In his First Bite, Tom Sietsema writes, well, kind of a confusing review of Barcelona Wine Bar, which just opened a week ago. On the one hand, it's popular. On the other hand, the food isn't that great. On the other other hand, it should remain popular?
Barcelona's dozens of choices run from traditional flavors to more contemporary combinations. Our table is quickly crowded with lackluster bread; a homey casserole of spinach and chickpeas pulsing with cumin; flaky beef empanadas that trump their ketchuplike red pepper sauce; and garlicky shrimp that are decent but not so good you're compelled to compete for the last one.
That said, Sietsema's prediction: "My fall forecast: Washington is going to storm Barcelona." [WaPo]
Washingtonian has a full review of Curry Leaf, a buffet in Laurel. Todd Kliman contends that vegetarians have plenty to choose from there.
Southern Indian cooking isn't exclusively vegetarian, but many of Krishnan's best dishes are meatless. If not handled properly, okra is slimy; here the spears are slit, dipped in hot oil until they crunch, and tossed with tomato chutney. Krishnan uses the same technique for his baby eggplants, sizzling them in oil along with curls of coconut, peanuts, and chilies. Chana masala, a chickpea curry, is as satisfying as a great bowl of chili. [Washingtonian]
Also in Washingtonian, there's an assessment of Taco Bamba from Ann Limpert.
The corn tortillas didn't blow us away—they're of the papery, packaged variety—but a few of the specialty tacos did. There's the excellent Bamba Ball ($4), with bite-size, chili-and-tomato-braised meatballs, that grilled guac, and crumbles of salty cotija cheese. The El Beso ($4) showcases crispy-fried bits of pork and beef tongue with Sriracha-laced aïoli and grilled scallions. Less appealing: a portobello taco ($4) that was overpowered by chipotles. A standout version of elote ($3)—a big, mayo-slathered cob of corn—should be more pleasing to vegetarians.
That said, Limpert's favorite menu item at Taco Bamba? The sopes. [Washingtonian]
Tyler Cowen calls Blue Sand Seafood in Annandale "the best Korean place for seafood," and Kogiya, also in Annandale "a clear first choice for Korean barbecue in the area". [TC]
Gintonic at Barcelona Wine Bar [Photo: Facebook]