This week Ann Limpert sings praises for D.C.'s Kinship, the "plushy, subdued hideaway" Eric Ziebold debuted with his wife six month ago. Nostalgic dishes take center stage, like the lobster French toast he invented during late nights at Napa Valley's French Laundry. Despite the $30 price tag for the app, "don't even think about skipping it," she instructs.
What makes the "unapologetically elegant" restaurant work is Ziebold's ability to connect with the diner:
Ziebold is as fanatical about technical perfection as his famous mentor, Thomas Keller—but he never forgets that the main aim of a dish is to satisfy the diner facing it. Many creations sound high-minded but eat like straight-up comfort food.
Limpert takes note of the "beautifully bronzed" roast chicken, which has a "surprise mix of brioche, garlic, and lemon zest slipped under the skin." She did call out a handful of "underwhelming" dishes, including the overpriced falafel appetizer, an overcooked Pekin duck breast and tough-skinned cookie-dough soufflé. [Washingtonian]
This month Limpert also reviews The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, which feeds a cross section of D.C. (bus drivers to elderly couples to chefs on a night off) and its welcome presence gives the industrial Ivy City "the feel of a beating heart."
She compliments Chef Alberto Baizano Bollera's talent for preparing top-quality fish and seafood "in the smartest way: by not doing a whole lot to it." Among the highlights: big portions of gulf shrimp and steamed middleneck clams "free of grit."
Tiny touches add up fast, like the fact the kitchen makes its own cocktail and tartar sauces and delivers noteworthy sides like "creamy-sweet coleslaw and just-crisp-enough fries." Don't glaze over the smokehouse side of the menu, which includes sugar-cured and smoked salmon dubbed "Indian candy." [Washingtonian]
It took Tom Sietsema time to review Slim's Diner in Petworth because "AC failures, hour-long waits and AWOL staff" meant four failed attempts to snag a seat. Once the critic finally sat down, he didn't get the "breezy and efficient" diner atmosphere he was hoping for. "Some servers give you the impression they would rather be anywhere else," he says.
Stick with the "fluffy and satisfying" eggs, he recommends, but stray from the cheeseburger (aka "two gray patties in a soft, glossy bun"). Don't skip dessert, as the pies' buttery crusts are "every bit as delectable as their fillings." The results of Slim's pre-opening survey are positive and get requests like vegan tofu scramble and spiked milkshakes on the menu. But based on his overall dining experience, Sietsema's own request of "reliability" had yet to be met. [WaPo]
Sietsema's recent four-star review of Pineapple and Pearls was timed around another one from Limpert, who also raves about Aaron Silverman's $250-per-person answer to Rose's Luxury. She leads by describing a "fantasy version of fast food" on the menu that includes ice cream, caviar, crisped potato sticks, and chive blossoms. "Few manage to pull off the melding of high and low as seamlessly as Silverman," she observes. His twist on guacamole--"a verdant, springy mix" of leeks, chickpeas, fava beans, and jalapeño piped inside a puffed masa chip--is nothing short of "electric."
But Silverman's menu is more than an exercise in luxifying the familiar. He pushes boundaries, too: One course is a hollowed-out ice cube filled with green-hued soba noodles laced with matcha tea. On top are a custardy lobe of sea urchin and a hit of wasabi. It's a bite that's aggressively vegetal and briny at once—not easy to pull off, but Silverman does it.
Limpert is all about the French accents, noting the "stunningly good" fluke Véronique. The overall ambiance in the "glimmering, gorgeously designed" dining room also stands out, and Silverman's servers, cooks, and bartenders "are delightfully warm and chatty." [Washingtonian]
Sietsema goes to Glover Park to try Casolare inside the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel, chef Michael Schlow's fifth Washington restaurant.
Italian staples don't disappoint, and he calls the white pizza with caramelized onions, pancetta and parsley "a touch sweet, nicely meaty, each bite punctuated with herb" while tagliatelle "benefits from a summery pesto that's bright with basil, enriched with Parmesan and pine nuts and backed by a whisper of garlic." While his branzino was "scrawny," the swordfish was stellar:
The prize catch among the sea creatures may be the grilled swordfish, as much for its balanced sweet and sour eggplant as for the main event, firm but moist.
Return guests will notice a recycling of sides from dish to dish ("here's hoping you like smashed fingerling potatoes, a mate to several entrees," he says). [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: Bitches Who Brunch go to Kingbird inside the revamped Watergate Hotel.