Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema visits restaurateur Mike Isabella’s Requin at the Wharf, where chef Michael Rafidi whips up a “seductive first impression,” delivering a fresh take on French standards. Definitely go with the pear salad — a “captivating spinoff” of the one at the brasserie of the same name in the Mosaic District in Fairfax. The glass-enclosed restaurant features eye candy everywhere, he notes, from 16-foot-long glass chandeliers to prime open kitchen views right in on the action. Sietsema decides Rafidi’s “most imaginative” hors d’oeuvre is his escargot “croissants” with green Chartreuse butter. A top go-to shareable main course is the succulent roast chicken, which pays homage to the bird at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. His interpretation is far richer, featuring buttermilk-brined chicken, croutons flavored with chicken fat, and whipped potatoes. Drinks are highly memorable; Sietsema goes with the mezcal-forward Allo Allo and a martini escorted by house-pickled onions and extra gin in an icy carafe. Don’t skip dessert; one “joy-inducing” options is a sundae built with three flavors of ice cream set off with a crisp palmier and candied hazelnuts.
Eight Cheap Dishes
Washington Post Express lifestyle editor Holley Simmons calls out eight must-try dishes in D.C. that cost $10 or less and promise to leave “you and your wallet will both leave feeling full.” The frugal list includes pan-fried soup dumplings at Shanghai Taste in Rockville, gordita carnitas at El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria, and The Carolina on my Mind towering sandwich at Federalist Pig.
Meleket Ethiopian Restaurant
Washington Post $20 Diner columnist Tim Carman visits Meleket Ethiopian Restaurant in Silver Spring, which celebrates Italian influences on the northeastern African country of Eritrea (think: pastas). Tomatoes are also a key ingredient and they soften the red lentil mesir wot dish, he notes. Chef Abe Bayu’s menu borrows from his mom’s recipes but also includes American favorites like martinis, mini quesadillas, and a “spot-on” Buffalo sauce for his chicken wings. “Bayu has a good palate and, just as important, he uses it to taste his food before it moves into the dining room,” Carman says. The beef in his bozena shiro is chewy but “expertly seasoned” and the house-made sambusa stuffed with lentils and onions is somehow “spiced to imitate a more meaty filling.”