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Tom Sietsema Thinks Pineapple and Pearls Is Worth the Price Tag

Plus, reviews of Dal Grano, Park Lane Tavern, Grandale Vintner's Tavern, and Texas Jack's

Pineapple and Pearls
Pineapple and Pearls
R. Lopez

Just days after the restaurant's opening, critic Tom Sietsema files his First Bite column in the Washington Post about Aaron Silverman’s new restaurant Pineapple and Pearls. He encounters an incredibly hospitable and detail-oriented staff during the 15-course meal. The food isn't bad, either. He writes:

"Exhibit A is a savory yogurt-filled bonbon teetering on an absinthe spoon above a coupe of fennel juice, green apple, celery and absinthe: a bite and a sip as revivifying as they are regal. The fifth course is delivered by one of four chefs, who shows up with a...pot of garlicky, Parmesan-enriched consomme...In a later course, white asparagus gets bundled in a crisp rice crepe with chicken mousse and mushroom duxelles...A meat platter brings meltingly tender smoked beef rib, seasoned with mole and escorted with three divine sauces: garlic crema, stinging-nettle salsa verde and an additional mole."

After finishing off dessert of pecorino cheese in a cake with basil gelato, pine nuts, and strawberries, he decides the steep price tag of $250 is worth it. [WaPo]

Tim Carman tries the fresh pastas at Dal Grano in McLean for his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post. The restaurant makes about a dozen fresh pastas, and many of them are available in different flavors like carrot and beet. The restaurant is so casual that when Carman stumbled on it in the midst of moving house, the staff didn't react at all to his disheveled appearance. He writes:

"I’ve dined at Dal Grano many times since then, and my respect for the kitchen’s self-reliance has only grown. Chef Oscar Reyes, a veteran of Il Pizzico in Rockville and Primi Piatti downtown, leads a team that produces not just 30-plus pastas but also a saffron risotto (golden in color, rich with chicken stock and Parmesan, more chewy than creamy), a thick roll of porchetta (crusty, fatty and fragrant with sage and rosemary) and a line of sandwiches, including a caprese served on ciabatta so crackly and light that I did a double take. Of course this bread is also housemade." [WaPo]

Laura Hayes dines at Park Lane Tavern in Clarendon for the First Taste column in Arlington Magazine.  She starts with soft Bavarian pretzels while reading the menu. She notices many items incorporate big alcohol brands (like Guinness or Malibu coconut rum) into the marinades or other parts of the dishes. She writes:

"Yet another example is the Boddington’s fish & chips, which finds haddock battered with the English ale. But while the batter work is spot on, you’ll need tartar sauce to hide a slight funk to the fish.

A more successful main is the Pat LaFrieda jalapeño burger, named for the meat purveyor that supplies the smoky short-rib patty. The stack packs a fiery triple punch of fried jalapeños, sriracha mayo and ghost pepper cheese. (Prepare to drain your water like a Naked & Afraid contestant.)"

She decides the food is about average and recommends going there for happy hour when the beers and bar food are cheap. [Arlington]

Don Rockwell takes a drive to Grandale Vintner’s Table in Loudon County and finds it has changed since his first visit. He likes the mesclun salad, says the soup could benefit from more seasoning, and finds the pork confit good enough. He writes:

"One lesson I learned from my previous visit here was: stick with produce, but, it being mid April, pickings are slim, and my server’s advice was to stay local – the greens, the pork, the goat cheese, and a few other things. We built together a meal to share around what seemed like the wisest choices. The menu here is very different than it was before – it’s more expensive, has a more "scattershot" feel, and plays into the 'share plates' tactic which is quickly becoming a local trend in many places..." [DR]

Tyler Cowen goes to Texas Jack’s in Arlington and likes it. He writes, "No, it’s not as good as El Paso’s best, but it is good enough to scratch the itch. Genuinely good, surprisingly good I would say. Get the beef ribs. And the brussels sprouts." It's not a perfect barbecue restaurant, but it's definitely a welcome addition to the local scene. [TC]

THE BLOGS: Jasmine Chan Eats also plans to return to Pineapple and Pearls...Cocktail Amateur finds standout drinks at Crisp Kitchen and Bar...Been There Eaten That brings an adventurous spirit to Espita Mezcaleria