This week, Northern Virginia Magazine visits Requin, the new Mediterranean-coastal French restaurant in Fairfax that's called out for its classic comfort dishes, nod to trends and approachability. "It's a solid restaurant but with plenty of flair. and it plays out in ways both obvious, like a classic rendition of French onion soup, and subtle, like the Chesapeake-inspired blue catfish rillette," says writer Stefanie Gans.
Chef Jennifer Carroll's interpretation of whitefish on a bagel is evidence she studied under Michelin-starred chef Eric Ripert, as she "understands how to turn what is usually a smoked fish plastered with mayonnaise into something that evokes Northeast bagel culture."
"Sublime simplicity" sums up the menu, with highlights like a "true-to-original classic" croque madame, and foot-long red snapper "dabbed in a luxurious" smoky tomato butter. The dinnertime Drink Your Vegetables cocktail is described delicate and doesn't let the alcohol overpower the food. Despite the death of the soufflé (at least according to Eater), Carroll bucks the trend and includes one that's not to miss. [NoVa Magazine]
Tom Sietsema is buzzing about Derek Brown's Columbia Room, applauding the triumphant return of the cocktail lounge in Blagden Alley and re-certifying it as "one of the best places in the city to belly up to a bar." Columbia Room is three drinking destinations in one, with each aiming "to quench a thirst." Admire any place that makes its own mineral water, he adds.
In the leather-adorned Spirits Library, guests can pick from 20 rotating cocktails and discover what Maryland rye from the Civil War era tastes like--for a price. The exterior Punch Garden is "relaxed, a la carte setting for quaffs" and features an "exhilarative" pisco punch sharpened with lemon grass. The exclusive tasting den, an evident upgrade with cucumber-infused water and chilled towels upon entry, is "the bar equivalent of dinner theater" with themed three- or five-course cocktails and snacks.
Overall, drinks "almost always merit leisurely contemplation," and props go to the hospitality and staff, which is "well versed in the classics." He wasn't as wowed by the food (it's "designed more for the eye than the palate"), but he's happy to learn that Chef Johnny Spero, a Minibar veteran, is coming on as culinary guru. [WaPo]
Meanwhile, WaPo's Tim Carman solves his lunchtime culinary conundrum by uncovering two great finds. At Momofuku CCDC, the gem is the braised fried chicken, which pays homage to David Chang's childhood dish he would order at the now-closed Wu's Garden in Vienna. What makes the $17 order an "excellent reenactment": the fried, boned-out thighs "luxuriate in their braising liquid," with a broth that "has more depth than a mystic, simultaneously absorbing flavors from, and providing flavors to, those fried thighs."
Another midday standout is Curb Canteen, a D.C. food truck "with an eloquent voice" that is deserving of a standing wait. The line-worthy winners are the fresh, handmade sausages, "born of the streets, but they're both headed for the bigs." He crowns the Hellasausage "easily one of the best bites" on the streets of D.C. [WaPo]
Arlington Magazine thinks outside the pizza box and comes up with a list of standout takeout options around town. For Sunday dinner, Italian style, check out The Italian Store for a cheese-and-salumi antipasto spread to frozen pastas. Or try Afghan Kabob House for its destination jumbo wings, marinated for 24 hours in salt, pepper, red chili, fancy paprika, and kiwi. [AM]
Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide gives credit this week to Annandale's Al Hamra and claims the Pakistani joint has the "best chicken Haleem around, by far," and its Biryani rice could also be the best. Don't discount the hummus, made from actual fresh beans soaked overnight. [Tyler Cowen]
BLOGS: Bitches Who Brunch taste test the "inventive" menu at Hazel in Shaw.