The Needle: Evening Star Cafe, Redwood, and Kafe Leopold & Konditorei

What's hot and what's not in the region's dining.

By: Ann Limpert, Jessica Voelker

Redwood on Bethesda Row. Photograph by Jasmine Touton.

Evening Star Cafe

At this renovated Del Ray favorite, CityZen alum Jim Jeffords is creating impeccable riffs on Southern classics. Plump shrimp marinated in shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes top creamy grits; pan-roasted duck breast comes with hazelnut-studded dirty rice. Pimiento-cheese-filled Peppadew peppers are crisp and slightly spicy--a perfect way to start dinner. To end it, there's a deep-fried, honey-laced Fluffernutter sandwich with banana ice cream. -Jessica Voelker

Redwood

The menu at this handsome Bethesda Row eatery is full of ingredient-focused, straightforward dishes--the kind that show every flaw. On a recent visit, dressing on a salad of beets and arugula lacked the acid needed to give the dish verve, and a gratin of artichokes, sunchokes, fingerlings, and chèvre was greasy and underseasoned. The highlight was the burger, made with beef from Maryland's Roseda Farms and dressed with snappy pickles. -Jessica Voelker

Kafe Leopold & Konditorei

The white-on-white decor looks a bit worn and service is on the officious side, but that hasn't stopped a cashmere-clad Georgetown crowd from coming. That's thanks to the fact that the kitchen has been holding up its end, sending out a zippy kale salad, lemony roast chicken, and a decadent croque monsieur. Alas, the pastries in the glass cases are still better to look at than to eat. -Ann Limpert

This article appears in the March 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.