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Tom Sietsema Gets Lucky at Garrison on Barracks Row

Plus, reviews of Aldeerah, Centrolina and Urban Heights

R. Lopez

For his full review in the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema tries Garrison on Barracks Row. He awards chef Rob Weland's new, vegetable-focused restaurant an impressive three stars. Sietsema wanders into the restaurant after trying to get into Rose's Luxury (apparently he can't even get a table there). It's a lucky turn of events for the critic— his interest is piqued after trying appetizers like a salad with grilled peaches and burrata. Due to past disappointments, though, he proceeds with caution to the entrees. He writes:

"But that time-tested theory went out the window with the first taste of a crisp-skinned duck, fragrant from a spice rub that included lavender, and wild king salmon that not only reflected good shopping but that any chef in Seattle would have been proud to call his own."

He concludes Garrison should be considered a destination restaurant in its own right. [WaPo]

David Hagedorn files a review of Centrolina in CityCenterDC for DC Modern Luxury. He says chef Amy Brandwein makes the best octopus dish in town right now and also recommends the fritto misto. But he's particularly enthusiastic about the restaurant's pastas and tells diners to save room for them. He writes:

"Another winning tortelloni-like pasta, casunziei, includes raviolis stuffed with beef, Swiss chard and speck, with raisins adding the right touch of sugar. Taglierini neri, fine strings of tangled pasta tinged with squid ink, serve as a nest for tiny cubes of raw tuna... If you’re fond of ragouts, Brandwein has you covered, whether as an amalgam of rabbit, black olives and nebbiolo sauce hugging wide pappardelle noodles or rich pig ragout and Moliterno cheese surrounding al dente bucatini." [ML]

Washingtonian restaurant critic Todd Kliman tries Saudi restaurant Aldeerah in Vienna. In fact, it's the only Saudi restaurant in the metro area, and it shatters his preconceptions of "Northern Virginia's so-called ethnic restaurants" with its colorful decor. Some of the dishes, like a Saudi version of kibbeh and a chickpea dish called beelelah, are already familiar to Middle Eastern food lovers. He writes:

"The kitchen prepares its own sauces, one a tangy, spicy mixture the color of a postcard sunset. It’s magic. A small dab in the chickpeas makes the flavors bloom and, as a kind of sauce for the lamb kabsa ($17.99)—a generous hunk of bone-in shoulder meat, cooked slowly in lamb broth and served with rice and fried onions—adds needed top notes to the bass-heavy dish." [Washingtonian]

Carole Sugarman is over small plates at Urban Heights. In her review for Bethesda magazine, she likes many of the vegetable dishes and decides anything with shrimp is worth ordering, too. Overall, though, she finds the Asian fuision cuisine confusing and even passé at times. She writes:

"But other small plates lack excitement, such as duck rolls with dried-out, shredded filling; blah lamb meatballs with timid green curry sauce; guacamole, with a dull avocado mash and crumbles of what’s-the-point blue cheese; and stuffed chicken wings slicked with sweet sauce. Three items from the tuna bar were disappointing, including a tempura-crusted tuna roll that left the fish mealy and unappealing." [Bethesda]

Don Rockwell orders tons of food, ranging from sautéed fish to frogs legs, at Taste @ Hong Kong in Chantilly. His favorites include the fried pumpkin with salty egg yolk and dough fritters stuffed with shrimp paste. [DR]

THE BLOGS: Bad Sentences isn't as impressed by Garrison....Been There Eaten That also stumbles upon Centrolina...and Bitches Who Brunch escape to Italy there....Capital Cooking reminisces about summer at Del Frisco's Grille