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Think White Tablecloth Dining Is Dead? Head to Marcel's, Sietsema Says

A review of an "it" spot in Bethesda, Kliman files mini-reviews for Crane & Turtle, Taqueria Habañero and Baan Thai, and more.

R. Lopez

The newly-renovated Marcel's gets a sterling review from Tom Sietsema this week in the Washington Post Magazine. Sietsema gives Marcel's 3.5 stars, writing that the "service rivals food in its sumptuousness." And he thinks that everything about the luxe restaurant suggests that white-tablecloth dining in Washington is here to stay:

If you haven’t supped at Marcel’s since its makeover, completed last month, you haven’t dined at Marcel’s. If ever there was a case to be made for the relevance of comfort and ambiance in the dining equation, this enhanced restaurant is it. [WaPo]

Sietsema also checked out the new Pizza Vinoteca in Ballston, but he wasn't so impressed by its high-tech pizza oven:

Three pizzas in, however, I find myself wishing I were eating the superior pies at one of Arlington’s other parlors, foremost the Neapolitan-style rounds at Pupatella. For all the effort that goes into them, Vinoteca’s thin, crisp and surprisingly bland crusts seem to be mere vehicles for the toppings. [WaPo]

The Washingtonian's Todd Kliman dropped three new capsule reviews in his online chat this week. A visit to Baan Thai, a northern Thai restaurant within Tsunami Sushi & Lounge on 14th Street, proves satisfying once a "birdie planted a note with a server" that some dishes were too sweet. Be sure to get the pork curry and a vermicelli noodle bowl with ground chicken and shrimp. Kliman also talks up the lengua taco at Taqueria Habañero. And he compares Crane & Turtle's chef Makoto Hamamura to a jazz pianist, in that his dishes sometimes hit some unexpected notes. [Washingtonian]

Bethesda Magazine's Carole Sugarman says that the "hip taqueria" Gringos & Mariachis "is the 'It Girl' of Bethesda." It's buzzy, but how's the food? Sugarman writes:

As for the cooking at Gringos, after five visits there, I’d say it’s good but not great. While the food is fresher and more authentic than the heavy, cheese-laden fare served by the Tex-Mex competition, I did wish for more depth and spark in some of the dishes. Fans may quibble with me, but Gringos’ super setting and vibe can make it easy to overlook or forgive any culinary imperfections. [BM]

The $20 Diner goes to... Popeye's? Ghost pepper fan Tim Carman needs to try the chain's new ghost pepper wings. He thinks they are good, but nowhere near ghost pepper levels of spicy.

In its promotion for the limited-time-only offering, Popeyes announced the wings and drumettes are marinated "in a blend of spicy peppers, including a dash of ghost pepper." In the parlance of Popeyes, a "dash of ghost pepper" must mean the prep team bows in the direction of India while marinating the chicken. [WaPo]

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