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Tom Sietsema Falls Hard for Roast Chicken at a Brookland Bistro

What the critics are saying this week



Tom Sietsema has been to Paris. He wants you to know he’s been to Paris, and he wants to eat as if he were still in Paris. In his two-star review (good) of Brookland wine bar and bistro Primrose, the Washington Post critic appreciates the look and feel of the restaurant that comes from fellow Francophiles. “If you’ve ever strolled the streets of Paris, Primrose is likely to spark deja vu,” he writes. Sietsema appreciates the classic steak tartare and a beefless French onion soup — except for one night when it tastes inexplicably sweet. He dings the restaurant for cod served “borderline” cool. The roasted chicken, however, stops Sietsema in his tracks:

“The seduction starts with a slow-growing heritage chicken from Virginia that absorbs a bit of sweetness and sass from a brine that mingles brown sugar, Fresno chiles and jalapeño. As the chicken roasts, cooks baste it with hot oil and date juice, giving its skin a caramel hue and welcome tackiness. Carved before it leaves the kitchen, the centerpiece, including velvety slices of breast meat and a garnish of toasted cashew gremolata, is trailed by sublime french fries, a green salad that adds a nice snap to the rich feast and, if you’re smart, a wine paired by the resident grape nut, co-owner Sebastian Zutant.”

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The Post also published a report from Sietsema this week in which the critic visits Addie’s, the former Rockville favorite that closed in 2013 and re-opened in Potomac, Maryland. The restaurant has taken a less fussy strategy than when it did upon opening in September. Sietsema is digging it, especially when it comes to a “crisp-skinned” loaded baked potato that makes him “wonder why more places don’t offer the simple comfort.” Sides, like cauliflower with harissa vinaigrette, steal the show, and the biscuits are as good as he remembers:

“They’re served as before, slathered with lard and tucked in a bright yellow wax paper bag imprinted with a school bus. (Desserts run sweet, busy and flat-tasting. Feel free to eat a second biscuit, then.)”

Em Oi

Washingtonian critic Ann Limpert schlepped out to Ashburn for a taste of what’s billed as modern Vietnamese cooking at Em Oi. Owner Ryan Ho tells her American restaurants that rep the cuisine need to get with the times, which he’s doing with ingredients like duck-fat hoisin. Limpert still likes braised pork belly banh mi and the pho better than everything else there:

“Em Oi’s pho is a soup I’d travel for. The rich broth is heavy on star anise and swims with thick noodles, Angus brisket, and tenderloin. ‘It’s the kind of pho I’d get at the Park Hyatt when I went to Saigon,’ Ho says.”

Le Kon

Northern Virginia Magazine critic Stefanie Gans reports from Le Kon, which opened in September but feels even newer because owner Milvia Landaverde has already split with Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe — and the majority of his complicated Japanese-Mexican dishes. Gans decries the absence of chorizo and vanilla Brussels sprouts, soy sweet potatoes, and charred corn salad. But she’s a fan of the new, safe Tex-Mex standards overseen by young chef Walter Elias:

“Kicky chorizo is sliced, split open for maximum crevices collecting char marks. The beans are smokier than they have to be. Even taquitos, last seen endlessly rolling in a hot house inside 7-Eleven, are fun here: hand-rolled and stuffed with carnitas. The crispy bits not tucked all the way in are frayed and crispy and the best part.”


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