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Posted at 1:51 PM ET, 12/ 5/2008

Redwood Loses Its Chef

By Tom Sietsema

Redwood is looking for a new chef.

Redwood's chef has left the building. (Allison Dinner)

Andrew Kitko, who came to the splashy American restaurant this summer, armed with with a resume that highlighted cooking stints at Gary Danko in San Francisco and Cafe Boulud in New York, parted ways with the Bethesda restaurant Thursday, says co-owner Jared Rager.

"It's important to note, I feel Andrew is a talented chef," Rager says. "But what he wanted to do wasn't the best fit" for what Rager and business partner Eli Hengst envisioned as a more casual concept. The chief problem? "We got seduced by the feel of the place," Rager says, which became "higher-end than we intended." Redwood, designed with California in mind, cost about $3.5 million to build and outfit.

Last month, I gave the restaurant a one-star ("satisfactory") review, based in part on meals that included overcooked chicken and fish, sloppy presentations and $40 entrees that were meant to be shared, an idea that didn't catch on and gave the impression of an expense-account dining room.

Stepping in to guide the kitchen while a replacement for Kitko is sought: Drew Trautmann, the chef at Sonoma, Redwood's older sibling on Capitol Hill. Trautmann is meeting today and Saturday with the remaining cooks at Redwood to re-tool the menu there.

"We're going back to a simpler concept" and lower prices "to fit the [economic] times," says Rager, who adds that he's now looking for a chef "with experience in the city."

A call to Kitko was not immediately returned.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | December 5, 2008; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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What's Bart Seaver's number again?

Posted by: pcstorandt | December 5, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I hope Tom Sietsema starts posting here more often!

Posted by: subwayguy | December 5, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Woof. Not good. But I have the feeling Chef Kitko is the fall guy here; if you've ever sat in the ridiculously uncomforting Postmodern-reject furniture in the lounge, you wouldn't say it was "casual."

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | December 5, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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