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The Critics Loved Bindaas and RPM Italian This Week

And Capitol Hill Crab Cakes makes an impression

RPM Italian

Washingtonian’s Ann Limpert visits RPM Italian, the months-old, scene-y stop co-owned by reality TV stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic. It turns out the Italian flavors are the real deal; Limpert thinks most of the plates parading out of the kitchen are "consistent, generously portioned, and often very satisfying."

Some highlights right out of the gate include the Caesar salad and ciabatta with house-made ricotta and a baguette. But skip the "clumsily sauced" chicken piccata with peas, which "tasted like something you might find in an airplane’s first-class cabin."

Limpert could "graze all night" on the house-made pastas, and her favorite is the bucatini pomodoro (and the cheap-est entrée, at $14) with a "terrific" pomodoro. A close second: squid-ink-tinted spaghetti, king crab, and Fresno chilies "held together by a lusciously buttery lobster-stock reduction." But the bolognese wasn’t as "hearty" as it could have been.

Out of the larger plates designed for sharing, the big, sweet prawns, are at the top of her list. Some of the starters weren’t, like the $20 lobster caprese salad—"undone by salty tail meat and slightly sour buffalo mozzarella" and the fried zucchini coins were "bland." If there’s room for dessert, her two picks are the Kit Kat–inspired chocolate torta and a miniature cake set ablaze at the table. [Washingtonian]

"Overall, I quite like the place," says DC Dining’s Tyler Cowen, referring to Fall Church’s Taco Ssam. The mostly Mexican join features a "cool vibe" and sports only six seats at the counter, he notes. The Korean fusion dishes’ flavors "don’t gel and they just taste like weird tacos." His advice: "Stick to Mexican, and get there early, and you will have a rewarding and repeat-worthy experience." [DC Dining]

The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema visits Cleveland Park’s Bindaas, where Indian street snacks by James Beard Award winner and Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam "have a way of filling a room."

His friends of Indian heritage are "charmed" by the golgappa, sheer puffed biscuits with holes in the top.

"Uttapam gets lips moving, too. Imagine a thick, slightly tangy pancake made with fermented rice and split peas. Bindaas serves the disk with a choice of covers, the finest of which is springy spiced shrimp. A dollop of green coconut-cilantro chutney makes a cool addition."

And Sunderam’s kathi rolls, based on flaky roti, are a "little bundle of joy." Another slam dunk snack is shishito pepper pakora. For vegetarians, there’s roasted sweet potatoes with yogurt and date chutney, and a house salad that "shows off the tropics" with ripe jackfruit, mango, and papaya and the "latest in crunch," fried chickpeas.

Two dishes are bummers: bhel puri crisp salad (because there are "more interesting" versions elsewhere) and the lamb shashlik, which had "dense and dry" meat. [WaPo]

Meanwhile, Washington Post’s Tim Carman stops by newcomer Capitol Hill Crab Cakes, which already "feels like a fully formed concept from the outset" that signals a small sign of progress in Anacostia.

Crab makes an appearance in a variety of dishes: along with five- to six-ounce cakes, the menu features a crab grilled cheese, a spicy crab-and-shrimp roll, even a Caprese crab cake sandwich. "The chef’s wittiest statement, though," is a plate called the Anacostia surf and turf, which pairs a jumbo-lump crab cake with a fried chicken breast.

As for the crab cake quality itself, it’s "clean and fresh with a dash of biting mustard and a hint of grassy parsley. " And he was "hypnotized" by the coated fries, smothered with a spicy house remoulade and ­sprinkled with ivory crab meat.

And chicken is also a big part of the menu; the wings are a "salty, crispy and bony segment a validation of the kitchen’s fry skills," but his favorite chicken pick was "a rugged length of boneless thigh meat tucked into a potato bun and drizzled with an innocuous-looking sauce that proved so hot it could have branded cattle." [WaPo]

Just days after its opening inside Trump International Hotel, WaPo’s Tom Sietsema visits BLT Prime by David Burke. After climbing to the mezzanine in the old post office, be notes the 120-seat expansive dining room is flooded with natural light. Accented by faux trees and real plants, the atmosphere tricks the mind to thinking they’re dining al fresco, "albeit free of breezes and mosquitoes." While the menu is textbook steakhouse, there are notable exceptions:

"An otherwise-routine Caesar salad is sprinkled with dice-size crab cakes masquerading as croutons. Oysters on the half shell appear to have stopped by a gourmet pantry en route to my table. Sharing the craggy cups are bits of Virginia ham, custardy sea urchin and pineapple mignonette: a riot of pork, sea and fruit that basically negates the need for the oysters to even show up. People who typically don’t go for bivalves, though, might ask for seconds of these dressier ones."

Warm popovers (borrowed from BLT Steak) kick off dinner on a "generous note." For non-steak options, there’s the "real deal" $61 dover sole and a fried pork shank with an Asian barbecue sauce alongside noodles "The combination of crackling skin, succulent flesh and slippery noodles is one I plan to revisit." Then there’s a "full-flavored bar of duck" and petals of brussels sprouts creating "a fluffy frame" for the entree while butternut squash puree "adds an autumnal note." As for the finale, he thinks the desserts range from the gamut from tasting like "bubble gum" to too sweet.

It will be up to Burke and the company, he says, to "rally enthusiasm" for BLT Prime amidst a sea of D.C. steakhouses. [WaPo]

FROM THE BLOGS: Been There, Eaten That gives Policy some love.

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