The Needle: What's Hot? What's Not?

Each month, we drop in on three restaurants to see how they're doing.

By: Todd Kliman, Cynthia Hacinli, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano

Evening Star Cafe

2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-549-5051

The dining room is a cozy throwback with red Naugahyde booths, but the menu is as trendy and modern as any. A filling appetizer of spinach gnocchi featuring soft dumplings and a rich truffled cream sauce is a great value at $11—pair it with a salad and it’s a meal. Entrées of roasted cod and a pork chop are memorable, but skip dessert if you want to go out on a high note. 

Tabard Inn

1739 N St., NW; 202-785-1277

“House-smoked” and “house-made” often appear on chef Paul Pelt’s menu; other food trends show up in the form of goat-cheese-stuffed dates and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds on an arugula salad—both tasty. Bold flavors arrive with fried-oyster-topped gumbo, but the chef shows restraint where it counts most: An appetizer of barbecue lobster lets the lobster shine through the aggressive seasoning. 

Bobby’s Crabcakes

101 Gibbs St., Rockville; 301-217-0858

Bobby’s loosely packed bundles of crab with just a bit of binder and seasoning allow the flavor of the seafood to shine. And they’re an easy-on-the-wallet luxury: $11.95 for a four-ounce crab-cake sandwich with tangy house-made tartar sauce. Though not everything is on par with the crab cakes, the chunky slaw, fries, shrimp cocktail, and Key-lime pie make fine embellishments. Bobby’s burger, a frequent special, is first-rate, too. 

This appeared in the April, 2009 issue of the Washingtonian.

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