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Friday, September 3, 2010

Cozy on the corner: Q&A with Ben Gilligan, Chef/Partner of Room 11

   Photo Credit: Julianne Brienza

Ben Gilligan is the Chef / Partner at ROOM 11 , he is a musician, artist and often dubious philosopher. When he is not in the kitchen he can be found trawling the suburbs in search of the country's best international strip-mall food. 

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Q: Congratulations on just celebrating Room 11's first year anniversary!  How was it getting through your first year of business?

A: Thank you very much. It's been a very exciting, sometimes exhausting and ultimately fulfilling experience. We love the neighborhood and our neighbors, who've been really supportive of us from the start. Thanks all! You know who you are. 

Q: We heard that Room 11 is considering starting a Brunch Menu on Saturdays and Sundays can you tell us more?

A: This has always been something we've wanted to do and is definitely in our future. We've needed some time to figure out how to work with the space we have. It's certainly a "cozy" spot and the kitchen is even "cozier." That said I do have a deep affection for eggs and drinking early on the weekend. 

Q: You must take pride in the fact that your patrons have mentioned how much they love the vibe of the place and often comment on the floor and the bathroom or "batroom" wallpaper.

A: We wanted to create something unique. I love little bars and that corner had always interested me. The space itself needed a lot of work, but I think we produced something fairly organic and true to the bones of the building. The floor is end-grain wood cut from old two by sixes, and yes it was as laborious and back-breaking as it looks. The "Batroom" is our take on Twall wallpaper, albeit a slightly twisted take on it. 

Q: When Room 11 initially opened you were slated as a wine bar, but your cocktails have also become quite popular. Can you tell us who is responsible for that?

A: Our Bar Manager/Partner Daniel Searing. His love and knowledge of cocktails is infectious. You may come to Room 11 for a glass of wine but it's very easy to find something else in your hand. 

Q: You mentioned that you maybe introducing a new menu sometime around the 3rd week of September.  What can Room 11 fans expect?

A: The menu changes with the seasons as much as possible. We tried a bunch of dishes out in our first year and we're hoping to refine and expand on them in our second. That includes bringing back some of the more popular items and introducing a few new things we've been working on. It's hard to be too specific until you see what the seasons bounty looks like. 

Q: What's your favorite Thing to do in DC?

A: As a musician I try to get out to shows whenever the kitchen allows it. We're really fortunate in DC to have a bunch of world class venues of different sizes that showcase bands at various stages of their careers. It's fun to watch them graduate from venue to venue as they return to the District. From the more established spots like the 9:30 CLUB and the BLACK CAT, to the ROCK-N-ROLL HOTEL, VELVET LOUNGE and an ever present basement scene. My new favorite spot is THE FRIDGE , which is as much an Art Gallery as it is a music venue. If you keep your ear to the ground there's plenty keep you busy.

Photo Credit: Squidpants

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