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The Needle: Vidalia, 2941, Kinkead’s
A monthly gauge of restaurants on the radar
1990 M St., NW; 202-659-1990
This Southern-themed restaurant, number 11 on our January list of the 100 Best Restaurants, is more delicious than ever. RJ Cooper—a James Beard Award winner for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region—is cooking lush comfort food remarkable for its lightness, intricacy, and finesse. Shrimp-and-grits and jumbo lump crab cakes are predictable temptations, but the seared-hamachi starter rivals the efforts of the city’s best sushi bars, a plate of sweetbreads with agnolotti is refinement itself, and a pork-belly cassoulet is a shimmering new gloss on an Old South staple. The cooking is backed by a stellar wine list and a terrific selection of wines by the glass.
2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church; 703-270-1500
With chef Jonathan Krinn’s affinity for Asian spices, esoteric fruits, and all things seafood, you’d think his summer menu at 2941—number 8 of our 100 Best—would be as light and bright as the glass sculpture above the maître d’ stand. But except for a few cool dishes—licorice-poached lobster on shaved jícama, honey-and-soy-marinated Chilean sea bass with green papaya—the chef seems to yearn for sweater season. Duck confit and foie gras show up with New England scallops; cardamom-spiced venison is matched with gnocchi, oyster mushrooms, and rich Madeira sauce. Still, Krinn’s plates are as artfully composed as ever. So it’s a shame when you wait a half hour to order only to see appetizers arrive just as your spoon hits the amuse bouche.
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-296-7700
Time is slipping away to savor some of the season’s soft-shells. This legendary seafood emporium—number 17 of our Best Restaurants—honors the local delicacy with sure-handed cooking: The insides are meaty and sweet, a faint sheath of fry-batter giving them a light crunch. Add a platter of oysters, a bowl of Chesapeake oyster chowder, and the glorious fried Ipswich clams, and you’ve got an ideal late-summer meal for two.
This appeared in the September 2007 issue of the magazine.