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Tom Sietsema Awards Just 1.5 Stars To Capitol Hill's Ba Bay

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Tom Sietsema wanted to like Capitol Hill's latest Vietnamese venture from Khoa Nguyen and chef Nick Sharpe, but it turns out we can't always get what we want. While the critic liked the sound of Ba Bay's menu, he discovered the restaurant is "a tease that doesn't always deliver the goods" and awarded it 1.5 stars. Yikes. Here's the worst of it:

"Take that tamarind trout, hidden by a jungle of herbs and accompanied by a gingery dipping sauce. The fish is admirably moist, but the big yellow crepe that covers it is leathery rather than crisp. 'Shaky' beef and its watercress puree are both so salty that the rosy slices of meat have no chance of getting picked up by the tongue. Caramel-glazed arctic char, on the other hand, suffers not only from the sweets - all I could detect was sugar — but also from a puddle of congee (rice gruel) that smacks of baby food. As for that baby chicken, its stewed black beans shouldn't crunch, but they do."

Sietsema notes that the top half of the menu is pretty solid — chili chicken wings and autumn rolls, in particular, are irresistible — and the banh mi is respectable, too. He also liked the desserts, even though he says the lemon grass pot de creme "veers toward Lady Gaga sensibility" in being overdressed. A tough review for a restaurant that opened with much fanfare. [WaPo]

On the brighter side of things, Todd Kliman visits a gas station taco joint and loves it. The menu at the R&R Taqueria in Jessup, MD "is not large and would appear to hold few surprises: tacos, chile rellenos, tortas, huevos rancheros — the same items every authentic south-of-the-border restaurant offers. But seldom, if ever, are you going to come upon Mexican food this light and elegant — and also with the depth and complexity of sit-down, save-up-your-pennies fare."

The DCist's Josh Novikoff takes a look at all-you-can-eat at Alexandria's Green Olive Buffet & Grill: "If you’re predisposed to liking all-you-can-eat buffets, you’ll fall as hard for Green Olive as I have. If not, there’s still plenty to pick and choose from and enjoy. And you’ll probably come out feeling a little less sick from overindulgence than I usually do."

THE BLOGS: DC-Wrapped Dates would go to Mussel Bar all the time if only it were in DC; Girl Meets Food isn't into the value of her experience at Michel; Mango & Tomato loves the lamb sliders at Cava; EatMore DrinkMore was in awe of a meal at the BRABO Tasting Room.

Ba Bay [Photo: Dave L./Yelp]

Ba Bay

633 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington, DC