Todd Kliman weighs in on the much-buzzed-about Rogue 24 in the November issue of The Washingtonian. He offers the restaurant two stars and examines chef RJ Cooper's execution of what he describes as "dinner as experimental theater."
"It's an odd duck, at once revolutionary and reactionary. It presents itself as a ballsy experiment in recreational dining, an attempt to redefine eating out in an age of limitless options, while operating with a stagy formality that feels clinical, even cold."
Kliman notes some particularly great dishes on the 24-course tasting menu, including vichyssoise, pan-roasted pigeon and a form of shrimp and grits "in which the grits are a crunchy ball and the shrimp a nearly translucent slice of charcuterie." But he writes that Cooper is more of "a big-canvas kind of guy" when this restaurant demands a miniaturist — which means Cooper is "playing against his considerable strengths."
And, in the end, it really seems to come to down to value. Writes Kliman: "If you weren't investing close to $400 for two, you might see it as a grand piece of performance art or as a glimpse into the hyper-niched future of fine dining. As dinner? As a night of sumptuous indulgence? Not so much." [The Washingtonian]
This week, Tom Sietsema awards two stars to Floriana, the Italian bistro that opened in Dupont Circle more than a decade ago — and had a few more decades of experience beyond that in another location. And his conclusion is exactly what you might expect from a neighborhood fixture:
"Some, but not all, of the food at Floriana is very good. Most of the dishes are apportioned as if for two. The service is breezy, and the rowhouse setting gives you the sense that you're eating in someone's home, albeit one that can seat almost 100 people inside and out."
Though he quibbles with several of the pastas he tries, Sietsema raves about the lasagna that has been on the menu since Floriana's first incarnation 32 years ago. He's also a fan of the seared scallops, the short ribs and, of course, the tiramisu. Sietsema also points out how fine dining trends trickle down to neighborhood restaurants — a server pours soup into his bowl at the table. [WaPo]
The Washingtonian's Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert and Anna Spiegel re-evaluate through DC-area restaurants in the November issue of the magazine — Persimmon, Charlie Palmer Steak and Eventide. Persimmon fares well, but the other two aren't as lucky. Particularly Charlie Palmer, where "chilled corn soup started things off nicely—but then came overcooked lobster, a New York strip that was raw and sinewy on the inside and unpleasantly charred on the outside, slow servers, and forgotten side dishes. Then came the bill." [The Washingtonian]
DC's latest Vietnamese fast-casual sandwich spot Bonmi gets a look from not one but two writers at the Washington Post. Catherine Zuckerman tries out the whole menu and reports that "[y]ou can practically taste the high standards" at Bonmi. Meanwhile, Vicky Hallett showcases the vegan, gluten-free and fibrous desserts on the menu. [WaPo]
Chris Shott gives his first impressions of Meatballs, which opened in Penn Quarter on Wednesday evening. He was worried they would taste like the meatballs at ShopHouse — which is to say, that they'd taste like falafel balls. But despite "maybe too crunchy" bread, Shott is at least satisfied that these balls taste like meat. [WCP]
THE BLOGS: DMV Dining declares that Marathon Deli has some of the best gyros in the DC area; DC-Wrapped Dates is left wanting at Cork, though notes that this review is from a dinner that took place before Rob Weland stepped into the kitchen; Prince of Petworth's food truck critic writes that Basil Thyme "gets it 100% right."