believers in fine foods. Their staff is great, their inventory is outstanding and they are a pleasure to work with, and they have a very discriminating clientelle that would probably be a natural market for charcuterie prepared by Jamie.

                            2. re: Pappy

                              i think the arrowine suggestion is a winner.

                              1. re: Pappy

                                Jamie is slowly building up his capacity and client base - I think he's focused more on restaurants than retail right now.

                                Retail-wise, you can find his fresh kielbasa at the Kielbasa Factory in Rockville.

                                1. re: DanielK

                                  Enology Wine Bar in the old Zebra Lounge Space near the cathedral sells his charcuterie.