Jared Ringel has been in the restaurant business for more than sixteen years. He’s done everything from serving to managing–and now he owns and operates a successful and constantly evolving farm-to-table restaurant on H Street: DC Harvest.
DC Harvest is run by brothers Jared and Arthur Ringel, who bring a combined 40 years of local restaurant experience to their first venture. Their passion and drive for amazing guest experiences is evident in their customer-friendly approach and neighborhood atmosphere.
DC Harvest is an casual kitchen and bar serving a uniquely local and seasonal menu—with everything coming from the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Jared’s brother, Arthur, has to get creative in the kitchen when it comes to sticking to his commitment to source locally—you can read our interview with Arthur, here.
We wanted to catch up with the other half of the DC Harvest duo, Jared, to hear about the new rooftop farm he’s running on H Street, which supplies produce to DC Harvest now more closely than ever!
Naturally, we also talked about brunch. Here’s what Jared has to say about the ever-evolving food scene in D.C. and on H Street.
Tell us about your background with food.
Well, I’m not as talented as my brother, but I do cook on my own. I’ve been in food my whole life; all my jobs have been in restaurants. I lived with my brother, Arthur, and another chef right after he got home from culinary school. So I just learned what I know from different jobs and kitchen experience about the food side of things. I’ve always loved working with food and loved food in general.
What’s the story behind DC Harvest? What inspired the concept?
It was a joint effort between my brother and me, and our shared passion for business. We both wanted to do something together and use our respective skill sets: the service and management side for me and the cooking for him. We knew we wanted to use our talents to create something amazing. We wanted to incorporate the things we believe in–which is why we’re so committed to sourcing locally and making everything from scratch.
We wanted to commit to responsible food service. I had worked and managed a lot of fast casual restaurants that weren’t always looking at what was best for people’s health. We wanted to offer balanced plates, be aware of special diets such as vegans and vegetarians, and produce something that everyone can enjoy and that is also healthy. We wanted to make something good for everyone.
Tell us about your amazing new summer menu!
We changed 75 percent of the dinner menu. Our new cocktails are seasonally driven as well. We wanted to create new things that surprise people. Everything is made from scratch and locally sourced.
All the credit goes to Chef Arthur. We work together on concepts, but he’s the mastermind behind the menu.
Our five new entrees are amazing. We have a great diversity of proteins–turkey, lamb, beef, local catfish, and smoked chicken to name a few. Arthur has created some beautifully balanced plates, inventive appetizers, and unparalleled desserts.
A lot of our meats are smoked or prepared in some other creative and inventive way. One of our appetizers, the warm Swiss chard tart is amazing–it’s made with DCH ricotta, marjoram, pecorino, currant and toasted pecan relish.
How did you get interested in rooftop and urban farming?
We were looking to make more and more local connections. The hyper local scene has popped up here in a huge way and we’ve been going along for the ride. We’ve used local sources such as H Street Farm, Little Wild Things farm, and Common Good City Farm.
Some farms have reached out to us or we’ve found new sources on our own. We set up some meetings and the rest is left to Arthur’s creativity.
What should our readers know about urban farming?
We hope that more people go out on their own to create these hyper local small farms. People should be motivated to know that local chefs and restaurants are looking to buy these products.
The District of Columbia is becoming more and more supportive of these grassroots farms and initiatives. We would love for even more of these farms to sprout up around the city.
The new apartment building across the street from us has offered us a soil bed in their community garden. It’s an 8 x 3 foot area and we couldn’t be more excited about the collaboration. It’s still about a month away from opening, but we can’t wait to start planting there and grow a few things on our own. We’re working out the kinks–like who is going to be doing the planting–but stay tuned. We’re trying not to overthink it: Keep it simple.
Why is urban farming important?
Many restaurants in the city are looking for the most local, fresh produce. The closer the better! We love to support the community.
Why do you think urban farming has blown up in D.C. specifically?
Growing because chefs are looking to support local farmers and create something new and different. We want to help the environment and economy as well. Everything goes hand in hand–locally sourcing is helping farmers and us produce a better product. Even if it’s more costly to source locally, we go for it–it’s just what we believe is right.
What would you tell D.C. residents looking to start their own garden? Any tips?
Find a few items to specialize and get the word out quickly. Expect a high demand.
It’s easy to market if you have a few specialties. You have to make sure you produce enough to sell–so it helps to have to focus. You have to have a continuous stream of product in order to consistently sell well.
Just expect a big demand. Keep on growing and growing as time goes on.
What’s your favorite thing about cooking with veggies from the rooftop garden?
That everything is our own. We’re all proud to be able to offer it such an exceptional and unique product. We try to highlight it as often as we can when we serve our food.
We named a cocktail after Little Wild Things Farm that is garnished with one of their edible chrysanthemums. The drink is all local–it’s made with District Distilling gin and our homemade vermouth. We wanted to spread the word about this amazing farm and get people talking. That’s often how we do it here.
We love to get the word out and support our farmers. Our customers react to that. People love hearing about where their food is coming from–which is what we anticipated. People are getting more and more excited about local sourcing.
Little Wild Things has a grow room in the basement of the Pub and the People. It’s been amazing to be able to tell people exactly where their food was grown.
What makes DC Harvest’s menu and philosophy different from other D.C. restaurants?
Our inventive and balanced plates. Also how we prepare our proteins is unique to anything else we’ve seen in D.C. We’re not going to serve anything overly unhealthy or over sauced. We’re health conscious as well as providing a wonderful upscale meal and experience. You’re going to reap the benefits of proper portions, balanced plates, and lots of good veggies. That’s our philosophy and what separates us from the herd.
Even our kids menu is made from scratch. DC Harvest is a great place for a proper kids menu and we also want parents to feel comfortable coming in with their children.
What inspired the drinks on the cocktail menu?
We based it off of simple, spring, and unique themes. Every drink is really well thought out. It’s great to be able to produce something and talk about what went into it and what inspired it. Our big thing to be able to produce something you can’t find anywhere else.
We really don’t want to be like everyone else. We want people to think, “Wow, that’s unique. I’ve never heard about that before.”
Our cocktail in homage to the cherry blossoms was really different and people loved it–it was made with scotch, cherry whiskey, distilling curacao, our homemade vermouth, and roasted beet puree.
What’s your favorite dish on the menu and why?
The grilled Coulette steak from the spring menu. It’s our biggest and juiciest cut. It’s a great balanced plate. The black olive aioli is a magical pairing with steak.
If someone came to DC Harvest for the first time, what is one item they must try?
The Bacon Asiago Doughnuts–they’re unique, homemade, and fun. They’re a savory play on doughnuts with bacon and made from scratch. They’re really fun and shareable. They’re something that everyone loves and you can’t find anything like these anywhere else.
Any upcoming events or weekly specials we should mark on our calendars?
We recently launched Friday brunch. (Read our review here.)
Our amazing Sunday special is 30 percent off signature cocktails every Sunday night. You don’t want to miss it.
We’re open for brunch any and every government holiday. Get ahead of the game and make your Labor Day brunch reservations now!
Bloody Marys or mimosas?
Mimosas for sure.
Brunch in or out?
Brunch out! Even though I haven’t made it to brunch in years–because we’re always so packed!
Favorite dish to cook for brunch? (And eat!)
I love me some pancakes.
If you could invite five people to brunch, who would they be?
Michael Jordan, Guy Fieri, Alice Waters, Michelle Obama, and my mom. (Arthur and my mom passed away some years ago before we even thought up DC Harvest–so I would want to share it with her.)
A note from the Bitches: DC Harvest is a partner of Bitches Who Brunch. While we do receive compensation from the company, this article was written independently by us.