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Sally's Middle Name Pleases Tom Sietsema

Plus, reviews of 701, Thai Lemon Grass, The Riggsby, Brine and Theismann's.

Sally's Middle Name
Sally's Middle Name
Jennifer S./Yelp

Tom Sietsema tries Sally’s Middle Name for his full review in the Washington Post. He awards the H Street restaurant two stars. The critic is so over talk of seasonal and local ingredients, but chef Sam Adkins' approach to vegetables wins him over:

"...the restaurant plays up vegetables, and not just in ways that make a diner feel he’s eating a bunch of side dishes… Sally’s makes a mission of getting you to finish your beets or beans, for no other reason than because they taste good. Baby beets with roasted pears and mustard seeds? The trio is at once earthy and sweet and sassy. Skinny filet beans sparked with garlic and anchovy? Move your fork, please…"

The critic has virtually no gripes with the restaurant's food. His only complaints lie in the portion sizes due to the small plates format and the service. [WaPo]

For his First Bite column in the Washington Post, Sietsema revisits Ashok Bajaj’s 701. Chef Benjamin Lambert has added some creative new dishes to the menu to match the restaurant's recent renovation. Sietsema loves the shawarma along with a few other dishes. He writes:

"Seconds, please, of the lush steak tartare set off with a lacy cheddar tuile and charred broccoli, and of the foie gras served hot and cold on a plate with fluffy, one-bite mochi doughnuts. Bars of crisp-skinned duck breast get a delicious assist from golden husk cherries and quinoa teased with green curry." [WaPo]

Tim Carman goes to Van Dorn Station shopping center in south Alexandria for his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post. He tries Thai Lemon Grass, which has two separate menus of Americanized Thai and classic Thai food. Carman prefers the latter:

"Once your palate has been stretched, it doesn’t retract to its old form. So while I thought [the] pan-fried pork in a roasted-garlic-and-white-pepper sauce was tasty and surprisingly potent, I nearly got the vapors over the Thai hot pot from the secret menu; the sour soup with shrimp and vegetables radiated fish sauce and heat, just tempting you to dive right in. The country-style beef curry with eggplant, bamboo shoots and green beans, which we ordered Thai spicy, would make a lizard sweat."

He also recommends a few other spots inside the strip mall like Kabul Kabob House, Pho Viet Flare and Ethiopian restaurant Azewa Market. [WaPo]

Anna Limpert files a review of The Riggsby for Washingtonian magazine. She finds very little to complain about from chef and owner Michael Schlow’s menu and particularly likes his ability to reinvent staid American classics. She writes:

"The reason the chopped salad is so good is that Schlow and his deputy...haven’t messed with it too much… The bacon is cooked just before dinner service so it doesn’t go flabby. The veggies are chosen for peak freshness but also for maximum texture. And of course, that Thousand Island dressing doesn’t come from a bottle. His Caesar, with plenty of Parmesan and black pepper, is pretty great, too." [Washingtonian]

David Hagedorn reviews Brine for Arlington magazine and finds more hits than misses. Diners can’t go wrong with owner Travis Croxton’s Rappahannock oysters from the Chesapeake, as well as other East Coast oysters. The critic also likes chef John Critchley's signature lambs and clams dish with merguez sausage and shellfish and the charcuterie platter. He writes of the plankton bucatini:

"Thick, spaghetti-like bucatini, made green from plankton in the dough (sounds weird but isn’t), is rich with clams, guanciale, sliced garlic, saffron threads, white wine and brown butter. I loved this dish when Critchley served it at Bourbon Steak, and I love it now. The warm homemade Parker House rolls topped with sea salt that hit the table while I’m eating it come in handy; I use two of them to soak up every drop of sauce."

He advises diners, though, to avoid the "stodgy" oyster chowder and kale salad. He also says Brine's desserts aren't their strong suit. [Arlington]

Warren Rojas goes to Theismann’s, a sports bar in Old Town Alexandria. Chef Louis "Bambino" Aguiree has helmed the kitchen since 1992, and his cuisine is a step above regular bar food. Rojas writes:

"The house textbook comfort food. There’s savory ground beef saturated in robust tomato ragout. Competing strata of stretchy melted provolone, creamy ricotta and salty shredded Parmesan duel for most enticing dairy product. The marinara that moistens every bite lavishes the taste buds in sautéed onions, garlic and peppers."

He’s also a fan of the lamb lollipops and accompanying salad, grilled halloumi cheese skewers and desserts like grilled banana bread. [NoVa]

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