Having already expressed his delight at the opening of a new fine dining spot — a rare occurrence these days — Tom Sietsema examines just how fine the dining experience is at Enzo Fargione's Elisir. Though the critic finds Elisir certainly has its share of stumbles, he determines that "what's good at Elisir sometimes edges on great," awarding it 2.5 stars.
So what held Elisir back from a higher rating? Well, Sietsema isn't too impressed with the quality of the bread and some questionable culinary innovations like a deconstructed dirty martini or a baby beet salad that "came with an ice-cold igloo that tasted like goat cheese ice cream topped with Durkee's french fried onions." Service could be uneven and the drawback of an open kitchen is being able to catch all the yelling and eye-rolling that goes on in a kitchen.
But all in all it seems Sietsema is just grateful for the existence of Elisir. He writes gushingly of a salmon crudo dish, lamb loin banded in pancetta, a playful lunch dish known as "sushi Italiano," and a roasted suckling pig that "is one of those lusty feasts that bring out the caveman in some of us." [WaPo]
Jess Voelker weighs in on Meatballs for the Washingtonian's February issue, giving the fast-casual spot one dismal star and recommending diners to temper their expectations — and to be careful when choosing your toppings: "If a sandwich of lentil balls, marinara, and provolone sounds like it might taste bad, that’s because it does, just as crab balls on a bed of lettuce don’t work when covered in pepper sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. [The Washingtonian]
Rina Rapuano files a review of Fish in the Hood for the Washingtonian for the magazine's February issue in which she determines that "the storefront’s cult-like following is deserved." Seems you can't go wrong whether you order your fresh catches broiled or fried or even if you go with the barbecue chicken wings instead. [The Washingtonian]
Todd Kliman and Rina Rapuano take a look at three established restaurants and how they're doing these days. Looks like Bangkok 54 is doing just fine, while Black's Bar and Kitchen "could use more attention" — as could Susur Lee's Zentan. Rapuano writes: "A lobster/eel/scallop sushi roll lacked its usual precision in both flavors and texture. Desserts remain a weak spot—ice cream was freezer-burned—and cocktails were off balance. Perhaps more oversight from the intense Chef Lee is in order." [The Washingtonian]
This week's Minibites from Don Rockwell cover the spectrum of Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, Earl's Sandwiches, Maple Ave. Restaurant and PassionFish. Though he has considerable love for Pupatella, Rockwell deems Masala Art his restaurant of the week for providing exceptional food and speedy delivery right in the middle of the Super Bowl. [DC Dining]
THE BLOGS: DMV Dining has a solid visit to Potenza; Bitches Who Brunch found average food but a good bottomless deal at Madhatter, a meal with "disgusting flavors" at Asia 9 and mediocre food at Chadwick's; EatMore DrinkMore had somewhat of an inconsistent meal at District Kitchen.
Elisir [Photo: R. Lopez]