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Sietsema Singles Out a Buffet, Curry Leaf, for Two Stars

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Readers don't often see the full-review treatment for an Indian buffet, but Tom Sietsema makes an exception this week, awarding two stars to Curry Leaf in Laurel.

Haleem gives the buffet cachet, but it isn't the only afternoon draw. Meaty choices include better-than-usual butter chicken and tender goat stew bolstered with garlic and ginger. (A high-quality Indian buffet generally stocks goat, lamb or fish.) Vegetarians can feast on cool chickpeas tossed with purple onion and cilantro; the fluffy, saucer-size steamed rice cakes known as idli, enjoyed with coconut chutney and zesty lentil soup, or sambar; and terrific spinach puree dotted with squares of cottage cheese. Heat-seekers can unite around rasam, a thin but intriguing soup coaxed from pigeon peas, tomatoes, tamarind and a little spice cabinet of zingers.

The restaurant doesn't serve beer or wine but allows customers to bring their own. [WaPo]

Sietsema heads to Fabio Trabocchi's Casa Luca for the First Bite column, which he calls a "thoughtful place to eat." Every dish has a story, the critic says. He likes the pastas but isn't a fan of the fritto misto.

Any meal is better with some grilled-to-order bread, however. The flat, saucer-size crescia sfogliata looks plain yet tastes sublime. (Lard in its many layers helps.)...I have no qualms about dessert, either. Pastry lead Tom Wellings churns out true-tasting ice creams, sometimes pairing them with seductive summer fruit, and a hazelnut coffee cake that encourages you to linger at the table. [WaPo]

Roll Call visits Ninnella, a newish Italian addition to the Hill.

Appetizers, like grilled baby octopus with an olive tapenade, are small and simple. The octopus tasted like, well, octopus. Pastas are not abounding in seasoning or sauce and are light enough to eat on a 90-degree evening. A recent pasta special featured half a lobster, served with olive oil, garlic and a touch of cognac to finish. Ninnella hopes to stay seasonal with its food; a winter lasagna was prepared with a lamb ragout, butternut squash, tomato sauce and a grana cheese. [RC]

Bethesda Magazine gets an early taste of the new Attman's Deli, and they know what they're doing. "Extra lean and brined with just the right combination of pickling spices, it's some of the best corned beef I've ever had around here," says Carole Sugarman of her sandwich. She also checks out the new chef at Jackie's; brunch is a little uneven. "Harvey's cheddar and chive biscuits with creamy sausage gravy and fried eggs are incredibly homey and flavorful, but probably best eaten on a cool day by someone with a hearty appetite and low cholesterol." [BM]

The $20 Diner tracks down some truly cheap eats for D.C.'s intern class. 3 Stars Brewing and El Pollo Rico are singled out, among others. [WaPo]

Don Rockwell tries a regular pizza over at Astor Mediterranean. "I would compare this pizza favorably with The Original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, Joe Squared in Baltimore, etc. – different styles, of course, but the same genre of pig-out pie, football pie, or whatever you want to call it, both being wonderful representatives of working-man's pizza without slipping into the foul depths of mass-production, sixteen-wheeler-delivery crap-o-la." [DR]

The BLOGS: UrbanTurf finds unexpectedly good Chinese food at Panda Gourmet on New York Avenue...Girl Meets Food goes to Brookland...DC Wrapped Dates previews Mockingbird Hill.

Curry Leaf [Photo: Facebook]

Jackie's Restaurant

8081 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910 301 565 9700

Curry Leaf

13919 Baltimore Avenue, #4, Laurel, Maryland

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