Tom Sietsema visits Noelia Italian Kitchen for his First Bite column. His early impressions aren't particularly positive.
Attempts to find the kitchen's strengths are thwarted by mostly soulless cooking. The saving grace of a bowl of gummy risotto: the tender scallops forced to dress up the mass. Chicken Parmigiana, stiff as cardboard, should cease and desist. Gnocchi in a wash of tomato sauce is generic but tolerable, like the elevator-music rendition of Vivaldi that accompanied dinner recently. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner reviewed Bethesda Curry Kitchen, where the chef excels at dishes such as this baby eggplant creation:
The sauce draws its flavor from sesame seeds, shredded coconut and peanuts, which also lend the gravy a velvety, almost spreadable texture. Underneath the nuttiness, Sustarwar hides a kingdom of spice: cumin, fenugreek, curry leaf and enough whole chilies to light a decent fire under the dish. The baghare baingan, I'd suggest, is a slow-cook masterpiece, and I'd no more ask Sustarwar to alter it than I'd ask the Museum of Modern Art to take down "The Starry Night" and have an intern add more brushstrokes to the sky just because I love the swirls of color. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman gives 2 stars to Petit Louis Bistro. "Petit Louis Bistro, the sixth restaurant from Baltimore restaurateurs Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman—and the second Petit Louis—isn't a destination, though its prices and starchy service would seem to mark it for special occasions. But neither is it a dud. It's a solid, smoothly run place whose strengths, as Yogi Berra might have said, are strong." [Washingtonian]
Kliman also does a blurb on Alexandria's Namaste.
The dumplings are the best of the Nepalese dishes, but there are other worthy ones. Badam sadeko ($5.49), peanuts marinated with onion, tomato, and cilantro, is all brightness and crunch. Kukhura ko sekuwa ($7.49) calls to mind chicken tikka—white-meat chunks are baked in a tandoor—but the spicing is lighter. Goat curry ($15.99) submerges hunks of meat (the tenderest parts are closer to the bone) in a ginger-laced gravy. [Washingtonian]
Ann Limpert, also for Washingtonian, offers two stars to Roofers Union. The sausage section is "disappointing" but she finds other strengths.
At Ripple, Meek-Bradley is known for her way with charcuterie and meat. Here that virtuosity is on display in an appetizer of lamb ribs with a spicy-sweet glaze whose addictiveness competes with that of the cumin yogurt it's served alongside. And I could nibble all day long on the crispy pig ears that are threaded through a frisée salad. (The other salads—a haphazard wedge and a blandly dressed Caesar—you can skip.) [Washingtonian]
Bethesda Magazine gives &pizza a try. "There's a reason a line forms out the door starting at 11:30 a.m. With thin, crackly crusts; thoughtful ingredients and inventive topping combinations, pizzas here are a great sum of their parts." [BM]
Northern Virginia Magazine has a quick take on 88 China in Chantilly. "It's the silky vegetables that I remember most from 88 China. Bok choy glistening in garlicky oil and snow pea leaves, the greens bright and just-wilted, with stems that snap. Scallion fried fish, fragrant with cumin and accessorized with cilantro and red pepper, is always a standby, as is the not-numbing ma po with creamy tofu and bits of ground pork." [NoVa Mag]
Don Rockwell likes the vegetarian waffle at B Too. "As soon as my waffle hit the bar, I knew I had a winner – it was absolutely beautiful, both the ingredients and the presentation, and with the sauce, tasted every bit as good as it looked. A sensational vegetarian dish, this was a full level up from what you'd expect at B Too, and is more akin to something you might find in a Michelin starred restaurant." [DR]
THE BLOGS: Bitches Who Brunch go to Co Co. Sala.