Tuesday, February 3, 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’s, The 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. A finalist for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, he took home first-place honors for feature writing, in 2013, from the Association of Food Journalists.

He is the author, most recently, 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. Barnes & Noble and The Oxford American both made it an Editor’s Pick. The Richmond TImes-Dispatch called it “an outstanding piece of literature.”

Kliman 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

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WHERE TO EAT NOW:

* Bob’s Shanghai 66, Rockville

If my most recent meal is any indication, the kitchen is really clicking right now. Go for the bean curd and pork — the long, thin bands of curd have the slipperiness and chew of great noodles, and the saucing is delicate and tight — and a plate of tiny shrimps in a surprisingly balanced sweet-and-sour chili sauce. The two best meals I’ve had in Rockville’s Chinatown in the past six months were at China Bistro (aka Mama’s Dumplings) and here.

* Chutney, Columbia

My lone meal at this stripmall Indian restaurant in Columbia was a quiet stunner: a fragrant lentil soup, an unusually flavorful goat curry, greaseless fried okra, and one of the best preparations of tandoori salmon I’ve ever had (the defining touch: toasted, ground spices mixed with yogurt and slathered onto the surface of the fish before cooking).

* Taqueria el Mexicano, Hyattsville

Someone tweeted me last week after reading what I wrote about the mole poblano: “what else is good there?” What else? What else do you need when a dish is this good? The sauce is the thing — thick, brown-black, dotted with sesame seeds, and with a taste as rich and complex as any of the French master sauces. At the same time, it’s infinitely more idiosyncratic; each bite changes the way you think about it: now sweet, now slightly bitter, now spicy, now slightly smoky. Dark chocolate is the not-so-secret ingredient, and gives the dish its identifiable color, but the strange, mysterious character of mole poblano cannot be chalked up, simply, to the inclusion of chocolate: the mix also includes sweet, smoky guajillo chilis, fried nuts and raisins, as well as a larder’s worth of toasted, ground spices. Each order comes with two pieces of unexpectedly tender chicken (in most cases, a leg and a piece of meat cut from around the breast), good rice and stewed beans, and — an even bigger surprise — two handmade corn tortillas (if there’s anybody making tortillas like this in the area, with this perfect, pebbly surface, please let me know; these are fabulous). The cost to walk away with a memory: $11.50.

* Hunan Taste, Fairfax

This kitchen works magic. Not all the time — I’ve had a couple of eh dishes over the course of two visits. But then you turn up a dish like the mushroom casserole with pork (best not to study its long, dark tadpole-like fungi), or fish fillet with bean curd sauce, or Divine Incense Mint Pork (chewy-crunchy strips of pork belly with fried mint) and can’t stop eating, and wow.

Crane & Turtle, DC

Makoto Hamamura reminds me of a certain brand of jazz pianist, the kind who knows how to play melodically but frequently chooses not to. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe his French-Asian dishes as atonal or dissonant, but he clearly means to push, and push hard, against expectation. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. Or, it works and you say to yourself: Interesting; I’m not sure I’d get that again. Often enough, though, the rewards are there, like his tuna tataki, which is accented not with a ponzu sauce but with a tuna sauce — a sly little play on the Piedmontese classic, vitello tonnato. His signature dish, a duck breast that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in summer, isn’t paired with something sweet, like cherries — a move that many chefs in the West would make; Hamamura turns to bitter, in this case to seaweed yuba and tahini.

Ocopa, DC

Not cheap for H St., but the quality of the fish is high and 24-year-old chef Carlos is a talent. His plates are striking, and his flavors pop. Ocopa functions best when you think of it as a place to divvy up small plates of tiradito and ceviche and causa (his version of papa a la huancaina, a potato salad, is so sublime it makes the picnic staple you’re probably imagining look like prison food) while tanking down cocktails (among which you’ll find expert renditions of pisco and rum punch).

Saba, Fairfax

At a recent meal at this Yemeni gem, I ate injera, pita, and wheat bread (the latter baked for a marvelous bread pudding called masoob, layered with bananas, cream, honey and nigella that is a little bit different with each bite). Owner Taha Alhoraivi didn’t know how to cook a single dish from his tradition when he arrived in the States 15 years ago on a student visa. He didn’t even know how to cook. His mother and sister had barred him from the kitchen; cooking was women’s work. He subsisted for months on eggs, bread and cheese, until he returned home for a visit and prevailed upon the women in his family to share their recipes with him. Thus began a 15-year-journey of research and experimentation, as Alhoraivi sought to recreate the foods of his youth in isolation. Saba is the remarkable result. The two must-orders are the haneeth and the fahsa. The former is a strapping platter of slow-cooked lamb, seasoned with cardamom, cumin and cloves, that comes apart without prodding and some of the most flavorful rice you’ll ever eat — each grain is distinct, and tastes richly of the meat. The latter is a shredded beef stew in a sauce of tomatoes, onions and cumin so concentrated it might as well be a syrup; the crowning touch is a dollop of hilbeh, a tangy dip flavored with mint and cilantro.

Casa Luca, DC

The most casual of the restaurants in Fabio Trabocchi’s collection has found its groove. This is an assured operation from top to bottom, and from its opening nibbles to its pastas (go for the San Leo — ravioli stuffed with wild greens and ricotta and treated to a sauce of butter, toasted almonds and nepitella) to its dazzling preparations of fish and seafood to its light, colorful and exquisitely crafted desserts. I joked to a friend at dinner recently that the cornish hen minestrone was “too flavorful” — its broth so intense and rich that I had to stop talking and give all my attention to it.

Ananda, Fulton

Two of the best meals I had this summer took place here. And I don’t say that just because of the food coming out of the kitchen. The restaurant itself is a showpiece. From outside, it looks a little like a castle and a little like a bank, and sits in the middle of nowhere, amid a still-evolving development of townhouses in Fulton, Md. Inside, the space summons a polo club. The main dining room is a sumptuous lair of handsome dark wood, floor-to-ceiling bookcases and leather seats, while the veranda puts you in mind of an observation deck for a cricket match (it’s already one of the best places to dine on an unseasonably cool summer night, under the gently rotating fans and looking out on the lush treetops). In an age of casual, sometimes dashed-out service, Ananda leans toward greater formality — but without stuffiness. The young, affable waitstaff is got up in vests and ties, and is exceedingly well-drilled — not just attentive but vigilant, and determined to learn what it can do to make your meal better. The restaurant is the third from brothers Keir and Binda Singh, who also run The Ambassador Dining Room and Banjara, both in Baltimore. They maintain their own farm not far from the restaurant, complete with an herb garden — a highly unusual practice for an Indian restaurant in this area. Add to that the quality of the meats and fishes, which is several notches above that of the curry house, and you have a brand of cooking that is lighter and fresher than any Indian restaurant in the area not named Rasika. Given this emphasis, you might expect the dishes to experiment a little, to rethink traditional dishes in whimsical or dramatic ways. But for the most part Ananda is attempting a different, less obvious kind of fusion — the fusion of the local-leaning bistro with the conventional Indian restaurant. The preparations of black dal, chana, and raita are among the most complex I’ve tasted in years, and unexpectedly clean-tasting. A dish of salmon was perfectly roasted, with a subtle melange of tomatoes, cinnamon and cumin for a sauce. A watermelon salad with feta could have stood in for any trendy bistro in DC, except that its spicing was unmistakably Indian, and the dressing and its garnishes were both so stunningly fresh I would have thought I was dining at some gastronomic getaway in the country. I could have eaten three bowls of a recent special, a chilled summer squash and carrot soup, subtly spiced and tasting of fresh vegetables, not cream.

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’s willing to accommodate any requests, but adds that his aunt’s cooking isn’t 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).

Sushi Capitol, DC

This is a diminished sushi scene: Makoto is no longer special, Kushi has exited, and Sushi-Ko I is gone. That leaves Sushi Taro and Sushi Capitol, and for me, right now, it’s not a debate. Capitol is not as polished an experience as Taro, but neither is it the Zen-like spa of hushed voices and restrained manners — an Important Restaurant to save up for when you are looking to mark an occasion. This is a simple, unassuming spot, a workaday spot, with good, well-sourced fish and a chef who knows how to enhance the raw product without sacrificing the elegance essential to the form. Minoru Ogawa was previously in charge of sushi operations at every Mandarin Oriental property along the Eastern seaboard. He’s a purist at the bar, abjuring gimmicks, fads and clutter. The pieces are small, with tiny pads of rice, and the fish is sliced thin and delicately and draped just so over the pads. This doesn’t just make for an elegant presentation; it ensures that each bite is in balance, with the right proportion of fish to rice. I was in most recently for the omakase, which, at $50 for somewhere between 16-20 pieces, amounts to a sweetheart of a deal in the sushi world — particularly when the yellowtail is so sweet and still tastes of the sea, and the various white fishes are not simply there for padding, and the hand-rolls (passed across the bar as soon as they’re finished, their wrappers warm and crunchy) come with fresh-chopped toro. If you order a la carte, don’t ignore the rolls. The Florida roll, draped with whitened bands of blowtorched salmon belly and sliced avocado, is a stunner in every sense.

* new this week

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TOMATOES ON SANDWICHES ……….:

Hi Todd,

A friend of mine recently brought up a conclusion that the tomato on a sandwich is irrelevant. It is simply a traditional garnish that adds no real flavor to most sandwiches today.

He thinks a burger should just have ketchup. And perhaps his only exception would be a B.L.T. where a tomato is one of the necessary pieces and works.

I am interested to hear your take on this. Is the tomato worth anything on most sandwiches today?

Todd Kliman

I’m with your friend — unless the restaurant’s gotten hold of some great tomatoes in season.

Most tomatoes on sandwiches, now — and particularly if we’re talking about places like Subway, but even, really, if we’re talking about a cut or two above — most tomatoes on sandwiches look like pink impostors and taste like soft radishes. They add nothing. No flavor, no sweetness, no juice.

And as for a BLT, they’re really only worth getting when it’s tomato season or if you’re in California, when produce is pretty much good all year round.

This’s got me thinking, now — what else is superfluous, but kept around mostly because tradition dictates?

Anyone?

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VALENTINE’S DAY SPECIALS ……….:

Hi Todd,

As usual, there are tons of restaurants offering prix fixe meals and specials dinners for Valentine’s Day this year. What are some of the more interesting options that stand out to you this year?

Todd Kliman

Easily the most interesting, to me — not for the food; I have no clue whatsoever whether it’ll be good or worth it — is the Valentine’s Eve Dinner at the Mansion

It’s, yes, $69 per person, and, per the press release, the “decadent” meal is “topped off with our exotic banana split erection & spectacular sweet tooth display.”

After, there’s a “lovers’ treasure hunt through the Mansion. … Guests are invited to explore the museum’s themed rooms and search for secret doors after they dine. Search for Mrs. Rosa Parks room, the John Lennon room, the Safari room, over 50 signed guitars, art, memorabilia and much more.”

Exotic banana split erection: not a typo.

And seeking out the Rosa Parks room after indulging in a “banana split erection” — I … I don’t know. I don’t have words …

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MANGO TREE, DC ……….:

Hi Todd,

Have you had a chance to visit Mango Tree yet?

I’m wondering how it compares to the other restaurants in town that tout authentic Thai cuisine. We certainly do have some great options for that in DC already.

Todd Kliman

My first impression is — eh.

I mean, the space is stunning. If you were to ask yourself what the interior of an upmarket Thai restaurant ought to look like, this is pretty much exactly what you would come up with. The colors, the movement, the lights, the tables and chairs. Stunning.

The food? Not stunning. Granted, I only tried three dishes, but nothing made me want to return to try more. A grilled pork neck salad was unbalanced, and not in an interesting way. A crab fried rice was, thankfully, not greasy, but it wasn’t particularly flavorful or distinctive either.

If you were to put Thai Taste by Kob in that location, there would be a line around the block every night.

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SUPERFLUITY, CONT. ……….:

You could make an argument and ask should burgers be served with the traditional accouterments? most burgers are going to have the option to include or will have on the side lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle.

I agree tomatoes are best during summer time, when they are in season.

Todd Kliman

You’ve got me thinking about something else now, too, which is that as more and better lettuces have come into the marketplace in the last decade, you now see these non-iceberg lettuces showing up on burgers.

Does a burger need good lettuce? Is that the taste you want on a thick, juicy, fatty patty?

Or do you just want the crunch — well, the crunch and also something that balances out the thick, juicy, fatty patty?

You know what I like on a burger, and you almost never see it anymore? Shredded lettuce. Shredded iceberg lettuce.

That way you never taste it as lettuce. You get the crunch, and you get the not-fatty-patty-ness of it.

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FOLLOWING-UP FROM LAST WEEK: GREAT BAGGED OR PACKAGED FOODS ……….:

I usually keep a package of Stonefire brand Naan in the freezer.

Insert the pizza stone and crank the oven and let the naan defrost as the oven comes to temperature. Smear on some pesto, top with virtually any sort of leftover in the fridge, sprinkle on some cheese. Bake for 7 or 8 minutes and you have flat breads for dinner.

Todd Kliman

Sounds good.

Where do you find them? Which store?

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REPORT FROM THE FIELD: GLEN’S GARDEN MARKET, DC ……….:

Hi Todd,

I’m a big fan of your chats, though this is my first question. Have you been to the tasting table at Glen’s Garden Market? Any thoughts?

They host monthly dinners, and I went last week for the first time. Overall, I was unimpressed.

The setting starts off on the wrong note–the table is set in the middle of the store, right against the deli counter. The store was still open, so diners are surrounded by shoppers, and my seat was next to the dairy case, so I got a chill every time someone opened the door. Seems to me if you only host these dinners once a month, you might consider closing the store early to allow the dinner to proceed in a calmer atmosphere.

Then there was the food. A total of 7 or 8 courses, none of them memorable. The starter was a salad–handful of mache, thinly sliced radishes and apples–that came with a “kombucha ice”. We were told the ice would melt to make a dressing for the salad. The result was really just cold, wet and flavorless. It was also about 20 degrees outside, so an icy salad doesn’t seem like the best way to start a meal, in my opinion.

I kept thinking longingly back to a dinner I had several months ago at Seasonal Pantry, where each course was surprising and delicious–that was a tasting dinner that was truly remarkable and worth the cost. Not so for the dinner at Glen’s.

Though the service was good, lots of smiles and well timed delivery of dishes, the food was uninspired and eating in a cold grocery store didn’t feel worth the $106 price tag.

They should spend less time describing the backstories of the dishes, and more time on creating tasty food. That seems to be a trend…selling customers a story, yet without the taste to back it up, which I find so frustrating. I’m paying for food, not your treatise on foraging and heirloom corn varities! I wonder if I went on an off night?

Disappointing to think they have a whole month to prepare for these dinners yet they fail to deliver on the most basic front–serving good food.

Todd Kliman

Thanks for the report.

That sounds really disappointing. And expensive.

It’s interesting, this question of backstories. When a meal is great, it can be fun, sometimes, to learn where products came from and how the chef uses them.

But when a meal is not great? When a meal is only okay? Then it’s intensely annoying, and you’re aware of being sold something.

I admire the places that don’t have to narrativize, or that intentionally undersell what they’re doing. Or both. Look at Central Michel Richard or Rose’s Luxury. You can’t tell from reading the menu what you’re going to get. Rose’s descriptions are spare and withholding; Central doesn’t even supply descriptions. If you’d never been, you might even be disappointed to place an order. But then the dishes come and there’s wonder and joy and discovery.

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HUNAN TASTE, CONT. ……….:

Is that the Hunan taste on FFX BLVD??

Todd Kliman

Yes. Why?

Do you happen to be parked in that strip mall as we speak?

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THIP KHAO REC’S? ……….:

I am heading to Thip Khao with a large group this week and we are curious what dishes you recommend?

I saw that a couple items were featured in the “Best Thing I Ate This Week” feature, so we’ll obviously keep those in mind. Anything else, for both adventurous and less-adventurous eaters?

Thanks!

Todd Kliman

Just for a little background … Ann Limpert and I, completely coincidentally, picked dishes last week at Thip Khao. She went with the sour soup, which I’m also high on, and I went with the siin heng, or sun-dried beef.
https://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/bestbites/best-thing-i-ate/

For adventurous and non-adventurous eaters alike, I recommend two of the fish dishes: the knap pah, which brings a succulent little grilled filet (I’d go for the salmon) coated in ginger and dill and wrapped in a banana leaf; and the moak pah, in which the fish (your pick) is smeared with curry paste and steamed in banana leaf).

And don’t miss the grilled pork neck.

I’ve been to Thip Khao three times now, and after an uneven start, the place seems to be finding itself. At least in the kitchen.

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BIRTHDAY DINNER IDEAS? ……….:

Hi Todd,

I have a birthday coming up this Sunday, and I’ve been racking my brain for dinner ideas. Last year, we went to Rose’s, and we all loved it. I’d return again, but the wait time have been getting quite lengthy.

All suggestions except seafood-centric spots are quite welcome, since my wife does not enjoy fish. (Sigh…good-bye Fiola Mare)
We’ve been to Le Diplomate, Del Campo, Gypsy Soul, and many others. We’ll have a group of 3-5 people.

On a different note, there is no better barbecue in the area than DCity Smokehouse. As a native Texan, I don’t say that lightly. Hill Country is outstanding, but I think DCity is a cut above.

Thank you!

Todd Kliman

Oh, easily.

As for a birthday spot, what about The Red Hen? Or Vin 909 Winecafe? Or Ananda? Or Casa Luca? Or Crane & Turtle?

I’d feel happy and grateful to find myself in a seat at any one of those restaurants on my birthday.

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GREAT PREPARED FOODS, CONT. ……….:

Great prepared foods to keep on hand.:

I keep Kerry Gold Garlic and Herb butter on hand.

I’m not in a position to grow herbs now, so I cannot make my own compound butters at home and grocery herbs are so expensive, so I buy a lot of this butter and keep it in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

I use it to finish off sauces, to top on broiled fish, to whip into mashed potatoes, or to top a steak as its resting under a tent of foil when I make Steak Frites at home.

Its delicious, easy to use, makes ordinary meals a step above and most of all not that expensive versus making it from scratch.

Todd Kliman

That’s a great idea.

I’ll bet it’s fantastic on steaks and broiled fish.

I love Kerry Gold but didn’t know they made a garlic and herb version.

Thanks for the tip.

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SUPERFLUITY, CONT. ……….:

Superfluous? Black pepper on the table.

Maybe I’m in the minority. I know some restaurants don’t provide salt because they perceive their dishes to already be appropriately seasoned. But to me pepper is useless (especially if it’s pre-ground, which is basically black dust). Can’t remember the last time I added it to a restaurant dish.

I do use it in cooking, but that’s the key word…while the dish is being cooked, never applied after it’s done.

Todd Kliman

Same here.

I mean, I’ll use it if I’m in some diner and there’s nothing else and the food is as bland as cafeteria food.

By the way, has everyone seen this? —> http://sriracha2go.com

I can see where that’d be perfect to have on you for road trips and trips to relatives who can’t cook. 😉

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SHREDDED LETTUCE, CONT. ……….:

We think alike. I prefer shredded lettuce then regular piece of lettuce of boston bib lettuce. Lately, if I see it on the menu I like ordering crispy onions on my burger for a good crunch

Todd Kliman

It’s a texture thing, shredded lettuce.

Because it’s in thin strips, the lettuce doesn’t ride atop the patty. The patty is dominant, the way it should be.

Crispy onions: sounds good.

By the way, did you all know that Roy Rogers has just opened in Rockville? It’s probably nothing to get excited about, but I can’t help it, I’m remembering eating Double R Bar burgers when I was a kid and getting a little giddy.

Burger, grilled ham, cheese. Loved those things.

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BIRTHDAY DINNER SPOT, CONT. ……….:

Sunday Birthday: How about Osteria Morini?

It is by the water, has great food and service, and they know how to make you feel special without making a big deal about it. They also have great desserts (and grappas!)

Sadly I’ve been there only for lunches during the week but I dream of a Sunday there where I can linger and finish the meal properly (and preferably without worrying about my expiring meter!)

Todd Kliman

Great call, yes. And that’s an oversight on my part. Add it to the list.

And make sure that someone at the table orders the cappelletti, truffled ricotta ravioli with proscuitto and butter — one of the best dishes I’ve had so far in 2015.

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BLACK PEPPER, CONT. ………..:

Black Pepper : Yes! And please please provide it in a grinder so I can get the fresh cracked taste. Pre-ground doesn’t even compare!

Todd Kliman

How about those places that haul out the pepper grinder that’s the size of a Louisville slugger?

Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. But a honking pepper grinder is never just a pepper grinder.

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CLEARWATER/ST. PETERSBURG EATS ……….:

Any suggestions for Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Florida? We’re heading down there for the long weekend and are not valentine celebrators, but just looking for good food, laid back atmosphere and some sunshine!

Thanks

Todd Kliman

I got nothing. Sorry.

Anyone?

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TOMATOES, CONT. ……….:

Tomato sandwich: only and only in season, nothing beats a tomato mozzarella basil sandwich drizzled with olive oil and freshly cracked pepper served in a fresh ciabatta or on top of a country bread smorgasbord style!

Todd Kliman

Oh man, yes.

And doesn’t that just feel so so so far off right now? Which of course only makes the hunger for it that much more intense …

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REPORT FROM THE FIELD: FIOLA MARE IN DC ……….:

Fiola Mare: For the person crossing out Fiola Mare because his wife doesn’t like seafood: there are other (though limited) options on the menu, and I am sure if you call them in advance they can make something special, especially if your wife likes pasta.

I think their pastas are “out of this town”, and the recent pasta dish I had with artichokes and hazelnuts (sadly on the menu only for Restaurant Week) was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had and I didn’t even realize that there was no meat in it.

‘The place is so special, and the food is so good, I would be happy if someone took me there just for drinks and salad 🙂

P.S. Fiola Mare, can you please make that pasta a regular menu item?

Todd Kliman

“Out of this town” — I’ve never heard that phrasing before.

Careful. People’ll think that what you’re equating something really, really good with something you can’t get here. 🙂

You’re right about Fiola Mare being special.

I wonder whether people, here, realize how good it is. It’s national-class good. The quality and freshness of the fish and seafood, and the imagination and care with which they’re handled, is on par with Le Bernardin in NY.

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SHREDDED LETTUCE, CONT. ……….:

I’m also a fan of shredded iceberg on a sub. A down on The Shore kinda sub. The olive oil and vinegar get caught up in lettuce, you can see the droplets clinging to the strands.

Of course I’d probably want some tomatoes on that sub, as well as some hot peppers. And mayo. And salami. And provolone. And that sub needs some good salty chips.

Todd Kliman

The chatter’s description, just a moment ago, of a “tomato mozzarella basil sandwich drizzled with olive oil and freshly cracked pepper and served on a fresh ciabatta” made me aware that I was getting hungry.

Well, now it’s here: I’m hungry. Really hungry.

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“EXOTIC BANANA SPLIT ERECTION,” CONT. ……….:

Could someone please go and report back? I’m so confused/intrigued…

Todd Kliman

I’m not going there.

But I’ll go here: sometimes a banana split is just a banana split.

Time to grab some lunch …

Be well, everyone, eat well, and — well, no, we won’t be doing it again next Tuesday at 11; but the Tuesday after that, yes, definitely: February 17th. Mark your calendars …

[missing you, TEK … ]