Chef Tim Ma Juggles Restaurants Again With a New Job at Prather’s on the Alley

When the owners of Prather’s on the Alley asked Tim Ma for advice on who should fill the executive chef vacancy at their global-leaning American restaurant in Mt. Vernon Triangle, Ma came back with a surprising answer: he wanted to do it.

After opening and closing a string of well-regarded restaurants in Northern Virginia and D.C. over the past 10 years, Ma had been down to one kitchen. Closing Kyirisan, his French-Chinese place that was suffering from financial problems, in the spring left him to focus on American Son, the lobby-level restaurant that started selling savory potato funnel cakes and tofu gnocchi in the trendy Eaton hotel downtown about a year ago. He plans to keep his hotel job in addition to the new responsibility.

One of the first items Ma is adding to the menu at Prather’s on the Alley (455 Eye Street NW) is a deceptive version of white-sauced chicken wings that became well-known at Kyirisan and his (since-sold) deli in Vienna, Chase the Submarine. Instead of a creme fraiche sauce, these sous vide wings come with a harissa and Duke’s mayonnaise dip — an idea that came from time Ma spent on the festival circuit with Turkey and the Wolf sandwich king Mason Hereford — and chermoula, a North African herb sauce. Other new additions include Wellfleet oysters —with gooseberry cocktail, watercress puree, and pickled fennel — and a monkfish that’s swimming in a foamed brown butter emulsion. Some original dishes will stay on, including the white lentil hummus and the roasted chicken with garlic and cayenne honey.

A server pours salsify puree into a plate of seared Icelandic cod with green apple, celery, and seaweed dust

Seared Icelandic cod with salsify puree, green apple, celery, and seaweed dust

Andrew Noh/For Prather’s on the Alley

At Prather’s on the Alley, Ma saw a space he liked with a strong kitchen staff in place and decided he wanted to work with co-owners Dean Mosones and Mark Minicucci, friends he’s known for years. After opening the restaurant in August 2018, Akhtar Nawab stepped down as executive chef in the spring but remains a partner in the business.

Ma also wanted to work with beverage director Hung Nguyen. The bar manager helped open Dante in New York City, which claimed the No. 1 spot on this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars list, and led the bar at Kapnos when it won a local restaurant association award for Cocktail Program of the Year in 2017.

Tables and chairs illuminated by large windows at Prather’s on the Alley

The bright dining room at Prather’s on the Alley

 James Jackson/For Prather’s on the Alley

Seared king oyster mushroom with fava pestou, poached egg, and crispy garlic from Prather’s on the Alley

Seared king oyster mushroom with fava pestou, poached egg, and crispy garlic from Prather’s on the Alley

 Andrew Noh/For Prather’s on the Alley

A raspberry Ramos gin fizz from Prather’s on the Alley

A raspberry Ramos gin fizz from Prather’s on the Alley

 Andrew Noh/For Prather’s on the Alley

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