Tom Sietsema fires off a rough First Bite of Agua 301 this week, accusing the kitchen of too much saltiness.
On my maiden trip there, all I could think of was agua, which would be a selling point for the restaurant if it weren't the result of a salt assault by almost every dish I encountered. Did anyone taste this food before it hit my table? Both the basket of chips and the guacamole smack mostly of Morton's. To add insult to injury, the margarita "without salt, please" shows up with a white rim of the seasoning.
He adds that "the portions tilt large, which only emphasizes any flaws." [WaPo]
His full review is a revisit of two area bistros. He has fine things to say about Spike Mendelsohn's Bearnaise. "The most appealing change from Day One is a greater selection. Steak frites is now one of many draws. Fresh starts include Pernod-laced snails in a cap of puff pastry and a warm goat cheese salad with biting greens." The restaurant earns 2 stars. Meanwhile it's 1.5 stars for the revamped Bistro Bis, where the cooking feels "dated." "It was a treat to see scallop quenelles among the dishes, and although the twin dumplings had a pleasant seafood flavor, their texture was dense rather than traditionally cloudlike. I cheered choucroute apportioned for one until I started poking around the plate and discovered tough pork and underdone potatoes along with good Riesling-laced sauerkraut." [WaPo]
Tim Carman has a review of the new Bolt Burgers. "If you remember only one thing from this review, make sure it's this: roasted shallot and sweet garlic relish. The muted, oily pungency of this condiment improves everything it touches, whether the Good Earth burger (a low-to-the-ground beast perfumed with the brown-butter aroma of Gruyere cheese) or the pun-tastic Mr. Truffleupagus (with the unchildish flavors of black pepper and funk-forward truffled pecorino). Next time, I may add the condiment to Bolt's grilled truffled pecorino and smoked gouda sandwich to send the whole thing way, way over the top." [WaPo]
Carman also has a review of Indigo, where they've invented a new snack food. "Just as important, the couple has devised their own hand-held snack, dubbed an "Indiroll," which strikes me as a variation on kati rolls, the burrito-like street food found in India. If you order an Indiroll with a particularly juicy interior — say, Nidhi's spicy and succulent lamb curry with its soft onions and cilantro — the filling will threaten to break through the whole-wheat roti, no matter how hearty the flatbread is. It's the kind of problem you can live with." [WaPo]
Todd Kliman has a capsule review of Bar Pilar in his weekly chat. "One of the coziest, most charming small plates spots in the city just keeps rolling. I've been twice in the past month: one meal was great, the other good. I'm not sure there's a place along 14th St. right now that I'd rather find myself in for a couple of hours." [Washingtonian]
Warren Rojas checks out the new Ris stand at Union Market. "A personal-size quiche stuffed with wild mushrooms and leeks left us satiated but lacked oomph. Hearty French-Canadian meat pies fit that bill, offering up mouthfuls of succulent potatoes, sweet onion and sweet-and-savory crumbled pork — a Lacoste specialty spiked with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg — wrapped in buttery dough. Curried goat stew weaved together sumptuous meat, chewy black beans and crunchy crushed nuts. A posole bowl proved more enticing; the ravishing brew featured finely shredded pork, tender hominy, crispy radish slices and fiery jalapenos, all cooled by a mound of rich sour cream" [RC]
Don Rockwell reviews the very new Gringos & Mariachis. "Playing a guessing game, if I had to pick out one restaurant Gringos & Mariachis feels like, it would be an early Bandolero, and the food – at least the food I had – was something comparable. I was pleasantly surprised by this restaurant which scarcely even has any signage up." [DR]