Tim Carman visits Asian-influenced Urban Heights in Bethesda for a full review in the Washington Post. He's aghast when the waiter mistakenly tells him the whole fried fish of the day is salmon. It's an early sign of bad things to come from the Robert Wiedmaier restaurant helmed by chef Cliff Wharton. He writes:
"Wharton’s best work leans toward the playful and the casual, as if he were cooking for an inventive neighborhood pub... But the restaurant clearly has its sights set on something sophisticated and cool, the kind of fashionable, Instagrammable outpost that would never be satisfied with just an Asian-inspired bar snack, no matter how well-conceived."
According to Carman, the bar and kitchen staff require more training in subtly and technique. He decides the restaurant's concept needs to be "edited and reformulated into something fresher." [WaPo]
For his $20 Diner column, Tim Carman also tries Maki Shop on 14th Street. He's intrigued by the grab-and-go spot's innovative sushi making strategies. The nori and rice are packaged separately to preserve their freshness, and Carman's mind is blown when they're assembled together. He writes:
"Until now, you may feel as if you’ve been living in an alternate maki roll universe, colorless and cold. With one bite, you’ll immediately sense a new reality crackling under tooth. It’s an otherworldly crunch, the key texture missing with rolls encased in limp and lifeless nori." [WaPo]
For his First Bite review for the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema reviews Sally’s Middle Name on H Street. It's the first restaurant by chef Sam Adkins, formerly of Jackie’s in Silver Spring and Cashion’s Eat Place in Adams Morgan. He's thoroughly impressed with the veggie-centric cuisine. He writes:
"From the grilled broccoli punched up with chilies and anchovy to the pickled fried Swiss chard stems bound in a light beer batter, every vegetable-based plate I sampled was a hit….Most memorable of all at an early dinner was a riff on poutine: french fries scattered with bits of rabbit and goat cheese curds that Adkins gets from Peachy Family Dairy in Pennsylvania."
He’s also charmed by the quirky atmosphere that includes a chalkboard-only menu and plates collected from thrift shops and estate sales. [WaPo]
Stefanie Gaus files a combination review of Founding Farmers Tysons and Family Meal in Ashburn. She decides the food at Founding Farmers is acceptable, save for a riff on chicken and waffles that awkwardly balances a chicken thigh atop a vanilla-scented version of a cronut. She writes:
"The food is good enough... It’s the new version of Cheesecake Factory, a version with farro-arugula salad and oysters on the half-shell."
She's more pleased with the food at Bryan Voltaggio's Family Meal and calls it "classic with a twist." She likes the smoked beet sandwich, bite-sized chicken pot-pies and an oatmeal cream pie that's even better than Little Debbie's. [NoVa]
It was a rough week of eating for Don Rockwell. In his review of Pizzaiolo Cafe in Fairlington, he decides it's a nice enough place to have a beer, but he calls his Caprese pizza a "disaster." He writes:
"It was disgusting, it was the worst pizza I’ve had in memory, and I’m ashamed of myself for eating half of it, but I had just come from the gym and I was *starving*. If it’s any salvation of my credibility, I told my bartender to just give the second half to the kitchen staff..."
He also visits Pho Deluxe in Fairfax where he's sorely disappointed in the pho. He says, "they did a splendid job of imitating how bad pho should taste." [DR]
Tyler Cowen also writes about Urban Butcher in Silver Spring. He seems to like everything but notes an over-marinated ceviche. He also really liked the service but thinks his $76 bill for dinner is too steep. [TC]
THE BLOGS: Hey Jess Gray learns things working on the DC Slices truck...District Brit is sold on Green Pig Bistro...Cook In/Dine Out digs the Southern cooking at Tupelo Honey Cafe...Capital Cooking says the hushpuppies are a must at City Tap Room.