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Tim Carman Gets Delirious over Chuy's Combo Plates

Reviewing Sushi Capitol, a first look at Kapnos Taverna and more.

R. Lopez

Tim Carman files a review on Sushi Capitol for the Washington Post Magazine and gives the restaurant 2 and a half stars, saying chef and owner Minoru Ogawa treats fish like royalty. He recommends getting away from obvious sushi selections and trying what makes the restaurant special:

To dine on these sushi standards, though, is to miss what’s special here: the silky-and-chalky monkfish liver, the crispy salmon-skin roll, the raw botan shrimp or spot prawns (complete with fried heads on a separate plate), perhaps even the selection of Kona beers like the Castaway IPA, whose light bitterness practically serves as a secondary seasoning. [WaPo]

Tom Sietsema's already filed a First Bite preview on Kapnos Taverna, the newest restaurant from chef Mike Isabella. He thinks visiting the seafood-inspired restaurant is like going on vacation. The meat is just as good as the seafood, Sietsema decides, and the spreads and vegetable dishes measure up, too.

This is a restaurant that goes the extra kilometer. That crisp eggplant doesn’t need company, but a dip in its accompanying yogurt tweaked with orange makes it more fun to snack on. Liquid from the house-made harissa helps fuel the hot sauce that accompanies the shellfish platter. And the thick white napkins at Kapnos Taverna are of the type doled out in restaurants with significantly higher check averages. [WaPo]

Sietsema’s First Bite column also takes him to an apartment complex in Northwest Washington of all places, where the owners of U Street’s Al Crostino have just taken over the building’s restaurant. He appreciates the change at Westchester Dining Room and he even gets to the bottom of why the pasta seems sub-par:

But what’s up with the pasta, so limp it appears to have been cooked in a dishwasher? Don’t blame the rotating chefs, Juliana and Valentino Nicolai. Early on in their new gig, mother and son would send out al dente pasta, only to have it returned to the kitchen. Residents of the Westchester — designed as a luxury retreat in 1929 and home in its heyday to a slew of political types — like their noodles on the soft side, it turns out. Unlike the menu at Al Crostino, the list at the Westchester is a conservative read. [WaPo]

Tim Carman visits the new Fairfax outpost of his long lost love, Chuy's, and is charmed, no matter how corporate it is:

I feel like such a sucker, but in a town where the modus operandi is to intimidate with granite and marble, I’m delirious to be back in the presence of Lone Star eccentricity, no matter how manufactured. I’m also delirious to be wolfing down Chuy’s combo plates again, after a long, dry Tex-Mex spell. I feel like a wanderer in the desert who has tripped upon a beach house, complete with wet bar. [WaPo]

Give into the Chuychanga, Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken and frozen margaritas. Just don't fill up on chips from the nacho car, Carman recommends. [WaPo]

For last week's $20 Diner, Carman tried Korean barbeque at Kangnam in College Park, a restaurant that once served sushi, and now serves collegiate-friendly Korean barbeque and breakfast sandwiches. They ostensibly show football on big screens too. [WaPo]

The Washingtonian's Ann Limpert echoes other critics who love the dessert and bread at White Flint's new City Perch, but aren't as impressed by what comes between those dishes. She states in her full review:

When you get into the entrée section, prices veer into fine-dining territory. Meats and fish dishes are judiciously portioned and come bare on a plate—there are family-style sides for an extra $7 to $12. Suddenly, those two tiny filets of bland sea bass with listless fennel fronds seem like a $36 insult. A small $26 cut of cedar-smoked salmon was a lush medium-rare but doused in too much oil. [Washingtonian]

Go for the platter of rotisserie duck for two, or just stick to the bread basket and dessert course. Limpert writes:

A quartet of breads and butters arrayed on a round slab of tree trunk proves worthy of its $10 charge. I could eat the perfectly flaky orange-sage biscuit for breakfast every morning, and the Chinese buns, sheened with butter, are nearly as hard to step away from. [Washingtonian]

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