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Dec 18, 2009 07:30 AM

Equinox Kitchen Burns Down

The news just hit the blogosphere....the kitchen and private dining room of Equinox apparently burned down last night. I'm trying to track down some more details, since this is one of my favorite restaurants in DC.

The City Paper talked to Ellen, Chef Grey's wife and business partner, and it appears that they are operating their kitchen out of Aria right now:

If anyone knows how extensive the damage is please let me know. Chef Grey is a wonderful man who creates delicious, seasonal, local cuisine. His commitment to our local regional cuisine is unmatched by any other chef working in DC right now. I hope he is able to recover from this fire.

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  1. Update from City Paper:

    UPDATE, 11:55 a.m.: D.C. Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer told Y&H this morning that the fire at Equinox was limited to the kitchen and the hood and duct systems above it. He described the fire as “small,” but mentioned that it did cause some damage to the surrounding walls and ceiling.

    The restaurant, Piringer added, is closed for now until the Health Department and other city agencies rule that it is ready to reopen.

    About 60 to 70 firefighters were dispatched to the building at 818 Connecticut Avenue just before 3 a.m. today. Piringer says that is a “normal amount” of firefighters for that location, which is just blocks from the White House.

    The fire was “under control very quickly,” Piringer says. The last unit left the scene around 6 a.m. today.

    There were no injuries, and the fire was ruled accidental, Piringer adds. The estimated damage is between $30,000-$40,000. The spokesman did not know the exact cause of the fire yet.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      My friends and I had reservations for Equinox's Hanukkah dinner last night -- they called me to tell me about the fire and their temporary relocation to Aria. We kept our reservation and went to Aria for our meal.

      Although the effort was greatly appreciated, the meal was really sub-par and the atmosphere at Aria was just horrible. The place was freezing cold and really more of a drunken bar scene than a place for fine dining. Literally, rowdy drunk folks were being escorted out of the restaurant!

      All that being considered, the real disappointment was that the food (prepared by Todd Grey and his staff) was very lack luster --- a cold, tasteless pasta appetizer, lamb & veal entrees served barely warm with a side dish left off one of the plates, etc. The doughnuts were the only redeeming feature of the meal. I am sorry to say, I wish we had not gone!

      Todd told us they expect to repair the restaurant and be up and running again in several weeks -- maybe overly optimistic??

      I will definitely go to Equinox again when it's repaired, but I am afraid one in my dinner party was so turned off by the experience at Aria that he'll be scratching Equinox off his list forever. It's a shame!

      1. re: gelato98

        Seems a little ridiculous to write an entire restaurant off considering the circumstances....and the fact that you weren't actually AT Equinox.

        But I applaud the fact that you kept your reservation. You did a good deed.

        1. re: Elyssa

          I'm not writing them off --- I certainly will go to Equinox when its fixed up as I love the place and the food made there.

          I am just not sure it was such a great idea serving a few tables within another restaurant a poorly executed dinner service -- the very night of the fire. It was overly optimistic of them. You had to be there --- it was sort of surreal. (They'd held a luncheon for 70 at Aria earlier in the day so I suspect the food we were served is what they'd brought over from Equinox the night before.)

          1. re: gelato98

            You gotta keep in mind that they were guests in Aria's kitchen, meaning they didn't have full run of the house and probably had to prepare and reheat some items.

            Might have been subpar, but they probably wanted to carry on for the sake of staying busy and staying positive. Plus knowing that you had a holiday reservation, they mightn't have wanted to not ruin your holiday meal by bailing at the last minute.

    2. The kitchen did not burn down. There was a grease fire that got into the hood, meaning the kitchen cannot exhaust fumes and smoke. Hardly catastrophic but indeed renders the kitchen useless.