Tuesday, March 25, at 11 AM

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 AM on Kliman Online.

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 AM 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.

Winner of a James Beard Foundation Award in 2005 for the country’s best newspaper column about food, Kliman is food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The Washingtonian. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’sThe Oxford American, Lucky Peach, The Daily Beast and Men’s Health, among others, and he has been selected four times for inclusion in the Best Food Writing anthologies. He was a finalist for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and recently took home first-place honors for feature writing from the Association of Food Journalists.

Kliman is the author of The Wild Vine, a literary exploration of two entwined mysteries: an obscure grape that rose to prominence, only to disappear, and its present-day evangelist, a foul-mouthed transgendered multi-millionaire vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.

He previously taught writing and literature at American University and Howard University. At Howard, he was also the editorial advisor to The Illtop Journal, Chris Rock’s humor magazine modeled after the Harvard Lampoon.

Can’t wait a week to talk to Todd? Follow him on Twitter for dining reports, tips, and breaking news from the culinary world. Or write to him: tkliman@washingtonian.com


W H E R E   I ‘ M   E A T I N G   N O W   .  .  .

Thai Taste by Kob, Wheaton
On a three-block stretch of Wheaton, near the intersection of University Blvd. and Georgia Ave., can be found two of the area’s best Thai restaurants — Ruan Thai and Nava Thai. Time to add a third. Phak Duangchandr — Kob, to friends — has set up shop in the tiny space that originally contained Nava, in the back of Hung Phat market. Thai food fans may remember her, or at least her cooking; for 19 years she operated the Thai Food Carryout at Thai Market, near the old Safeway in Wheaton. The new setting, electrified with a paint job of orange and day-glo green, gives her a chance to expand her repertoire of dishes, while staying true to the from-scratch traditions that earned her a devoted following. The emphasis is on street food and homecooking, with a good many dishes you simply won’t find anywhere else, like bamee moo daeng, a meal-in-a-bowl of tender egg noodles, red-edged roast pork, baby bok choy, and fish balls; or kai yad sai, an omelette stuffed with ground chicken punched up with fish sauce and soy sauce; or a salad of shrimp paste-flavored rice, onions, cucumber and sweet, sticky pork). But even familiar tastes, taste different here — funkier, more pungent, and definitely hotter (a shrimp fried rice, alive with fistfuls of Thai basil and a generous pinch of chilis, set my heart to racing). Some customers have already been asking for more rice to accompany their orders. Partner and manager Max Praserptmate says he is willing to accommodate any requests, but adds that his aunt’s cooking is not the aberration; it’s the great majority of Thai restaurants that are the aberration. “The taste,” he says, “is what you’re supposed to get from your Thai food.” Duangchandr imports many of her spices from Thailand, and toasts and grinds them herself. All the condiments on the spice tray, including a terrific chili vinegar, are made on the premises. Meats are given a long soak before hitting the grill — 72 hours, in the case of the pork that is pounded and threaded onto a skewer to create a must-order starter called moo yang. The other must-order starter sure doesn’t sound like it — when was the last time you had fried shrimp wontons that were any good? These are fabulous. Kiew tod comes to the table looking more like a plate of tortilla chips, the mix of shrimp and white pepper bundled within a sneakily rolled edge. The crunch is junk food-loud; it’s hard not to believe they weren’t engineered in a lab. No beer or wine yet; Praserptmate says soon on both. I would take the money you’d ordinarily spend on a drink and spring for an extra dish or two (most are under $10, and many items will survive into the next day).

Bar Pilar, DC

Justin Bittner has moved on; Jesse Miller has replaced him. And one of the coziest, most charming small plates spots in the city just keeps rolling. I’ve been twice in the past month: one meal was great, the other good. I’m not sure there’s a place along 14th St. right now that I’d rather find myself in for a couple of hours. A sweet, crisp-skinned branzino with pecorino custard and pea shoots could have come straight from the Oval Room (makes sense: Miller apprenticed under chef Tony Conte). A rusticky Bolognese, with grilled bread for scooping up the thick, Sunday-style gravy, is maybe the best Italian dish I’ve eaten in months. And though technically the chef’s porchetta is not a porchetta — rabbit, not pig, is deboned, stuffed with its own livers, and encased in a second-skin of bacon to seal in moisture — it’s terrific, a perfect precis of the boldly designed but intricately conceived cooking come out of this kitchen right now.

Trapezaria, Rockville

The kind of big-hearted restaurant that takes you to another place (Baltimore? St. Louis?) and maybe another time (late’ 70s). Come on a weekend night, when there’s a two-piece band and the place is humming and you’ll feel as if you’ve just crashed a wedding reception. I love the GM in coat and tie who shows you to your table, maitre d’-style. I love the waitress who turned to me one night when I was trying to decide between a lamb dish on the menu and a lamb dish that was a special, and said, “Listen. Listen to me,” and insisted I order the latter. She was right. The meat was rich and juicy and drenched in a lemon-spiked gravy. Alongside it: lemon roasted potatoes and green beans cooked with tomato and mint. True to the homestyle nature of the place, you couldn’t see any white space on the plate. Another great dish is the fried cod, delicately light, with a fluff of skordalia in the center, a sit-down Greek fish and chips. The menu has no weak spots, as far as I can tell. I’ve been three times, now, and nearly everything that has come out of the kitchen has ranged from the good to the terrific. Vegetarians can revel here. Iman bayaldi, a dish of roasted eggplant drenched in cinnamon-spiced tomato sauce, has the tight, knitted flavor of expert long-cooking. It comes in a massive portion, and costs just $7. There are stuffed grape leaves without the ground beef, filled with well-cooked rice and pine nuts and wrapped in fresh-tasting leaves that still have some good chew to them. If it takes wrapping up some food for leftovers in order to manage dessert, then do it. The version of galaktobouriko — presented in small, crunchy pieces, almost like bites of fudge — is one of the best I’ve eaten in years; the baklava (served warm, and nearly spilling its crunchy, nutty, sticky filling) is stunning; and the centerpiece of the yogurt with honey and walnuts is a scoop that has been strained almost to the consistency of a cheese, with a tanginess that goes on and on and on.

Bangkok Golden, Falls Church

I was tempted to say this a while back, but didn’t. I will now, after a recent knockout visit: I’d rather go here, for the Lao menu, than Little Serow. The range of tastes is vast, and every plate is alive with flavor — bright and pungent and smoky and funky. Not to mention crunch and heat. Not to mention a shorter wait and a lighter bill (my recent meal of four dishes and a beer, pre-tax: $43).

Rose’s Luxury, DC

I love the crackle in the room when you walk in. I’m not talking about mere noise; lots of restaurants have noise. I’m not even talking about buzz, that sense that a new place is hot. This one has an energy that is unmistakable, a sense that you have entered a kind of rare and cherished zone where the enthusiasm of the kitchen and the staff is returned in kind by the diners, who all seem to walk out the door with smiles on their faces. It’s not hard to understand why. Rose’s Luxury has an old-school vibe, and a sort of making-it-up-as-we-go-along feel, from the homey, unassuming way the menu bids you to settle in and order to the dinner party-run-amok vibe to the yahrzeit-look-alike votives to the beer glasses that are sawed-off wine bottles. The chef, Aaron Silverman, logged stints in such high-profile kitchens as Momofuku in New York and Husk and McCrady’s in Charleston, and you don’t have to look hard to see elements of each of these places in the room and on the plate. Like his mentors David Chang and Sean Brock, he aims to bring off a marriage of extreme playfulness and extreme precision. The bulk of the menu consists of a dozen small plates in which Silverman sets out to cross the wires, compositionally speaking, and see what happens. A pate is a braiding of French, Italian (garlic bread are the toasts), Vietnamese (the rich, crushed-peanut topped spread brims with star anise), and I want to say Jewish (the brine for the jalapenos, onions and cukes that add crunch and tang tastes deli to me). It’s seamlessly done, and highly addictive. He crosses high and low in a soup that tastes at once like liquefied popcorn and a delicate lobster veloute (the sweetness calls out for some sort of counterbalancing ingredient, or more lobster). It’s not all derring-do. His gnocchi are more properly a kind of ravioli, stuffed with fennel and mint, sauced with not-too-much butter and topped with a generous scattering of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. You’d be hard put to find five better pasta dishes in town right now. The final course is a page not out of Momofuku or Husk or McCrady’s, but out of Komi — share plates for two. In one, you lay luscious slices of perfectly smoked brisket on griddled Texas toast, add on tangy strands of pickled cabbage and smear the whole thing with a fluffy horseradish cream. The other is built around a beautifully brined pork chop — sweet and aromatic and rich as the best pork can be — with potlikker beans and a textbook red-eye gravy. The final act needs re-staging. The lack of a pastry chef doesn’t help, nor does the tendency to over-think and over-embellish. Quenelles of chocolate cream sprinkled with dried rose petals and intended for spreading on slices of charred bread feels twee, not interesting, and hardly satisfies. More of the sink-in simplicity of the share courses would go a long way. Still, this is one of the most exciting debuts of the year. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the most exciting debuts of the past three years.

Khan Kabob, Chantilly

The best karahi I’ve had in ages, maybe ever, is a version here made with lamb brains. The brains, for the leery, resemble tiny curds, and the sauce of garlic, ginger, cilantro, tomato and chilis is so concentrated, and so smoky, that even after you’ve had your fill it’s difficult to stop dipping your torn naan into the hammered metal vessel. Tariq Khan, the owner, was for many years part of the Ravi Kabob empire; he’s created a worthy rival.



We had two excellent meals at Shoo-fly Diner and Four Sisters this week thanks to your recommendations.

Had the burger, kale Caesar, onion rings, Alabama truffles and the paw paw brownie sundae at SFD (none disappointed, but, damn, those onion rings are to die for) At happy hour prices, a total steal. If they ever have the 4 pm Manhattan punch available, make sure you try a cup as long as you’re not driving.

We sat at the bar and the bartender couldn’t have been nicer-allowed us a sample of their house made coffee liquor…

Four Sisters was as beautiful as promised–I cannot believe how gorgeous their floral arrangements were.

I had the pho and my husband had the four course beef special–that really could have been for two people…this place is a gem, and I look forward to going back with a crowd so we can try more things.

Todd Kliman

This is all great to hear. Thank you for the details, and I’m glad you had such good visits.

Shoo-fly got slammed by a number of others, from Tom at the Post to Richard Gorelick (a more muted slam) at the Baltimore Sun. But I enjoyed it on my visits (not wowed, by any means, but I wasn’t meant to be wowed), and the feedback I’ve been hearing from people has been mostly good. It’s possible some revisioning and tweaking has happened since those early days.

And as for Four Sisters, I think it’s very easy to take a place like this for granted, given all the options for good Vietnamese dining specifically, and Asian food more generally, in the area. And you’re absolutely right about its beauty — I’ve often said that no restaurant, in that price range, is more beautiful. Good staff, too, and a lot of good stuff on the menu.

Good morning, everyone!

What’s on your mind? Where have you been eating? What are you noticing around the area? What’s bugging you? … Hit me …


Just to throw in my .02 cents on the discussion about the prices for offal.

If the prices are climbing for sweetbreads, brains, tongue and heart at the whole foods or in your favorite Italian restaurant, I can guarantee it’s because we, as chef’s, are paying more for them as well.

I can remember when veal tongue was cheap and oxtails too, but now I’m paying double the price for those “off” cuts and as a result the diner will be paying more as well.

As for the next new thing…I’m using veal neck and starting this spring will have lamb shoulder chops. Both delicious and cheaper than other cuts.


A chef

Todd Kliman

Veal neck!

That’s terrific.

Our cause du jour some weeks back. Great to see chefs eager and willing to play with it. From our discussions on here, it sounded as though a lot of us (admittedly, the more adventurous of the dining public) are game for it.

To return to something we talked about last week — if offal is no longer such a great bargain, and as the chatter pointed out last week, many plates featuring offal are not at all cheap, then, as diners, is the bloom off for you, at least somewhat?

Isn’t a big part of its appeal the fact that you are eating something big and bold in flavor, but for a relative pittance?

Or is the idea that you can get things like sweetbreads and brains a little more easily, now, the main thing?

Or is it a little bit of both going on?

Or neither?


I’m searching for a special-occasion spot for dinner with a special someone. Unfortunately, special someone is going through a bit of a bout of acid reflux issues.

Usually, we can find one or maybe two plates at any given place that aren’t too upsetting to the stomach, but for a special occasion, I’d love to find a place with enough variety to not even feel like health is a factor. I need a recommendation for the best spot in town where there’s a few great entrees which have:

No tomatoes, garlic, onions
No spice
Not rich (fried foods, butter, cream, oil are bad)
No citrus/acidic foods

I fully realize this may be impossible.

Any acid reflux sufferers out there with a favorite upscale place in town?

Todd Kliman

It’s an interesting question, and my sympathies go out to your suffering special someone. That’s got to be really tough, especially when an occasion like this comes up.

I’d call up Central Michel Richard and ask to speak with the GM, David Hale, or the chef, Sebastian Posada. Lay out the problem, and ask whether there are any dishes they can prepare that lay off those verbotten ingredients. I have little doubt that if you were to give them a few days to think about it, they could come up with something, maybe several somethings, that would be delicious and special.

Give it a try, and please report back — I’d love to know how things turned out.

I’ve got to think that there are many others out there with your predicament, so it would be a great thing to know that a very good restaurant was able to accommodate this request, and how.

Good luck …


Normally my husband and I celebrate our birthdays by going out for a nice meal, but this year, we’re expecting our first child just days before my husband’s birthday.

Any suggestions for nicer restaurants in DC (preferably near the Hill/Atlas District) that we can order takeaway from?

Todd Kliman

Congratulations, first of all. And keep in mind that after your “new boss” arrives — as a good friend of mine might say — you can eat out a lot. Those first few months are actually really pretty easy for going out, the three of you. The baby will be sleeping all the time, and you can just plop the carrier down in a seat next to you and not worry at all.

As far as takeout goes — why not slip into Montmartre and pick up a pate, a couple of entrees and maybe a dessert to share (like the terrific Floating Island, if they have it: a light meringue docked in a pool of toasted almond-dotted creme anglaise).

Montmartre is ideal cold-weather food, and this is, after all, the never-ending winter …

Snow. Today, March 25th.

And not a nothing snow, either. Not a little fringe of white on the grass and trees.

I thought when I returned home from Ethiopia and 74 degree days with perfect light breezes that I would bypass the bitter, ragged end of winter. Ha …


Todd –

What the heck is shad roe?!?!?

I’ve read about it for years and wanted to try this local delicacy. I finally saw it on a menu so I ordered it thinking I’d get something like the roe you see in sushi.

What I got was 2 hunks of dark fish, that were sort of fish shapped (long and thin) and were very fishy tasting. I was suprised at the look of it but dug right in since I really didn’t know what it was supposed to look like. I ended up not liking it much. It was too strong for me.

Did I get the famed “shad roe”? Do people really love this stuff?!?!!??

Todd Kliman

People do. Well, some people do. I’m one of those some people.

It ain’t for everyone, that’s for sure. It’s a very strong taste. It’s not easy to mask or subdue, and in truth you don’t want to.

The taste, for those of you who have never tried this delicacy — which arrives in markets and restaurants in the mid-Atlantic in March and goes, roughly, through early April — is a little like liver, and a little like fish. An oceanic liver, basically. Or an offally fish, if you prefer.

A lot depends on how it’s prepared. I’ve had a lot of shad roe dishes that I’ve disliked. Often, if that’s the case, it’s because the roe sacks have been overcooked. It’s very easy to overcook them.

They’re best, to me, when they’re still pink inside, when their oceanic qualities have not been negated by careless searing or sauteeing. I like being able to see the tiny little eggs inside.

Some adventurous chefs will try to emphasize the eggs in their preparations. Some years ago Eric Ziebold, at CityZen, did a preparation in which (if I’m recalling this correctly) he slit the sacs and cooked the eggs very gently and very slowly in a kind of porridge.

Most of the time you see shad roe, the sacs have been browned in butter and bacon is involved — crispy bits of bacon. This can be a good preparation. But again, it has to be done right or you end up with something that tastes more of liver than of fish. You want both. You want that balance between the two.

What’s interesting is that the fish itself is also really delicious, and yet you almost never see it offered in a restaurant. Even in a restaurant in Jersey, or New York, or Maryland, or Virginia, where shad is plentiful this time of year. Chefs say that it’s because by the time the bones are removed, what you have is a pretty beat-up-looking fish. A fish, in other words, that they think they would have a hard time selling in a fine, or finer, dining setting.

I understand that argument, but this is, as we’ve just been talking about, the age of offal, of turning not-great-looking things into delicious and attractive things. Why not a shad rillette? Why not a shad stew? Why not a shad pot pie? Etc., etc.

There are things that can be done, and those of us who adore this fish would love to see some ingenuity at work in putting this seasonal delicacy on the menu.


For the acid reflux suffer —

I too suffer bad bouts of bad reflux and what I do is go the meat and potatoes route.

So think traditional American cuisine, roast chicken and mashed potatoes, find a place that can do this kind of food. Or fish and rice. All good for the tummy.

Just not ethnic as the spices are the problem. I would say if you want a very fancy meal,with one caveat, as I haven’t been since the remodel, but Cathal Armstrong used to do a fabulous pan roasted chicken with potatoes that was easy on the tummy. Good luck.

Todd Kliman

Thanks for chiming in on this, especially given that you suffer from the same thing …

Blander food makes a lot of sense. And in the hands of a capable chef, blander doesn’t have to be boring. You mentioned Cathal Armstrong’s pan-roasted chicken with potatoes — was this at Restaurant Eve? Or at The Majestic, where I would think there would be options aplenty for the acid reflux sufferer: meatloaf, mashed potatoes …

And again, you can always let a place know a day or two in advance and have the chef tweak an existing plate or whip you up something new. It doesn’t just apply to Central. Most good restaurants are willing to work with special requests like this, provided they have a decent heads-up.


Did you read the current issue of Food and Wine?? Its was all about wine pairings.

They had a nice photographed article about lunch at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, VA This is a beautiful historical road course. However, none of the suggested wine pairings were from VA? Huh!

Do the pretentious editors of F&W know that VA produces wines? Va wine producers needs to do a better job of selling themselves. I think Va over CA any day!!!1

Todd Kliman

It’s still a hard sell for many people. Labels carry a lot of weight, unfortunately.

And then, as well, there are other matters that complicate things: distribution; the fact that some good wines cost more than their counterparts in other regions; the fact that some of these wines are made from grapes that nobody’s heard of; the fact that the taste of those wines made from grapes that nobody’s heard of taste different from the same old-same old Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

There’s a lot of conservativism when it comes to wine. A lot of conventional thinking. Much more so than when it comes to food.

You would think there would be more receptivity to the idea, in dining circles, of drinking something that tastes different and interesting.

Drinking it, that is, for the sake of difference — in much the same way that some chefs will serve, oh, I don’t know pork necks … or calves’ brains … or lamb hearts. Not the usual fare. Not the usual safe tastes of a chicken breast or a bland, boring halibut. Something to broaden the diner’s mind and show him or her a wider world of taste.

But you really don’t see this. Chefs love to try to dazzle us and titillate us with all these off-cuts of theirs, but when it comes to putting together a wine list that sense of adventure goes out the window, and we get (for the most part) Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

We’ve been talking, these past couple of weeks, about offal. One of the wines to serve with offal is Norton, with its acidity and fruit and strapping size. And yet when was the last time you saw a glass of Norton on a wine list? Or even a bottle? Cab Franc, Petit Verdot — these both pair well with off-cuts. How often do you see them either?

It’s easy to accept the absence of these wines in places like New York and Philly. But here, right outside wine country?


Hi Todd –

My fiance’s birthday is this week, and I want to take him to dinner somewhere special. He is definitely not a foodie, but loves a good steakhouse.

I was thinking about Joe’s, but wanted to know if you have any suggestions that are reasonably priced (maybe coming out at about $150 for two people).

I love your chats and always take your recommendations to heart! Thanks!

Todd Kliman

Joe’s is enjoyable. And grand.

You may not feel as though you’re in DC — look around the room, and you’ll think that you could be in Vegas or Chicago or Hong Kong — but that doesn’t really matter in a steakhouse, anyway. It’s proudly, defiantly old school, mostly to the good (but sometimes not).

I’d do it.

Alternatively — although it’d probably run you a slight bit more — there’s Bourbon Steak, in Georgetown. The gratis touches alone — truffle rolls and french fries — will make him feel plenty special, even before the appetizers or entrees arrive.

Good luck. And let us know which way you turn …


My mom is flying in to Dulles this evening, scheduled to get in at 9pm.

Suggestion for somewhere open late tonight that is interesting would be appreciated, no particular pricepoint in mind, no restrictions, and generally adventurous eaters!


Todd Kliman

Damn — it’s too bad that the flight’s coming in at 9, because you’re going to miss out on a meal at Zeitoon, a wonderful Moroccan restaurant in Sterling. Good couscious, cornish hen tagine, harira and bistilla.

But if the plane gets in early, it’s only 8 minutes away …

You can get into the wonderful Punjabi by Nature, which is in the food court at Lotte Plaza, in Chantilly.
Closes at 10. Get the butter chicken and a naan. And you’ll have to just trust me on this, because you would not expect great food in a setting like this. What American mall food court, for instance, would you go out of your way to dine at?

If you’re looking for something where you can relax a little and get a drink, then what about Ford’s Fish Shack?

I’ll be eager to hear where you end up …


I went to college in Rochester, NY and loved going to Nick Tahou’s for their famous garbage plate – couldn’t beat the cheeseburger or white/red hots, covered with meat sauce, mustard, home fries, macaroni salad and two pieces of bread.

Now, granted you have to be a little drunk to eat this as this is really unhealthy, but I was wondering if any place in DC area serves this.


Todd Kliman

None that I’m aware of.

Though you now just planted a seed …

Any good? I mean, any good when you’re sorta sober?

I just looked up a pic. Frankly, pretty darn disgusting. But that’s the idea, right? Disgusting, slop on a plate, a dead ringer for you-know-what and yet somehow in spite of all that not-half-bad?

My guess is that if it ever did show up in D.C., it would be immediately cleaned up and upscaled. The white bread would become ciabatta, the macaroni would become tagliatelle. The mustard would be housemade, the homefries cooked in duck fat. And it would be pronounced “The Gar-BAHZ Plate.”


Hi Todd,

I agree with you regarding the prices of offal, particularly sweetbreads, these days.

Way back when, an appetizer for sweetbreads would be about the same as a salad and I would often go for the sweetbreads for something more rich, flavorful, and filling.

Now, sweetbreads are either the most expensive appetizer on the menu or in the top three. If I’m choosing between sweetbreads and something like beef or tuna tartare or crabcake for an appetizer at the same price, I’m going to go with the tartare or crabcake every time.

Todd Kliman

I hear you.

And I can’t imagine that most people in the same boat wouldn’t do the same thing.

If money were an issue and not the need to do my job, I might do the same thing.

Thanks for weighing in …


For those interested, I saw fresh shad roe at Whole Foods last night, just FYI.

For acid reflux: I used to have it *horribly* and, at my dr’s rec started taking lactic acid yeast tabs and zypan (both available via Amazon) and stopping all antacids cold turkey.

Overnight, acid reflux was gone. Seriously.

I still lay off coffee and alcohol, but I eat felafel and spicy foods and vinegar dressings to my heart’s content. My dr said antacids make it worse, as what you need to be doing is digesting BETTER, and the antacid just exacerbates the issue by letting food sit there longer. Seriously, try this. I have no affiliation with anything–just wanted to share the knowledge. Changed my life.

Todd Kliman


Thanks so much for passing along this great-sounding tip. I’ve become aware, over the years, of many people who battle this in one way or another. I know it makes one of the great pleasures of life very tricky. Maybe the chatters who’ve written in previously will give these pills a try and find the same success as you did. It’d be nice.

And thanks, also, for the shad roe sighting. I can’t wait to get my first taste of the season …


So how was Ethiopia?

I just spent the weekend in Nairobi and had some great food. The main thing I learned about Kenyan cuisine is that I’d much rather have injera than ugali!

Todd Kliman

And that’s, I’m guessing, based off of the injera you’ve had stateside, not in Ethiopia. The injera I ate there was amazing. So thin, so light, so flavorfully sour, in the manner of a great sourdough loaf from a French bakery.

Ethiopia was mind-altering. I have not stopped thinking about it since I returned. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the places, the food and especially the people.

There’s a part of me that’s there still.

Quick story: I was asked to speak to an English class at an all-girls school, and I did, on my final day before heading to the airport and returning home. The girls were amazing. They stood when I walked in, something I have never, ever seen in the West, and stood again when class was over, clapping enthusiastically and rhythmically. They were so respectful, and joyous, and kind, and smart. I might still be teaching, if all students here were like that. Their questions were remarkable — thoughtful, full of insight. I was overcome, talking to them, and on the way out I told the headmaster what an honor it was to speak to them, and how taken I was by them. He placed his hand over his heart and said: “This is your home.”


Chef (peer and personal friend) Julien Shapiro is doing wonderful and beautiful things with Shad and it’s roe right now at Eat The Rich in Shaw.

Denoting the whole fish, stuffing it with a farce and it’s own roe, and serving a slab of it that would make Daniel Boulud or Thomas Keller blush.

Todd Kliman

“Denoting it”?

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.

And why would Boulud or Keller blush? Because of the size?

Still — great to know. Thanks for passing this along.

And it’s not at all surprising that Julien Shapiro would be drawn to a fish like this.


Hi Todd, we stopped in for a post-concert drink and snack at Baby Wale on Saturday.

11pm and the bar area was standing room only. Loved the design, decor, and classic Go-Go posters. Food was exactly what we wanted/needed – lumpia spring rolls, mushroom pizza, and a couple French 75 cocktails. By midnight the crowd was starting to thin out but still plenty of people at the bar.

It’s great to see more options for late night dining downtown.

Todd Kliman

It really is.

Thanks for the report from the field.

It’s so interesting to see the contrast between Baby Wale and Corduroy. The one serious, and even a little starchy, no music in the dining room, old-school cooking of great refinement; the other: lively, an extended bar of a place, with go-go on the sound system and on the posters, and a menu made up largely of fun snack foods.

Jeckyll. Hyde.



I’m looking for some bottomless brunch spots in dc that have outdoor seating and/or rooftop decks, and that aren’t at the georgetown waterfront. Thanks!

Todd Kliman

There’s a great bottomless brunch at DGS Delicatessen right now.

Two courses, $27, and bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys. How can you beat that? With what’s coming out of Barry Koslow’s kitchen these days?

If you go, be sure to get the crispy pastrami for the table — Jewish bacon, basically: thin-sliced pastrami that’s been griddled on the flattop until wrinkly-crunchy.

I had the Eggs Benedictberg not long ago, and it’s one of the best brunch items around at the moment. Poached eggs draped with a delicate sumac-spiced hollandaise, served over good, crunchy latkes, along with a mound of glossy, in-house smoked salmon.

Gotta run, I’m in danger of being late for lunch …

Thanks, all, for the great questions and tips and comments today. As always, of course …

Be well, eat well, and let’s do it again next week at 11 …

[missing you, TEK … ]