Tuesday, March 23 at 11 AM

Ask Food & Wine Editor and restaurant critic Todd Kliman a question about Washington area cuisine and restaurant news.

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.

Did you know you can now write your own restaurant reviews on Washingtonian.com? Read here to find out how.

Read the transcript from March 16th.

Follow Todd on Twitter!

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T K ' s   2 5:

W h e r e   I ' d   S p e n d   M y   O w n   M o n e y

Komi, DC

Tallula, Arlington

Four Sisters, Falls Church

Cafe du Parc, DC

Sushi Sono, Columbia

Poste Brasserie, DC

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria

Againn, DC

La Caraqueña, Falls Church

Jackie's, Silver Spring

Rasika, DC

The Liberty Tavern, Arlington

Cava, DC and Rockville

Bistro Bis, DC

Sabai Sabai Simply Thai, Germantown

Sushi Taro, DC

Tommy Marcos's Ledo Restaurant, Adelphi

J&G Steakhouse, DC

La Limeña, Rockville

Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro, Columbia

Jaymar Colombian Breeze, Gaithersburg

Zaytinya, DC

The Source and The Source Lounge, DC

Johnny's Half Shell, DC

Gom Ba Woo, Annandale

Central Michel Richard, DC

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Arlington, VA

Hi Todd,

I really enjoy the chats each week!

My boyfriend's parents are coming into town next weekend and his father wants to go to a Thai restaurant. The only Thai places I've been to in DC were convenient and cheap, so I'm looking for a good recommendation of a mid-range Thai place that is parent-approved.

Any ideas? We live in NOVA, but are happy to travel. Thanks!

In Virginia, I like Bangkok 54, fun, vibrant space, solid cooking that sometimes rises to something special. I'm thinking in particular of the crispy tofu with chili sauce and fried basil. When it's good, it's great, one of the best vegetarian dishes in the area.

Maryland has my three favorites at the moment: Sabai Sabai Simply Thai in Germantown, and Nava Thai and Ruan Thai in Wheaton. 

I don't think you can go wrong with any of these four. Good luck, and let us know how your big meal turns out … 

Gaithersburg, MD

Todd,

I ordered pork chops at a restaurant in Silver Spring. Thick cut but was surprised it was cooked medium. Is it safe to eat pork medium and medium rare? I always thought pork had to be cooked well done. The server said it was safe to eat pork medium nowadays. Thanks!

It is, it's safe. Good question, thanks for asking it …

And actually, from a purely gastronomical perspective, it's much, much tastier to eat meat — any meat, really — that's medium-rare or medium. 

How was the chop, anyway? And where'd you eat it? 

Charlottesville, VA
You Tweeted earlier that Peter Chang has left Taste of China in Charlottesville, VA. Do you have that straight from the chef? Or is this a rumor? Your Tweet is flying around town and bumming us all out! I don't suppose he let slip any tantalizing clues as to where he might emerge next?

I have it from a source, who sent me an email yesterday with a subject line that read: "giddyapped."

I'm not in the least surprised. Well, no — that's not right. I'm surprised that it took this long. One month exactly from the time that both my confessional essay in the Oxford American and Trillin's article in the New Yorker dropped the same week. I figured he'd have bolted in two weeks, tops.

If form holds, he'll turn up again, somewhere. But probably not in Charlottesville.

What would be great to see is some big-shot investor stepping forward and building the guy his own restaurant in downtown DC — a real showpiece, worthy of a celebrity chef. Building it, partially funding it, and then having the ego-lessness to step back and let the man work. A reservations-only sort of place, with two seatings per night — the better to allow the maestro to focus on what matters. Doesn't have to be a version of Minibar, just a restaurant that would showcase his talents to their fullest.

Bethesda, MD

Re: Sous Vide & Plastic.

Reynolds makes quart and gallon bags with an exhaust valve that is food safe, and also has a little hand pump to take the air out. Also, all of the material sold for Foodsaver and similar vacuum machines etc. are safe.

In addition, the temperature of the water bath never even approach boiling, and are generally between 115 and 150 deg F – very similar to tap water temperatures. I have seen a few recipes for 180F, but they are very rare. I just want to point out that there are tender things and tough things. Sous vide cooks tender things like steaks, fish, and poultry, for a relatively brief time at a temperature that you would want the finish temperature to be – i.e. medium rare +- 132F.

The interesting super long times (12-72 hours) are for the tougher cuts like chuck or beef ribs. The meats have their tough collagen converted to gelatin, just like a "fork tender" pot roast, but the low temperature makes them as rare and juicy as prime rib. The extended times also serve to pasteurize the food so bacteria doesn't grow.

That's the very basics.

With a quick ice bath cool down and perfect temperature control, sous vide in the bag is generally good for about 4-5 days in the refrigerator, and can be frozen if desired. Both can warmed up to serving temperature in a water bath as needed.

Just a plug for the technique – cooking fish, poultry, and tender meat cuts sous vide is very easy and requires no equipment beyond an accurate quick reading thermometer. Salmon (1/2 hr at 125F) is incredible, and chicken breasts (142-145F for 1-1 1/2 hr), something I normally can't stand because they are always overcooked, are wonderfully moist. Too much topic – edit at will.

Thanks for all the good info.

I'd imagine there are a lot of people out there reading this, hearing your excitement, and mulling the possibility of trying sous vide for the first time. Me included …

So, some questions … Where did you get your sous vide? How much did you pay? How often do you use it? Do you ever elect to keep it on overnight 

Clifton, VA

The last case of Trchinosis in the US was I believe in mid 60's in WVA from road kill.

Tricnosis is killed at approx 135 degrees. Modern pork is way too lean to cook to 170 degres or more. I cook mine to 135 degrees pull it out and let it set and temp rises above 140 degrees.

Even heritage pork taste better when it isn't cooked well done. You will not get sick. Poultry like chicken or turkey should be cooked to 170 degrees. Duck to medium rare. The less fat a cut contains the bteer the chances when you cook beyond medium that it will be tough. Chicken and turkey excluded.

Great follow-up, Clifton.

And hey — long time, no hear. How're things? 

Field Report from the Restaurant Refugee

I have long believed that the first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the best single weekend in all of sports. This year I satisfied me desire to treat this most recent weekend as a personal hoops holiday. From Thursday morning to Sunday night, I consumed massive amounts of basketball… and a fair bit of bar food and beer too.

A few thoughts:

* Public Bar – 2 of 4 basketballs

Has a terrific layout for sports with flat screens covering most of the two walls to the left and right of the bar and a gigantic projection screen at the front of the bar. All of the booths have individual TVs and there is generally not a bad place to watch a game on the first or second level. Suffers from a small, pedestrian, and incredibly yawn inducing beer selection.

The kitchen aims for average with their barfood and generally succeeds (of note: The BBQ Bacon steak-burger is damn good, be sure to order it with a side of the BBQ sauce which arrives hot and converts average fries into something special.)

Public was best for the day games before the crowds arrived.

* Cleveland Park Bar & Grill – 0.5 of 4 basketballs

Sure there are lots of good screens, however the design of the bar and the placement of the screens limit one’s ability to comfortably watch multiple games. Beer selection is plentiful but uninspiring as it focuses on those with the largest advertising budgets. The food will only be sustenance and the pizzas are the worst I have ever tasted from a wood oven. Perhaps most annoying, the management has no problem packing the place with more people than the bar can reasonably serve.

* Irish Channel – 1.5 of 4 basketballs

Might have received another half-basketball but less than 24 hours after St. Patrick’s Day, I am sure they weren’t at full power. Beer was pretty standard for an Irish bar, everyone in the joint was capable of pouring a perfect Guinness and a proper Half-n-Half, and the food was just a touch better than you might expect. Spider Kelley’s – 1.5 of 4 basketballs – both pleased me and gave me great pause (they have just reopened so they deserve some slack.) The main bar area is a touch dark for daytime – balanced against the light from the prominent windows upfront it has a slightly dungeon-ish quality. Viewing multiple games wasn’t as convenient as one might hope. The beer selection was one of the two best of any of the places I visited this weekend with several craft brews available. The burger was perfectly cooked and they used high quality bacon – too bad it took a couple of tours around the bar before it got to me, even worse, most of the food I saw come to the bar took detours before arriving to the person who ordered it*. Generally speaking, I was wholly unenthused with the service.

* Capital Lounge – 2 of 4 basketballs

Is comfortable like the ten year old jeans I wore there, neither may be the most stylish but they’re both really functional and feel soothing in a “broken-in” way. Great beers on tap, a Bloody Mary Bar at brunch, and they do a diner-esque turn with their eggs… I mean that in a good way. The sightlines are decent. Other places might aim for digital-music-smooth, Cap Lounge is old-vinyl-cool.

Where will I be on Thursday for the start of the Sweet Sixteen? Jumpball. Happy Tournament.

****

Among the very first things that you learn in any restaurant is that nothing trumps hot food. When food leaves the kitchen it should never have a detour or delay before reaching the guest who ordered it. This is true from the greasiest of spoon to the finest of four star dining. For me, watching bad service is like seeing a Fingernails on Chalkboard Tournament with Fran Drescher doing color commentary.

I'm with you, I love the first weekend of the tournament, when so many possibilities are still in the air. And how much the better when the weather is good and you can really begin to feel that Spring is here. It was a pretty ideal weekend.

i caught the action at the newly named Alliance Tavern (formerly Enology), and would probably give the experience — in your parlance — two basketballs. 

Food's pretty good by bar food standards — I mean, jeeze, a cheese plate? and a good one? — and I love the idea that every single available wine is available by the glass and in several different pour sizes. There are, I think, 8 TVs positioned around the bar and dining room, which is great for seeing a lot of action. Problem is, nobody else was really watching, it was more of an after-work, blow-off-steam kind of scene for stressed-out yuppies. So, no cheering, no sense of communality at the bar. And I don't recall the TVs being close-captioned, so there was no sense of play-by-play for any of the games.

Washington, DC

Dear Todd,

I'm a big fan and fellow food-obsessive writing in for the first time. I read your chats every week, treat the top 100/cheap eats guide as my bible and it's no exaggeration to say that this city wouldn't be half as interesting to live in without your expert guidance on all things food.

Here's my situation: It's my girlfriend's birthday this week and we're very pumped to be heading to J and G Steakhouse to celebrate. Since this is a special occasion and a rare opportunity to splurge (we're both underpaid journalists who generally stick to the Cheap Eats list more than the top 100), we were hoping we could draw on your expertise to make the most of the experience: if each of us orders an app, main course and dessert, what are the best 6 dishes we should order to experience the full breadth and depth of Jean-Georges' culinary powers?

We're both adventurous eaters so please just imagine that you and a Todd Kliman clone were getting ready to unleash the hounds. I know you're pretty high on the fish mains and the molten chocolate cake, so those are definitely on our radar. Any other guidance you had would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all you do to make DC more delicious. Rock on!

You're too nice! Thank you. A TK clone, wow — the thought of that actually unnerves me. ; )

OK, so here's how I'd order:

First course: parmesan risotto and crispy calamari. Let me just say that the risotto is a new dish, one I haven't had, but I would bank on it because it's the kind of simple, technique-driven dish that J&G does so well; I have to believe it would be excellent. And the fried calamari is superb, best in the city — best I've had anywhere, for that matter. This'll give you two nice contrasts, too — creamy/soft and crunchy.

Second course: Tilefish or the salmon and the organic chicken or pork chop. The kitchen is terrific with fish, and these two are very precise, but also very expressive, dishes. And the chicken doesn't sound all that exciting, but if you want to taste what chicken ought to taste like — if you want a simple but very satisfying dish, then order the chicken. And the chop is also excellent.

Dessert: I'd go molten chocolate cake (Jean-Georges, the J and G of the title, invented the dish) and poached pears.

Hope that helps, and I'd love to know how your grand night out turns out … Best wishes …

Rockville, MD

Todd,

My husband and I finally got a chance to try out Good Stuff Eatery this weekend. Although we thought the burgers and fries were tasty, we weren't totally blown away. However, the shakes were totally out of this world. My husband hasn't stopped talking about the toasted marshmallow shake and it's been two days.

What are your thoughts on best burger places in the area?

You weren't blown away because it's not blow-you-away food. It's a fancier grade of Five Guys, is what it is.

I dislike the fries, the burgers are fine but I don't find myself pining for them, and as for the shakes — you're right on the money, there. The shakes are probably the best reason to stop by.

My two favorite burger places — among the boutiques — are Ray's Hell Burger and BGR: Burger Joint.

In the workaday category, I enjoy Five Guys (particularly the fries) and I think ZBurger makes a pretty darn good  fast food burger. 

It's not a burger place, but the juicy, big, sloppy burgers at Hard Times are pretty irresistible. 

 

McLean, Va
Hi Todd! I have tickets to the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at the National Geographic Museum on Friday night at 9:30p. Any suggestions for where to eat in the area or a short cab/metro ride away?

Well, Nage is right around the corner and isn't bad — Modern American cooking that sometimes gets a little cute for its own good, but sometimes hits the mark dead-on. When it's good, the Nage burger (made with grassfed beef and topped with gouda and smoked onion) is really, really good.

Further, but not too much further (a good walk, is more like it), is Vidalia, one of the very best restaurants in the city.

Hope that helps. Enjoy the show. 

 

Cheverly, MD

At 9 and 1/2 months pregnant we are having a bit of spastic we-better-eat-out-since-it-will-never-be-the-same-again style frenzied dining (I wonder if you and your wife did something similar before your little one was born?).

While I know we will be able to eat out with baby, we also know it will be different. So, we keep leaving home and eating out even when dinner is half prepared….and to places where it seems the little one will be a bit less welcome.

This was a busy week!

Birch and Barley was a pretty place, and we were able to score a table early in the evening walking in. I wanted to keep pretending they hadn't yet given us the bread board, especially those pretzels. They were a miracle and if I could have just had a bucket of them and some sips of nice beer I would have left happy.

Beyond the breads we enjoyed a simple salad and pasta, both modified for this non-pork and beef eater, and flat bread. All were good, but it was the beer list (available in little pours so we could try a few of them) and the expertise of the server which made it especially fun. Desserts were playful and reminiscent of Michel Richard and some of his riffs on junk food, and tasty all the same (hostess cupcake was especially tasty). It was hopping and lively and not really baby friendly– at least we made it there once!

The Source lounge was empty when we arrived for happy hour, clearly not a top pick for St. Patrick's Day celebrations, which was fine with us. Assuming (incorrectly) that the bar menu would be tiny plates, we thought that for dinner we should each order the 3 plates for $20.10 and share. That was a lot of food, even for this gal eating for two. And there was the whole problem that I kept wanting to pick up the plates and lick the sauce off of them– the chicken wings covered in fresh cilantro, the green stuff (what is that stuff?) with the crunchy tempura green beans, the delectable pickles served with the organic chicken kebabs, and some of the more substantial shrimp and spicy tuna rolls in the area. It was, undoubtedly, a ton of food and plenty for dinner for 3 or 4. The quality was high and it was all tasty. I could do without the snobby service and the really, really weird soundtrack (Beach Boys, Beastie Boys, Hall and Oates….seriously?)– but this is potentially one of the best deals in the Penn Quarter for a nice place to eat.

Tonight we abandoned dinner at home and went to Sou-wester despite the mixed reviews. Basically because I wanted to eat the hush puppies and honey butter I had heard about, but we can pretend there were a variety of other reasons. It was quiet on a Sunday, but we were made to feel very welcome by their gracious staff. We shared a few things, each a success in it's own right. If we had merely had the bread basket I would have been happy, and in the spirit of full disclosure we ate two of them– the sweet potato puffs, the cornbread, the biscuit, all warm and scrumptious and basically pregnancy heaven. If I had to choose between the breadbasket here, at Birch and Barley and at Vidalia I don't know what I would do– either way, I am happy to support the inventive breadbasket trend in this city.

The huge market salad with goat cheese was a dinner in itself, and when I return it will be my choice- homemade pickles, local veg when possible, lightly dressed. The heirloom beet salad cleverly used lemon mascarpone to cut the earthiness of the beets and my non-beet-loving husband even liked them. We probably would have had plenty to eat without the fried chicken, which was tasty, but the cole slaw with it was pretty fantastic, light, and tangy.

And then there were the hush puppies, still amazing after all of that. Despite the hint of shame putting honey butter on a fried ball of buttery dough I was able to enjoy them completely. And the host invited us to return to their "family -friendly restaurant" when baby arrives. I am sure we will. Not sure we will get in any more dining but it's possible. I can just focus on all of the money we are saving by not buying wine!

I know the feeling, Cheverly, I know the feeling …

It actually doesn't get tougher to go until about six months. After the baby comes, you can go anywhere you like, because the baby will sleep through dinner. It's nice. Ethnic restaurants are easier, of course, but that doesn't mean you need to rule out other, fancier places.

As the baby gets a little older, I think you'll find — as I found — that Asian restaurants (with the glaring exception of most sushi restaurants) and Latin restaurants are very, very embracing of having a baby in the dining room, while the majority of American restaurants give you the very distinct impression that you should not have bothered coming. It's sobering.

Anyway, it sounds as though you're doing some great eating.

I love those pretzels at Birch and Barley, and wish I could just swing by and buy a bag. The place is worth keeping an eye on as it finds its rhythm.

The Source's new izakaya menu, available only in the lounge, is fantastic, one of the great deals in the city. And there are many, many gems: the Szechuan chicken dumplings, the marvelous mini banh mi (which may spoil you from ever getting the bigger, more workmanlike subs at the Eden Center), the udon with oxtail, the presentation of hamachi and jalapeno …

Glad to hear you gave Sou'Wester a shot. My own mixed review had little to do with the food, which can be wonderful, particularly those amazing hush puppies (I wish I could swing by and just buy them, too).

Clifton, VA
Sorry to disagree Todd but my collies and their buds all agree Five Guys burgers and fries are the best. After a tough day of working sheep and lsitening to your idiot human no other burger in the area satisfies as well as a plain cheeseburger from Five Guys. They say the only downside is sharing the fires with humans. My collies can tell the difference between Five Guys fries and everyone else's. you are in dnager of losing a finger with Five Guys.

Hey, you could start a website, Clifton — restaurant reviews by dogs. Call it Woof!

I gotta think that reviews written by dogs can't be much more inarticulate than some of the restaurant reviews on Yelp! 

  

Arlington, VA
So when and where in Ballston is MArio Batali's new place opening? He was seen back over Xmas scouting a location at One Liberty Center. He was back in here last Friday.

I think you're way, way ahead of this game. I don't think Batali himself knows.

Yes, he's scouting, but from what I understand, it's not just DC-area locations he's scouting. I wouldn't get too excited. And even if he should decide to expand here, I really doubt it would happen before sometime in 2011.

So them's the facts.

But just to speculate for a second … A Batali restaurant would singlehandedly — and almost immediately — elevate the quality of Italian dining in this city. I have little doubt about that.

 

Alexandria, VA

Todd,

Going to dinner with my parents tonight in Alexandria. They are into good food but Restaurant Eve is a little out of the price range for tonight. Which would you recommend: Vermillion, Majestic, Bastille? Or someplace else?

Vermilion would be my first choice. Majestic second, Bastille third.

It's not as gorgeous a day as what we were seeing through the weekend, but a night in Old Town tonight should be nice. Enjoy the time out and the time with your parents. 

Zoila, Washington DC

Hey Todd

These are recipe sleuth questions… I've been craving these two things for the last few weeks: the m'ssaka at Lebanese Taverna and the sushi salad at Joss in Annapolis.

Any way you can get us the recipes for the m'ssaka and the chili dressing that comes with the Joss sushi salad? I've been wanting to try making the m'ssaka at home. But when I try to google "m'ssaka" I don't really turn up any actual recipes just "stewed eggplant, tomato, and chickpeas in spices." When I try googling moussaka, I think it turns up something completely different, something with lamb or beef and it's baked.

As for the Joss sushi salad, I absolutely love it. It's raw tuna, salmon, and avocado diced and tossed with some sort of chili dressing… and served over rice, with lettuce and tomato. So delicious. I used to get it all the time when I lived in downtown Annapolis. But now I live in DC, Joss only serves this for lunch, so it's hard for me to get there.

I remembered asking the hostess before how the dressing was made, and she said "oh it's a secret" but if you have any readers who know what I'm talking about and who have recreated it a version of it that's remotely close, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks. We'll try.

And I've had that sushi salad, too — it's good. I really doubt, though, that you're going to be able to replicate that at home, for the simple reason that retail shoppers like us simply can't get good enough fish. 

But as I said, we'll give it a shot … 

Washington, DC

Hi Todd- love the chats!

I wanted to share a not so great experience that my boyfriend and I had at Palena the other week. When I called to make the reservation, I was asked if there was a special occasion and I mentioned it was my boyfriend's birthday.

I figured this would spare me the trouble of trying to whisper to the waiter that we had a special occasion. No such luck. Nothing was done, but at that point in the meal, it would've been too little too late anyway.

I went to order what I was told was one of their most popular items- their egg ravioli. Our reservation was at 8:30 and we were ordering pretty quickly. I was told they were out of this- how can a restaurant be out of their most popular item, which is a pasta, by 8:45? That seems ridiculous. Next we ordered a bottle of pinot grigio. Out of that too. A bottle of wine was recommended and upon tasting it, to say it was a cross between battery acid and apple juice, would be a compliment. The food that we ordered was delicious, but the service, or lack there of, and the missing items just ruined the experience. We might expect this at a restaurant of a lesser caliber, but we had high hopes for Palena.

I can understand being out of an item, or being out of an ingredient that would make that item what it is. I can understand being out of a bottle of wine. My guess is that it's just coincidence that you happened to choose those two things.

Now, the bottle of wine. I assume you tasted it and rejected it, yes? In which case you didn't pay for it, yes?

I realize it's the experience you're talking about, and you wanted everything to go smoothly — and a gaffe like that only destroys the illusion of flow and sanctuary. But how is a server to know if a fresh bottle is corked?

The thing that jumps out at me is this: They ask if it's a special occasion, you tell them it's a birthday — and they do nothing! What's that about? Why ask, restaurant people out there who are reading along, if you don't intend to formally acknowledge it, or to offer a special treat at the end? 

 

Van Ness

Hi Todd,

Taking Mom to Rasika next Friday night (she chose it over the other 2 "hip parent in town" suggestions I made – Central and Montmarte); can you remind me once more what Rasika's "can't miss" dishes are?

Also, per your inspiration I've really begun to enjoy hopping in the car, punching the address of a "cheap eat" into the GPS (I've got it set to a British male voice and call him "Shackleford") and hitting the road in pursuit of new hidden gems.

A recent adventure brought me to Full Key in Wheaton, which I loved everything about (I'm the same chatter who has complained about the weak Chinese options in DC proper and who badly misses Yenching Palace – you and I have agreed to disagree on its legacy).

Anyway at Full Key, apparently I missed out on their signature item: some sort of Chinese BBQ that inevitably seems to sell out very day. The unattainableness of this dish has really peaked my interest and I've found myself calling asking "Do you have any of the BBQ tonight?" to which I am always told "Already sold out."

So what's the deal? Are they brilliant marketers and know that dangling this nonexistent dish in front of me will keep them front of mind and in a certain awe of them? Or is it really that good? Not even sure what it really is anyway!

In closing, I want to mention that I just returned from a vacation to Antigua where my girlfriend and I are proud to have spent a day out of the all-inclusive rut by hiring a local jack-of-all-trades to drive us around the island, kind of like the J. Peterman Reality Tour if you're a Seinfeld fan? Here are some of the resulting food highlights/discoveries: any fresh-caught grilled fish, curried goat, fungi (a cornmeal-based side that is wonderful to dip in the main course's sauce), and these white dumplings (unstuffed). The local beer, Wadadli, is a winner, as is pretty much anything slushy that comes out of the resorts' blenders, especially the Coco Loco (a creamier, less coconut-heavy Pina Colada). The one frustration was that so many of the proteins were served on or amidst a maze of bones – often small, brittle bones that made eating delicious BBQ chicken feel like the task of eating Watermelon. But hey, no complaints when in Paradise!

Thanks in advance for whatever you do with that "question" that was literally all over the map.

No no no — I love questions like this.

And I wish I had a Shackleford. Mine is a very sensible-sounding woman I call Celeste. How do you get a different voice on the GPS?

Glad to hear you found Full Key — it's a real gem. 

As to the mystery of the roast meats … no real mystery. They tend to sell out at lunch, is all. Are they special? Not particularly. I like the soyed chicken, I've had some good experiences with the duck, but the meats are not so wonderful that a meal is lost without them.

So, you're not missing out on too much, I'd say. Not like I and everybody else out there is missing out by not having a few days of brilliant water, gentle temperatures and sparkling fresh fish in Antigua.

Thanks for writing.

Capitol Hill

Hi Todd,

Thanks for all the great work you do to keep your readers informed.

Can you steer me to a seafood restaurant that will give out-of-towners what you consider a true DC dining experience? Price is not a primary concern (good food is!) and DC-proper is preferred.

Thanks!

It's an interesting thing you say, a true DC dining experience, because aside from all the pol spots (not to be confused with Pol Pots) I don't really know what a true DC dining experience is — I'm not certain there's a definitive DC experience that can be had at a local restaurant. Or, a better way of putting it — I don't think a quote-unquote definitive DC experience is a very good gastronomic experience.

Now, having said that … I think Kinkead's is about the best you can do for great seafood in the city, and its setting feels solid, lived-in, well-established. It has the look and feel of a place that is an institution. Which is, when you think about it, pretty Washington.

Reston, VA

Follow-up to last week re: Charleston Grill:

TK, I had the following for dinner: Okeechobee Catfish & Fried Oysters Fried Ham Gravy, Parmesan Creamed Spinach Brown Butter Lemon Vinaigrette and this for a side: Baby Brussels Sprouts Lemon, Herbs, Butter .

The oysters were perfect (very lightly breaded, little seasoning, mostly just a little crunch to go with that salty sweetness of good oysters). The catfish was also fantastic, and probably the first time I've ever had catfish that was fried. The sprouts were great and always one of my favorite veggies, but the show-stopper was the fried ham gravy. While ungodly unhealthy, I was both immensely flavorful and at the same time a playful and creative to otherwise more traditional meal.

I have to agree with you about the talent of the chef at this establishment, going so far to say he would stack up just fine with some of the bigger names in DC.

Or surpass them.

Thanks for the chance to eat there again vicariously through your descriptions … 

Clifton, VA

Todd,

Obviously you ahve never had any exposure to real working herding dogs. Smartest species on the planet. A good herding dog makes a Ivy League law or medical school graduate look like a Vinny Barbino in remedial English. Lets see if you can take 5 sheep through a course on 75 yard 150 yard field in less than ten minutes.

"Makes an Ivy League grad look like a Vinny Barbarino in remedial English." Great line, Clifton!

Actually, I was flattering their intelligence in suggesting that they couldn't do worse than some of the Yelp!ers  …

Time for lunch. Til Tuesday …

Eat well, be well, and let's do it again next week at 11 …
 

 

[missing you, TEK … ]

 

Submit your question in advance for next week's chat here

 

 

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