Tom Sietsema offers a double shot of two-star reviews for Thai restaurants this week — Kao Thai in Silver Spring and Beau Thai in Shaw. The critic has kind words for both of the restaurants, along with some interesting cultural culinary observations:
"Devotees of Thai cooking know that the country's best practitioners tend to be women, so spying a female chef through the small kitchen window is reassuring."
Accordingly, Sietsema enjoys his meals at Kao Thai whenever its female chef is in the kitchen — "Her larb gai is a ground chicken salad of distinction; her snowy stir-fried catfish is packed with bamboo, eggplant and a coconut broth that whispers of kaffir lime" — but is a bit disappointed when she's not. At Beau Thai, a restaurant that he deems "easy to like," he points out that all four cooks in the kitchen are women. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman visited Fiola for his review in this month's Washingtonian and awarded the Fabio Trabocchi restaurant 2.5 stars. And though the review brims with praise for the former Maestro chef's talents in the kitchen, the critic finds it falls short of expectations as compared to the old four-star restaurant in Tysons Corner:
"I found myself wondering whether the magic of Maestro was a remnant of a long-ago age, of lavish spending and fin-de-siècle decadence, or whether Trabocchi, in making his cuisine more accessible, has neglected the subtleties and delicacies by which he made his name. Or both."
After discussing at-length the various ups and downs of the menu, Kliman gets philosophical about Fiola's identity and its blend of the refined (with prices to match) and the rusticity it touts. He advises the chef to "[p]ick a direction and stick with it." [Washingtonian]
Though normally he'd give a restaurant longer than a week and a half before reviewing it, Chris Shott heads to America Eats Tavern to catch the pop-up at the start of its six-month run. And it isn't pretty. The City Paper critic has some stern words for a "tone-deaf" $14 foie gras peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an oyster dish that "seems better suited for Denny’s," and an underwhelming jambalaya. [WCP]
The Washingtonian's Kate Nerenberg takes a first look at H Street's popular Toki Underground: "While the menu shows some overplayed trends—pork mania, cocktails with foam, milk and cookies for dessert—Bruner-Yang takes his cooking seriously. Drawing from his monthlong stint at a Taiwan noodle house, four of the five ramen bowls start with a tonkotsu broth, made by simmering pork bones more than 24 hours."
THE BLOGS: EatMore DrinkMore was disappointed in 901; Don Rockwell says that Willow is underrated; Mango & Tomato is impressed with the gas station food at Fast Gourmet; DC-Wrapped Dates has a solid meal at Rice; Capital Spice has plenty of praise for Virtue Feed & Grain.
Kao Thai [Photo: Yelp]