Del Campo gets a full review in this week's Washington Post, and Tom Sietsema awards it 2.5 stars. About the short ribs, chef Victor Albisu's favorite cut:
The glossy, on-the-bone meat is pleasantly chewy and mingles fat and salt and herbs and char along with beefy succulence. Puffy veal sweetbreads benefit from slow grilling and a basting of a garlic, shallot and parsley sauce — chimichurri without the vinegar sting. For $9, you can add house-made chorizo to the protein-palooza. Main courses arrive on a wooden board fleshed out with roasted red peppers, a bulb of melting garlic and bone marrow; a handful of sauces are offered, but entrees as distinguished as Del Campo's don't need the lifts.
Sietsema says the Peruvian chicken is "fabulous" but isn't tempted by the fries. [WaPo]
Sietsema also has a First Bite of Mi Cuba Cafe in Columbia Heights.
They ace all the food I've tried. Nubby croquettes break open to reveal creamy centers of pureed chicken and bechamel, the richness offset by a dunk in nearby garlic sauce. Pork shoulder is slow-roasted with onions and garlic, then shredded and heaped on a plate with your choice of two sides; my vote goes to frizzy fried cassava and rice tinted by black beans, although I wouldn't push the crisp fried green plantains and red beans away if they showed up on my table again. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner tries out Vannipa Thai Restaurant in Falls Church, where the noodle soups are memorable.
I did reignite my affair with yen ta fo, a liquid built from a chicken broth base and tinted pink with the last-second addition of a fermented soybean-and-chili-paste sauce that gives the soup its name. Crammed with fish cakes, shrimp, fried wontons, congealed pig's blood, rat-ear mushrooms and exquisitely carved calamari (which look like pineapple stalks), yen ta fo teases you with its sweet, cartoonishly florescent broth before walloping you on the side of the head with its frying-pan heat. [WaPo]
In Washingtonian, Jessica Voelker takes a first look at Bungalow Lakehouse, where everything's ambitious and some things are delicious.
Sometimes he nails it. Take his quartet of pork from a Virginia-bred pig—a rosy grilled chop with house-made sausage, belly confit, roasted shoulder, and tangy mustard slaw—or his textbook roast chicken with silky meat, crisp skin, and jus-soaked mashed potatoes. Rich bits of bacon cling to the cheddar-coated pasta spirals in the macaroni gratin, the best of the current lineup of sides. Starters include beautifully fried brandade balls and a peppery country pâté.
Other experiments, like a cauliflower "couscous," are less successful. [Washingtonian]
Also in the magazine, Todd Kliman tries out Ovo Simply Veggie, where he says even meat-eaters will be happy.
The dish I keep coming back to—I've been seven times—is the mushroom protein with crunchy lotus root and sweet baby corn in a warm green curry ($7.10); the domino-size protein has some of the chew of pulled pork, and the curry, though there could be more of it, is wonderfully lush. A cut below, but still good and the same price, is the mushroom protein tossed simply with sautéed scallions and onions.
The critic also adds Le Grenier, Tutto Bene (for the Bolivian menu), Banh Mi DC Sandwich and Xitomate to his list of places he's eating right now. [Washingtonian]
Bethesda Magazine tries out Mi Cocina, a Tex-Mex chain new to the area. The food's pretty standard, but the vibe is fun.
There are lots of restaurants where the lively atmosphere and appealing décor make the food appear better than it is. After a small sampling of dishes at Mi Cocina, the Dallas-based Tex-Mex chain that opened last month in Chevy Chase, my first inclination is to plunk it in that category. [BM]
[Photo: Gerry Suchy/Eater.com]