In his First Bite review for the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema gets scared when the server offers to explain the "concept" at travel-themed Provision No. 14. He's disheartened to learn the food comes out when it’s ready at the buzzy 14th Street spot. To him, that means "the interests of the kitchen trump the diner."
The menu has all the familiar trendy restaurant trappings like kale salad and pork belly. It also includes a few novelties that Sietsema calls "more fun to read about than to eat." In fact, there’s only one dish he deems somewhat acceptable, but the description still isn’t flattering. He writes:
"The least offensive plate holds lamb breast braised in miso and lager and a cucumber salad. Unfortunately, the entree’s couscous tastes as if it had been pulled from the refrigerator just before joining the plate."[WaPo]
For his full review in the Washington Post, Sietsema visits Preserve in Annapolis. He awards 2.5 stars to the waterfront restaurant owned by Jeremy and Michelle Hoffman, formerly of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.
He's charmed by the personal touches that the chef, who originally hails from Pennsylvania Dutch country, imparts on his playful cuisine. Dishes range from "elegant" potato and cheese pierogis to crisp shrimp toast with stripes of Old Bay aioli. He writes:
If you want to get inside Hoffman’s head, order the pork and sauerkraut as your main course. Its staging — a ring of silken mashed potatoes around an alp of soft braised meat and lush cabbage — suggests a homey German meal by way of, well, Neuschwanstein Castle. Arriving just behind the feast is a little cup of ketchup, which is what the chef grew up slathering on his pork and sauerkraut at home and which he invites you to try at Preserve. [WaPo]
Meanwhile, Tim Carman tries Mexican restaurant 3 Salsas in Columbia Heights. Brothers Marco and Luis Gonzalez opened it as a tribute to their grandmother's homestyle cooking. He declares their fried huitlacoche quesadilla one of the best Mexican offerings in the city but finds inconsistencies in some of the other dishes. Actually, some of them are downright confusing:
The chicken mole taco may shift your paradigm, too. For engineering reasons, this hefty bite merits its own thick-but-pliable house-made tortilla, half of which is coated with a muddy stew of bittersweet mole chicken and the other half covered with Spanish rice. When the two halves meet, the sum adds up to something less than its whole, a calculus problem that you might enjoy solving. [WaPo]
Don Rockwell also reviews Sweetbites Cafe and Bakery in McLean. He takes note of the high prices but says the quality is worth it. He raves about a "custardy" quiche with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, onion and arugula. A butternut squash scone with feta and sage also gets accolades.
Rockwell ultimately concludes, "Sweetbites is expensive, but it’s in a wealthy neighborhood, and if there are any other bakeries nearby that are as good, I’m certainly unaware." [DR]
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