News & Politics

Mannequin Pis, Vermilion, PS 7’s: The Needle

Every month, we take the pulse of three area restaurants.

Mannequin Pis
18064 Georgia Ave.; 301-570-4800

With its intimate space and robust Belgian cuisine, Mannequin Pis has been an Olney mainstay for more than a decade. But on a recent visit, servers were overwhelmed and pacing slow. Carbonnade, the Flemish beer-spiked stew, didn’t have much flavor, and the beefy chunks were tough. A seafood waterzooi was so-so. Next time we’ll stick to mussels marinière (though even they were shy on jus) and a dreamy chocolate pot de crème.

1120 King St., Alexandria; 703-684-9669

We’ve long had a soft spot for this Old Town charmer—the gas lamps, the warm service, Tony Chittum’s soulful cooking. And now we’re falling even harder for the place. We found comfort in a leek-and-potato soup with chili oil and smoked cod, swooned over a locally raised rib eye with salsa verde, and smiled at the slyness of a chowder turned into a solid—pearlescent cod dressed with bacon, potato, and celery leaves. Tiffany MacIsaac is among the best closers in the business. Her peanut-butter/chocolate tart with brûléed banana and crème fraîche cheesecake are perfect.

PS 7’s
777 I St., NW; 202-742-8550

The lounge at this Penn Quarter restaurant has always excelled at casual food. The more expensive main dining room has been less reliable, sometimes serving too-clever dishes with clunky execution. Not lately, though. A salad of roasted figs was nicely balanced with vinegary frisée. A take on a steak-and-cheese was unlike anything you’d find in Philly—the rare Wagyu beef with curls of cheese-laden bread were better than many traditional versions. Lemony paella, featuring plump shrimp and clams, was another success. Only overcooked black-pepper gnocchi and bland cauliflower soup failed to live up to their potential.

This article appears in the December 2011 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.