Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema reviews the Navy Yard newcomer, noting that first-time restaurateurs Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod are very hands on (he’s never been there without seeing one of them in on the action). Despite being a fast casual eatery, “a lot of effort goes into this food,” he writes, giving out 2.5 stars. Almost all ingredients that make their way into bowls and beyond are made from scratch, with some family intel in the mix (its tamarind-coconut powder condiment is a recipe from Vinod’s grandmother). Sietsema’s impressed by the “dynamite” slow-cooked meat marinated with curry leaves, tellicherry peppercorns and green chilies; a “rousing” pumpkin soup; and a push-up pop version of India’s chewy kulfi ice cream. Beverages that “shine” include the thick and creamy mango lassi, and a gin and tonic with local Green Hat gin. The interior, from D.C. design firm Hapstakdemetriou+ “deftly fuses whimsy with comfort” thanks to details like basket swings hanging in the front and colorful ceiling decor.
Sietsema also gives downtown’s newly renovated Italian restaurant a try under its new chef’s watch, and the verdict is good. “A couple of meals at the tweaked Bibiana suggest that Miami’s loss is Washington’s win,” says Sietsema of chef Loris Navone, who most recently cooked at Casa Tua in Miami. His meatballs are moist, thanks to the incorporation of ricotta cheese into the mix of half ground veal, half beef and pork, while mascarpone-infused polenta further elevates the dish. The “most indulgent” pick at Bibiana is the agnolotti del plin pasta (foie gras, duck and pomegranate seeds with a dusting of shaved foie gras on top). Another favorite features rabbit rolled up with an herbed frittata and served as a “thick, glossy” round atop sunchoke puree.
Northern Virginia Magazine restaurant critic and dining editor Stefanie Gans visits Arlington’s months-old German beer hall, situated right in the “thick” of Columbia Pike’s restaurant scene. Its beer-friendly food includes “heavy, carby apps” like “slicked, doughy” pretzels designed for dunking into beer cheese sauce. Deliberate German food includes bratwurst with crispy, salty fries and curry-spiked ketchup. A veal schnitzel was too thick, she writes, but with roasted Brussels sprouts and creamy, smooth mushroom gravy, “it’s a plate hardy enough for a backdrop of crisp German pints.”
Ethnic Dining Guide author Tyler Cowen highly recommends trying the “excellent Pakistani place” in Sterling, Virginia, where he likes the potato dish, samosas, and nihari beef stew the most. And “chicken tikka is usually a boring dish but here it shines.” It’s also an overall fun scene, he adds.