Tom Sietsema is generally pleased with his experience at the new D.C. power spot, Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab. Sadly, one of the foods mentioned in the restaurant's name doesn't live up to expectations. "The stone crabs here are damp and ordinary, not close to the sweet treasure I've encountered elsewhere, including at the Miami Beach destination. Some claws are also stringy." But there are other options.
Joe's prime meats include a respectable New York strip steak and a more succulent bone-in rib-eye, the dry-aged version of which reveals a nice mineral tang and a $65 price tag for 24 ounces. But you don't have to shell out a Grant and a Jackson to enjoy a steak dinner. There's a very good, $19 chopped steak with sauteed onions and mushrooms, which receives a bit of ceremony when a server pours on a splash of garlic butter and beef juice. [WaPo]
Fiola Mare is the focus of Sietsema's first bite. He isn't thrilled with his waiter's long opening speech, but the food delivers.
"Whole grilled dorade is deftly filleted at the table and trailed by a fleet of seasonings, among them black olive salt and fennel aioli. The best way to eat the Mediterranean pleasure is with a side of bright and lemony sauteed spinach. Fiola is a grand party boat that ends with a flourish of one-bite sweets that prove as delicious as they are beautiful." [WaPo]
Todd Kliman's check-in on Doi Moi is now online. He finds it spicy but inconsistent.
But too many of these dishes are only hot; they lack the pungency—or depth, or funk—of the real thing at its best. And though the commitment to good-quality ingredients is admirable (that's sea bass in the jungle curry, not low-grade tilapia), the payoff isn't high enough, often enough. It's telling that many of the best dishes—crab fried rice, roasted chicken, grilled prawns—are the simplest. Order widely and you're likely to have an up-and-down meal, attended by thoughts that you might find as much deliciousness at your favorite Thai joint—for a lot less. [Washingtonian]
Don Rockwell has two great Italian meals on 14th Street, Ghibelina and Lupo Verde. At the latter, he's sold on the carbonara. "Lupo Verde's is made with homemade paccheri, guanciale, eggs, and Pecorino(-Romano?), and the paccheri is a wonderful vehicle for this classic Roman dish. This was, without question, the finest carbonara I have ever eaten." [DR]