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Penn Quarter’s Succotash Is Gorgeous But Lacks Consistency, Says Tom Sietsema

What the critics are saying this week

The Succotash in Penn Quarter’s soaring $6 milllion interior.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Succotash - Penn Quarter

Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema decides the beautiful dining room is the real breakout star at celebrity chef Edward Lee’s Penn Quarter eatery, giving it a 1.5-star review (“satisfactory/good”) based on the “uneven run” he’s experienced at the months-old Southern restaurant. Sietsema says he loves the “dirty” chicken, Lee’s take on Buffalo chicken wings, which comes doused with lime, honey, and the fiery Korean chile paste gochujang. And one satisfying side dish is the super hot bourbon-pickled jalapeños. Among his gripes: drinks weren’t quick to arrive, and food was sometimes delivered on the cold side. He rips through the butterflied duck — “slathered with Dijon and encased in what tastes like greasy cardboard” — and warns that sides like curried succotash could use some more work. Smoked chicken wings are a big reason to stop in, he says. Lee’s Korean influences shine in a steak salad featuring “rosy” slices of richly marinated rib-eye. Another (veggie-friendly) midday option he likes is the Delta rice bowl, featuring barbecued leeks, smoked tofu, roasted carrots, and steamed Mississippi rice. And an ideal dish for someone looking to eat light and well is the “flaky and sweet” flounder.


Masala Story

Washington Post food writer Tim Carman visits Brookland’s Masala Story, originally meant to be a second location of NoMa’s Northern Indian cafe Indigo until a falling out between family members ruined the partnership. Carman tries to get to the bottom of the fight, but “if there’s any truth to reveal, it’s that both sides walked away from the partnership still distraught over the dispute,” he says. After visiting both locations, he decides “Masala Story is not a photocopy of Indigo. It’s more of a Photoshopped version — enhanced, sharpened and sometimes even better.” He tastes similarities in the stews, thaali platters, and whole-wheat flatbreads. But North Indian dishes at Masala Story are not total replicas; the butter chicken is creamier (which Carman prefers) and there’s also a daily offering of biryani dishes, including a chicken version that packs lots of heat. There’s more appetizers at Masala Story, like amritsari fish (a Punjabi street food typically prepared with a freshwater species). The baingan bhartha is “silky and sweet” and the shahi paneer’s sweet tomato curry pleasantly reminds him of roasted pumpkin. The main thing separating Masala Story from Indigo is the “space and its hospitality” (as well as a full-service bar with draft beer). Co-owner Manish Berry is also very hands on, checking on diners and making suggestions, Carman observes.


Dorjee Momo

Washington Post writer Maura Judkis checks out the new “tiny, welcoming” Tibetan restaurant on the top floor of the Bullfrog Bagels near Eastern Market, where chef Dorjee Tsering’s “star attraction” is the hot pot — available by reservation only and for three time slots each night, she notes. The interactive meal, “complex and layered with flavor,” boasts a bearable spiciness and features components such as a fermented black bean base, chilies, sesame oil, goji berries, green and black cardamom, cloves, ginger, garlic and dates. The restaurant’s namesake dumplings (a momo is a Tibetan dumpling) are “plump and juicy” and bathed in spicy oil and sesame seeds. She’s also into the buns with crispy pork belly. Tsering’s restaurant seats only 27, and Judkis notes that limited real estate on tables becomes tricky (upgrading to roomier digs is on the owners’ list of goals, she adds). There’s a small selection of cocktails, such as Aquavit infused with Tibetan peppercorns, and the team plans to start serving boozy boba drinks and Himachali Dham, a dish of several curries and dals served on a leaf used as a platter.


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Masala Story

3301 12th Street Northeast, , DC 20017 (202) 885-9810 Visit Website

SUCCOTASH

915 F Street Northwest, , DC 20004 (202) 849-6933 Visit Website

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