Tom Sietsema confesses to spending a good deal of time at the wine bar at Society Fair in this week's review of the food emporium that is the newest addition to Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong's Old Town Alexandria empire. He awards it 2.5 stars, noting that the food hall is "[c]ommitted to fun." Plus, it has some great sandwiches, baked goods, cocktails from Todd Thrasher and a demo kitchen led by chef Trey Massey:
"By chance, I snared a seat at the counter overlooking the open kitchen at the end of the week, which meant a few hours of edification in roasting lobster, butchering duck and making a chocolate-caramel confection that Martha Stewart might deem cover model quality and that Massey dubs his "apology dessert." Equipped with a tiny microphone, a sly sense of humor and deft knife skills, Massey makes an engaging host."
Sietsema especially likes the vegetarian TNT sandwich and shaved lamb on pita but also writes that the "standing menu is an easy pleasure." [WaPo]
Ann Limpert passes judgment on Woodley Park's District Kitchen, awarding it two stars in somewhat of a lukewarm review — starting with the design, which she writes, "at first seems assembled from a build-a-barnyard-chic-restaurant kit." Amid the buzzword-friendly appetizers, Limpert finds a mixed bag and decides that when it comes to entrees, fish and salads are the way to go: "A tender, meaty cut of halibut showed off a wonderfully tangy sun-dried-tomato sauce, while seared scallops were perked up with aromatic grapefruit beurre blanc."
The heartier dishes, though, were a different story. Writes Limpert: "A riff on a French-dip sandwich involved hefty bread slathered with white-bean spread and stuffed with bland mushrooms--the mushroom 'jus' had little more flavor than hot water." So if you're looking for that kind of meal, she recommends Chipotle down the street. [The Washingtonian]
Meanwhile, The Washingtonian's Jessica Voelker also visits Society Fair, which she seems to like as much as does Sietsema, writing: "At one demo dinner, chef Trey Massey explained that the demi-glace flavoring his braising jus could be bought in the retail store. So, too, could the 'chicken' lobsters, one of which he'd stagily sacrificed, then pan-roasted in butter. Hyping the store's products this way might sound tacky, but it's hard to be unhappy when the food is so good." [The Washingtonian]
Rina Rapuano reviewed Fish in the Hood for The Washingtonian back in February and now she's back at it again for the Washington Post. The impression seems more or less exactly the same and she still hasn't tried more than the one variety of the sweet potato pie, but apparently that pie is really delicious. [WaPo]
THE BLOGS:EatMore DrinkMore finds a gem in Mintwood Place; DC-Wrapped Dates loves the consistency of Estadio and appreciates the authenticity of Masala Art; Bitches Who Brunch offer an A- to the comfort food of Southern Hospitality.