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Sietsema’s Instantly Attracted to Mirabelle

What the critics are saying this week

Mirabelle
Rey Lopez

The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema visits Tiger Fork and decides the new Blagden Alley implant is worthy of 2.5 stars (“good/excellent”).

““Hong Kong-style restaurants don’t pop up every day, nor do young chefs as enterprising as Irvin Van Oordt. And I know of no better steamed rice noodles in the city right now than the cheung fun, rolled into loose coils and set on a chile-lit dressing of black beans and sesame seeds...Van Oordt is a self-admitted chile head who graces every dish but dessert with some fire, albeit it in such a way that while you notice the heat, it never pummels the tongue.”

The restaurant, from the team behind Fainting Goat, boasts a decor that “evokes the markets and stalls of Hong Kong,” with an octagonal window out front and interior bench seating made comfortable with bolsters.

Cocktails have medicinal qualities, and Sietsema can attest the Eight O’Clock Light Show does combat fatigue. And the ancient Chinese liquor baijiu that’s pushed at Tiger Fork will “grow on you,” he says.

One of the musts on the 20-item menu is the crispy sour potatoes, a bowl of pickled raw julienne potato and golden fried potato that together taste like “a noble version of vinegar potato chips.”

One of Tiger Fork’s showier dishes is dorade, a “succulent” fish with an intact facade. The seared Kowloon bun contains “flavorful meat,” while the beef chow foon noodle attraction features meat from dairy cows in Virginia. (“Like baijiu, dairy beef is something chowhounds need to check off their list.”)

He wouldn’t say no to any dish at Tiger Fork, though some shine more than others (the bits of pork and vegetables under the cold dan dan noodles are “too few and too sweet,” he decides).

For dessert, the egg tart and a bubble waffle with green curry ice cream, candy sprinkles and a thick chocolate sauce for spreading on the waffle is “one of those dishes you want a bite of — out of curiosity — and end up finishing, it’s that much fun.” [WaPo]

Sietsema also gives Mirabelle a First Bite, and he’s happy that two of Washington’s “most respected talents” (former Grill Room chef Frank Ruta and pastry maven Aggie Chin) are back together again.

The dining room is “like no other” in D.C., with its walnut-framed tufted leather walls, opulent lighting and semicircular booths “just waiting for food lovers to sink into the cushions.” (Its corner location two blocks from the White House is also a big plus.

As for the food:

“The greens in a spring salad taste as though each leaf and tiny vegetable had been plucked from some garden in California, then misted with a sherry vinaigrette made luscious with hazelnut oil and local honey. Glazed boudin blanc — basically a cloud whipped up from chicken, foie gras and cream — is the best around, served with braised red cabbage and white raisins, tangy as pickles. (The mystery flavor in the sausage is juniper.) Bites of pike tempura become part of an emerald soup when an intense watercress puree, thickened with tapioca, is added to the bowl.”

He gives shout-outs to his rosé made by King Family Vineyards in Monticello country and the wine and service director Jennifer Knowles, formerly of the nearby Plume and the Inn at Little Washington.

Among the many “enticements” on the rolling pastry cart including tarte Tatin, butterscotch cremeux and a jar of caramels and nougat, and a twist on mille-feuille.

There are some blips, he notes. If you want bread, you have to ask for it, and “while beautiful,” the watercress soup could have used less salt. [WaPo]

FROM THE BLOGS: Been There, Eaten That gives Kobo a try, while Bitches Who Brunch go to Birch & Barley and Rick Eats DC heads to Tiger Fork.

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