Tuesday, September 28 2010 at 11 AM

Every Tuesday at 11, food & wine editor Todd Kliman takes your questions 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.

TK's 25: Where I'd Spend My Own Money

2 Amy's, DC 

Black Market Bistro, Garrett Park

Bollywood Bistro, Fairfax 

Buck's Fishing & Camping, DC

Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis

Central Michel Richard, DC

Estadio, DC 

Jackie's, Silver Spring

Komi, DC

Kushi, DC

La Canela, Rockville 

La Limeña, Rockville 

, Annapolis 

Minh's, Arlington

Montmartre, Capitol Hill 

Palena Cafe, DC

Poste Brasserie, DC

Ray's the Classics Bar, Silver Spring

Ray's the Steaks at East River, DC

Sol de España, Rockville

The Source and The Source Lounge, DC

Taqueria La Placita, Riverdale

Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore 

Yamas Mediterranean Grill, Bethesda 

Zaytinya, DC 

Zentan Sushi Bar, DC




To the poster from last week who was asking where they could find chilaquiles: Oyamel has chilaquiles on the menu. Can't say how good they are, since I have not ordered them.

Neither have I.

I've got to think there's someone out there who has, so as the chat continues today maybe we'll have some sort of report. 

Thanks for the tip. 

Silver Spring MD
Help! My parents idea of a dinner out is at Outback Steakhouse. They like very 'plain foods', nothing with crazy sauces, presentations or flavors. My family is coming down to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday and the idea of going to Outback is killing me. Cant go anywhere fussy where they would have to dress up too much or feel uncomfortable. Any recommendations for a good place for dad to have a steak, mom to have a plain type fish/chicken and for us kids to get a good meal?

I'd think you could get away with taking them to Ray's the Classics. And it's right there in Silver Spring.

Some people do get dressed up, but most don't — I don't think you'd see any great difference in how people come to dinner here as opposed to Outback. It's a comfortable, unpretentious place.

Your father can get a steak, your mother can get something plain too, and at the same time you and your siblings won't feel as though you're going generic. 

Tysons Corner

Just wanted to give a shout out too two of the areas top General Managers:

Rachid Lakroune of 2941. Aways providing excellent service and helping other through charitable donations.

Chelsea of 701. The First time I dined here Chelsea created a tasting menu for my fiance and I even when they do not offer a tasting menu. Now, everytime I go to 701 she created a mini tasting menu for me enjoy. (I highly recommend the lamb ribs)

I'm sure they'll appreciate the singling out.

A chef has become a trendy thing, and now bartenders too — transformed into culinary chemists and christened "mixologists."

GMs ought to get together and figure out a way to glam-ify their profession. I've got to think that that process would start with ditching the name "GM."

How to sex up the title a little?

Who's got a new, improved job title? 

Washington DC


I am headed to New Orleans for a conference next week. I haven't been there in over 10 years! So I need some help on where to eat. I am staying in the French Quarter on Canal Street with no car.

Can you suggest some yummy places for lunch and dinner that I can walk to? No preference on cuisine as long as it is tasty. If it makes a difference, I am also going solo to these places since I am "sneaking" out of the conference to get some good eats. Thanks in advance!

No car, no worries. You've got tons at your disposal … Cochon for a rootsy, porkified dinner. NOLA, Emeril's more inexpensive place. And a newcomer, Stella!, very much in the grand old style, very over the top in some of its preparations.

Washington, DC
I'm thinking of going to Minibar with my boyfriend for our two-year anniversary. We are willing to spend the money if it is worth the expense. Would you say an experience at Minibar is "worth it"? Are there other local restaurants that you would recommend instead? Thanks!

I think it is.

Minibar is sui generis — there's nothing else like it. Not in the city, and not in any other city, for that matter. 

That's not to say it's going to be your thing; I know a lot of people who love food, love going out, who don't consider going to Minibar to be going to dinner. I can understand that.

When I first wrote about it, I described it as "tantric dining," because you never comfortably settle in to your meal — as you tend to do at most conventionally great restaurants. You get a taste of something wonderful — just a taste, and then it's gone, never to be repeated. It can be frustrating. It can also be wonderfully exciting, tasting so many different flavors and textures in a single meal.

Cheverly, MD

Husband, baby and I are heading to Chapel Hill / Durham for the weekend soon. Looking for some tasty eats, something we can do with baby, and some good times in the area. Fine dining or casual are both good– we go early so the little on can go almost anywhere.

So far we are thinking about Elaine's on Franklin for their early evening prix-fixe– it's a good deal and it looks like a friendly place, and perhaps the Watts Grocery or the Carolina Inn for brunch.

Any suggestions or thoughts on these ideas?

I wish I could help, but it's been a while since I've been down in Chapel Hill. Can anyone out there offer any good reco's? 

More important — how's the babe? 


Arlington, VA
Some buds and I are going to gun show Fri evening at the Dulles Expo Center can you recommend some place for dinner. Hooters is getting a little old. Reston, Fairfax, Manassas, Clifton are okay.

Why, the Gun Club of Goldvein, of course! ; )

(It never dies, it never dies … )

You mentioned Manassas. And when I think "Manassas" and "guns," I think of Panino, a simple, unpretentious Italian restaurant. Not that Panino sells guns; it doesn't — but it's next to a taxidermist and a gun shop. And — the food's pretty good, in some instances more than pretty good. It's the kind of place every town wants to have.

Del Ray

Re: the foodie philanderers from last week …

If they can leave the city, then I think they should consider Trummers on Main. Beautiful waterfall, great food, plenty of character. And when I took a tour of the restaurant, the hostesss showed me the bridal boudoir where brides can get ready or take a break before making an appearance at their reception. Between the boudoir and all the nooks and crannies at this place, a hotel may not be necessary.

Ha. Good one.

Although it's pretty costly for what I understand they're looking to spend.

And I've got to think that being so near anything bridal might be a sort of anti-Viagra for these on-the-sly'ers

Falls Church

Todd —

Great job on the Jose Andres story in Washingtonian, really enjoyed how you set it up by "deconstructing" him, really neat angle and a really good read.

I was wondering if you knew anything about the "Food Revolution" site on 7th Street across the street from what was going to be Wagamama? As always, thanks for you chats!

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the piece. Thanks so much for writing and telling me.

No, you know — I haven't heard anything about the Food Revolution project in a while.

I've recently walked by the site, and the lettering is very, very similar to what you see on Jamie Oliver's TV show of the same name. And I do know that he has indicated that he plans to open a number of cooking centers around the country. 

Clifton, VA
For the family heading to Chapel Hill for a quick lunch try to find a Cook Out. Think of f5 Guys with more choices. great fries, dogs, Q and shakes. Over 30 flavors of shakes that can't be beat. Nothing fancy. Just holes in the wall. Someone should get the franchise rights for the Dc area. would give 5 Guys and new burger places some competition

Whoa, what's this? A recommendation from Clifton?!

No bitching, no put-downs, no talk of socialists? Just a plain ol' suggestion of where to eat? Wow.

You're showing us new sides of yourself, bud … I like it …

What else you got? In general? In your neck of the woods, or — well, anywhere really? 


Downtown DC
Totally agree on Cochon. Stella! was just renovated and looks glam and beautiful, with food to match. Plus Chef Scott does an amazing job on everything he makes. Another great option is the "brother" restaurant, Stanley, located on Jackson Square. Much more casual (amazing burgers and sandwiches) but still delicious.

Thanks for the tip about Stanley.

All this talk of New Orleans restaurants is making me very, very hungry.

And I could really go for a good cup of chicory-laced coffee — or two, or three. I'm suffering a little for having gone to Midnight Madness last night at the Patriot Center, to welcome the new-look Wizards home and inject a little pep rally-style fun into the start of training camp.

Got to bed around 3, but did get to see just how explosive John Wall is — and I suspect he was STILL holding back a little. Good to see Gilbert Arenas out there, too, looking trim and fit and fast. His suspension was far in excess of his misdeed, and I hope he proves all the stereotypers and skeptics wrong this year with a big, focused season.

Final thought, for all you Wizards junkies: Kevin Seraphin is a HUGE body, and pretty darn graceful. I know he's a project, but he's very intriguing. 

Todd, shame on you!!! how can you talk to you readers/posters as `no bitching`… Don`t you have any manners???

You need to read that again.

I'm not chiding him to refrain from bitching; I'm expressing surprise that he didn't bitch. "Clifton" is a chat regular, and it's rare that he doesn't spit in the chili, as it were, in his appearances on here.




What do you think about Roberto Donna's comment reported by City Paper's Tim Carman about "all the evil eyes look at this and eat s…..t!!!!!!!!!!" last week? Is he shooting himself in a foot? Is he forgetting Washingtonians are the ones who supported him and made him famous and rich up to fiven years ago?

Washington is a very small community and his comments are not justified. Washingtonians have not done anything wrong, so why all this hate? If he did take care of his financial reponsibilities at the due time rest assure we would have benefited from benevolent and supportive eyes other then evil ones. Do you think he will screen his customers at the door with an evil eyes detector and refuse service? Is he actually going to open? I am just stunned!! Do you have any news…thanks

I don't have any news, no.

For those who don't know: The comment you're referring to was a Facebook posting, and it accompanied a photo of the outside of the new, forthcoming Galileo.

It was intended, I take it, as a moment of pure exultation — I imagine Roberto Donna was feeling vindicated and happy that this restaurant, years in the making, is on the verge of opening, and opening at a time when he is under fire from many directions (the media, the legal system). 

I agree with you — I was stunned when I saw it. Without words.


Clifton, VA

A great place just opened on Rt7 near Berryville. Now it was great the first time but have to try it again.

Peterson's Ice Cream Depot in Clifton has the best ice cream from Boston to Atlanta. Nothing beats eating your ice cream sundae as a train rolls by.

The Clifton General Store has some of best sandwiches in the area.

What's the name of the new place near Berryville? What kind of food? What sort of atmosphere?
Silver Spring

I was interested in your comments on the new Bethesda restaurants a couple weeks ago. I'm also looking forward to the opening of the new deli and hope that they know what they're doing.

I'm enjoying Mussel Bar. I've been a few times and have had nothing but enjoyable experiences. And I think Bistro Provence is a real addition to the dining scene. I welcome Yannick Cam's return. I have missed his cooking.

I think there are some good things going on at Mussel Bar — I love the beer list, and the Brabo pils (brewed especially for Robert Wiedmaier, the exec chef) is a terrific glass for $7. But at this point, it's not a place I feel a great enthusiasm for.

I've had some good dishes, and some not-so-good, and I have found the place to be, in general, chaotic and disorganized, with some staffers saying one thing and other staffers contradicting them. 

Provence is, likewise, a place that has promise — but it disappoints more than it should.

Of all the new spots that have opened recently in Bethesda, I think the most satisfying at this point is Yamas Mediterranean Grill, a new "fast casual" Greek restaurant on Rugby that's been open about 8 weeks.

In many ways, it's not fair to compare those chef-driven places with this fast-casual place. They have pedigree; they have extensive wine and beer menus; they do complicated saucing. True, true.

But if I just wanted a good meal — a good meal, with good value and good food in a nice, comfortable setting, I'd take Yamas.

At the moment, it's realizing its aims much more often than those other two places are. 

Walk in, and you're hit with wonderful smells of roasted meats and garlic. They make a terrific gyro plate, with freshly prepared gyro meat, good rice, and good tzaziki. Salads aren't afterthoughts; they come with well-chosen produce, apparently from local farms — a simple bowl of tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion was super-fresh and delicious. 

Not everything is a hit; there are obvious misses, like the too-thick avgolemeno soup, or like the galaktobouriko, which is a bit heavier and a lot less creamy than it should be. But it's a place that satisfies on many levels.

Chapel Hill/Durham

For the chatter going to Chapel Hill/Durham, I can't recommend much in fine dining since I was a poor college student in Chapel Hill, but you can't beat Elmo's Diner in nearby Carrboro for good diner food for breakfast/brunch.

Tyler's Taproom in Durham and Carrboro is good for casual dinner and good beer. Just don't get sucked into eating at Mama Dips!

Thanks for the tips.

And thanks for taking a moment to write in and offer a helping hand.

Cheverly, MD

The babe is wonderful and we are enjoying the fun stage of being old enough to be able to sit in a high chair (a momentary pause in one handed eating) but not yet crawling / walking.

We've had a good time exploring the area restaurants, old and new haunts, with a baby. In fact, we've had so much fun we have been keeping a blog for the past 6 months call DineDCbaby at http://dinedcbaby.blogspot.com/ where we look at how baby and child friendly restaurants are and our experiences dining at them as a family. There are some surprises there and Alexander certainly has discerning tastes.

We are always interested in your dining with little one stories as well! Thanks for asking!

Enjoy him.

And enjoy this stretch of your lives, when it's relatively easy to hit restaurants at a variety of levels.  

Arlington, VA

For the chatter looking for places in Durham/Chapel Hill:

You absolutely must go to Locopops! It's a Triangle institution, selling paletas (Mexican popsicles) in dairy- and water-based flavors like mango chile, Mexican chocolate, and coconut lime basil.

For more substantive fare in Chapel Hill, Lantern has great Asian food made with local ingredients.

I've also heard good things about Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, an Indian restaurant that is almost like eating in someone's home and that also sources many of its ingredients locally.

For BBQ (eastern NC style, i.e. lots of vinegary pork), try Allen & Son out NC-86.

Definitely nothing like it in this area, and I'm a vegetarian!


That ought to keep our chatter happy and well-fed for days and days … Thanks so much. 

Spokane, WA

Hi Todd,

I just moved to the DC area last month and will only be here for the semester (interning). My mom is flying in tonight from Washington State and has never been to DC. She owns and manages 4 successful high-end restaurants/bars in the Northwest, and I think it's safe to call her a difficult-to-please foodie. Since I am still new to the area, I am not familiar with the hot-spots.

I am looking for places with innovative cuisines, great atmosphere, and decent prices (not ridiculously expensive), where she might even get a few great ideas to implement in her establishments in the NW. I would just check out Yelp, but growing up in the restaurant industry has taught me that most people only comment if its a random, terrible experience or an unprecedented fabulous experience. Any must-try breakfast, lunch, happy-hour, or dinner places for the clueless in DC?

Ooh, that's a lot of pressure on you … Let me see if I can help you some … 

Here's a list of places I'd keep in my back pocket, if I were you —

Cafe du Parc (French bistro), Zaytinya (Greek/Turkish/Lebanese small plates), Jaleo (tapas); Cork (wine bar); Bar Pilar (American tapas); Central Michel Richard (a genius French chef's spin on French bistro and American diner cooking); Estadio (tapas); Poste (eclectic American); Kushi (superb sushi and grill); Palena Cafe (a short menu of Italian-, American- and French-influenced dishes, including a stellar cheeseburger, great pastas and often an exquisite soup); 2 Amys (the Italian small plates are superior these days to the boutique pizzas).

I know I'm forgetting a few — chatters, please send in any reminders or suggestions for next week, if you think of any …

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
















[missing you, TEK … ]