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Tim Carman Prefers Pho At Caphe Banh Mi

What the critics are saying this week

R. Lopez
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

DC Modern Luxury’s Nevin Martell heads to Michael Schlow’s Casolare, where he encounters “sublime” thin-crust pizzas at the Glover Park Italian eatery:

“Pull a slice from the bubble-spotted, glistening gold rounds, and you’ll be rewarded with a crackle when you fold it; though the crispy triangles still possess a little chew. Tomato sauce is practically painted on the Marinara, which is finished with translucent, razor-thin slices of garlic, while the Bianca gets an assist from rosemary and red pepper.”

As for the housemade pastas, he calls out orecchiette as “cold-weather fare,” with “wavy drapes of maltagliati hide shredded crab and plenty of scallions to create a dish that tastes simultaneously light and luxurious.”

As for mains, the chicken alla diavola “is a winner” and one of the best spicy dishes he’s had as of late, while the giant chicken Parm “lives up to its name” and is more than enough for one person. On the surf side, there’s a “hearty” swordfish steak and “perfectly prepared” slow-cooked salmon. For the finale, desserts are “a charming proposition” and his pick is the semifreddo.

As for the ambiance, the Streetsense-designed space is “sleek and comfortable” with “classic” Italian details throughout. He also notes Casolare’s lunch selection includes “a stellar selection” of sandwiches and his favorite is the crispy eggplant with caper aioli, pickled cauliflower, and golden raisin tapenade. [DC Modern Luxury]

Ethnic Dining Guide’s Tyler Cowen heads to Kiroran in Fairfax, where he finds “very good” Uighur/Uyghur food. He notes the selection is similar to that at Queen Ammanisa, but he finds Kiroran “more consistent” and “friendlier.” He suggests going with the Qurqur soup dumplings and making sure the Lahmacun noodles are spicy. For all dishes, in fact, he instructs adding the spicy sauce on the table. [Ethnic Dining Guide]

After visiting Crystal City’s Kabob Palace and the nearby Ravi Kabob more than a dozen times each, DC Dining’s Don Rockwell comes to the conclusion that Kabob Palace is better when it comes to the food:

“My goodness, I had a Keema (ground beef and potatoes) there the other night (it’s a Thursday-night special) that was *magnificent*, and it cost something like $10.95 for a huge portion, with chole (get the chole as your vegetable), salad, rice, and bread straight from the tandoor. It sounds like a lot of starch (potatoes, rice, and bread), but somehow, it doesn’t come across that way when you eat it.”

Even at 4 a.m. on a Thursday there are lines, he warns, and he suggests ordering extra green tubs of green sauce to go with the Keema. [DC Dining]

The Washington Post’s Tim Carman heads to Caphe Banh Mi, a “cozy, neighborhood hideaway” in Old Town Alexandria where his recommendations aren’t actually the banh mi sandwiches, but rather the pho, the catfish and pork vermicelli bowls, and a filet mignon salad with mint.

The soup is a rarity in that it speaks for itself and requires “no doctoring with tabletop condiments.” The broth boasts a “tea-like clarity with a flavor profile to match: light, refined, balanced,” he says.

He applauds the artsy look of the space, which includes a “tasteful” wall map of Vietnam, and tabletops that resemble “autumn leaves trapped in amber.” In short, Caphe gives the “average strip-center pho parlor an inferiority complex.” Expect to wait in order to snag a seat in the “tiny” dining room, he notes.

The classic banh mi is “a pig-intensive bite with sliced ham, country pâte, headcheese and cha lua sausage” that hits “many of the right notes” but he didn’t get enough pickled vegetables. The “sloppy Viet” banh mi is “basically sloppy joe meat” that is engineered for a kid’s palate, he says. [The Washington Post]

FROM THE BLOGS: DMV Dining pulls together a list of top 2016 dishes, while Bitches Who Brunch try on SEI for size.


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