Tuesday, January 24 at 11 AM
Every Tuesday at 11, food and wine editor Todd Kliman takes your questions about Washington area cuisine and restaurant news. Host Todd Kliman

Editor’s Note: Washingtonian Online moderators and hosts retain editorial control over chats and choose the most relevant questions; hosts can decline to answer questions.

Published January 17, 2012

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype?

The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 a.m. on Kliman Online. From scoping out scruffy holes in the wall to weighing the merits of four-star wanna-bes, from scouring the 'burbs and exurbs to hitting the city's streets, Todd Kliman covers a lot of territory.

Winner of a James Beard Foundation Award in 2005 for the country's best newspaper column about food, Kliman is food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The Washingtonian. His work has appeared in The New YorkerHarper'sThe Oxford American, and Men's Health, among others, and he has been selected four times for inclusion in the Best Food Writing anthologies. He is the author of The Wild Vine, a literary exploration of two entwined mysteries: an obscure grape that rose to prominence, only to disappear, and its biggest present-day champion, a dot-com-millionaire-turned-vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.


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W H E R E   I ' M   E A T I N G   N O W  . . .

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, DC
This jumping fish house in the 14th St. corridor is Jeff and Barbara Black's fifth place, and by far their most funin the room and on the plate. The other surprise? The excellent valuea reminder that among the benefits of a mini-empire is the ability to leverage high-volume purchasing into cut-rate deals. Don't miss the marvelous twist on mariscos, a seafood-laden salsa with fresh-fried chips.

Komi, DC
The best, most sensual, most fully realized restaurant in the area remains Johnny Monis's lair of a place, a sparely appointed East Dupont townhouse withcheck itno menu.

Eola, DC
Daniel Singhofen scrapped his a la carte menu this past April, replacing it with a $65 five-course tasting menu. The move seemed premature, given that the chef had yet to establish his Dupont Circle townhouse restaurant as a landmark dining destination, one that had endured many seasons and fads. But Singhofen and company appear ready to make the leap. Courses are imaginatively conceived without straining for effect, and the execution is clean and precise without lapsing into austerity. Best of all, Singhofen imbues these sophisticated dishes with a quality more precious than all the tricks in the molecular gastronomer's toolkit: soul.

R&R Taqueria, Elkridge
Best Mexican food in the area, and it's not even close. Andit's in a gas station. Worth the drive to Elkridge.

Fiola, DC

Fabio Trabocchi's edge-of-Penn Quarter restaurant has put its tentative beginnings behind it. The dishes emerging from the brick-framed, herb-potted kitchen find the prodigiously talented chef moving further and further from the controlled elegance of his work at the late Maestro. They also find him cooking with a renewed confidence and conviction. The best of these platesan astonishingly flavorful ragu of wild hare with thick bands of papardelle, a double-cut, prosciutto-wrapped veal chop with toasted hazelnuts that accent the sweetness and nuttiness of the meat, a bowl of tender meatballs in a tomato sauce that frankly puts most Italian grandmothers to shamemarry rusticity with refinement. Dessertsincluding a fabulous cone of sugar-dusted bomboloni, with pots of apple marmalade and cinnamon gelatoremain a rousing finish.

Proof, DC
There's a lot to love about Mark Kuller's wine bar-plus, beginning with its tossed-off sophistication, the sense you get that everything just seems to have fallen into place and nobody's straining too hard for effect. The cooking, under the direction of Haidar Karoum, reinforces the feeling with dishes that deliver the complexity and intricacy of fine dining while coming across with the easy approachability of the corner bistro: superlative foie gras (seared and served atop a cherry-studded short cake), crisp-skinned branzino in a saffron broth, a knockout plate of spaghetti and meatballs (foie gras is the crucial ingredient, an ingenious way of lightening the texture of the meat without resorting to bready filler). There's a wealth of good, interesting wines to pair with these plates—wines you're simply not going to find anywhere else in the city. The restaurant, to its great credit, makes them available in two-ounce pours that encourages you to try things you wouldn't ordinarily.

Banh Mi DC Sandwich, Falls Church
#1 Combination and #2 Roast Pork. $3.75 apiece. Vivid reminders of what the boring and/or dumbed-down others all miss—the peppery bite, the pronounced sharpness of the pickling, the balance between meats and condiments, the lightness of the loaf. 

Mama Chuy, DC
Working from their perch in a rowhouse across the street from Howard University, a brother-sister team from Guadalajara (by way of Chicago) have delivered one of the great surprises of the season -- a taqueria that aims not merely to be authentic, but to win your hungry heart with its commitment to exactitude and detail. Start with an order of the superlative housemade chips -- as salty, thin and crunchy as you could hope for -- and guacamole, then move on to the tacos and sopes, each presented in easy-to-handle cocktail-size portions. The carnitas sopes (tiny discs of fried masa slathered with refried beans and topped with luscious cubes of marinated, grilled pork) might just be the best three bites of Mexican food you're going to find within city limits.

* Rice Paper, Falls Church
This new Eden Center mom n pop, the first restaurant venture for the host family after two-plus decades in the jewelry business, breaks from the drab utilitarianism of its Eden Center peers with a pressed tin ceiling, dangling globe lights, sleek leather chairs, and the requisite industrial brick wall. It's the cooking, though, that commands inspection: spicy lemongrass ribs, garlic-marinated roast chicken with coconut rice, and the most stylish presentation of grilled stuffed grape leaves I've ever seen -- and easily one of the most delicious. The coffee with condensed milk is a must-order, among the strongest and darkest you're going to find.
 
* Mio, DC
In its five fitful years, Manuel Iguina's restaurant has endured more identity transplants than a snitch in the witness protection program and more mood swings than a teenie pop star. It's currently up -- way up -- thanks to new chef Giovanna Huyke. Like Iguina, Huyke is a native of Puerto Rico, and much of the inspiration for her menu looks to that small but vibrant island. The chef appears to value execution and lightness even more than boldness and spice, resulting in a slew of big-tasting dishes that don't taste big. Zero in on her roast quail stuffed with foie gras and white polenta, a cubed tuna tartare with orange cream, and, from the bar menu, her irresistible bolsitas -- tiny fried purses filled with juicy pork, served with a guava dipping sauce

 

* new this week

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Editor's Note: Hello, chatters! Today Todd is starting a series of culinary book giveaways. Send him a mini restaurant review written in the style of your favorite author for a chance to win. Evaluate Elisir in the manner of Cormac McCarthy, or critique the Hamilton as if you were channeling Hemingway. Sum up Shake Shack as Shakespeare himself might, or describe Jaleo with the witty precision of Jane Austen. Whatever you like, really. Just make it good. Todd will announce his favorite review before the end of the chat.

Favorite Parts to Eat

My favorite parts to eat consist of crispy charred bits and anything highly seasoned with intense flavor packed in one bite:

The dark part of the Prime Rib, blue crab mustard, crispy pig ears, chicken liver picked out of a rotisserie chicken, crispy skin on Chinese roasted pork hanging in the window, rice paper on Vietnamese summer rolls, the tails on shrimp which have been blackened during grilling, charred crispy ends of meat like the tiny scraps that stick to the pan in Korean BBQ, the tiny over-cooked crispy french fry bits at the bottom of the McDonald's french fry container, the fried shallots & green onions that come on top of salt crusted shrimp, and meat next to the bone.

Man oh man oh man ... you're an eater after my own heart!

Only one I'm not with you on is the over-cooked bits at the bottom of the fry container at Mickey D's, but otherwise -- oh, yeah ... Thanks for chiming in with these, and I'd love to hear of more favorite food "parts" ...

Washington, DC

Todd, you didn't read our comment carefully -- and there are probably "a dozen tapas bars" (to use your phrase) we could take you to in San Sebastián (a small city) ALONE that blow away Jaleo and Estadio, not to mention Barcelona.

Our real problem was your rating of 3 stars, which in your scheme is "excellent." There are a bunch of restaurants on your list that you don't rate 3 stars that are better than Jaleo or Estadio. And in our opinion, 2 Amys is comparable to most good pizza places in Naples, yet it is rated the same as Estadio and Jaleo. These two are perhaps 2 stars -- "very good" -- nothing more.

Finally, in terms of replacing those two on your list, we will leave that up to you, but we don't believe there needs to be representation of all different cuisines.

Thanks for clarifying your comments.

In putting together our list, "representation of all cuisines" is never a guiding concern. It's never even a concern, period.

I'd be interested in hearing the names of the restaurants that you think are better than those two.

...

By the way, everyone, the book we're giving away today is -- The Pleasures of Cooking for One, by Judith Jones http://www.amazon.com/Pleasures-Cooking-One-Judith-Jones/dp/0307270726.

Jones is a titan in the world of letters, one of the last of the great editors. She rescued Anne Frank's diary from the slush pile, shepherded Camus and Sartre into print in English, edited John Updike throughout most of his career, and discovered Julia Child. She edited many of the great cookbooks that are still in print today, including those by Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Joan Nathan, Jacques Pepin and Claudia Roden.

Dupont, DC

A review for Rasika, in the manner of a haiku: Rasika, full joint Restaurant Week treat for old friends Palak Chaat, yum yum

Thanks for sending this in ...

Before too many more stream in, I just want to say that I'm gonna be a stickler, here. I really am looking to read something that catches the tone of a particular author ...

Keep 'em coming! ...

 

Cheverly, MD

We are back and forth between Cheverly and Goshen (area of Gaithersburg) and as we have been renovating we have been ravenously visiting the area restaurants.

Our closest spot, the Athens Grill, has been a mainstay and not just because of it's proximity. The friendly staff and fresh food are a great welcome to the neighborhood and I can't seems to get enough of the herby chicken souvlaki or the tangy spinach pie. It could be cheaper, but it's real food, and the huge portions seem appropriate when we have been destroying an old kitchen. We are happy to have them down the road.

We went to Tai Shan on a Monday evening and stood at the entry for about 10 minutes being ignored-- there was only one waitress for the whole joint and she had worked herself in that harried state where she was breathless and half moving away while she asked us for our order. The food was average and we wondered what we were missing since others seem to have found delight here.

Tortacos was already a welcomed meal but got better once I spied the salsa bar. This place is great for simple, authentic tacos and mission style burritos-- coupled with pride and friendly service. If only there was a few more seats it would be a place we would see more often.

Sabai Sabai Simply Thai made our evening with a friendly staff who welcomed our cranky toddler into this stylish restaurant and continued to cater kindly to him. We appreciated the creative menu and enjoyed everything we had there (although we didn't strike any especially high notes) and are looking forward to exploring everything on their menu-- any suggestions?

Our hearts have already created a space for the tiny Thai House restaurant with it's spicy and authentic food. Everything we had there was excellent and they don't shy away from the heat. The boldness of their food is unabashedly and authentically Thai, and again they were so kind to our toddler. The Pad Kee Mao, Panang Curry and the Pad Thai were all excellent, generous, and well seasoned. They deliver to our home, a few miles away, for a mere $2 and I'm currently trying to figure out how many times in a week we may be able to eat there. Either way, I can promise it is the first of many, many times.

Yeah, I really do like Thai House. And they seem to be pretty consistent, too. You're lucky to have a place like that nearby.

At Sabai Sabai, I'd pay attention to the vegetarian menu and the street food menu, and make sure to include among your order the Tiger Peppercorn Shrimp.

I've had good (not great) meals at Tai Shan; I'd be curious to know what you ordered.

DC

I'm sorry for asking an elementary question, especially one that I'm sure has been covered before in your chat. My parents have recently told me of their interest in dining at the Inn at Little Washington.

They're slowly making their way through the best restaurants in the country, and having recently read about the Inn, want to go (and best of all, take my husband and me with them!)

Now, they're out of towners, but visit frequently, and I'm sure would be happy to build a trip around such a meal. How far out does one need to book a reservation for dinner? Any tips would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

No, it's a good question.

With restaurants like that, it's always best to think one month out at least -- so, a call today might (MIGHT) net you a table for the third week of February. Depending on the time of year, it can easily be more than that. Summer tends to be lighter.

Good luck!

And lucky you, a free meal at the Inn -- I hope you have a great time ...

Arlington, VA

Once upon a Friday night, while I sat, my stomach light,

Hungering for a meal of meaning,

While I waited, so, so starved, suddenly there came bread, carved

As if some chef carved, carved it solely for my name.

“This looks delicious,” said I of bread made solely for my name,

For only I, at Trummer’s on Main.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the summer days,

Light poured from every window pane,

Eagerly I wished the menu – American tastes yet to be savored.

From Clayton’s choices many, appetizers and entrees of fame,

And sips to savor, cocktails too of fame,

For only I, at Trummer’s on Main.

“How to start?” I thought,

To taste steak, pork, or chicken game,

Of all I’ve sampled, none yet fail,

California sturgeon, beef of sirloin, flavors never tame,

Chocolate tart, coffee mousse, flavors never tame,

For all those that dine at Trummer’s on Main.

At last, I, through with sitting,

Meander for the bar to claim

A suitable sip to end the evening with.

The Titanic 13 is a winner, as begins to fall the rain,

Muddled grapes and vodka make my nightcap, as begins to fall the rain,

But it is dry inside, at Trummer’s on Main.

Not bad ...

I'm getting vague echoes of Poe, no?

Thanks for playing ...

Laurel, MD

Hello!

Now that Paula Deen has come out of the closet about her diabetes, that she's had for 3 years, one would think she would change her cooking ways. Chef Art Smith also radically changed his diet. However, there is an extremely limited healthy selection on the menu of Art and Soul.

Why do these famous chefs who have a public platform choose to keep their menus mostly unhealthy? They don't eat it, but continue to sell it? I guess they're like drug dealers, if you don't want it don't buy it.

Or as Paula Deen said, her food is not meant to be eaten every day.

But since our country is facing a health epidemic I would think more chefs would take the lead in developing healthier menus. Jamie Oliver seems to be the most vocal chef concerned about the American diet and he's British. Why do you think our chefs don't change their menus?

BTW, I love food, just am curious and thought someone of your caliber and standing could shed some light on this. Thanks!

You ask great questions.

I hope I can provide some thoughtful answers. But first ...

I have to say that ever since the Deen news broke, I've been bothered by something -- and that's the tut-tutting I've been seeing in so much of the food media. It's easy to make fun of her, I know. I've done it myself. She's a cartoon, of sorts, as so many of these outsize, camera-loving people are. And her food is ... rich. I love that great line from the comedian Maria Bamford -- that "her recipes are suicide notes."

But New York magazine recently had a huge spread about pigs, with pig charts and everything, and tips on where to get the best in porky goodness around the city. Many fashionable food magazines have been extolling the virtues of bacon for years.

Deen does it, and it's declasse, it's tacky, she's an abomination. It's hard not to see a sneering sort of classism in this.

But to your question ...

I think the problem is that restaurant food isn't constructed to be eaten four times a week. It's constructed to be an indulgence. The problem is that people eat out more than ever. In big cities, four times a week -- as I read somewhere a couple of years ago -- is now the norm.

I suppose chefs could make a symbolic stand by lightening their dishes and making them less decadent. But would that really have an influence? Does anyone beyond the food world care that much about the doings of a handful of chefs? Do people outside the food world look to celebrity chefs for cues on how they should live?

Chefs are generally wary of lightening their food. Even Italian chefs who are such strong proponents of using olive oil will lather on the butter to give their dishes a finishing richness. They're not much concerned with people's diets, or the common good (whatever that might be). They're concerned with getting people in the door and keeping them coming back.

Arlingtongue

"I saw the best palates of my generation destroyed by the mindless pursuit of the latest hamburger place or dragging themselves through the streets at dawn looking for an angry fix of Pizza D.O.C charred and blistered beyond all recognition."

--Allen Ginsburg

Ha ...

Howlingly clever ... but technically, not a review -- I said I was gonna be a stickler, didn't I ... keep trying ...

Shaw DC

Here is my review of Komi in the style of James Frey:

Komi, DC The best, most sensual, most fully realized restaurant in the area remains Johnny Monis's lair of a place, a sparely appointed East Dupont townhouse with—check it—no menu.

LOL!

I think we have a front-runner, Jessica ...

C'mon, people -- the bar's been set, now. Keep. 'Em. Coming.

And really, we can't get through this chat without one stab at Faulkner or Hemingway, can we?

Downtown, DC

Todd - love the chats, of course.

Last week you mentioned (seemingly out of nowhere) how you have been cooking broccoli stalks. I would love to hear other tips from you - every week.

As a foodie and a cook, I get many ideas for my home cooking when I got out to a restaurant. So you must have a lot to share.

I'll try. Thanks for asking ...

Here's one: always keep on hand a container of smoked paprika. Used properly, and in the right dishes, it adds interest and complexity and gives you -- in the best cases -- that back taste that no one can quite identify ... I love it in romesco, or sprinkled lightly atop seared scallops or sunny side-up eggs or sauteed white beans or white bean puree. It's also good in some hearty soups.

Shaw DC

As for the implied classism in attacking Paula Dean, just look at how Ina Garten is treated. Her recipes generally give Dean a run for her money in the butter and fat department, but it's set in the Hamptons and she doesn't sound like a redneck grandma, so apparently it isn't the same?

Exactamundo.

Great point.

Ina Garten is a big woman, however, and comes in for a good bit of scorn for that reason. I've heard a fair number of people over the years -- food people -- speak with utter distaste about her, and it all has to do with her size. Some have even told me they cannot watch her, because of her weight.

I don't know. I don't mind at all if someone who hosts a cooking show is not thin.

Vienna, VA

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up and I'd like to take him somewhere new for dinner (the last few years we went to Central and J&G Steakhouse). He loves a great steak and is also a home brewer so he's really into craft beer. Can you recommend any places that, perhaps, have beer tastings with dinner? He would die of happiness and I would win the girlfriend of the year award.

Well, we have to help you to win that! ...

I'd say take him to Birch and Barley, on 14th St.. HUGE beer selection, and he can even opt for a tasting if he wants.

I just checked the menu -- not a single steak on it, but they are serving a lamb loin and that might fit the bill, especially if the beer's the more important consideration.

I hope it works out. Let me know what's what ...

Guess

I was the shadow of the Angus slain By the false azure in the windowpane I was the smudge of ashen char...

Love it!

A chat with a "Pale Fire" reference ...

By "guess," you mean "guess who came up with this one," yes? Can there be another Nabokov-loving purveyor of steak in this town besides you, ML?

Harrisburg, PA

The man and his girl went Sichuan Pavilion, crossing miles of scrub pine and office parks. What are you going to get? asked the girl, and the man said probably the hottest thing on the menu, preferably holed up with sicuan peppercorns. I don't know, she said, I really love their crispy cucumber salad, and she was right. The salad, redolent in garlic and chili flakes, with the right amount of vinegar to sweetness, was the stealth MVP of the Pavilion's menu, and should be ordered everytime. Good call, the man said, you should get that, plus the eggplant with ground beef. The girl smiled and set her plan in motion.

Good details, but I have to confess -- I'm stumped. Who's the inspiration?

Van Ness

I'm finding myself at Hung Phat Asian Grocery (Fern Street, Wheaton) more and more these days. They almost always seem to have whatever bizarro Asian ingredient I'm looking for...and the owner and his son are super friendly and helpful.

The steam table of unidentifiable Vietnamese dishes is always interesting. Fat rice noodles made daily. All sorts of prepared food-stuff at the front register.

One note of caution, don't bother with their banh mi - the roll is a clunky hard Italian sub roll and the fixings inside are skimpy...even at $3 not worth it.

Otherwise I think I am in love!

Written in the style of a blathering idiot.

It's one of the better Asian groceries around, I think. Without being a sprawling behemoth of a store.

I like hitting it for quail (frozen), and their exhaustive supply of fish sauces. And yes, if you catch the noodles at the right time, they're tasty.

Navy Yard

Hi Todd,

We are headed to Annapolis this weekend and less than three months out from our wedding day. Ceremony planning & writing will be on the top of her list, but where to dine will be on the top of mine. We like any cuisine and looking for a tab that rings $100 or less with wine. What is not to miss? Thanks!

First of all, congratulations! ...

At the top of my Annapolis list would be Joss, for sushi (on Main St.), and Level for small plates and cocktails (West St.).

I also really like Main Ingredient Cafe, but it's away from downtown (it's also a more comfy than stylish setting, if that matters to you; it shouldn't -- the place is very consistent, and very good for what it's trying to do).

I'll be interested in hearing where you end up. Drop me a line ...

Eden Center

The waiter asked if we were ready for the bill. The whole table seemed to shake under the concentration. My breath came quick with effort and then, slowly, my right hand lifted--lifted an inch and then fell back. The waiter's face was haggard. He moved to the head of the table and wiped my damp face with a wet nap. He whispered, "Sir, are you ready for the check?" I looked up at him with a sick weariness. My lips parted and failed and tried again. Then my lungs filled. I expelled the air and my lips combed the rushing sigh. My whispered word seemed to hang in the air: "Timshel!"

Well, I'd have loved to have seen a specific restaurant mentioned, and some food details, but big points for cleverness -- a review of the Eden Center built on the key passage in Steinbeck's East of Eden ...

You're in the running.

And if you wanted to do a slight revision, working in a specific place and a specific dish, or two, you might leap to the front ...

Just sayin'. You might have more pressing thing to do, like, say, a job.

Arlington, VA

I foolishly wandered into Fiola thinking to myself, "This won't be near as good as dozens of restaurants in New York or Italy." But there I was. The plates started coming out and I found myself in front of a plate of homemade pasta with foie gras sauce. Foie gras you say? It was f***ing good. Like I just took blow off two strippers good. And the libations were good. And I looked around and thought to myself, "Dude, am I really in DC?"

Tony B.?

(Which, to begin with, feels sometimes like parody ... )

Thanks for playing ...

Arlington, VA

Todd,

I am meeting my husband in the city around 18th and K St for a late afternoon meeting. Afterwards I wanted someplace to get a drink or two and maybe a snack for me as he is meeting up with some friends for dinner.

Any ideas on places that might work?

Teatro Goldoni?

Kaz Sushi Bistro?

Both are pretty darn close to where you'll be ...

Rockville, MD

Passion Fish, Wellfleet's & Champagne

All things truly tasty start from the sea. An oyster from Passion Fish is a balm to the soul. Its brininess recalls memories of my boat and me adrift on the sea. My lips are kissed by the salt of a plump and juicy bivalve as if my mistress has deigned me worthy of a kiss. The champagne washes my palate and soul with a euphoria created bubbles, that when mixed with plump bivalves are a gift from that cruel mistress nature. And she brings me peace, if only for a moment.

Thanks ...

But again, who? Kinda generically 19th century American ...

bethesda

Todd,

Where have you been able to find smoked paprika? We have been searching for months.

Have you tried Mi La Cay in Wheaton. The Grilled pork is top notch. Very inexpensive overall. I will be enjoying a roast pork sandwich from Banh Mi DC Sandwich for lunch today. Check that. Thanks!

I got my last container at one of the ethnic specialty stores, can't remember which.

I know Dean & Deluca carries it. They charge, I think, twice as much as it really costs.

You can also find smoked paprika online.

Re: your banh mi lunch -- my mouth is watering, just thinking about those sandwiches ...

I've been to Mi La Cay about five times or so. It's very decent, is what I'd say. Sometimes it rises to the level of really-pretty-good-ness. They do a good job with grilled pork, and their roast quail with lime dip is also good.

Jessica

Hmm...I wonder if anybody can beat James Frey on Komi. LOL indeed.

If anyone out there wants to be it, they've got ten minutes ...

Alex, VA

Regarding the Paula Deen comments and why restaurants don't lighten their menus -- we as consumers need to take some responsibility in this.

Many, many chefs have added lighter options to their menus only to discover that they don't get ordered. Having said that I'm always shocked at the actual calorie content of meals out.

It is, it's shocking.

I remember we did calorie counts for some restaurant meals some years back, and a three-course meal at Acadiana came in something close to 2,500 calories -- or about what a healthy man ought to consume in an entire day.

But then again, as I said earlier -- if it's a special thing, a once-every-so-often thing, what's the big deal? A weekly habit, or, Jesus, a twice-weekly habit, and you have a problem on your hands ...

Need help, please

Hi Todd,

I need help deciding on a place for dinner. I am looking for a terrific restaurant without being stuffy and fussy. It should be fantastic enough to score for special occasion but doesn't have to be the most expensive (I do not equate best with the most expensive).

My choices are: fiola, bibiana, pearl dive and little serow. My initial thoughts: I'd prefer no tasting menu (I think fiola has changed their course to tasting menu for dinner), not sure that pearl dive would be the right atmosphere for occasion, hate the no reservation policy at little serow (can you put your name on a list and they'll call you or do you have to wait in the cold)?

Thanks for any insight into my conundrum. Thanks

Fiola.

Even with the switch to no a la carte, which I know you say you wanted to avoid. Go. You're going to thank me later.

Harrisburg, PA

Cormac McCarthy- notice the punctuation, or lack thereof, plus the semi-apocalyptic setting (AKA downtown Rockville).

I swear, I nearly did a spittake of coffee all over my laptop just now -- the "semi-apocalyptic setting of downtown Rockville!"

But seriously? McCarthy? I'd never have guessed. It just seemed too ... happy.

Pakistani Restaurant

I was just reading the artcle that washingtonian did on Pakistani American Businessman Ray Mahmood, which got me thinking.

Besides Ravi Kabob and Kabob and Karahi, what other pakistani restaurants (not indian) do you recommend in the DMV? Thanks

There're a number of others I could mention, but no others I can enthusiastically recommend. Unfortunately.

Rockville, MD

Passion Fish. Hello. Hemingway!!!! Boat, Sea, Mistress and the first line is a direct quote from Papa himself with two words changed!!!!

Ah, sure -- I see it now. I was thrown off by the purple-ness, I guess ...

Van Ness

The small dry goods stall at Eastern Market -- the guy with all the fresh pasta -- usually carries smoked paprika.

Hey, nice!

Thanks for the assist ...

Rice Paper

Todd, what's up with the service at Rice Paper?

I looked up the restaurant on Yelp after seeing your list and yes, while reviews on Yelp need to be taken with a grain of salt, it seems that bad service is the norm there. I'd like to try it but not if I won't get decent service. What did you experience?

I didn't have bad service. In some ways, I had good service. Great service? No.

But think about this: No dish I ate cost more than $12, and the plates were beautifully presented.

To repeat: $12.

Three of us shared three appetizers and three entrees, with three iced coffees and a smoothie, and the bill came to around $75. I think i could put up with service that was only OK for a value like that.

Double that bill, and of course everything changes ...

Washington, DC

From the corner of the lounge of leather couches on which he was lying, drinking, as was his custom, innumerable mint juleps, Chef Jeff Buben could just catch the gleam of the rich-decadent and honey-coloured sweetbreads and waffles, whose gourmet fragility seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of asparagus across the top fitted perfectly over the breaded sweetbreads that were stretched in front of the huge belgian waffle, producing a kind of momentary heavenly effect, and making him think of those fantastic cooks in his kitchen, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of decadence and taste bud erotica that he has taught. The murmur of his stomach sounding its way through the lounge area, calling for another mint julep with monotonous insistence. His chef jacket white and crisp, his voice loud and harsh, seemed to make the orders more oppressive. The dim roar of DC traffic was like the sounds of a Saturday night in his kitchen.

A fun read.

Thanks for playing.

Reads sort of like a hodgepodge of James Ellroy, Faulkner and DeLillo ...

Brookland, DC

Smoked Paprika:

You can also try Penzy's, up Rockville Pike, and Rodman's (multiple locations). I'm having some on top of white bean, artichoke, and caper hummus right now. It wouldn't hurt to ask restaurants that use that seasoning where they get it, either.

Rodman's -- I never knew they carried it.

I'm a huge fan of Rodman's. Good for wine, too.

Gaithersburg, MD

Hemingway on Bar Pilar:

I walked in out of the dull rain. My wet clothes dripped on dark bar wood. The men sitting there were not swayed, but strong-backed, rum in hand. I ordered mussels. They arrived, floating in a winey pool, their small black mouths opened to me. And they were good. As was the day’s special - the salty crumble of house-made chorizo, rolled up in pale corn tortillas. I ate from the earth, drank down the sea. A woman walked in, her breath still smoke from the outside cold. She sat beside me, asked, Do you love it here? She shook out her hair, jeweled with water. I said, Maybe I could.

Ding-ding-ding!

Our winner ...

Given that the place is named for Papa's boat, it's such a smart and clever thing to review it in the style of the master himself. And you've nicely captured those stripped-down, nihilistic sentences ...

Send me an email (tkliman@washingtonian.com) with your mailing address, and we'll ship you your prize ...

And thank you all for playing today -- it was a helluva lot of fun for me and I hope for you, too.

Be well, eat well, and let's do it again next Tuesday at 11 ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[missing you, TEK ... ]

 

 

 

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Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 01/17/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Chats