Old Maryland Grill
The No. 10 restaurant in Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema’s spring dining guide for 2018 is “the most original” eating option in College Park, Maryland: homegrown Old Maryland Grill. He hails the hotel restaurant’s Old Bay-spiked crab cakes, as well as the fish and potato “coddies” served on a house-baked cracker. The small details add up, Sietsema notes. He’s impressed by a cocktail list of drinks that got their start in the state, old photos of tomato farmers and canners from around Maryland hanging over the open kitchen, and saltwater taffy that’s delivered with the check.
Washington Post food reporter Tim Carman gives the new-ish downtown sushi spot a go, and is super confused as to why it’s so dead. Because he decides it’s his new favorite spot for raw fish. Chef and owner Yoshihisa Ota convinces him to ditch his vegetarian order and go with flounder flown in fresh that morning from Korea — a better pairing with his dry and “gently stinging” sake from Ota’s native Hokkaido. Carman describes the half-dozen slices of “flounder skin” that glide across his tongue, and the euphoria that follows courtesy of yellowtail fermented with koji rice, and hunks of lean bluefin tuna and oily horse mackerel. “When the meal concluded, I felt almost melancholy, the kind of small-scale sadness that accompanies the end of all pleasurable experiences,” he writes. The multi-course meal cost $70, (which is pretty affordable these days, he notes). If that’s too much of a splurge, he suggests going with the Edo/Tokyo-style assortment of nigiri sushi. While desserts like Ota’s black sesame ice cream are “satisfying enough” they don’t come close to the high sushi standards Carman says he experienced.
Bethesda Magazine freelance food writer Aviva Goldfarb heads to the second location of the popular Silver Spring restaurant, where she feasts on “irresistible” injera soaked in traditional sauces. “I’d recommend eating slowly and keeping the pinches of injera small,” she writes. Kick off the meal with a warm, flaky sambusa with a spicy beef filling. Favorites in the extensive vegan combination platter were the stewed string beans with carrots and the twice-cooked lentils, called azifa. Omnivores should get the doro wat: bone-in chicken with a rich, red berbere sauce “that reminded me of a Mexican mole,” or flavorful (but a little too chewy) lamb or beef tibs. Warm, buttery, honey-sweet baklava is a closer in her book. In short, “flavors are deep and exciting, the food is fresh, and the atmosphere and service are pleasant, so give Lucy a go,” she writes.
Northern Virginia Magazine dining editor and restaurant critic Stefanie Gans visits Brambleton’s “modern American restaurant rooted in seasonality” and she immediately notes how hands-on chef/owner Jason Maddens is at the wine-centric restaurant. A starring appetizer features cured egg yolk parked atop brioche with a rosy-hued wagyu beef carpaccio. There’s also a “homey reinterpretation” of cassoulet bolstered by sous vide pork shank. Delicate, lighter entrees integrate a rotating lineup of fish. And she says there’s also a “lovely and simple” chicken dish accompanied by dirty rice.