For his First Bite column in the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema tries Drift on 7th. The casual seafood restaurant is the reincarnation of Fishnet by chef and owner Ferhat Yalcin. The critic finds a few missteps in the kitchen, but overall he’s pleased with both the food and new decor. He writes:
"The replacement, lighter in color and refigured to include a bar, entices diners with an interesting collection of dishes and an emphasis on sustainable fish. Filling the soft corn tortillas, for instance, is Spanish mackerel, smoky from the grill. And a favorite daily catch is blue catfish, six ounces of moist deliciousness flanked with a side of your choice. Creamy plantains and tangy coleslaw invariably compete for my attention." [WaPo]
Sietsema also reveals more restaurants for his spring dining guide this week in the Washington Post. The latest is Bad Saint with three stars, coming in at number four. He says lining-up for chef Tom Cunanan's Filipino food is worth it. Sietsema writes:
"But what a ride once you’re in! Shrimp fritters spiky with shredded vegetables are by turns sweet, funky and loud. Chicken marinated in cane vinegar, bay leaf and garlic and finished with fresh grilled coconut might be described by a server as "life-changing." All I know is, I scraped the bowl clean and couldn’t wait to do so again. In a word, the food here is bold. And bodacious." [WaPo]
Also revealed in the guide this week is Masseria (number five with three stars), where Nick Stefanelli's Italian dishes taste as good as they look. Espita Mezcaleria comes in at number six for the Mexican food and mezcal selection, and Tail Up Goat is ranked number seven and awarded two and half stars for their homemade breads and pushing culinary boundaries. The critic includes The Dabney ( at number eight with three stars) thanks to Jeremiah Langhorne's old time cooking techniques, and Nazca Mochica comes it at number nine with two stars for their Peruvian cuisine and pisco sours. [WaPo]
Tim Carman tries The Sovereign in Georgetown for the Washington Post. Apparently the new beer bar from Neighborhood Restaurant Group isn’t for run-of-the-mill beer nerds looking for the latest IPA. Instead, the list by Greg Engert has over 400 brands representing the best and latest in Belgian brewing. While the beer selection is impressive, the food is a little inconsistent. Carman writes:
"I stumbled upon a recurring pattern: dishes that don’t measure up to menu billing. The choucroute garnie conceals its sausage and juniper-scented sauerkraut in a rolled pork belly, which then rests on a sizable pool of Belgian stoemp potatoes, a cheffy preparation that undermines all my expectations. The mushroom vol-au-vent promises a ragout of cultivated fungus in puff pastry but delivers a creamy mix of vegetables, including some mushrooms, cut with a brown beer onion jam. The flaky pastry fades deep into the background like a ghost."
The critic recommends sticking to starters like flammekueches, cheese croquettes, and onion soup. The Liege-style waffles for dessert are also solid. [WaPo]
Carman also heads to Shanghai Gardens in Rockville for his $20 Diner column. He's primarily in search of soup dumplings (owner Wei Sun makes three different kinds), as well as the special pan-fried variety available only on weekends. Carman writes:
"The pan-fried preparation.. is more a genetic mutant of the XLB dumpling than a subspecies. Its skin is thicker, yeastier and chewier than its steamed cousin, and it comes sprinkled with sesame seeds for a mild nuttiness. It’s a soup dumpling crossed with a fluffy Chinese pork bun, and when drizzled with a ginger-black vinegar condiment, the pan-fried pocket establishes an identity all its own, crusty and less soupy than the steamed versions."
Looking for something other than dumplings? Carman recommends ignoring the Sichuan section of the menu and ordering from the Shanghai specialties instead. [WaPo]
Nevin Martell files a review of Requin in Mosaic District for DC Modern Luxury. He concludes chef Jennifer Carroll has come a long way since her Top Chef appearance in 2009. He writes:
"As a prodigy of Eric Ripert…her plates used to reflected her mentor’s mentality, featuring clean, crisp flavors presented in sharp relief. In the intervening time, she has loosened up, but hasn’t lost her deft touch. There are bigger and bolder flavors at play. For example, charred fans of sweet-then-bitter radicchio accompany côte de boeuf; grilled swordfish gets a pick-me-up from fiery harissa; and wands of smoked celery root are dressed up with pastrami spices as a starter. Her plating is now more rusticated, but still eye-catching. "
The Bouillabaisse, roasted chicken, and beet cavatelli are good dinner choices, but Martell also urges diners to save room for cocktails and desserts. [DCML]
Don Rockwell writes about Smokin’ Jarhead, a barbecue delivery and catering company working in the D.C. area. He calls owner Ron Johnson’s ribs the best in the area and urges eaters to place an order. He says:
"A couple months ago, I bought three Full Racks of Ribs ($24) from Ron, and he delivered them to my front door... Between me and my son, one of them didn’t survive the evening; the second didn’t last the week, and the third is still in my freezer... – the ribs freeze, reheat, and are 90% as good even after being frozen and reheated – all the more reason to stock up." [DR]