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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Fresh start: Chef Hitzig pops up at Creme Cafe

By Tom Sietsema

Let go from Columbia Firehouse in September, just a month after he started, Orlando Hitzig tells me he's finally returned from "a long vacation I didn't want to take." Tonight marks the chef's kitchen debut at Crème Café in Washington.

Unlike "the huge beast" he left in September, Crème Café, with fewer than 50 seats, is "a small restaurant," he says, so it's "more like coming home." He sees his job as making the U Street dining room more competitive and breathing fresh life into a restaurant that hasn't changed its menu since its launch in 2005.

The owners have given him "wide berth to play," says Hitzig, who initially will be testing diners' interest in his food via nightly specials. Crème's signature shrimp and grits and pork and beans will stay on the American menu, however.

When I asked this afternoon what he was whipping up for tonight, he laughed. "I have no clue," he said. " I just started 10 minutes ago."

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | November 2, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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