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Tom Sietsema Approves of the New Southern Cuisine at Succotash

Plus, reviews of Villain & Saint, Nido and Masseria.

R. Lopez

Tom Sietsema ventures to Succotash at National Harbor for his full review in the Washington Post. He awards two stars to chef Edward Lee’s first restaurant in the D.C. area. The Louisville-based chef sprinkles his Southern cuisine with some Asian influences, which the critic finds compelling. He writes:

"One of the finest po’ boys I’ve had this year... surfaced at Succotash, which arranges tempura-battered oysters, creamy-enough slaw and glistening trout roe inside a long toasted roll… I struck gold again with an entree of 'dirty' fried chicken, dark meat beneath a red cloak of honey-sweetened gochujang… and blue cheese that went down like Buffalo chicken wings made by a top chef in Seoul…"

Sietsema thinks some dishes, like the "soggy" chicken and waffles, could be improved, but says the restaurant is still worth the drive across the Potomac from D.C. [WaPo]

For his $20 Diner column, Tim Carman tries Robert Wiedmaier’s 1960's era-inspired pub Villain & Saint in Bethesda. He's sucked in by the atmosphere, complete with classic rock music and photos of Jimi Hendrix and Lou Reed on the walls. He also enjoys chef Tom Meyer's food but recommends a few improvements:

"The meat on his saucy pork ribs falls from the bone like the ash from Keith Richards’s dangling cigarette; the pork goes down tangy, sticky, spicy but, alas, not so smoky. The slow-cooked pork shoulder on toasted roll, an apparent riff on an Italian roast pork sandwich, would be even better with less white cheddar blanketing the dry-rubbed meat and broccoli rabe. The blue catfish...will put a bounce in your step, like an Art Blakey ride cymbal." [WaPo]

Tom Sietsema goes to Nido on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast for his First Bite column in the Washington Post. The cheery decor is a breath of fresh air compared to dark industrial look found in so many restaurants lately. He also likes chef Aaron Wright's Mediterranean food:

"Crisp chicken thighs pick up some punch from green olives and pickled lemon; tender braised pork shoulder counters any nip in the air. Along for the ride with the meat is that saucy staple of tapas bars, patatas bravas. Pistachio upside-down cake yields a not-too-sweet ending." [WaPo]

Coincidentally, Todd Kliman also files a review of Nido for Washingtonian magazine this week. He likens the atmosphere to a "a chill dinner party at an unpretentious coastal resort," but wishes it was just a bit more lively. Concerning the food, it looks simple enough on the plate, but the critic finds some surprising complexity upon biting into it:

"A beef carpaccio seems like little more than a presentation of high-quality, thin-shaved meat, until you take a bite and discover the carefully deployed deposits of sea salt and, further, the slick of fruity, spicy olive oil for swabbing." [Washingtonian]

David Hagedorn has a hard time finding Masseria for his review in DC Modern Luxury, but he eventually discovers the hidden doorway to the restaurant inside a NoMa warehouse. He goes for chef Nick Stefanelli's five-course tasting menu and likes just about every bite. The pastas nearly steal the show, but the main courses are just as good in the end. He writes:

"This chef is just as deft with protein. Duck breast is rendered to pleasing crispness and served with roasted leeks and scallions, fresh plums and plum gastrique. Randall Lineback Ruby veal slices are ruby red, the earthiness and leanness of the grass-fed meat heightened by rich bone marrow... Soft-shell crab is merely dredged in flour and sauteed rather than being mucked up by a goopy batter... Brown butter hollandaise makes dorade, perfectly cooked with a crisp-skin crust, sing." [DCML]

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