DC
10/10/2011 01:50 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2011

As NoMa Searches For 'Vibe,' Todd Gray Makes Kitchen Changes At Watershed

WASHINGTON -- In the wake of middling reviews following its April debut, Watershed, NoMa's seafood-centric restaurant by chef Todd Gray, is changing its starting lineup. Chef de cuisine Chris Kenworth is out, and Godofredo Vaquerano, previously the chef de cuisine at Gray's acclaimed first restaurant, Equinox, is in.

The news comes amid broader questions about NoMa, a neighborhood north of Massachusetts Avenue adjacent to the Union Station rail yards that has been the target of redevelopment forces in recent years. The Washington Post reports that private companies have invested $3 billion in the area over the last six years with the goal of re-inventing the district as a residential, commercial and media hub.

The results of their efforts remain hazy as the area continues to define itself. Alia Dastagir, founder of the DCNoMa blog, told the Post that what holds NoMa back is a lack of "vibe."

"It doesn't really have an identity," she explained. "The neighborhood right now is defined by its artificiality."

Watershed is one of the few fine dining establishment in NoMa (there are a handful of others in Union Station) and the only in the neighborhood's shiny new epicenter. In his August review, Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema wrote that he liked the "idea of a good, moderately priced restaurant to propel a new neighborhood," but noted that "Watershed isn't it, yet."

Flickr photo by christinabe