Tuesday, October 30 at 11 AM

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 AM on Kliman Online.

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.

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 AM 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 Yorker, Harper's, The Oxford American, The Daily Beast 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 present-day evangelist, a foul-mouthed transgendered multi-millionaire vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.

Can't wait a week to talk to Todd? Follow him on Twitter for dining reports, tips, and breaking news from the culinary world. Or write to him: tkliman@washingtonian.com


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



Rappahannock Oyster Bar, DC

This hopping oyster bar is the best of the early attractions at the new Union Market. Hop a stool and order up a platter of Rappahannock River oysters, either raw or roasted (the latter preparation transforms them from salty-sweet and light to rich and meaty and savory). You can wash them down with a small selection of craft beers, including Chocolate City Beer and DC Brau, or a glass of sherry. The surprise is the crabcake, a contender for the city's best. Dropped onto the griddle with an ice-cream scoop and given a slight, flattening press to develop a good sear, it's a massive thing, but also unexpectedly light and delicate for all its girth. It's not that there's no binder --  every crabcake's got binder. It's that the binder that's there is good binder, and smartly deployed. 


8407 Kitchen + Bar, Silver Spring

Chef Pedro Matomoros's lamb bolognese has become one of the signature dishes of the area, the burger has moved into the first rank, and desserts under vet pastry chef Rita Garruba have never been better. But if you have never made the acquaintance of this lowkey suburban sophisticate, go for brunch. Homemade beignets with sweetened creme fraiche are gratis, and the rest of the meal follows in that spirit of abundance and generosity. I can't remember the last time I had a better plate of restaurant pancakes -- all soft, fluffy insides and crisp edges, with lots of big, ripe blueberries that somehow managed not to have suppurated. They come with a local maple syrup so dark and rich and smooth you want to douse everything on the table with it. And the distinguishing touches don't stop there. Those cubes of corned beef in the well-seasoned hash with poached eggs? Homemade. So is the smoked salmon. Wash it all down with a drink billed as a grown-up mojito that actually tastes like a cross between a mojito and a Negroni and delivers a gentle, antidotal bite.


Family Meal, Frederick

I have eaten a lot of great fried chicken across this great land -- I'm talking about bang-your-fist-on-the-table great, now -- and the tender, crunchy, pickle-brined bird at this stylized Frederick diner, the brainchild of chef Bryan Voltaggio, has already earned its way into that esteemed class. It's worth driving the hour-plus north just for a taste, easy. The good news is, this isn't some one-hit wonder. There's also a fabulous basket of "pot pie fritters" -- crunchy little salt-crusted croquettes that give way to a lush gravy studded with peas and bits of chicken -- some lovingly treated vegetable sides, a good BLT made with pork belly, and an "adult" mint chocolate chip milkshake garnished with toasted marshmallow and spiked with Buffalo Trace. That's right -- a higher-quality bourbon for a milkshake than many restaurants bother to use for a mixed drink.


Cavo's Cantina, Rockville
Tex-Mex is among the cuisines this area has never really done very well, and the recent spate of restaurants devoted to pumping out authentic regional Mexican cooking is only likely to make it more of an afterthought. What this low-lit, L-shaped cantina reminds us, is that done well, few meals are as festive or as satisfying. Cavo's won't wow you, but, aside from some service lapses, it gets almost all of the important things right—thin, crispy chips and homemade salsa; strong margaritas; a tasty tortilla soup; good fajitas; excellent chicken enchiladas. There are even a number of desserts, including the creamy-crispy cajeta, that are much better than they need to be.


Izakaya Seki, DC
Arguably the most exciting restaurant to debut this year. Hiroshi Seki and his daughter, Cizuka Seki, have fashioned a spare, intimate izakaya from a former barber shop on V St. It's a no-frills setting that suggests a gallery and serves as an ideal backdrop for beautifully simple dishes that all but command you to slow down and focus. Hop a seat at the wraparound counter that consumes the entirety of downstairs to watch Seki, a sushi master with 50 years experience, work with grace, speed, economy and calm as he executes his repertoire with a small team of cooks: thick slices of veal-tender beef tongue with a painting of mustard-miso sauce; succulent filets of grilled mero, the Japanese term for Chilean sea bass; springy soba noodles with flakes of nori and tempura; and some of the most exquisite cuts of aji (horse mackerel) and yellowtail you'll find. 


Blue Duck Tavern, DC
On my Twitter feed a couple of months ago, I teased the news that made a "massive and exciting leap," then sat back and watched the guesses pour in. No one came up with the right place, and to be honest, if I hadn't been there to enjoy it, I would never have guessed, either. Sebastien Archambault is a major talent, and without overhauling the menu or concept has given a restaurant that had slid dangerously close to irrelevance in the past year or so the kiss of life.

Vin 909 Winecafe, Annapolis
I feasted on a couple of superlative pizzas not long ago, and they didn't come from 2 Amys, Pete's New Haven Style Pizza, Pupatella, Moroni & Brother's, Comet, Orso, Haven Pizzeria, Graffiato or Menomale. They came from the kitchen at this always-swarmed, no-reservations wine bar, housed in a restored craftsman bungalow just over the bridge from Annapolis in tiny Eastport. The key players are Alex Manfredonia, who works the front of the (tiny) house, and Justin Moore; the pair met working at a restaurant in San  Francisco, and headed east to take over the space previously occupied by Wild Orchid Cafe. Moore and his team produce a crust that's close to perfect—thin, marvelously hillocked, chewy where it needs to be and crispy everywhere else, and hit with just enough salt. The Margherita is more heavily dressed than is usual, but it's excellent, and so is an unlikely concoction of baked beans, Tillamook cheese, fontina and coleslaw. Don't miss the spin on a lobster roll, with creamy, chive-flecked crab salad tucked between two griddled squares of bread; there's a cup of seafood bisque for dunking.


El Chucho Cocina Superior, DC 
When it's on, an exhilarating tour through the intricate, layered flavors of regional Mexican cooking, backed by a long list of cocktails, margaritas, sipping tequilas and mezcals. Early hits: a smoky grilled corn cob impaled on a skewer, spritzed with lime, rolled in grated cheese and dusted with queso fresco; the tongue-shaped chips known as huaraches, topped with crumbled queso fresco and pickled onions and served with a sublime dark mole; a torta, or sub, that impersonates a Manwich and a Chicago beef sandwich all at once—chopped adobo pork dredged in a spicy Arbol chili sauce, garnished with black beans, onions, avocado and chihuahua cheese and then submerged in that same sauce again before serving (forgo the accompanying plastic gloves and give in to the sloppy lusciousness). 

Moa, Rockville 
You'd never find it if you weren't looking for it. Situated in the fascinating industrial sector of Rockville, amid a slew of old warehouses and specialty supply stores, this cozy Korean mom 'n' pop is about as hidden as hidden gems get. The cooking is vivid and punchy—great bibimbap, served several ways, along with a parade of soups, noodle dishes and stir frys. Order a soju to wash it all down; the mango and watermelon are fresh and gently sweet, a good counterpart to the garlicky intensity of the food.

Maple Avenue, Vienna
Some diners might be skeptical of splurging for $20 + entrees in a tiny, repurposed diner where the 8 tables are wedged together so closely the room can feel like one big dinner party when the drinks are flowing. Others might be skeptical of the menu, which bends in a dozen different directions, implying a kitchen with a scattered, be-everything-to-everyone vision— which is to say, no vision at all. But this is a surprisingly focused restaurant —and a surprisingly rewarding one, too, a place that feels like a personal statement, backed by an amiable staff that clearly aims to send you away smiling. The chef and owner, Tim Ma, does his part, too. He makes a mean shrimp and grits, and his beef cheek sandwich with beer battered fries is one of the best simple plates around. Don't miss the bread pudding.

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 plates—an 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 shame—marry rusticity with refinement. Desserts—including a fabulous cone of sugar-dusted bomboloni, with pots of apple marmalade and cinnamon gelato—remain a rousing finish.

Mintwood Place, DC
Perry's owner Saied Azali was lucky to land Cedric Maupillier, formerly the    chef at Central and before that the chef de cuisine at Citronelle, for his rusticky new bistro. The Toulon native is doing typically great work—cranking out lovingly faithful renditions of such bistro classics as cassoulet (see if you can finish it without two glasses of wine) and steak tartare (the tiny, crunchy tater tots on top are a clever allusion to his old boss, Michel Richard) as well as offering up some sly, smart takes on tradition (frogs' legs with black walnut romesco, a lamb tongue moussaka). There's a whole boneless dorade with picholine olives and braised fennel that's a knockout—beautifully conceived, perfectly executed.


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Todd Kliman:

WHEW …

What a night. Did anyone out there get any kind of sleep? I’m astonished I still have power …

However many of you are out there, I’m touched to know that you’ve taken some time out of your aftermath of a morning to connect with me on here …

What a relief to not obsessively monitor Twitter and the news for a while …

Not that we can’t talk about Sandy — I want to. And frankly, what else IS there to talk about right this second that matters as much? But it’s just nice to know that the worst of it is over, and we can move on with the cleanup and the bailout and the fingerpointing, etc.

Stay safe and warm today, everyone … And fire away …

FOLLOW-UP: MORE TACO TALK /// ARLINGTON, VA. ...:

My regular taco place is often dependent on what I am doing.

Most of the time it is Taqueria Poblano for their LA Crispy Style Tacos or District Taco (especially if you can catch the fish tacos special). That's mainly due to location near where I grocery shop, shop for the dog's supplies, go to the tailor and cobbler. And because they are more of a quick in and out for lunch while running errands type of place. I normally try to avoid gluten and dairy so I eat a lot of tacos.

If I am coming from work and have cash on me, then it is TECC. I am not a huge cilantro fan, which TECC uses a lot of, but meat wise, I like the goat better at Fuego, I think it was just a bit more delicate in texture and better flavored, but that's a close race. I really like the chorizo tacos at TECC and I didn't try those at Fuego yet.

There is also the little taco cart near my garden on the corner of George Mason and Columbia Pike and they have my favorite tongue tacos.

Fuego is a bit more of a scene and I see it working well in Clarendon and being fairly busy, especially with the tequila selection. So just a different type of stop. I hope they keep the quality up as I see that being the differentiating factor between it and the other Mexican/Tex-Mex options nearby in Clarendon.

Todd Kliman:

Be something to keep an eye on.

Generally, a place that’s a scene has less incentive to keep a hawk’s eye on the little details that can take something from pretty good to good and even great.

TECC is pretty wonderful. And yes, the chorizo tacos are excellent.

EATING IN NOLA ...:

Hi Todd,

I just saw that New Orleans is in your top ten cities you'd like to eat in, and it just so happens that my husband and I are about to spend a week there, eating and drinking our way around the city.

What are your top several restaurants that we can't miss?

Todd Kliman:

A quick primer …

Get acquainted with Donald Link’s two places, Cochon and Herbsaint. (Technically, there are three; Cochon Butcher, for sandwiches, is the other.) The mood is looser and louder at Cochon, and the food is lustier and porkier. But both are good. Herbsaint’s a little more NOLA-proper, without being as NOLA-proper as, say, Galatoire’s.

Speaking of which: I’d make a point of going for Friday lunch. Nothing like it anywhere. You need to get in line early, amid all the clerks from law firms who secure places for the big partners. Lots of seersucker suits and women in big hats. It’s a great way to ease into the weekend.

Domenica, in the Roosevelt Hotel, is an excellent Italian spot.

I love Upperline, in Uptown — Joanne Clevenger’s place. One of the most interesting restaurants in the country. Soulful and personal, covered from floor to ceiling with terrific art, a real oasis. And Clevenger is that restaurateur who can talk not just about food but about music and books and culture. Things take on their right and proper perspective here.

Brigtsen’s is also personal, also soulful, though not quite as quirky or distinctive a statement as Upperline.

Restaurant August. John Besh’s place. A grand, gourmet evening.

Mahoney’s PoBoy Shop. I love this place. Best PoBoys I’ve ever eaten. But you will wait 45 minutes for one, and you will spend most of that time wondering if you have been played for a fool. It’s a long time to wait, but the ham and cheese — yes, ham and cheese — is a marvel. You’ll think you were eating thin-sliced prime rib (somehow or other, the glaze of Barq’s root beer imparts this flavor). And the bread is soft on the inside and crunches when you bite down.

Hope that helps. Have a great time eating and drinking …

WHAT'S OPEN??? ...:

Hi Todd,

Glad you survived the storm and still have power - maybe Pepco actually learned its lessons from the derecho? We can always hope...

Anyway, we are very lucky here in the Dupont/Logan area to have power and not much damage, but are also starting to get pretty stir-crazy despite many delicious cooking projects over the past two days.... where would you suggest trekking to get some dinner and see the outside world tonight?

Happy to walk up to a couple of miles from our area, and can also drive. Thanks for the advice and feeling of community during this isolated, crazy week...

Todd Kliman:

Reports of what’s open are still trickling in …

This is what I have so far:

Il Canale, Georgetown Vace, Cleve. Pk Founding Farmers, downtown Kababji, Dupont Cowgirl Cheese, Penn Qtr Banana Leaves, Dupont Kramerbooks & Afterwards Cafe Austin Grill (all of them) Five Guys in Old Town Starbucks in Dupont Taylor Gourmet Chef Geoff’s and Lia’s (with all day happy hour) Dangerously Delicious Pies, H St. Acadiana, downtown Sticky Fingers, 18th St. Graffiato, Penn Qtr. Ted’s Bulletin, the Hill Screwtop Wine Bar, Arlington Tortilla Coast, the Hill Equinox, downtown Cork (market at noon; wine bar at 5) Black Market Bistro, Garrett Park Tunicliff’s (which was open late last night, too), the Hill Churchkey (will be open tonight), 14th St. Ripple (open tonight) Volt (open tonight w/ a 3-course $35 menu), Frederick Hill Country, Penn Qtr. The Palm, downtown PJ Clarke’s, downtown Capital Grille, downtown Bourbon Steak, Georgetown Martin’s, Georgetown Belga Cafe (for dinner), the Hill Soupergirl, Takoma Smith Commons, H St. The Source (for dinner), downtown Sou’wester (for dinner), downtown CityZen (for dinner), downtown Bar Pilar (for dinner), 14th St. Stachowski Meats & Deli, Georgetown Posto (for dinner), 14th St. Jaleo (for dinner), Penn Qtr. and Bethesda Oyamel (for dinner), Penn Qtr. Cafe St.-Ex — at 3 today, 14th St. Cava Mezze (for dinner), the Hill Kushi (for dinner), Mt. Vernon Sq. Bastille, Alexandria Rustico, Alexandria Honey Pig, Annandale Westend Bistro, West End Molly Malone’s, the Hill Eola (for dinner), Dupont Circle Senart’s, the Hill Pete’s New Haven-Style Apizza (open at 2), multiple locations Chima (for dinner), Tysons Mayfair and Pine, Georgetown Black Finn, downtown Clyde’s, Georgetown District Kitchen (for dinner), Woodley Park Casa Oaxaca (for dinner), Adams Morgan Sonoma (for dinner), the Hill The Pig (for dinner), Logan Circle Bibiana (for dinner), downtown Darlington House (for dinner), Dupont Circle Mandu (for dinner), both locations Nage (for dinner), downtown Montmartre (for dinner), the Hill

Restaurateurs, GMs — keep updating me, and I’ll be sure to update this list …

We’re all glad to see you up and running again …

HOW DO YOU CALL OUT A RESTAURANT ON CUTTING CORNERS? ...:

Hi Todd -

Thanks for being here this morning!

Recently dined at a new casual/bar restaurant in the area and was served what I am 99 percent positive were instant potatoes.

Granted, I wasn't expecting a whole lot and just needed a quick meal, but is there a non-pretentious way to call a restaurant out on this? Is it something a server should mention? Is it unrealistic to expect that when I dine out that I get real mashed potatoes?

Todd Kliman:

There’s another possibility, and that’s that they weren’t instant but made so wretchedly that they TASTED like instant.

Could be they ran out. Could be they had prepared potatoes from Sysco or something as a backup.

But I mean, in this day and age where chefs show all their homework and bragging about sources is de rigueur — yes, I think you should expect at the very least that a restaurant is making its own mashed potatoes.

It’s a dicey thing to bring up at the table. There’s no way of knowing for certain that they ARE instant. And I can’t imagine a restaurant in the world that would say: Yes. You found us out. They come from a mix.

They’ll deny, deny, deny …

This gets us to the larger issue, here, which is when a server or manager comes by and asks if everything’s all right. When the food is excellent and service comes off without a hitch, it’s easy to answer in the affirmative.

But what if the food is not excellent and the service isn’t either?

And what if they aren’t awful but simply somewhere in between — somewhere so middling it’s not really worth remarking upon either way?

What if you suspect that the restaurant simply isn’t capable of doing better, and that to voice a criticism is to burden it with a weight it cannot handle?

In that case you do what we all do, you nod politely and say: Fine.

SHADES OF MIAMI ...:

Lost power last night around 7pm and from past experiences decided it was best to drive out to Ashburn and crash with the folks.

I only saw three other cars on the toll road as we made our way to Ashburn.

Driving through the storm reminded me of my graduate school days in Miami and reminded me Latin America restaurant in miami. A place where we would head for breakfast for some dos huevos, mas papas and some good cuban coffee!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Naeem

Todd Kliman:

A good Cuban breakfast sounds about perfect …

We’re really novices at this kind of thing in DC.

Though we won’t be for long, since our climate, as predicted year ago, is shifting toward something much more like that of North Carolina.

Thanks for writing in, Naeem … I hope your power’s restored soon …

HOSS CHECKS IN W/ AN UPDATE ...:

The June 29,2012 was a blessing in disquise. It took down most of the questionable trees and branches and as a result the DC area didnt have as large a number of folks w/o power.

Now if it would just warm up. rain has finally stopped in Clifton. Making chicken soup later.
>br> Clifton, VA

Todd Kliman:

That’s what people’ve been saying. At least some good came of that thing.

Derecho … Nobody knew the word until it hit, which is fitting, since nobody knew it hit until it hit.

So Hoss is making chicken soup. What all have you been cooking and baking?

I made a big lunch yesterday. Brined a pork loin, and pan-seared it and roasted it. Served it with a mustard cream sauce with minced apples, as well as a salad of watercress, shaved carrot and baby grapes with a yogurt-based dressing and potatoes gratin. And a bottle of Pinot Noir.

Last night was bean soup and then we eased into the rough patch with homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk.

As Phyllis Richman always tells me, “Food helps.”

NOTE: I just updated the list of restaurants that are or will be open tonight.

BIRTHDAY DINNER ON A BUDGET, FROM LAST WEEK ...:

We went to Bistro Provence per your recommendation.

We loved the place; the outdoor sitting was just perfect. We had a great service our server was nice and attentive, the food was good as well but the price....maybe I don't know what reasonable is but a veal special at $48 seems pricey when you want a dinner on a budget.

Yes, I should have asked the server for the price but then again since everything on the menu was 34 or less I thought it will be in that range.

Thanks for the recommendation; we really had a great time.

Todd Kliman:

I’m glad it worked out so well for you, but ouch.

I really dislike like when restaurants do this. That’s almost 50 percent more than any other item on the menu.

And $48 in this day and age? That veal had better do something besides just sit there on a plate.

That’s my fault for putting Provence on that list with other, more reasonably priced places. It IS possible to eat more cheaply, but there are a lot of temptations not to, as well. I apologize.

OYSTER BEDS AND HURRICANE SANDY ...:

Also, that was a good story you posted on Twitter about oysters from the NY Times.

Who knew bivalves could make a difference when dealing with hurricanes.

Todd Kliman:

Who knew, is right.

It’s a pointed and timely reminder that everything matters, and everything connects.

The constant focus on “the bottom line” by our biggest companies and corporations is more insidious than we know.

Here’s a link to the Paul Greenberg piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/opinion/an-oyster-in-the-storm.html?_r=0

Re: CUTTING CORNERS ...:

So are we saying that restaurants are "fine" with being "fine"? And I should be too? When, then, is it acceptable to voice a complaint? Only when something is raw/under/overcooked or purely inedible? When something doesn't come out the way it was described or the way you've had it before?

I agree with you that some places can't excel above a certain level, but everyone deserves to know when they aren't up to par, don't they?

Todd Kliman:

I think there’s a rising scale of expectations, and what’s fair to point out and complain about rises with those expectations.

I’m not going to tell a sports bar that its chicken wings are only fair. I’m not going to tell a greasy spoon that my steak was medium when I asked for medium-rare.

If I’m at Fiola, however, and the meat is not cooked as requested, then I think it’s perfectly fine to speak up. If you are not intimidated to do us.

Your example falls in the middle, as a place with some pretensions and/or claims on quality. I don’t know the specific restaurant you’re referring to, but yes, I would expect that a place like that would be able to get certain things right even if the things it got right did not add up to deliciousness.

Would I expect a place like this to not serve farmed salmon? Would I expect a place like this to source all its greens from a local farmer? It depends on the place. These are questions of a greater degree of complexity.

It’s a really tricky thing when the question is not — Is everything prepared correctly? — but rather: Do you like it?

Some restaurants actually want to know whether you do. They are fully prepared to swap out the dish you don’t care for, in favor of a dish that, they hope, you do. But that’s not the case with most restaurants, and not simply because they don’t care; it’s not the case with most restaurants because they can’t afford for it to be the case.

In general, I think if you are paying in excess of $100/person, you ought to expect that things are seamless and perfectly cooked (which, again, is not the same as deliciousness, though I would really, really hope for that kind of coin that you were full well in the ballpark of deliciousness.)

Re: SOCIETY FAIR, OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA ...:

Hi Todd,

My husband and I are big fans of Society Fair and frequent it often for market supplies and glasses of wine at the wine bar. We've recommended the establishment to several friends, as we love the concept and the vibe. We were first introduced to Society Fair when we went in May for the demo kitchen experience, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Saturday, October 6, my husband, brother and I dined at the demo kitchen again. Just like the first experience, the food, wine, and service were great.

The major difference, and what we were most looking forward to, was the food demonstration. During our first experience in May with Chef Trey, the demo was very informative and step by step. He prepared each food item in front of us, recommended certain brands of ingredients, and explained in detail how to prepare each course. The demonstration lasted about 2 1/2 hours. We left feeling like we had learned a lot and just might even be able to recreate some of the dishes at home.

However, on Saturday, Oct 6, there was essentially no demonstration. Everything was prepared ahead or in the kitchen behind the scenes. The only thing prepared in front of us were some brussel sprouts and pureed potatoes. We were finished the last course within an hour and a half of our arrival.

We were really looking forward to the demonstration portion and chose Society Fair for this reason, as there are plenty of restaurants we could have chosen to spend a combined $400.

While they may have changed their approach to this event since we dined with them in May, we were not made aware of this through the website or the staff.

As someone who is always excited when there are new, cool concepts in the DC area and as a fan of the place, we emailed to share our experience with Society Fair. However, we have not yet received a response. We sent a follow-up email and still, nothing. While, we didn't ask for a response or an explanation, it seems like it would have been the right thing to do. Thoughts on the experience and the way it was handled?

Todd Kliman:

$400 for an hour-and-a-half meal for 3 with a poor and corner-cutting demo?

I’d be disappointed, too.

And I’m also disappointed to hear that your email was ignored.

I suppose that someone on the staff there read the email and saw that you said that the food, wine and service were all great, and thought you were just splitting hairs.

Pacing is a big part of an experience, and especially one like this, which should not zip by in an hour-and-a-half. And should, ideally, give the diner something he or she could not get on TV.

TACO TALK, CONT. ...:

Someone may have mentioned it already, but the El Chilango truck is our go-to spot.

Lots of cilantro, chorizo to write home about, and a warm inviting way about them. If it wasn't for the trees down all around us, would be making a field trip now.

Todd Kliman:

Decent, if you can’t leave the city.

I’m disappointed by the al pastor. Which isn’t really an al pastor.

You really need to get out to Taqueria La Placita, in Riverdale’s Little Mexico, or, better yet, hop in a car and head up to R&R Taqueria in Elkridge — a gas station (!) with the best tacos in the region. Chorizo, barbacoa, cochinita (baby pig), etc.

NOTE: I have again updated the list of restaurants that are up and running, or will be shortly …

I want to thank all of you who took a little time out to join me today.

And it’s so good to see so many restaurants up and on their feet again.

Yesterday on Twitter, I was critical of the decision to open or stay open when Metro was being shut down; many restaurant workers depend on public transportation, often several forms, to get to and from work, and making demands on them at a time of crisis struck me as putting the needs of the business above those of the many workers (who make the business, the business).

But today is different. People who are without power will flock to places that are open to find light and warmth and familiarity, not to mention tasty sustenance, but even those of us who are fortunate enough to have power will still end up patronizing these spots because we need these things, too — even if we don’t need them so urgently. Restaurants, as we all know, are many, many things, and providers of food and drink are, it’s easy to forget, sometimes the least of them.

Stay warm and dry, everyone, and let’s hope for a quick return to power all around …

Be well and eat well, and let’s do it again next Tuesday at 11 …







[missing you, TEK … ]