It’s still the funkiest thing this side of a Chuck Brown jam session, but Jackie Greenbaum’s garage turned restaurant continues to impress. The finger foods and salads shimmer with locally sourced ingredients and evince a precision you’d expect in a more elegant setting—even the nachos stay free of messy indistinctness. If main courses are slightly less rewarding, that’s because the kitchen works best when it works small and because the prices come close to those at some of the city’s top restaurants. But the thick, juicy pork chop is stellar, as are the “nostalgia” plates.
8081 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-565-9700
These days, starters and bar snacks are the biggest reasons to head to Wolfgang Puck’s glassy Newseum restaurant. Upstairs, think small: a slab of crispy suckling pig painted with apricot purée, so rich it could stand in for foie gras; bite-size pork-belly potstickers; and Arctic char cooked in the tandoori and finished with cooling raita. In the downstairs lounge, the mini-burgers and fries with béarnaise still deserve their hype. But an entrée of grilled lamb chops with Hunan-style eggplant is relentlessly sweet and the dessert menu has been dumbed down.
575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-637-6100
Two dishes reminded us of the appeal of this onetime Cheap Eats pick: khao tang na tang, an appetizer of fragrantly spiced ground pork, shrimp, and peanuts; and ga xao phai, a crunchy salad of shredded chicken, cabbage, carrot, and mint. But the deep talay, a shellfish-studded red curry, left us wishing for more than the one mussel that appeared with the calamari and scallops. Disappointments piled up: greasy spring rolls, overly sweet pad Thai, flavorless fish cake. Still, the restaurant must be doing something right: The dining room was packed.
14511-P Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy., Chantilly; 703-631-8277
This article appeared in the October, 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.