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Pop's SeaBar Hooks Tom Sietsema

But a storm's a brewing for Walrus & Oyster Ale House. Drop an anchor and settle in for nautical puns in this Week in Reviews.

Pop's SeaBar/Facebook

The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema files a review for two newish seafood restaurants: Pop's SeaBar, which garners two stars, and Walrus & Oyster Ale House, which gets a single star. "Two seafood joints recently set sail in Washington and National Harbor. One has me hooked, while the other leaves me with ... a sinking feeling," Sietsema writes. For Pop's, owned by Justin Abad and chef John Manolatos of Cashion’s Eat Place, anything fried is a great bet:

The owners’ fathers, both of whom respond to "Pop," get a shout-out on the menu with two go-to beach snacks: fried calamari (an homage to Abad’s dad) and fried smelts (a bow to Manolatos’s), both dishes punched up with pickled hot peppers. The crisp, barely battered treats, served with lemon wedges, reveal the fryer to be your friend at Pop’s. Try either opener — or some properly shucked oysters on the half shell — with the house white wine, a slightly effervescent vinho verde from Portugal. [WaPo]

Meanwhile, the sailing's not as smooth at Walrus & Oyster Ale House. Sietsema calls out the lobster roll, clam chowder, and oysters on the half shell as best bets. Here's what stops him from liking the restaurant:

Dive deeper into the menu, however, and things get choppy. And sloppy. Cod in a leathery tempura wrap makes for sorry fish and chips. Fried clams go down like battered erasers. (Good thing there aren’t many in their basket.) The crab cake leaves a metallic taste in its wake, and the most memorable part of the gray beef brisket is the horseradish sauce that tries, in vain, to come to the bland meat’s rescue. [WaPo]

For First Bite, Sietsema says that the only problem with Chez Billy Sud is that the food is so good, the dining room might be too small to accommodate all comers:

Another part of me worries that the 50-or-so-seat Chez Billy Sud, mobbed on a recent Friday, is too small given the quality of its cooking. Fish soup has me returning my spoon to the bowl until I’ve retrieved every drop of broth, heady with saffron, star anise and orange peel. Likewise, a trio of profiteroles stuffed with two flavors of ice cream (olive oil and lemon-ricotta) and blood orange sorbet are destined to give Francophiles lots of competition for a table. [WaPo]

Todd Kliman finds Ocopa's Peruvian cuisine thrilling, as long as diners stick to the small plates. "Ocopa functions best when you think of it as a place to divvy up small plates while tanking down cocktails (the best of which are the expert renditions of pisco sour and pisco punch.)," he writes. And here's what Kliman says is tops:

The must-order is the ceviche mixto, a colorful heap of baby octopus, calamari, shrimp, diced sweet potato, corn, and red onion, all vivified by a quick soak in a sauce of lime juice, onions, and chilies known as tiger’s milk. But even simpler treatments, like the tiradito clásico—thin slices of cool rockfish flavored with tiger’s milk and festooned with salty fried corn nuts—are immensely rewarding. [Washingtonian[

The $20 Diner checks out Four Sisters Grill, the Clarendon fast-casual restaurant from chef Hoa Lai based on Vietnamese street food:

Conceptually, I think Four Sisters Grill may be the most approachable Vietnamese restaurant I’ve ever visited, as safe and inviting as a Chipotle at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland. Lai has learned well from his family: He knows how to sell and package his food in ways that don’t make you feel like you’re about to dig into a plate of beef tendon smothered in fish sauce. The banh mi sandwiches come without jalapenos unless you specifically request them; the nuoc mam cham is an elegant, clean and sweet fish dipping sauce, its pungency obvious but not overpowering. [WaPo]

Northern Virginia Magazine argues that José Andrés's America Eats Tavern shouldn't be judged as a fancy restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, but as a destination for world-weary tourists who want some great pub food. After ordering $12 buffalo wings, Stefanie Gans concludes:

America Eats Tavern is playing to the common denominator, playing to tourists. [NoVA]

THE BLOGS: Eat More Drink More is into the atmosphere at Alphonse Italian Market and Osteria. Capital Cooking goes to Del Campo's new brunch...

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