In lieu of his full restaurant review for the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema visits New Orleans in his search for America's best food city. After visiting restaurants both old and new, he decides the the city's restaurant scene constantly surprises and bucks convention. [WaPo]
Sietsema then visits Claudia’s Steakhouse in his First Bite review for the Washington Post. He advises diners to stay away from the restaurant's steaks that are "devoid of flavor and juice" and instead order dishes connected to owner Claudia Rivas’ Salvadoran heritage, which can include fish. He writes:
"Do yourself a favor and start a meal with a trio of salt cod fritters, each golden orb affixed to its plate with a dot of garlic aioli and capped with a ring of pickled chili. Then move on to whole bronzed snapper, its fried skin and snowy flesh flattered by a brassy chili vinaigrette." [WaPo]
David Hagedorn reviews Peter Chang Arlington for Arlington Magazine and determines the Sichuan chef's cooking lives up to the hype. Hagedorn favors dishes that highlight the hot and numbing qualities associated with cuisine, but he also appreciates Chang's ability to balance sweetness, saltiness and bitterness. He writes:
As a result, dishes like the fiery mapo tofu—cubes of silken tofu—have a complex flavor that’s rounded, rather than just assaulting. His creativity also shines through in the lamb rib chops (an atypical choice of protein for a Chinese restaurant), which are coated in cumin and then stir-fried with onions, jalapeños and dried chilies for a taste that blends authentic preparation with flavor innovation." [Arlington]
Stefanie Gans files a review of Ser in Ballston for Northern Virginia Magazine. The Spanish restaurant's "light-filled space" and "funky light fixtures" impress her more than the tapas dishes. She writes:
"Octopus, sliced thin and braised in red wine, mostly tastes of its accompanying chive oil. The luscious meatiness of this sea creature can’t puncture its drab surroundings. Shrimp also fall hostage to the cloak of oil. Infected with burnt garlic, the oil is ruined in gambas al ajillo, which should be a fireworks display of garlic and red pepper flakes."
She eventually finds a few dishes that satisfy— the salt cod, brazed pork cheeks, and paella are all successful. And although it’s not Spanish, the dark chocolate soufflé is so good that the dinner ends on a high note. [NoVa]
Tim Carman reviews Smokehouse Live in Leesburg and decides the owners are "the kind of guys you want running a smokehouse," even if he doesn't embrace every menu item.
But aside from those early incarnation sausages, everything I ordered at Smokehouse Live retained much of its natural moisture, even ornery cusses like pulled pork and lean brisket. This is not to say I loved all the barbecue. The Savannah chicken, with its notes of citrus and dry mustard, came protected in a skin more elastic than crispy. The beef clod, billed as a "farmer’s roast" in a similar flush of creative marketing that gave us the Chilean sea bass, went down like rare roast beef, often with a gnarly chew." [WaPo]