Tom Sietsema road trips to Baltimore this weekend to check out Spike Gjerde's meat-centric Parts & Labor. The restaurant earns two stars from the critic, and largely positive words. He dolls out praise from dishes ranging from pimento cheese to sausage to a solid hamburger.
A tip for President Obama: Have the Secret Service whisk you to Parts & Labor to indulge in your hamburger fetish. The sandwich is built with juicy, dry-aged chuck, topped with some of that spicy cheese that may have initiated dinner, plus charred onions. At least that's how I found my hamburger on a recent weekend. The menu changes from day to day; your mileage may vary.
He warns, though, that pacing can be a problem. [WaPo]
Rural Society, from Philadelphia's Jose Garces, also makes a great first impression on the critic.
Watch your back burner, Toro Toro. Pay attention to the fresh competition, Del Campo. That grill at Rural Society is the source of one of the choicest cuts of meat in recent memory, rib-eye from Uruguay. Lean yet juicy, the steak, finished with malbec butter, does not need the salsa criolla that comes out with the bread, but the all-purpose condiment is nevertheless a jazzy addition. Be sure to throw in a thatch of fat french fries, rousing with their smoky aioli.
Honey ice cream and blood sausage are among the dishes that pass muster. [WaPo]
The $20 Diner tries out Unforgettable Flavors in College Park, a Jamaican restaurant.
Once inside the cafe, I ran straight into a wall of human kindness. The staff here is the friendliest, most attentive crew I've ever encountered outside a restaurant with food critic photos taped up in the kitchen. The hospitality doesn't feel forced.
Jerk chicken and fruit smoothies are among the highlights. [WaPo]
Don Rockwell visits Fuego Cocina y Taqueria in Clarendon.
Empanadas de Vegetales ($8) were exactly what a vegetarian should aim for here: three delicious empanadas, stuffed with just the right amount of roasted squash, corn, huitlacoche, goat cheese, epazote, and avocado salsa, all in proportion with one another. This is a perfect dish to experiment with the various dipping sauces even though the yeasty empanadas do just fine on their own. [DR]
THE BLOGS: Bitches Who Brunch give a B to Lupo Verde.