This week, Tom Sietsema dines at Brine, the new restaurant by Rappahannock Oyster Company co-owner Travis Croxton and chef John Critchley, formerly of Bourbon Steak. Like other diners, he loves the freshly baked Parker House rolls, cocktails, the lambs and clams dish and the plankton bucatini. He also admires the restaurant's laid-back local ethos. He writes:
"At Brine, the chef stocks fish that are local and abundant if not necessarily the most popular in school. It’s a treat to see croaker and perch, mild and flaky fish that are cooked a la plancha (on a hotplate grill) and that take well to Brine’s house-made sauces, including a peppery sofrito."
Brine doesn't escape completely unscathed. Sietsema gripes about the noise level and the service. He also thinks the fish and chips and the trout dish need some work. [WaPo]
In lieu of his regular review in the Washington Post, Sietsema also explores Chicago in his search for America's top food cities. While in town for the James Beard Awards, he tries a huge range of foods like steaks, pizza, hot dogs and tacos. After seeking input from some of the city's most famous chefs like Rick Bayless and Grant Achatz, he determines the low cost of living and accessible commercial real estate are what make Chicago so ripe for culinary creativity. [WaPo]
Tim Carman ventures to an Uzbek restaurant in Gaithersburg for his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post. Silk Road Choyhona's dimlama causes him to readjust his prejudices against beef stew:
"The key to Silk Road Choyhona’s dimlama is the broth, a garlic-heavy elixir of meat and vegetable juices naturally produced during the long, slow simmer. The broth enlivens every bite, like MSG without the headaches or the hysteria."
He also tastes and approves of plov, a dish of meat and rice with Persian influences. Meanwhile, the manti, or dumplings stuffed with ground beef, remind Carman of his childhood in the MIdwest.
Don Rockwell cranks out three reviews this week. He digs the classical music playing at Rappahannock Coffee & Roasting. The coffee shop ultimately exceeds his low expectations and the Americano is a step-up from Starbucks.
"This breast was seven ounces (I asked), moist, tender, perfectly battered, and fried without being greasy or salty, and yet it had a really nice flavor to it – this was a good fried chicken breast!"
His final stop of the week is at Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington where he's thoroughly impressed by the Veggie sandwich. [DR]
THE BLOGS: DC Wrapped Dates wants more sandwiches at DCity Smokehouse...Cook In/ Dine Out's mouth waters for Fat Pete's Barbecue...Capital Cooking recaps the 2015 Rammy Awards...and so does District Brit.