The Needle: Spices, Ray’s to the Third, Woodberry Kitchen

What's hot and what's not in the region's dining.

Lots of Cleveland Park residents use Spices for takeout and
delivery, but the food is at its best in the warmly lit dining room. We
dug into a tangy salad of green papaya, mango, and red cabbage, and
another Vietnamese classic—grilled shrimp over cold vermicelli with nicely
crunchy spring rolls, cucumber, mint leaves, and peanuts. Less inspiring:
gummy drunken noodles with flavorless minced chicken and the limp,
over-steamed edamame. 3333-A Connecticut Ave., NW;
202-686-3833. —JV

Ray’s to the Third
We took the casual route at Michael Landrum’s latest
restaurant. The enormous Mack burger—with American cheese and tangy “heck”
sauce—was juicy perfection. Tender slices of rib eye elevated a sandwich
that included melted American and provolone and grilled onions on a Lyon
Bakery sub roll. A side salad lent lovely contrast to the sandwiches, and
a boozy shake with bourbon and bacon bits made an indulgent ending. 1650
Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-974-7171. —JV

Woodberry Kitchen
Spike and Amy Gjerde may have their mind on new projects, but
that hasn’t diminished anything at their farmhouse-cool flagship. Our
table became cluttered with terrific snacks: cucumbers seasoned with fish
pepper, crab dip with a shot of sherry, a crisp salad of charred sugar-snap
peas. Excellent desserts—from a blackberry meringue pie to a
marshmallow-and-malt sundae—helped make the meal one of the best we’ve had
here. 2010 Clipper Park Rd., Baltimore; 410-464-8000. —AL

This article appears in the September 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

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.