Tom Sietsema files this week's review on Graffiato, former Top Cheftestapant Mike Isabella's Chinatown restaurant that opened in June. The critic gives the restaurant 2.5 stars in a review that smacks of longing for one's youth.
Of the scene at Graffiato, Sietsema declares that "if I were younger and singler, I'd make a frequent date with the bar here." And of the food — the "rectangular pillows" of agnolotti, the tangy, rich spaghetti, the gnocchi with braised pork and burrata, the decadent bone marrow — Sietsema notes that "[i]f this is anything close to what Isabella ate as a kid, I want to come back as him (give or take some of his 14 tattoos)."
But there were a few downsides too, as the "hard surfaces and the beautiful people who routinely fill the joint create an irritation" for the critic and his dining companion. Unsurprisingly, he complains about the decibel level in Graffiato, not to mention service that is sometimes a little bit too fast-paced and pizza that is not up to snuff. He also has his issues with the drinks, writing that "the cloying gin-and-wine-based Virginia Is for Lovers tastes like a campaign to get people to move to Maryland." Still, he concludes, Graffiato is definitely a fun place. For the kids these days. [WaPo]
When the City Paper's Chris Shott visited Toki Underground back in April — weeks after the H Street ramen joint opened — he concluded that "the buzzworthiness can't last forever. It's just noodles and broth, for Chrissakes." Yeah, for Chrissakes, guys. Don't get so excited about noodles and broth. But look, just a few months later, this week's Young & Hungry review is all about ... the noodles and broth at Toki Underground!
It seems Shott has changed his mind about Erik Bruner-Yang's miniature ramen shop above the Pug. Or, rather, the restaurant has finally proven itself worthy of the buzz. In his column, Shott dissects the reason for Toki's improvements, which are basically the use of pigs' feet and peaches. But, even better, he makes liberal use of soup puns, as the ramen, "just needed some extra time to simmer" and now "Toki's stock only appears to be rising." Bruner-Yang even gets a pun in there, too, when telling Shott about his use of pigs' feet: "Just trying to stay on our toes." [WCP]
Finally, Tim Carman also gets some reviewing action at the Post, checking out Wicked Waffle. He has some advice: "Wicked's stuff is good (maybe even great) to go within, say, a four-block radius of the store. Why? The waffles degrade quickly, despite some rice flour in the batter to better absorb the inevitable moisture in the take-away clamshell. But if you eat them hot off the iron, these Belgian-waffle "bread" slices transform the routine slog of sandwich eating." [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: Capital Spice also checks out Toki Underground and finds the ramen impressive; DC-Wrapped Dates goes course-by-course through the 24-course menu at Rogue 24 and decides that it's a Top 10 experience that they will never pay for again; Penn Quarter Living says the hush puppies were the highlight of a meal at America Eats Tavern.