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Tom Sietsema Wonders How Soon He Can Get Back to The Oval Room

Plus reviews of Brookland's Finest, City Perch, Met Bethesda, Iron Age and Aldeerah.

The Oval Room
The Oval Room
Greg Powers/Official The Oval Room

Tom Sietsema gives The Oval Room's new chef John Melfi a nice little compliment: "The guy can cook," he writes in his Washington Post Magazine review. Sietsema gives The Oval Room three stars, praising dishes like the lobster bisque, Cuban sandwich, Dover sole, scallops, as well as creative riffs on vegetarian dishes like steak tartare with beets instead of steak and a "Bolognese" with root vegetables. And he thinks Melfi lives up to the bar set by The Oval Room's previous chef, Tony Conte, who left to open his own restaurant.

But the overall takeaway from lunch or dinner is: How soon can I come back? Chef Conte’s work is missed in the city. Chef Melfi’s food keeps the bar high. [WaPo]

The Washington Post's Tim Carman appreciates how Brookland's Finest brings people together, and how chef and partner Shannan Troncoso adds some zip to classic dishes:

This would be a recurring theme: Dishes that read like pub grub on the menu would assume personalities far above their station on the plate. The fried blue catfish arrives encased in cornmeal, its golden crust revealing flaky, succulent flesh with barely a trace of muddiness. The roasted half chicken sports both demi glace and reduced balsamic, which sounds like some gastronomic shotgun wedding until you taste how well the sweetened bird pairs with the chili-spiked rapini hiding underneath. [WaPo]

Bethesda Magazine's Carole Sugarman explores movie theater-adjacent dining with a double review of City Perch and Met Bethesda. "And while neither restaurant puts on a stellar performance, one offers a better show," she writes.

Tyler Cowen says Centreville's Iron Age "is a place to be seen" and "the best place around to initiate a newcomer into Korean food." He also checks out Aldeerah in Vienna and approves. He writes:

Wow, this place is fun, just opened in early 2015. I’ve only been once, but immediately I saw the menu has about fifteen items which, not only had I never heard of before, but which I had not imagined before. It seems to be real Saudi stuff. [TC]

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