"They were so good," he said, a wide grin parting
the beard that has grown thick since he left Birch & Barley a year ago to
eventually open the Salt Line, a New England-style seafood restaurant on
Bailey is now at the Sixth Engine restaurant in the
District. Though the preparation was Italian, the roe-filled perch were
harvested from a
Dock to Dish is building its deliveries on the back of the
first community supported fishery (CSF), which launched last year. A spin-off
from the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Old Line Fish. was the first in the
region to offer home cooks in and around
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Old Line's founder, Kelly Barnes, will run the Dock to Dish program here, making those same sources available to restaurant chefs who are ready to receive whatever the boats bring in. Washington is the fourth city to welcome the program that's already working with chefs like Eric Ripert, Mario Batali and April Bloomfield in New York City and Thomas Keller in the San Francisco area.
"I think D.C. desperately needs this," said Dock
to Dish co-founder Sean Barrett, a native of Montauk,
The conservation non-profit Oceana used DNA testing in a 2015 study to find the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic species, Maryland blue crab, was impersonated in 38 percent of the crab cakes that used the moniker on menus in the region.
An earlier study found red snapper mislabelled on
"None of this would matter if the fish weren't of impeccable quality," said Barber, who has introduced Barrett to many of the top-tier chefs now working with the program. "It's not just that it's fresh, but we're working with fishermen that are catching fish at the moment it should be caught.That's kind of a new idea."
Dock to Dish's founder saw Bailey, 36, as a fitting chef to
carry the program's torch into a new market. Early in his career, Bailey was
steeped in Barber's local-sourcing philosophies during a stint at Blue Hill at
Stone Barns starting in 2007. He carried the mantra to
At Birch & Barley, Bailey honed his charcuterie skills, using every part of whole animals. Now he is translating those practices to the bounty he's getting from local waters.Barnes has been delivering test-run batches to the restaurant Sixth Engine, where Bailey has been experimenting for the past year, trying to challenge him with new species that could be included in Dock to Dish deliveries.
"It's like catch of the day on steroids," said Jeremy Carman, one of three co-owners of the Long Shot Hospitality group behind the Salt Line, named for the brackish waters where salt water meets fresh water. "I think not knowing what you're going to get keeps these guys moving."
There was the cooler full of snakelike
For Barnes, part of the fun is seeing what Bailey does with what she delivers; especially when it's fish she probably couldn't hook home cooks on yet.
"I would love to be able to bring more attention to the fishery, because right now they all get exported or used for bait. But your average Joe Blow is going to be like, 'What the heck?' “She said.
Barnes got a similar reaction when she gave CSF customers a
couple dozen soft-shell clams in their shares, their siphons hanging ominously
out of the shells. Most of the clams that are harvested in the Chesapeake Bay
are sold to New England markets, where they're often served as steamers and
called "Ipswich clams" after the
But, for their New England-inspired, Chesapeake-sourced menu, "I want those clams," Bailey says. "Dock to Dish has definitely helped with that, cutting several steps out of the chain of custody so we can get fresh product."
Bailey says the restaurant will still work with other
seafood purveyors, especially
Dock to Dish will round out those offerings with the best of what's available each week. A pile of peak-season rockfish might star as an entree, while a mixed bag of blue catfish, eels and clams might show up throughout the menu.
Bailey says he's eager to show