Tim Carman tries Red’s Table in Reston this week. He awards the family-owned restaurant helmed by chef Adam Stein two stars in his full review for the Washington Post. He writes:
"...let me say that Stein clearly knows his audience: His menus speak with a common-man language, revving up your appetite with such bite-and-belch pleasures as chicken wings, hushpuppies, fried catfish, steaks and other plates with easy access to the American heart. Yet the chef finds ways to take these prosaic comforts and stretch their preparations enough to entice diners onto unfamiliar turf."
He still finds a few problems with the execution of a pork chop and a bucatini with clams dish. Instead he urges diners to stick to the restaurant's impressive specials or standard American dishes like the wedge salad or cheeseburger. [WaPo]
Carman also investigates the state of pupusas in D.C. for his $20 Diner column. He explains that the popularity of the humble masa pocket is a remnant of Salvadoran immigration to D.C. in the 1980’s. He's found a zucchini pupusa at Baby Wale but decides the best fillings are really traditional cheese, bean-and-cheese, pork-and-cheese, loroco-and-cheese. He writes:
"When done well, the standard-issue pupusa remains a snack of simple elegance: the exterior plain and tempered by heat, the interior soft, creamy and yielding. Whenever I dig into a stack of generously packed, thinly patted and lightly griddled pupusas... I’m content, in fact, even when the accompanying salsa pours as thin as tomato juice, like it does as Pupuseria La Cabanita in Hyattsville." [WaPo]
For the First Bite column in the Washington Post, Maura Judkis visits The Prospect on U Street. She’s disappointed to find their upscale stadium food has already devolved into regular pub fare— think burgers and fries, chicken wings and tacos. It's also not always done with care. She writes:
"But there are signs of inattentiveness. Our fish tacos tasted mainly of breading, and the goat nachos didn’t have enough toppings, so many of our bites were of naked tortilla chips — and they were stale."
She considers their extensive cider program to be a bright spot but still finds the service a bit awkward. [WaPo]
Mokomandy in Sterling, Va. gets a shout out from Tyler Cowen. He says the Korean and Cajun restaurant serves some of the area's best ethnic dishes. He writes:
"At first I thought it would be a kind of mom and pop, like the Vietnamese places which do spiced crawfish. But it’s not, rather it is a fine and innovative restaurant, with a trendy look. The jambalaya, the ssam (get it with prime rib), and the Korean sliders are some of the best dishes around, period." [TC]
Don Rockwell reviews Mazagan, a Moroccan restaurant in South Arlington. He warns diners not to be scared by the hookah and urges them to go for dinner. He writes:
"Pay no attention to anything you’ve read or heard about Mazagan; go here and get the Bastilla ($9.50, get the one with chicken) and Moroccan Couscous ($18) with caramelized onions and raisins. The couscous would make a perfect carryout dish – it will retain its heat for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t want to invest your time, at least get this to take home."
He also tries several veggie-focused dishes at The Shack in Staunton like blistered shishito peppers, tomato and peach panzanella, cucumber and wax bean salad, field peas with cornbread. He concludes the chef has "a master’s touch." [DR]