Tim Carman reviews Ventnor Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan for his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post. There he finds friendly bartenders and an appealing neighborhood vibe created by owner Scott Auslander. He also likes the food despite the kitchen’s obsession with Buffalo sauce. Carman writes:
"Ventnor tends to rely on pub classics... such as the breakfast burger with a poached egg perched atop the half-pound patty, awaiting to enrobe the beef in its silken yolk. The grilled cheese sandwich features tomatoes and a generous layer of sharp cheddar... The Buffalo chicken dip is served in a cast-iron skillet, with blue cheese crumbles sprinkled on top and square slices of warmed rustic bread stacked next to it like a Soviet-era apartment building…" [WaPo]
Tom Sietsema dines on the prix-fixe menu at Iron Gate for his First Bite column in the Washington Post. The Dupont Circle restaurant began offering the Family Table menu in November. It's served Sunday and Monday nights and costs $45. Although the menu always changes, Sietsema describes the courses served on one night last month:
"... a feast kicks off with pickled vegetables and house-baked fennel crackers that make great shovels for a buttery cake of burrata garnished with black olives and blood oranges. A second wave of dishes — pork souvlaki and mushroom ravioli... — appears after the snacks have been dispatched. The skewered meat needs lemon to enliven it; the ropy pasta, stuffed with mushrooms that hint of a forest, moistened with brown butter and finished with sage and curls of pecorino, suggests an Italian mama is in charge. Pace yourself, because there’s focaccia, too, delivered warm from the oven." [WaPo]
Becky Krystal tries the cream puffs at the newly-opened Beard Papa's location in Georgetown. She finds the larger puffs stay "flawlessly crisp" when filled to order, but the mini puffs suffer a bit from sogginess. Concerning the flavored filling options, she writes:
"When thinking about what to order, consider balance. Dark, almost bitter, caramel inside and drizzled atop our dulce de leche puff ($3.75) kept the sweet vanilla custard in check. Ditto the half-coat of chocolate on our Paris Brest ($3.35), which we filled with chocolate custard." [WaPo]
Carol Sugarman files a review of the new PassionFish location for Bethesda magazine. She likes the service and finds visual appear in both the "aquatic-themed decor" and the colorful plating of the dishes. As for the food, she writes:
"...it doesn’t keep pace with the rest of the show. Some of it is seaworthy, but too many times, careless cooking rocks this boat. On the evenings I had them, both the Kung Pao Calamari and the Char-Grilled Baby Octopus tasted like rubber replicas. And the octopus was over-accessorized with halloumi cheese, quinoa tabbouleh, tzatziki and harissa, a seriously cockamamy combination with the seafood."
The critic finds many of the seafood dishes are overcooked, while the vegetables are undercooked. She advises diners to stick to menu items that don’t require much cooking— like sushi or thin cuts of fish. But desserts like the key lime tart and warm doughnuts are actually surprisingly good. [Bethesda]
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