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Heard on the Hill: Hill Aide Adds Restaurateur to Her Résumé

Laura Schiller, chief of staff to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), must hate having free time. The full-time Congressional aide and mom is poised to relinquish the last few, precious hours of sleep/decompression time available to her following the Tuesday launch of her and her husband’s new restaurant, Unum.

To be fair, Schiller’s business partner and spouse, Phillip Blane, will be shouldering most of the day-to-day load, what with him being the executive chef and all. But Schiller is fully committed to swinging by their 50-seat Georgetown eatery to pitch in as needed.

“I’ll be there on weekends … making sure that everyone is having a fabulous time,” she pledged.

Schiller said Blane, a self-taught chef and Equinox alumnus, plans to focus on modern American cuisine with seasonal flourishes. The tentative menu boasts flavors that run the culinary gamut, including: cod and chorizo tater tots (yes, please!), a gourmet burger outfitted with grilled onions, fries, ketchup and house-made barbecue sauce (“Everybody loves it,” Schiller said of the breakout favorite), Indian-spiced lamb shank (tribute to one of Blane’s mentors back in Memphis) and ricotta beignets with cardamom-blueberry sauce.

According to Schiller, at least some of the dishes are natural evolutions of meals that the couple originally enjoyed at home. Just don’t expect to see any of Schiller’s recipes on Unum’s evolving carte anytime soon.

“My restaurant experience consists of being a frequent customer,” Schiller said, stressing that although she cooks at home and has amassed plenty of opposition research during her 20-plus years dining in D.C., she has no illusions of ever sliding behind the burners at Unum.

The restaurant, which replaces the tony Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar (shuttered in early 2011), will start out serving dinner nightly, with weekend brunch set to follow shortly.

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