Photo courtesy of Maple & Pine Restaurant
Executive chef David Dunlap opens Maple & Pine Sept. 17.
David Dunlap won't get around to planting his personal garden this year, but he's fine with that. He has the rooftop of Quirk Hotel.
This week the executive chef begins germinating fall items for the hotel's highly anticipated Maple & Pine Restaurant, growing flowers, carrots and root vegetables in the rooftop's 10-or-so planters. It's all finally falling into place for Dunlap, after nearly two months of commuting roughly two hours each direction, five days a week, from his home in Occoquan to his new restaurant here in Richmond. Of course, the commute was nothing new to him. When the acclaimed chef worked at The Inn at Little Washington, it was a minimum of an hour and a half each way. During his time in the kitchen of The Ashby Inn, it was an hour. The man is both a road warrior and one of Virginia's rising-star chefs, showing no sign of slowing down.
It's "crunch time," he says, with only three weeks until opening his globally-inspired, locally-focused concept on Sept. 17. And the restaurant must be ready. When Quirk Hotel's doors open that morning, the restaurant will be front and center: It's located in the lobby, with 65 seats, plus a 25-seat lounge area and a 10-seat bar, all under the stunning groin-vaulted ceiling and peppered with the hotel's rotating curated art. Soon, Dunlap will open a small patio out front with another eight to 10 tables, and in late fall of this year or early next, he'll launch the hotel's rooftop bar. It will be home not only to his small collection of herbs and vegetables but also a full bar and what Dunlap refers to as pop-ups: a rotating culinary set-up that may offer something like a grilled cheese bar, where you’ll find five or six varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches paired with craft beers, or a local-oyster bar paired with sparkling wine and accoutrements.
Maple & Pine's full menu can be considered "modern" or "new American" (your terminology mileage may vary), with global influences and a large focus on local purveyors for the restaurant's breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar menu.
“America’s kind of a melting pot of different cultures and flavors," he says, "so I might just take a classic dish — take the lamb, for instance. Lamb with hummus is very North African, or Moroccan, but, you know, you add the lavender hummus and the elderflower, pickled blueberries and it becomes very French. But I’m using local products. The blueberries are local, the elderflower vinegar is local, as well as the lamb.”
You can exclusively find the full menu here, but suffice to say, it's full of thoughtful, intriguing plates at any time of the day. Breakfast includes items such as grilled avocado with poached hen egg, queso fresco and smoked bacon, and brioche French toast served with stewed peaches and hickory syrup. At lunch you can find dishes like a lamb gyro with lavender hummus, chickpea, mint, panisse and piquillo ketchup, and at dinner enjoy braised-oxtail egg rolls to start, grilled pork shoulder with kimchi, cornbread and pickled red onions as your main, finishing with milk chocolate mousse accompanied by cardamom bark and caramelized banana. And, of course, each dish will be artfully plated on custom tableware from the ever-stylish Cloud Terre.
Dunlap will rely primarily on Virginia produce and meat from purveyor mainstays and organizations such as Manakintowne Specialty Growers, Local Food Hub, Border Springs Farm, Whiffletree Farm and Martin’s Angus Beef, as well as help from his executive sous chef, Kyle Cox, formerly of Aziza's On Main. While he didn't name a beverage director, the executive chef did note that the restaurant, lobby bar and rooftop will offer a series of seasonally-inspired craft cocktails.
What’s Dunlap looking forward to the most? “Just being closer to work right now, since I’ve been commuting two hours one way,” he laughs, adding: “The whole scene down here. The competition is stiff for opening up restaurants; there’s so many good chefs and so many good restaurants around here. And just kind of looking forward to meeting a lot of the chefs and just having local Richmonders discover my food.”
Maple & Pine Restaurant is located in the lobby of Quirk Hotel, opening Thursday, Sept. 17, at 201 W. Broad St. It will serve breakfast daily from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.; lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Sunday to Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m.; and dinner Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. The bar and lounge area will serve snacks throughout the day and evening.