Illustration: Courtesy of Check, Please! DC

‘Check, Please! DC’ Knows Which Doors to Take

It was 4 a.m. in Montreal and of course, I had no idea where to go. My partner led me to an unmarked door on an unremarkable street, and inside we found a booth and a bottle already waiting for us. Boom – a restaurant in secret, right there hiding in plain sight from folks who only discover restaurants through the local papers or – gulp – Yelp. 

Now, I don’t think Check, Please! DC will do as much to seduce viewers as my partner leading me into the unknown, but you’ll still find gems that may charm your significant other. In fact, the show will lead viewers into potentially uncharted territory, though you won’t know where until October 18 when it premieres on WETA TV 26.

Check, Please! DC is the DMV iteration of the series, which first aired in 2001 in Chicago and has since spread to other markets like San Francisco. The premise of the show flips the formal approach to restaurants on its head. Critics don’t come on the show and recommend spots; instead, locals come on and share places that you would never have heard of otherwise. It’s this diversity of places that the show’s host, Rose Previte, takes the most pride in.

“You’re not just going to hear about new 14th Street restaurants or The Wharf,” Previte says. “You’re going to hear about holes in the wall in Northern Virginia. You’re going to hear about crab places in Annapolis.”

Previte is a local restaurateur and owner of 2017 Rammy Award-winning Compass Rose in the 14th Street Corridor, and the soon-to-open Maydan on Florida Avenue. Before hosting the show, Previte felt she knew the DC restaurant scene, but even she’s discovered a slew of unearthed spots through her guests. And like almost all of her guests, Check, Please! DC is Previte’s first TV appearance. The transition, she says, “scared [her] to death.”

She first heard of the program when the producer came into Compass Rose and personally asked her to audition. The visit took her by surprise, but her initial hesitation was put to rest when the producer explained that the job called for little more than talking about food and DC restaurants, which is already how she spends the majority of her time.

As for me, my two concerns for the show were that 1) the places recommended would be too expensive; and 2) the unsung spots of suburban strip malls would remain overlooked. However, these were put to rest while watching a sneak peek of the first episode. I won’t have to dip into my savings for dinner tonight, and I can trust that I will see banh mi or Korean BBQ on the show at some point. As for that place in Shaw, I guess I’ll just wait for my birthday and hope my parents are feeling both fancy and generous (c’mon, Mom and Dad.) 

The first six episodes of Check, Please! DC’s first season kick off on Wednesday, October 18 at 8 p.m. on WETA TV 26. Each episode features three new guests, each of whom will offer their go-to spot in the DMV area. The show is still searching for applicants to appear in the second half of season one, scheduled to air in early 2018. For more information, click here.

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Michael Loria

Michael Loria is a writer who focuses on art and music. For On Tap, his work includes a cover story on the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda, for the December 2017 print edition, and features like his interviews with Carla Bruni and with Thievery Corporation. Collectively, he's penned more than 40 clips for the magazine.