Purple Patch is Tom Sietsema’s restaurant of the year

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Ambition. Resilience. Grace.

The very best eating places, along with serving meals individuals wish to return for, embody these traits.

As I ate my means across the area for this yr’s annual fall eating information, I returned a number of instances to Purple Patch in Mount Nice. Sure, it’s handy to the place I dwell, and sure, the Filipino cooking may be very a lot to my style. (No place makes finer lumpia.) New eating places generally have a bonus over established gamers in that younger locations usually have power to burn and tastemakers are likely to lavish consideration on them. Purple Patch opened in 2015, which, in restaurant phrases, is virtually center age. But my visits over the summer time revealed a vacation spot that has solely blossomed throughout its run, a lot in order that I’m naming it my Restaurant of the Yr.

Memorable eating places are nearly at all times guided by somebody with a robust imaginative and prescient. Within the case of Purple Patch, that particular person is Patrice Cleary, who opened Purple Patch forward of among the opponents that might go on to shine a shiny gentle on Filipino cooking and set up D.C. as a eating vacation spot, foremost the late Dangerous Saint in Columbia Heights. Born to an American father and a Filipino mom at Subic Bay within the Philippines, she moved all over the world as a Navy brat. After graduating from highschool in Leonardtown, Md., in 1991, she joined the Marine Corps, which took her to Japan and Korea, and turned out to be mannequin coaching for the ups and downs of the restaurant business.

Cleary opened Purple Patch with then-husband Drew, a former power and conditioning coach for the Washington Wizards basketball workforce, and served a menu that was solely partly Filipino. After the primary yr, she took over the kitchen reins and break up along with her partner. Cleary held tight to her dream, much less for private causes, she says, than as a result of she feared “letting my individuals down” as an envoy of her homeland’s delicacies within the nation’s capital. With no hint of bitterness, Cleary remembers being served divorce papers within the eating room on a Friday evening.

Her management mantra for her 51-member crew: Be agency, truthful and constant. Whereas she says “household is first for me,” she places in as many as 80 hours per week. Cleary can’t supply signing bonuses to draw staff, like among the competitors does, however turnover is saved in test with perks corresponding to quarterly bonuses for the kitchen employees.

The restaurateur says her greatest inspiration is her mom, who beforehand cooked in army officers’ golf equipment and had her personal catering enterprise in Texas. “Mama Alice” Hammond, 75, lives with Cleary and the restaurateur’s 4-year-old son inside strolling distance of Purple Patch, the place Hammond greets and seats diners. The employees name her Lola — “grandmother” in Tagalog. Hammond taught her daughter methods to prepare dinner and preached precision. An overstuffed lumpia could be unrolled and refilled with much less meat, for example, to make sure the meat could be totally cooked and the wrapper wouldn’t burn.

“Cooking is innate,” says the restaurateur, who routinely goes into the kitchen to style sauces for consistency. She is aware of simply by listening to the sputter of a plate of sisig if the plate is sizzling sufficient to go to the eating room.

Cleary, who turns 50 in December, plans to open a second place within the close by storefront beforehand occupied by Taqueria Nacional. The restaurateur says Joia Burger, named for a horse she had as a toddler, can be a kid-friendly and “easy idea,” that includes smash burgers, french fries and ube delicate serve ice cream.

“The extra I’ve on my plate, the extra fulfilled I’m,” says Cleary, who’s conducting a lot R&D for her subsequent mission that she jokes that she’s “courting burgers.” The debut of Joia Burger is imminent, with intention: October, the proprietor factors out, is Filipino American Historical past Month.

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