Sietsema revisits Zentan, the Asian restaurant within Kimpton's Donovan House hotel. The restaurant now has a more of a Japanese focus under new chef Jennifer Nyguen, and the result is a 2 star rating (up from 1.5 stars previously). He's particularly enamored with the robata grill items.
That robata grill, however, is a choice investment and the source of more than one "perfect bite." There's not one of her skewers I wouldn't be eager to try again. Chicken thighs are succulent from their dip in the chef's tare, the basting sauce she makes from simmering roasted vegetables, soy sauce, mirin, sake and both chicken and beef bones. Equally juicy beef filet is cooked to a blush and garnished with a crisp garlic chip. Matsutake mushrooms held together with a band of bacon make a meaty bouquet that blossoms with a dunk in citrusy ponzu. [WaPo]
Tim Carman's $20 Diner column visits Lanham's Just Jerk. He is more than a little impressed by the chicken there.
Allow me to try to recreate my first experience with Just Jerk's chicken. It was a moment that, for me, pulled together many of the elements that make food scouting such a joy: It combined the thrill of the hunt (the shack is hidden among a twisted pretzel of streets in Maryland), the tingling discomfort of venturing beyond one's cultural comfort zone and the delight of biting into something so satisfying that you can't wait to tell others. [WaPo]
Washingtonian's Ann Limpert visits the popular 14th Street pizza place, Etto. The salads are great; the pizzas are a problem.
But it's wise to focus on the chalkboard specials. You might find such delicious surprises as a still-runny egg crowned with deep-fried anchovy bones or roasted leeks done up with prosciutto and Gorgonzola. We could be happy making a meal out of these plates and skipping the pizzas altogether. The crusts tend to be over-charred, and a round holding cauliflower and anchovies had a one-note saltiness. [Washingtonian]
Todd Kliman notes that D.C. favorite Peter Chang has yet another new restaurant, this time in Fredericksburg. "If your idea of Chinese food is beef with broccoli or you've simply grown tired of too many fine-dining meals that taste the same, then consider a visit to Chang's world. All the dishes that brought the chef renown are here: golden fingers of cumin-laced fried fish in a bamboo basket; a head-clearingly spicy mapo tofu; a scallion-flecked fry bread that puffs like a balloon and turns every head in the handsomely appointed dining room." [Washingtonian]
Don Rockwell visits several restaurants this week, including Lyon Hall, and Bearnaise; he finds a stellar steak tartare at the latter. "We both got our own Beef Tartare ($15), and this rendition is as good as I'd heard it was. The tartare is hand-chopped to order, and comes with some of the condiments left for the diner to mix in, including a raw egg yolk on top (if this was a quail egg, it's the largest I've seen)." [DR]