Tim Carman and his buddies go to Heckman's Delicatessen in Bethesda for this week's $20 Diner column. They debate the merits of the deli's Italian hoagie but all agree the brisket-based sandwiches are worth ordering. Carman writes,
"The succulent, well-trimmed corned beef at the heart of Heckman’s Reuben speaks without the sodium static of an overbrined brisket. The Copperman’s Delight clearly takes delight in the pastrami, piling the meat high on grilled rye with only minimal condiment and slaw interference." [WaPo]
Last week, Carman went to Aladdin in Arlington for his column. The Bangladeshi restaurant recently moved from a "semi-fashionable" location in Rockville to a more casual strip center with other businesses catering to immigrants from South Asian countries. They’ve also edited the old menu to focus squarely on Bengladeshi cooking instead of Indian. The critic writes:
"You might recognize the fuchka ... as Kolkata-style pani puri, except Aladdin asks diners to stuff their own shells at the table so the fried puffs don’t lose their crispness...The chicken samosas are perhaps more streamlined and translucent than others you’ve sampled. The triangles are filled with a bracing mixture whose fire and fragrance camp out on your palate long after the samosa is gone."
In fact, Carman says diners should brace themselves for the aggressive heat of Thai peppers and cayenne before ordering. [WaPo]
Subbing for Tom Sietsema, Maura Judkis writes the most recent First Bite column for the Washington Post. She checks out BKK Cookshop in Shaw, now in the former Beau Thai space and operated by the same team. Chef Aschara Vigsittaboot's menu explores Thai dishes with various cultural influences. Judkis writes:
"Take the steamed buns, Chinese on the outside and Thai on the inside, with fillings such as panang chicken or spicy ground pork. Or the kao mok gai, a chicken leg served with curry rice and hints of Indian influence. Some dishes might seem fusiony — like the son-in-law-eggs, Thailand’s tamarind-sauced version of a deviled egg — but are actually quite traditional."
According to Judkis, the heart of the menu is really the nine noodle dishes, particularly the Shanghai noodles made with chicken, beef or pork and tubular bean noodles. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman files a review of Brine in Mosaic District for Washingtonian magazine. After glancing at chef John Critchley's menu, he complains that it "sprawls like a suburban tract development." He also writes:
"The chef…gives us the too-tricked-out burger, the fries jazzed up to look like something other than fast food, and the somehow fashionable steak tartare—dressed up with the even more unaccountably fashionable "ash," which is just what you think it is. None of these dishes is bad, but none is put across with any conviction."
The critic has bad luck ordering from the appetizer section but likes Brine's trio of fish and lambs and clams dish. He begrudgingly admits the oysters were well-shucked but calls the restaurant’s beloved Parker House rolls too doughy. [Washingtonian]
Stefanie Gans tries Barrel & Bushel in Tysons Corner for Northern Virginia magazine. She states right away, "the food that night wasn’t good." Later she reveals that it wasn't the case during previous meals— both the chorizo and prime rib sliders were good, as were the Nashville hot chicken and burgers. About the other dishes, however, she writes:
"The salmon fillet was still better than the insipid ribs covered in a cheese sauce and served with tater tots... Chef Dan Dienemann, with a Ritz-Carlton pedigree, concocted that dish for the first time in the late ’90s at Burning Man... Needless to say, Dienemann admits, "I was probably wasted" when he first ate ribs covered in cheese. The dish makes more sense with a backstory: It shouldn’t be consumed sober." [NoVa]
Warren Rojas writes about Garrison in Capitol Hill for Roll Call. He calls owner Rob Weland’s menu "a case study in seasonality." He loves nearly every items but particularly recommends the vegetable and fish dishes. He writes:
"Weland works wonders with all manner of fresh catches... But we remain smitten with a roasted hake lain to rest atop minced chive- and heavy cream-laden potatoes. The lemony filet absorbs the wine-spiked yolk with gusto once the poached egg is pierced. A smattering of capers adds vinegary pop to the gloriously rich potatoes." [RC]
THE BLOGS: The Pasta Man hipsters on at Maketto...Girl Meets Food tries something spicy at SKWR Kabobline...Bad Sentences does Express Lunch at Kapnos Taverna.