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Tom Sietsema Says Plume Is 'Sumptous'

Plus, Sietsema eats healthy at True Food Kitchen and The $20 Diner gets slices of Wiseguy NY Pizza.


Tom Sietsema gives Plume at the Jefferson Hotel 2.5 stars, calling it "sumptuous" and a blessed if pricey escape. "What a diner is paying for is not merely dear foodstuffs, expertly handled, but a restaurant that lets you leave Washington for a hushed and beautiful cocoon, if only for a few precious hours," he writes. Blue crab risotto gets a yawn, but the executive chef Ralf Schlegel’s duck breast, steak, lobster, and foie gras terrine win Sietsema over, as does the wine program from wine director Jenn Knowles.

With just six or so starters and entrees, Schlegel’s menu does not take long to examine. And the selections — foie gras terrine, lobster gratin, herb-crusted lamb — reflect those of a list written with high-end hotel guests in mind. What appears on the tables are compositions that, while serious, demonstrate a chef with a sly sense of humor. Almost every dish comes with a detail that elevates the familiar.

Sietsema also files a First Bite after a visit to Mosaic District’s True Food Kitchen, where endures a long "short version" chat about the menu from a waiter named Earl. He says he wishes the food had a bit more zip:

True Food Kitchen’s mantra — "honest food that tastes really good" — seems a bit of a stretch, at least during my maiden encounter. The menu does not lack for variety; next visit, I vow to try the edamame dumplings and the turkey lasagna.

The $20 Diner tries the popular Wiseguy NY Pizza joint near Union Station to see if it compares to a real New York slice:

Several times, as I sat on one of the mismatched chairs, surrounded by celebrity portraits and movie stills of sometimes dubious New York connection ("Pulp Fiction"?), I lifted slices from their overlapping paper plates and found them . . . limp and lukewarm. Other times, the slices delivered a pleasurable resistance, at once supple and crisp. Whether they snapped or sagged, though, the slices frequently tripped all the right flavor receptors, save for specialties like the honey barbecue, which favored the sweet over the tangy.

Philly native and Bethesda Magazine food critic Carole Sugarman isn’t feeling the brotherly love after trying cheesesteaks twice at the Bethesda location of Taylor Gourmet.

In fact, I’m not exactly sure how Taylor Gourmet’s rendition is supposed to taste, since it seems like the shop is having quality control problems (not an uncommon occurrence, I’ve noticed, when fast casual places expand).

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