Tom Sietsema pulls out the word play for the final verdict of his 1.5-star review of Medium Rare, which he says "is not well-done enough." And in the damning-with-faint-praise category, the Washington Post critic also says that the restaurant that's become known for offering second helpings is "fun, the first time" — but presumably not so much fun after that.
Sietsema writes that he wanted to like Medium Rare more. And, indeed, he points out some bright spots: A notable cast of characters that includes chef Cedric Maupillier and general manager Brian Zipin, both formerly of Central Michel Richard; "terrific" fries; laudable desserts, if oversized; and steak that is "slightly pink and always tender" and generally served as ordered. And, of course, the $19.95 price tag for steak, fries, salad and bread isn't so bad either.
But Sietsema points out that even this last virtue has a flipside, which is that adding wine and dessert into your bill can immediately pull up the price tag to the $60 a person range. And the cap steak that owner Mark Bucher (of BGR: The Burger Joint fame) buys? "Supposedly, the meat is prime and aged, but I haven't picked up those qualities on my several visits to the restaurant, where I've consistently ordered the entree medium-rare," Sietsema writes, adding that the steak is also "not so flavorful that you'd want to eat a lot of it by itself." The critic does pick out chicken liver and mustard as secret ingredients in the gravy, though, for diners engaging in that particular guessing game.
Sietsema notes that his dining companion left "charmed by leftover steak, ginormous desserts and Bazooka bubble gum with the check" but, alas, the critic himself was not similarly taken. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman compares and contrasts two new restaurants that specialize in the latest in DC food trends, lobster rolls. Between Freddy's Lobster + Clams and Luke's Lobster, the Washingtonian critic prefers Freddy's in Bethesda, where his roll was "a bounteous mess of knuckle, claw and tail meat, all bound in a light and lemony mayo and spilling out of a buttered, split-top bun. The only thing keeping it from a perfect score was the bun itself, which could have stood a longer time on the griddle." At Luke's he prefers the lobster rolls to everything else he tried on the menu but deducts points because "It was so tiny — it couldn't have been more than two inches wide, or not much more anyway — that it was like passing an hors d'oeuvre back and forth." [Washingtonian]
THE BLOGS: DC-Wrapped Dates has a meh-sounding brunch at Circa and an adequate meal at El Centro; EatMore DrinkMore really liked the "reasonable prices and large portions" at El Centro; Girl Meets Food invokes Justin Bieber twice in her discussion of Harth in Tysons Corner.