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A Study in Contrast
Sam Hiersteiner | Photo: Nicole Wolf | February 26, 2013
He’s cooked Eastern and Western dishes in Northern and Southern cities; now, DC native Aaron Silverman is back home, putting those influences to work.
“Vintage, modern, fancy, shabby,” says Washington area native Aaron Silverman of the aesthetic vision for Rose’s Luxury, his new Capitol Hill restaurant. “I like contrast.”
Silverman, 31, is a case study in clash. Clean-cut from the neck up, he wears sleeves of colorful tattoos on his arms. His résumé is full of disagreement: Falls Church’s 2941 (seasonal American), New York’s Aldea (Portuguese) and Momofuku Noodle Bar (Japanese), and Charleston’s McCrady’s (Southern upscale). He is that rare Washington area-born chef who cooked in the country’s hottest kitchens, then brought it all home. “After living the crazy New York lifestyle for so long, Charleston helped me slow down and start developing my own style,” he says.
Washington will serve as the backdrop for Silverman’s next experiment: In a town dominated by restaurant groups and luxury build-outs, he was one of the first chefs to use Kickstarter to fund his own renovations, netting nearly $13,000 to buy affordable linens, tableware and other design details.
He also wants to fill a big void in the five-star food scene. “We don’t think you should have to pay $150 per person and make reservations weeks in advance,” he says.
The restaurant’s stripped-down look will bring Brooklyn hip and Charleston antique to mind. The menu will juxtapose elements that speak to Silverman’s myriad influences, from Beijing-style pork sausage and lychee salad to confit of goat with whipped goat cheese and honey. Even his imaginative plating will play on a theme of variation. He cites Piet Mondrian’s iconic, geometric paintings and Adam Selby’s lush, layered photographs as inspiration. “Some things may feel retro, while others will feel modern,” says Silverman. “It’s very much my personal style.”
Herbs like pineapple mint and Thai basil that I grow at home, anything with Tom or Derek Brown connected to it (like their new bar, Hogo, in Shaw), Peking duck at Peking Gourmet, the wasabi octopus of Izakaya Seki
Edison bulbs, lack of late-night food options beyond pizza and kebabs, the fact that we don’t have bodegas on every corner