Tom Sietsema renders his verdict on Pearl Dive Oyster Palace this week and it is some very good news for restaurateur Jeff Black on his fifth and newest restaurant. The Washington Post critic awards Pearl Dive 2.5 stars in a review that is highly positive to the point where Sietsema admits that he breaks his own rule in which he leaves food on his plate "[t]o keep restaurant staffs that recognize me from knowing whether I like a dish." That catfish po' boy is just too damn good.
And it's not just the po'boy. Sietsema raves about the oysters, crab cakes that "would please a Baltimore snob," the French onion soup and the fried chicken dinner. Great cocktails are a given seeing as how "a restaurant with any ambition can't afford to launch without them anymore" though the desserts are a tad on the sweet side for the critic.
It seems Sietsema's star rating would have been even higher were it not for Pearl Dive's violation of one of the critic's other big rules: Thy Restaurant Shall Not Be Too Loud. As he writes, "Suffice it to say that you'll be eating to a noise level approaching that of chain saws." [WaPo]
Todd Kliman finds himself happily surprised by Silver Spring's Jewel of India and awards it 2.5 stars in the December issue of The Washingtonian. Not that he wasn't expecting the food to be delicious — the restaurant shares an owner with that of another Indian restaurant he likes, Woodlands. But after the "gruff, pack-’em-in service and commissary-style setting" of Woodlands, Kliman was surprised to find a well-designed restaurant with cocktails and nice cutlery:
"It’s as if Woodlands tapped the 3½-star Indian restaurant Rasika in DC’s Penn Quarter to perform a style makeover."
But, of course, there's also the food. Kliman writes that Jewel of India boasts "stellar renditions of butter chicken, chicken korma, and shrimp jalfrezi," not to mention solid versions of vegetarian dishes, thali and desserts — in particular an off-menu cardamom-scented rice pudding. [The Washingtonian]
In his Young & Hungry column this week, Chris Shott visits Café Saint-Ex and its newly revamped menu that he suspects is an attempt to keep up with sister restaurant (and neighborhood favorite) Bar Pilar. The piece mostly focuses on the history of the two restaurants, but in the end Shott seems pretty pleased with the new menu, in particular the roasted cauliflower soup, the smoked andouille pate and sides that include duck fat fingerlings and spaghetti squash carbonara. [WCP]
Tim Carman takes a jaunt to Temple Hills for the Washington Post this week to review the Metro City Wing House, a true Buffalo bar: "The place fries up delicious, aggressively flavor-forward wings, which you can order in 10-, 20-, 30-, 50- and 100-count quantities, the latter perfect for the next time, for example, you entertain hungry lumberjacks on game day." Carman also claims he "could have OD'd" on the Buffalo Nugget chicken poppers. [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: Borderstan pays a visit to Little Serow, or what they call an "underground playground" for chef Johnny Monis; We Love DC finally makes it up to Cleveland Park to check out Medium Rare; DC-Wrapped Dates found 901 disappointing; New Columbia Heights is full of praise for the newly opened Mama Chuy; DMV Dining checks out College Park's new restaurant Fishnet.