In this week's review of District Commons, Tom Sietsema takes his time to get to the criticism — first touching on the welcoming atmosphere and great value that he writes are hallmark of all Passion Food Hospitality restaurants, then moving onto the pretzel loaf and the seafood dishes like oysters, shrimp cocktail and chowder that are the menu's strengths. Then he gets into what knocks District Commons down to 1.5 stars.
"There are some lemons in the lot. One of them is a pot pie built with a pedestrian shell and a filling of beige root vegetables and squash that could pass for a sad prop in an English boarding school of yore. Where's the color, the flavor (and did anyone run this by a focus group)?"
While he didn't stay up late to try the Family Meal, Sietsema does laud the concept as well as the kids meal options. And while he likes looking out over Washington Circle from the expansive wall of windows, the self-appointed chief of the noise police takes issue with the high ceilings. In the end, Sietsema concludes, "The restaurant isn't blazing any culinary trails with its cooking, but sometimes a diner just wants a decent piece of fish with a good drink and a side of pampering." [WaPo]
While the Washingtonian's January issue revealed three stars for Little Serow and a short write-up, Todd Kliman's full review goes into much more detail about what is great about this second venture from Komi chef Johnny Monis: a warm welcome from the staff, Thai cooking that isn't afraid of heat and cooking that "demands that you take the time to explore and savor it." Kliman also once again voices his pleasure that Little Serow is not a just a Westernized interpretation of Thai cuisine and writes:
"Intensely personal undertakings like this are often vanity projects that can be doomed by seriousness and self-congratulation. That Monis avoids self-indulgence is a testament to his devotion to the cuisine and to his considerable skills as a cook. His love of discovery is palpable. After seven courses over several hours, mine was, too."
Kliman also touches on the "crusty, salty exterior and tender lusciousness" of Monis' hammered beef, the "larb so light it’s like filigree," and a terrific wine list from Komi sommelier Kathryn Bangs. [The Washingtonian]
Rina Rapuano takes a look at Arlington's Lemongrass food truck for the Washington Post. The truck, she writes, is "already an overachiever" when it comes to high visibility, effective use of Twitter and "really good food" with a menu of banh mi, vermicelli noodles, tacos and salad: "We tried the luscious chicken - marinated in lemon grass, sesame oil, garlic and shallot - in a taco, a sort of banh mi on a flour tortilla. It's a surprisingly great twist on the sandwich." [WaPo]
Don Rockwell posts both a regular Minibites this week, as well as an XYZ Minibites in which he offers his thoughts on a "frat-house atmosphere" of the new Cleveland Park outpost of St. Arnold's. Among the restaurants visited for Minibites were Teavana, Pesce, XO Taste, Artie's, La Chaumiere and Crisp & Juicy, but Rockwell awards his restaurant of the week to New Heights, with the disclaimer of his close relationship to the restaurant's owner. [Don Rockwell]
THE BLOGS: Girl Meets Food recommends the duck fat mussels at St. Arnold's; DMV Dining says that Hollywood East Cafe is totally legit dim sum; Bitches Who Brunch offer The Getaway an A+; DC-Wrapped Dates reports that the new location of Black & Orange has "decent burgers, better mayo."