Fresh on the heels of being named the City Paper's reader's choice for best new restaurant, Blue 44 gets the critical treatment from Tom Sietsema this week, who awards the restaurant 1.5 stars. The Washington Post critic notes that there isn't much else going on in the way of food in that Chevy Chase neighborhood and writes that most of Blue 44's dishes "aren't so compelling, but if you know how to pick and choose here, Blue 44 can become a reliable answer to what's for lunch or dinner."
"Steamed mussels are tried and true and also delicious in their broth of cider, garlic and smoked tomatoes that keeps you dipping back for more sauce. Caesar salad is no more than routine, though, as are the vaguely sweet "Thai" chicken wings that are meaty but don't take you anywhere near Bangkok."
Sietsema appreciates that Blue 44 cuts its own potatoes for the fries, but also notes that the hanger steak is "flaccid beef cooked the way you ask." In the end, he recommends the s'mores-like Campfire Torte. [WaPo]
The Washingtonian's Jessica Voelker also files a review this week for The Hamilton, the massive new restaurant/live music venue recently opened downtown by the Clyde's restaurant group, awarding it just one star for a menu whose "execution hasn't matched up" with its ambition.
"A dense dish of flatiron steak and poutine is made even denser by stringy pieces of short rib swimming in salty gravy. Nantucket bay scallops lose their rich sweetness in an acrid brown-butter sauce with capers and golden raisins."
Voelker finds the sushi to be "generally better" than the rest of the menu, though she also steers diners toward simpler things like the grilled cheese, chicken wings and a vanilla milkshake. [The Washingtonian]
Todd Kliman reviews Fishnet, the latest project in College Park from former Corduroy general manager Ferhat Yalcin, who Kliman writes is holding the place to "some of the same standards of a three-star operation." Here, he finds much to like from the grilled salmon to the lobster roll to the fries and more: "The best thing is the most surprising: fish sticks made with long strips of hake ($7). Light and crunchy, they're so superior to the frozen logs that they deserve a different name. I ordered them for my young son and ended up stealing from his plate." [The Washingtonian]
Andrea Adleman checks out Crepes on the Corner for the Post, noting that the Capitol Hill restaurant has already become swarmed by eager customers and seemingly for good reason: "For lunch, we liked the Little Piggy ($9), which adds the salty crunch of bacon and the acidic tang of tomato and fresh herbs to the classic's ham, cheese and egg. The meatless Market crepe ($8) features "whatever's freshest" among locally sourced dairy and produce; on a recent day the combination included kale, mushrooms and Gruyere." [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: EatMore DrinkMore pays an early visit to Boqueria and an even earlier visit to Rasika West End in its soft-opening phase; DC-Wrapped Dates revisits Zaytinya and finds it's still pretty good; DMV Dining tried out Korean barbecue at Honey Pig.