There’s a new British-influenced gastropub that people are talking about.  They offer traditional dishes alongside some new twists.  Their chef comes from a well-known local favorite.  And their list of beers is appropriately deep.

Gotta be CommonWealth, right?  Not if you’re the Washington Post.  While those of us who live and work in the city that lends its name to the paper have been checking out Jamie Leeds’ new establishment in Columbia Heights, Tom Sietsema felt compelled to head out to Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, Maryland.

Though the occasional review of an off-the-beaten-path winner or a destination worth a trip is commendable, The Post seems to have abandoned DC diners in favor of their suburban subscribers.  Whether written by Sietsema or a stand-in, their most recent Sunday magazine reviews tell the tale.

Since the end of July, their reviews have covered:

  • Panisa Thai (Burke, VA) – 9/7/08
  • Hilltoppers at the Goodstone Inn & Estate (Middleburg, VA) – 8/31/08
  • Victoria Gastro Pub (Columbia, MD) – 8/24/08
  • Co Co. Sala (Penn Quarter) - 8/17/08
  • Sushi-Ko’s new Chevy Chase location (Chevy Chase, MD) – 8/10/08
  • Corduroy (Mount Vernon Square) – 8/3/08
  • Moon Bay Coastal Cuisine (National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD) – 7/27/08

Burke?  Middleburg?  Columbia?  This is the Washington Post, right?  Even National Harbor is technically outside the Beltway!

But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for a second.  Surely there has to be a good reason for the city’s number one paper to devote so much of its prime review real estate to restaurants an hour or more from downtown, right?  A dearth of new restaurants in DC proper, perhaps?  Or maybe just some REALLY good restaurants that the Post felt its readers absolutely had to hear about?

Nope and nope.  There have certainly been new spaces that have opened within the past year in Washington, many of which have had to settle for second billing as “First Bites” in the Wednesday food section, instead of the marquee spot in the Post Magazine. 

And the downtown establishments that have been reviewed recently have fared much better than their far-flung counterparts in Sietsema’s reviews.  Corduroy, Sushi-Ko and Co Co. Sala each earned two-and-a-half stars.  Hilltoppers and Victoria Gastro Pub only merited one star each, Half Moon tacked on an extra half, and Panisa managed a full two stars – though that review didn’t actually come from Sietsema himself. 

All of this is to ask a simple question: Why?  Why waste the time and space talking about places so far away when you don’t even recommend we visit?  Why shift your focus so heavily toward locations outside the city?

Could it be that their circulation numbers suggest that the majority of their readers these days can be found in the furthest suburban reaches of the metropolitan area?  Or is someone at the Post just bored with our downtown restaurant scene, even as it’s reaching new heights in terms of exciting offerings?  Either way, they’re going to keep losing those of us who live and work in DC if they continue to focus so much of their attention on restaurants that necessitate road trips.

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