Tim Carman takes over the Washington Post Magazine restaurant review, and visits Masala Art's new outpost at the Southwest Waterfront. Carman think the place is beautiful, but the bar program just isn't cutting it. "No matter what drink we ordered, its most prominent feature was a small bucket of fast-melting ice, which diluted the cocktail into something dispiriting, though I don’t want to blame those cubes for the bar’s other misdemeanors, such as misunderstood recipes (Negroni with basil?)," he said. Carman gives Masala Art Southwest two stars, because sometimes the curries "could make a grown man weep" but other times they miss the mark.
But a curry that tasted heavenly in the bowl sometimes lost its religion on the plate, becoming too diluted when poured over the spiced rice. This fate befell not just the green cardamom curry, but also the tart, spicy, creamy and nutty sauce draped over the eggplant in the baingan mirch ka salon.
For the $20 Diner, Tim Carman reminisces about the days when the only places that had good cheap steaks were strip clubs. Now there's more wholesome options, like prix-fixe steak dinner restaurant 82 Steak Out in Rockville. Carmen tries the signature house special of rolls, salad, fries and an eight-ounce portion of prime sirloin for $18.82 and isn't enamored with the sides. The steak, though:
The steak itself, a cheaper cut of top sirloin, proves how much goodness can be found among the B listers of beef. My perfectly medium-rare specimen arrives pre-sliced and drizzled in a house-made porcini sauce, essentially a rosemary- intensive jus that piles on the flavor. Like the coulotte at Medium Rare, the sirloin never seems to sport any char, a minor annoyance in an otherwise satisfying preparation.
For this week's First Bite, Tom Sietsema made his way across the river to visit Northern Virginia chain's new outpost of Coastal Flats in Gaithersburg. He writes:
Good food at a fair price isn’t the only explanation for why, even on a Monday night, Coastal Flats is packed. Navigating the sea of tables and booths are servers whose good cheer is matched by their seeming ability to read minds. Why, yes, I’d love another gin gimlet to wash back those seafood fritters.
Todd Kliman visited Saba, a Yemeni restaurant in Fairfax, earlier in the month. He gave Saba 2.5 stars, calling the rice a "revelation:"
His richly detailed preparations may well change the way you view the grain. Witness the preparation of haneeth, a traditional feast-day dish of slow-cooked lamb over spiced rice. The leg meat lifts away from the four butchered bones with minimal prodding, but the rice is the revelation—each grain distinct; subtly perfumed with cardamom, cumin, and cloves; and infused with both the juices of the meat and its sweet-savory sauce.
Washington Life gives Rural Society a try.
For another main course, we had a fire-roasted Maine lobster tail. Lobster is my favorite, but if I’m going Argentinian, I’d rather h ave one of the six cuts of Uruguayan or domestic beef. Lobster, Tasmanian sea trout or the cockle-flecked saffron taglierini would be nice entrée options for diners who don’t eat meat.