It's a feisty week for critic Tom Sietsema. Color him unimpressed with the new Petworth Citizen. In his First Bite, the critic doesn't really have anything nice to say about the bar's food, claiming Petworth deserves better.
Maybe brunch is better? Maybe not. One of the silliest reasons to leave your bed on the weekend is a skillet of eggs, crab, pasta and chorizo — a dense mishmash that smacks of a frat-house cure for a hangover. Even the OJ is sub-par. There's no drinking away the cooking, by the way; the cocktails lack balance. Call me spoiled, but a good bar does not punish its Manhattans with maraschino cherries anymore. [WaPo]
Meanwhile, he blasts Spike Gjerde's Shoo-Fly diner in Baltimore as well, awarding it only a half star. Props go to the fried chicken, deviled eggs, and not much else.
No other big plate proves as likable [as the chicken]. Not the sliced meatloaf, which we try to resuscitate with some of that Snake Oil. Not the wet and hardly "blackened" catfish, a soulless piece of fish with a side of overly rich cole slaw. "Dutch Style" chicken stew is a lot of ingredients — carrots, chicken, elbow macaroni — that appear to be meeting in their bowl for the first time and do not promote tourism to Amsterdam. "Who has the Snake Oil?" becomes the question on everyone's mind." [WaPo]
Todd Kliman checks in on Shoo-Fly Diner as well during his weekly chat roundup, and has much more positive things to say. He says it's hard to make a fancy diner work, but Spike Gjerde succeeds.
This one -- from Spike Gjerde and Amy Gjerde, who also own and operate Woodberry Kitchen and Artifact -- gets it right. Not a little money was spent on restoring the one-time shoe store, but sitting in the comfy dining room or at the downstairs lunch counter you are not made to stand in awe of what money can buy, casting your eye over the detail work as if it were a Renaissance fresco. ...A recent review in the Baltimore Sun criticized the menu, which doubles as a placemat, for not making sense. I find it to be a charming homage to the soda fountains and diners of old, and a friend and I enjoyed poring over its details (and game-planning our final courses among a slew of options) in the time between placing my order and diving into dinner. [Washingtonian]
Don Rockwell goes back to Woodward Table, where he's not as enthralled by the Fishmonger's Board, but is satisfied with the Kentucky Hot Brown, "a regional sandwich (that I haven't seen in the DC area) with turkey breast, several generous strips of Benton's bacon, grilled tomato, and mornay sauce, served closed-faced (this is traditionally open-faced) on "toasted brioche"...Highlighted by the piping hot mornay sauce, this was a natural topping for the turkey, and was a very satisfying sandwich – knife-and-fork all the way." [DR]
The $20 Diner visits Smoke Bethesda. The barbecue is great, including the ribs, but there can be issues when the meat is reheated.
No one asks you at Smoke BBQ whether you want lean or fatty brisket, because there's no choice. The meat that arrives in your basket, layered like sliced pastrami, is the stuff of sandwiches: cut thin, devoid of fat and firm of texture. That may sound like a slap, but it's not. This Bethesda smokehouse understands the limited, tight-lipped pleasures of good lean brisket. [WaPo]