It was clear back in February that Tom Sietsema was already a fan of Mintwood Place, and this week it's official: the Washington Post critic has dropped three stars on the Adams Morgan restaurant. And, of course, it must be noted that the neighborhood is not exactly a bastion of fine dining. But with a menu that "tastes as if you're dining in tonier parts of the city," Mintwood Place is on another level, according to Sietsema:
"The talent behind this restaurant refers to it as a gathering spot for locals. But Mintwood Place is a neighborhood destination in the same way 'Singin' in the Rain' is just another musical."
Sietsema praises most of chef Cedric Maupillier's menu from the chopped chicken liver tartine, an inventive goat-cheese-and-beet pairing, and a cast-iron chicken "to stir the senses." The critic also reverts to childhood when it comes to a brownie sundae and points out some kid-friendly dishes that are a cut above chicken tenders and fish sticks. Among the negatives: the decibel levels "place you on a factory floor" and do try to avoid "awkward" Table 9. [WaPo]
Meanwhile, Washingtonian's Jessica Voelker checks out another new Adams Morgan spot that has often been cited as another example of raising the bar for dining in the neighborhood, Smoke & Barrel. Though she only awards it 1.5 stars, Voelker points to the smoked sausage among the entrees and otherwise recommends some "strong" appetizers and side dishes. Voelker concludes: "Dinner at Smoke & Barrel isn't transcendent, but if this is the direction Adams Morgan bars are moving, we may soon be spending more time in the neighborhood." [Washingtonian]
Todd Kliman files a review of Columbia's Bon Fresco for the April issue of the Washingtonian, a sandwich shop that doesn't describe itself as gourmet but that doesn't stop Kliman from piling on the praise. He writes that Bon Fresco serves the best cheesesteak he's had in years, makes a worthy vegetable sandwich and the Brie baguette is "an unlikely masterpiece." Kliman writes: "It's refreshing to discover a small, independent restaurant that takes a purist's approach and yet remains inclusive and unpretentious." [Washingtonian]
Rina Rapuano also reviews Bon Fresco this week, this one for the Washington Post. She tells the same backstory — that Bon Fresco is owned by former Breadline manager and Mark Furstenberg acolyte Gerald Koh — and points to many of the same sandwiches that Kliman liked, including that Brie with caramelized onions. But, she writes, "We fell hard for the picante pork-loin sandwich ($6.50) on ciabatta, with its still-crunchy slices of grilled zucchini, roasted tomato and a slather of Koh's poblano-spiked, garlicky sauce." [WaPo]
Alex Baldinger reviews H Street's Queen Vic for the Post's Going Out Gurus this week with plenty of praise for a menu from 29-year-old Englishman Ian Reeves. There's the Sunday roast, an extensive beer selection, brunch and even vegetarian dishes. Baldinger writes that the Cornish pasties — only available after the kitchen closes — are worth the wait as they "manage to be delicate and formidable." [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: DC-Wrapped Dates says dinner at Society Fair was "top-notch" and mostly just loved being there; Bitches Who Brunch love the experience of The Hamilton's gospel brunch and give the food an A for buffet food or a B- compared to all brunch food; Bitches Who Brunch also visit Le Cirque Brunch at Napoleon and deem it "too trashy;" DMV Dining had an enjoyable if a bit pricey sandwich from Jettie's.