dine | TABLE TALK
BY DAVID HAGEDORN | PHOTOS BY DEB LINDSEY
IN JANUARY, chef Karen Hayes, 52, took the
helm of Lock 72 Kitchen & Bar, restaurateur Robert
Wiedmaier’s American brasserie in Potomac Village.
Hayes’ cooking pedigree, spanning a 23-year career,
includes stints at many of Washington, D.C.’s better-known eateries, among them the Roof Terrace
Restaurant at the Kennedy Center and José Andrés’
Zaytinya. We checked in with her to ;nd out what
she has in store at her new gig.
What was your first job in a professional kitchen?
It was 1995. Chef Ris Lacoste was going to 1789
[in Washington] and she took me on without any
kitchen experience. The two sous-chefs there, John
Wabeck and Jeff Eng, were unbelievably caring and
nice and unsel;sh with knowledge. They taught
me every little thing—breaking down a salmon,
fabricating [butchering] meats and ;sh, how to
make a fast soup. They were fun, too.
Your path crossed with Robert Wiedmaier’s many
times in your career.
Doug McNeil [who was the chef of the Four
Seasons hotel in D.C. from 1979 to 2001] told me
that if I was serious about cooking, I should work
for Robert. I did brie;y when he was at Aquarelle
in the Watergate in 1998. Then at Marcel’s [in
Washington] from 2000 to 2003 and Brabo [in
Alexandria] from 2009 to 2011. He has always
been very supportive and very generous. There has
never been a time when I wasn’t working for him
that he didn’t ask, ‘When are you coming back?’
How much of the menu at Lock 72 have you
About 60 percent at lunch; more at dinner.
In what direction are you trying to go?
A little bit more upscale. It seemed to me that the
menu kind of mirrored one of our competitors and
I wanted to make it different from that. But this is
still a tavern and there are things people expect at
a tavern. Like a burger. The bar menu has burgers,
wings, fried calamari—that’s what people expect
when they sit at a bar.
What are some of your new dishes?
I put on a house-cured salmon with crème fraiche,
cornichons and capers. A very nice bouillabaisse of
mussels, shrimp, scallops, monk;sh and salmon; a
braised short rib that mimics bourguignonne, with
deep red wine sauce and mushrooms; pan-seared
Moroccan spiced salmon; and a crab dip.
What’s coming up for spring?
I’m playing around with spring bounty salad with
peas, asparagus, baby beets, cucumbers and
radishes. Maybe an almond hummus to go with an
asparagus salad. Lamb with house-made harissa
[spicy red pepper sauce]. I’m bringing back an old
dish of mine—halibut with Asian pesto of basil, Thai
basil, cilantro and cashews, in kaf;r broth.
Lock 72 Kitchen & Bar, 10128 River Road, Potomac,
Karen Hayes, chef
of Lock 72 Kitchen
& Bar in Potomac