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Tom Sietsema Calls Hazel the Right Restaurant at the Right Time

Plus, reviews of Bantam King, Kapnos Kouzina and Boundary Road

R. Lopez

For his full review in the Washington Post, Tom Sietsema tries the just-opened Hazel by Neighborhood Restaurant Group. He awards two and a half stars to the Shaw restaurant helmed by chef Rob Rubba. The critic approves of the restaurant’s "medium-sized servings" in lieu of small plates or full entrees. He writes:

"The chef’s seafood-scallion pancake could almost pass for the ubiquitous Korean appetizer, except this one is thinner, more refined and includes circles of garlic mayonnaise and shaved addition to shrimp and rings of calamari. Fried cubes of tofu, draped with a peppery lamb sauce and crunchy with fried chickpeas? Another dish you can’t let go of until there’s nothing left but a grin on your face. (Frying is an art here, judging by the high-rise soft shell crabs, blinged out with trout roe and some of the best I’ve caught this season.)"

Other favorites are a reworked steak tartare and dark chocolate jasmine custard by pastry chef Naomi Gallego. Less successful dishes include the citrus-glazed ribs and the Japanese-inspired cotton cheesecake. [WaPo]

He also tries Bantam King from the Daikaya team for the First Bite column in the Washington Post. The specialty there is chicken ramen. Sietsema writes:

"Knowing that ramen is meant to be eaten piping hot, I lift some wiry noodles with my chopsticks and support them from below using my white plastic spoon as soon as my bowl of shoyu paitan is set down. I slurp a few strands, a move that tempers the boil, and then sip the broth, which is lightly creamy and dancing with ginger and garlic. Toppings — sweet onion slices, pickled bamboo shoots, tender roast chicken — are appreciated by themselves, bite by bite." [WaPo]

For his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post, Tim Carman heads to Philadelphia to check out the city's dining scene before the Democratic Convention next week. He scopes out hoagies, roast pork, cheesesteaks, and more. [WaPo]

David Hagedorn reviews Kapnos Kouzina for Bethesda Magazine. He spots several dishes that are also on the menus at Mike Isabella's other Kapnos restaurants— spreads like taramasalata and hummus, as well as saganaki and spanakopita. He continues:

"As to the dishes I’ve tried for the first time, I love Kouzina’s Caesar salad, its whole leaves fully dressed with creamy, tangy feta dressing and topped with feta crumbles, pita croutons, watermelon radish and pickled red onions. Crab a marvelous, summer-fresh salad of lump crabmeat, avocado and tzatziki in pizza form. From the souvlaki section, grilled ground duck patties are moist and tasty, their sublime flavor enhanced by a dip in charred scallion purée."

There are even more highlights from the meal like tuna tartare, fish kebabs, the fried chicken with honey harissa, and the braised lamb shanks. Both the tuna tartare and service could improve. [Bethesda]

Don Rockwell is back in action with a review of Boundary Road. He’s really into their selection of mead from Charm City Meadworks and also the cooking by new chef Luke Feltz. He writes:

"Highlights from my first two meals here were the Beef Tartare ($13), Quark Pierogi ($10), and Veal Sweetbreads ($14), each of the three exactly what I had hoped for;... just four hours before my second visit, I had just finished a multi-course lunch at Betony, and was completely frazzled by leaving my cell phone in a New York taxi ....; on both visits, I merely wanted to relax and unwind..., and that’s exactly what I did, with my mind largely turned off."

He returns a few more times and then describes, in detail, dishes like cured cobia, spicy chicken and ramp sausage, northern neck asparagus, confit trumpet mushrooms, and even the "scoop of ice cream." There's even commentary from the chef himself. [DR]

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