Tom Sietsema previews Ashok Bajaj's new American brasserie, Nopa Kitchen + Bar and finds much to like, including a solid bread basket.
McCarty's penchant for sass on the plate pops up in a garnish of bread-and-butter pickles and tangy slaw alongside an appetizer of baby back ribs, and again in a sweet-and-sour broth poured over a "pastiche" of pearl onions, wax beans and pickled watermelon radishes. The soup, red with beets and spiced with star anise, is made creamy with creme fraiche. Tucked in with the vegetables in the center of the bowl: fluffy black quinoa. It sounds like a lot, and it is — a lot of fun to eat.
Not everything is great (see: the pork chop) but the critic praises the chic industrial decor. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner highlights Pho & Rolls, a restaurant in Rockville. There, Tim Carman observes what he sees as the mainstreaming of Pho.
It strikes me as pho's move squarely into the suburban mainstream: a Vietnamese cheap-eats joint located cheek by jowl to other so-called ethnic eateries that already have made the transition (sushi, Thai, Middle Eastern) and to some pillars of American suburbia (Gold's Gym, Starbucks, Hair Cuttery). Eng's operation seems markedly different from places like Pho DC in Chinatown and Hanoi House on the U Street corridor, which cater to a built-in audience of tourists and/or gastronomic thrill-seekers. Eng has to appease a tougher crowd: soccer moms and dads on a budget. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman adds RG's BBQ Cafe to his list of places he is eating at right now.
The sauce is a pitch-perfect balance of tanginess, sweetness and heat. That sauce is so addicting, you probably will end up forgiving the drier patches of an otherwise tasty smoked chicken and want to either pour it over everything else or even, as my friend said, drink it plain. [Washingtonian
Don Rockwell finds "some of the best raw bar in DC" at the new Azur in Penn Quarter. Standout dishes for the writer included the Golden Tile Fish Crudo and the Wild Sardine Escabeche. [DR]
[Photo: R. Lopez]