It’s been no more than a week since Vim & Victor opened in the The St. James, a 450,000-square-foot sports-and-wellness center in Springfield, and the visionary behind the kitchen, Spike Mendelsohn, is already ready for his next ventures in Crystal City.
This is not surprising from a chef who is much more than a cook these days. Rising to “celebrity chef” status after competing on season four of Top Chef, he opened Good Stuff Eatery, a burger place who claimed the Obamas as fans, plus We, The Pizza, Béarnaise (now closed) and Santa Rosa Taqueria.
His out-of-the-kitchen projects focus on food advocacy, working with CARE, DC Central Kitchen and World Wildlife Fund, among others. Besides franchising his restaurant concepts, his entrepreneurial streak includes PLNT, described as: “a new kind of wellness drink made to inspire moments of clarity and curiosity” that is “CBD-infused plant water intended to nourish a balanced mood and a healthy stress response … crafted to synergistically work with CBD to activate wellness in your gut, mind and body.”
Mendelsohn sells PLNT at Vim & Victor, where the menu is designed to please the gym-going and self-care-seeking crowd. The menu reads modern American, with on-trend touches like broccolini and lemon labneh with sunflower seeds, citrus and mint on toast; nori tacos with salmon and kimchee; an ancient grain salad; and cauliflower florets and cotija cheese nachos. There’s also hefty mains like whole roasted bronzino, St. Louis-style ribs and a dry-aged, bone-in ribeye.
The drink list reads like Gwyneth Paltrow’s journal starring turmeric, matcha, activated charcoal, kombucha and probiotics mixed into “wellness lattes,” smoothies, cold-pressed juices and bowls with açaí, kale and pitaya (dragon fruit). Mendelsohn didn’t officially work with a nutritionist, but he says he “took a ton of trips to Los Angeles,” and chats with the professionals in sports and wellness also working within The St. James.
Brian Lacayo, who’s worked with Mendelsohn for the last 15 years, is the executive chef of Vim & Victor, leaving Mendelsohn to continue growing his restaurant footprint.
“People are beyond excited about Crystal City,” says Mendelson. “It’s a massive move for Amazon, and it’s a massive move for Crystal City.”
Already in National Landing with Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza, Mendelsohn has a letter of interest out for two new spaces. One will bring his Mexican taco shop already on Capitol Hill, Santa Rosa, to Virginia. Another is a new concept: fried chicken.
“Frying gets a bad rep,” says Mendelsohn, and by frying at the right temperature, with the right fat, for the right amount of time, he says he can “take the fear out of frying.”
But this won’t open until maybe the fall. Until then?
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