Tuesday, June 2, 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.

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. The Richmond TImes-Dispatch hailed it as “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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TK’S 10: WHERE TO GO NOW

Taqueria el Mexicano

7811 Riggs Rd., Hyattsville; (301) 434-0104

Best Mexican cooking in the area right now. Nothing else comes close. Get the pork in adobo, the mole poblano, the posole, and the sopes. And don’t skimp on the handmade tortillas.

Tazza Kitchen

2931 S Glebe Rd., Arlington; (703) 549-8299

Imagine a Clyde’s, only foodier, cozier, more contemporary, and less focused on pleasing the widest swath of diners. Terrific, attentive service, too. Go for the campanelle bolognese, the mushroom pizza, the shrimp ’n’ polenta, the steak with salsa verde and an egg, and end with an excellent olive oil-topped chocolate budino.

Hunan Taste

10120 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax; (703) 877-0988

The 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 something 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 you simply can’t stop eating.

Amoo’s House of Kabob

6271 Old Dominion Dr., McLean; (703) 448-8500

The kabob is exalted at this Persian stripmall gem. Don’t miss the kubideh, which doesn’t even need a knife, and the salmon, thick hunks of lightly charred fish, cooked to an ideal coral-centered medium. And don’t come at all if you’re not going to spring for at least one of the rice dishes, ideally the aromatic shirin polo, with saffron, currants, and candied orange peel.

Sushi Capitol

325 Pennsylvania Ave. SE DC; (202) 627-0325

Minoru Ogawa was previously in charge of sushi operations at every Mandarin Oriental property along the Eastern seaboard. He shops with the utmost care for his product, and is a purist at the bar, abjuring gimmicks, fads and clutter. When Ogawa is around, there’s no place in the area I’d rather go for sushi.

Casa Luca

1099 New York Ave. NW DC; (202) 628-1099

The most casual of the restaurants in Fabio Trabocchi’s collection, and an immensely assured operation from top to bottom, and from its opening nibbles to its pastas to its dazzling preparations of fish and seafood to its exquisitely crafted desserts.

Enat

4709 N Chambliss St., Alexandria; (703) 642-3628

Best Ethiopian food in the area right now. Every item I sampled on a recent, abundantly topped platter was vibrantly colorful, subtly (but assertively) spiced, and memorable. Vegetarians, take note: this is the spot to go when you’re in the mood for kik alicha, mesir wot, and azifa. The latter, in fact, is easily the best version of the dish I’ve eaten in years — the flavors sharper and more focused, the tang tangier, the mustard bite, more mustardy. It’s also a pleasure to see lentils that are cooked perfectly — no crunchiness, no mushiness.

The Alley Light

108 2nd St. SW, Charlottesville, Va.; (434) 296-5003

The chef at this unmarked speakeasy, Jose De Brito, is a lone wolf in the foodie herd. He thinks for himself, which would be reason enough to pay a visit, but here’s the best part: he doesn’t also cook for himself, to gratify his ego at the expense of your pleasure. Let every other chef fry their brussels sprouts; De Brito mashes them with a bacon-infused cream to create a kind of palaak paneer, then roasts them slowly, along with pearl onions, bits of bacon, and chestnuts that turn soft, dark, and caramelly sweet. He uses sunchokes, those suddenly trendy tubers, to lend a sharpening edge to a fondue-like soup that coats the tongue with the rich, resonant taste of Roquefort. I can’t remember the last time I saw green beans on a menu, let alone as a stand-alone dish, but De Brito shows you how something so unsexy can be made marvelous, tossing the beans in an almond vinaigrette and then showering the plate with a snow the color of putty — foie gras, grated from a frozen block. And that’s just the vegetables.

Le Diplomate

1601 14th St. NW DC; (202) 332-3333

You don’t need to be told, or reminded, about the place, but let me just say that the dishes coming out of the kitchen, under chef Michael Abt, have never been better. The tete de veau is excellent, worth coming for all by itself. It doesn’t go with the burger, no, but you can’t come here and not get the burger, probably the best in the city at the moment. And Fabrice Bendano, the dean of DC pastry chefs, has taken over dessert. If you want to understand why this qualifies as such a monumental hire, order his profiterole, which manages to be both new and old, intricate and effortless, richly satisfying and conversation haltingly dazzling.

KBQ Real Barbeque

9101 Woodmore Ctr. Dr. Ste 322, Lanham; (301) 322-1527

One of the two best barbecue spots in the area right now — the other is DCity Smokehouse — and I go back and forth on whose ribs I crave most. The ones here are soaked in advance of cooking in a housemade mojo criollo, then rubbed with herbs, and smoked slowly out back before hitting the grill. No sauce when they come to the table — they don’t need ‘em.


FOLLOWING-UP FROM LAST WEEK: DINING IN BARCELONA:

Sorry – missed the chat and saw the request for details on the meals in Barcelona.

Disfrutar- This restaurant is brand new, just opened end of 2014. If there were service or food kinks still to be worked out we didn’t notice them. We ordered the full length tasting menu and a bottle of vintage cava. The food is very molecular gastronomy and some of the dishes reminded us directly to our meal at El Bulli in the summer of 2009 – notably the transparent pesto ravioli and the seafood and avocado merengue sandwich. A real highlight of the meal was the crispy fried egg yolk with truffle powder- this was some addictive foodie egg porn crack. The macaroni carbonara was like nothing we had ever seen – literally clear noodles where they piped in a cream foam tableside. Visually stunning and very delicious. Sometimes desserts at these kinds of restaurants are over kill and don’t stand up to the savory courses. I’d say here that was not the case. The chocolate peppers- spicy chocolate mousse was beyond delicious. This place seems destined for some level of greatness. Menu here: http://en.disfrutarbarcelona.com/download-destacat/angles-menu.pdf

Tickets- Some might describe this as being the center of the Adria brothers growing empire of restaurants in Barcelona. We probably over-ordered end ended up with something like 30 dishes including the famous spherical olives (they also served them to us at Disfrutar, which made for a fun point of comparison) which we didn’t have at El Bulli in 2009 but got three varieties of at Tickets. The dishes range in their level of inventiveness and the fresh seafood- notably the oysters was incredible. Desserts were definitely the low point and I think we could have easily skipped them.

El Cellar de Can Rocas – There is a reason they compete with Noma for #1 restaurant in the world. Having been to both twice and both in the past couple months, I personally prefer Can Rocas by a long shot. The food is visually stunning, inventive and delicious. Some of the platings though, kind of overshadow the food.There were some similar courses to our first visit to Can Rocas in 2009. I preferred their seafood and fish preparations to the meat. We got an extra dessert- Lacteos- because it was my birthday that was identical to one we had there on our last visit. We had a similar version of it at Rocambolesc (their ice cream shop in Girona) earlier in the day. It was delicious so none of that was an issue. They have a massive, overwhelming wine list. We got the wine pairings and felt they really improved the food. Service was impeccable as one would expect it to be.

Todd Kliman

What a great postcard from Barcelona.

We’re all jealous and hungry and full of longing …

Hey, everyone. Thanks for being here this morning.

Let me know what’s on your mind … where you’ve been eating, what you’ve been eating, what you’re curious to hear about, what you’ve been cooking at home …

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WORLD’S 50 BEST RESTAURANTS LIST:

RE: World’s 50 Best List

There has been so much controversy swirling about the “voting” mechanism for the list and some big winners and losers this year and in past years. What do you think? Do you agree with the rankings? Or is this just a corrupt exercise like FIFA?

Todd Kliman

Here’s a story from the New York Times, for those who are interested: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/dining/worlds-50-best-restaurants-awards-ceremony-guildhall-london.html?_r=0

I can’t say whether I agree or disagree with the rankings because I haven’t been to most of these restaurants.

I can say that I know how hard it is to cover just a small region with three reviewers, as we do at the mag. It takes a lot of money, and a lot of time, and a lot of coordination. I have a hard time believing that all their voters are jetting all over the world to eat at all these restaurants. And if they’re not all doing that, then what do you have? You have something arbitrary. A kind of popularity contest.

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PUPUSAS:

You mentioned liking the pupusas at Pupusas y Taqueria Rios. Do you think that still exists?

Sadly, I think it closed. (I tried to go several times on your recommendation, but always closed, and now signs seem to be down).

Todd Kliman

That’s too bad, if it’s true. (I’ll look into it … )

I thought their pupusas were excellent, and I loved their curtido — colored yellow and more pickled than most versions.

Don’t miss a new restaurant again. Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

Does anybody have a favorite spot for pupusas?

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CHEF PATRICK O’CONNELL:

Todd,

Would you please consider linking to this in your live weekly engagement with readers?

It’s interesting and fun … even though we were freezing in May as it taped.

http://www.caroljoynt.com/my-blog/2015/05/chef-patrick-oconnells-qa-show-appearance-now-on-youtube.html

or direct to youtube

I kept it very local https://youtu.be/oWCJb_7uqqA?list=PLXy1YGBDz5ZXWJe4YRERXRLVEzM15KizC

As I did with Daniel Boulud, too. I hope you’ve already watched, but if you haven’t

xxx
Carol Joynt

Todd Kliman

Done. 🙂

Thanks, Carol.

I haven’t watched, no. I will …

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FISHNET IN SHAW:

I’ve just become aware of your excellent new Otherwise column. I thought the near-juxtaposition of Fish in the Neighborhood and Fishnet’s Shaw venture was interesting.

The all-too-often overlooked Fish in the Neighborhood (one of my favorites) is the perfect role model for what Ferhat Yalcin was trying to do in Shaw — impeccably fresh fish, cooked to order, at prices higher than the standard fish sandwich place. Obviously, the neighborhood dynamics are different for the two restaurants, but it’s only in retrospect that Yalcin could have anticipated such strong neighborhood pushback.

I’ll offer a presumptuous suggestion to Yalcin — he should emphasize his roots. A couple of years ago, my wife, son, and I made the trek up to College Park from Arlington (your review of Fishnet was very strong) and had an outstanding meal. I got to talking to Yalcin and he mentioned that he grew up in the Yesilkoy neighborhood of Istanbul.

Yesilkoy is anything but the typical Istanbul neighborhood. It’s a beautiful upscale neighborhood, unexpectedly filled with beautiful turn-of-the-century Victorian homes, which is fronted by a lovely mile-long promenade along the Sea of Marmara. It was basically a small beach town until the 1970s.

More important for present purposes, Yesilkoy is known throughout Istanbul as the place to go for superb waterfront seafood restaurants. These are nice sit-down places with tablecloths and moderate-to-high prices and the freshest seafood. They’re a far cry from the takeaway balik ekmek places that line the Bosporus under the Galata Bridge (not that those aren’t good, by all accounts).

Maybe Yalcin could emphasize his Yesilkoy roots. That image would seem to fit better with his new tasting menu and his Corduroy experience than trying to placate an audience that is looking for fried food at a low price.

Todd Kliman

Interesting.

But speaking personally for just a second, I kind of think it’d be a shame if he went that path. I think the much more daring, much more meaningful, place would be a place that manages to reach old Shaw and new Shaw, young and old, black and white, etc.

How many restaurants in this city, in this area, can you name that knit together all these different folks? Really. Think about it. How many are there?

And fish and seafood have broad appeal, broad reach.

Look at the audience on the Hill for Hank’s. Not hugely integrated with regard to black and white, but much more than most restaurants in this city. And a good mix, generally, of young and old.

I think it can be done.

The problem, in this case, was that a fish sandwich meant one thing to Yalcin and another to a core piece of his audience. Cultural static. And that cultural static threw him, and caused him to make a lot of changes that moved him away from what he had set out to do, altered his mission, threw his identity as a restaurant into question.

P.S. Thanks so much for finding and supporting the column! I really appreciate it.

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SOFT SHELLS:

More on soft shells:

Sushi Capitol’s soft-shell crab tempura is so sweet and meaty that it was irresistible even to me (a fried-food-phobe) and my friends (kosher).

Readers should bear in mind that they may not be able to drop by without calling for a reservation even on weekdays: when I arrived early last Wednesday, a sign on the front door noted that the restaurant was fully reserved for the night.

Todd Kliman

Thanks for the tasty tip.

When kosher-keepers temporarily forgo being kosher, then you know a dish has got to be stone-cold delicious.

That’s some high, high praise. I mean, really, that’s got to be the highest praise there is, no?

Actually, let’s mull this a little … Is there anything that would be higher?

Or anything that would be comparable?

A vegetarian temporarily forgoing vegetarianism doesn’t strike me as being nearly as high a form of praise …

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REPORT FROM THE FIELD: BOMBAY CLUB, DC:

I’ve almost always focused my attention on food in writing in on this chat, but I feel like I have to offer everyone an FYI about an area of frustration for me at Bombay Club. My wife and I went last night for a small celebratory meal, and we had a lovely time.

But once we went outside to get our car back from the valet, problems started. There were probably 5 or 6 people waiting outside, and all the valet drivers were crowded around an old green Toyota Tercel. After we asked for our car, what came to light was perturbing.

Apparently, the valets had been storing all the keys in the front seat of the Toyota (presumably one of their cars), in plain view, and then had accidentally locked the doors to the car. We and a few others ended up having to wait around 45 minutes for them to break into the car and then give us our keys. The manager’s response was pretty frustrating as well. He came out, watched them work for a while, mumbled sorry a couple times and told us they would fix it, and then went inside. After they finally got the door open, and we got our keys, he just walked into the restaurant without a word.

It took my wife walking back in and saying something to him for us to get comped brunch for two for some point in the future.

This was probably the worst service I’ve ever gotten at an Ashok Bajaj establishment. My feeling is, even if the valets are technically from a different company, the restaurant has to take responsibility for their work too. They didn’t do that at all last night.

As an aside, I have to agree with the El Celler de Can Roca recommendation- it is one of the great dining experiences of my life and the highlight of our honeymoon about 2 years ago. It’s a magnificent meal, and when we started asking some questions afterwards, we had the chance to meet a few of the chefs, check out the wine cellar, and the kitchen as well. They were incredibly friendly and excited about our interest in the restaurant.

Todd Kliman

Odd episode.

My guess — and really, I’m just taking a guess here — is that this was such an aberration that the staff at the restaurant wasn’t prepared to handle the problem.

The fact that the valet company is not part of the restaurant only compounds the problem.

So, the staff at the restaurant felt bad, but didn’t feel responsible, and it also probably hadn’t encountered something like this before so it didn’t know what it should do.

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THE ESCALATING EGG SHORTAGE:

I’ve been reading a lot about the current and escalating egg shortage. Have you heard if this is impacting local restaurants? Are we going to see a decline in brunch, escalating prices?

Todd Kliman

I haven’t heard whether it’s been affecting restaurants, no.

I guess we’ll find out.

And I really, really doubt we’ll see a decline in brunch, in this city — this brunch-mad city.

Speaking of eggs. It’s interesting to me to hear people’s attitudes toward them. I mean, many people like eggs for breakfast. But after that things get complicated.

There are people who are turned off by, say, poached eggs on asparagus, or an egg atop a pasta dish.

I love to have an egg on, say, a white pizza with potato. I know the mere thought of that disgusts some people.

A dish, by the way, that I love and never see, outside of Paris and Montreal, is oeufs en gelee. Egg suspended in a beef jelly. Julia Child made it. Classic bistro dish. But I’ve asked several French chefs, and they’ve all told me they would never put it on their menus. Why? Too complicated, but more than that — they believe Americans won’t go for it. Too slippery.

Slipperiness in food: Americans really don’t have much of a tolerance for it. It’s something you find a good bit of in Asian cuisines, and I know people who are revolted by soft textures.

Where do you all come down on the egg question? I imagine that, being passionate lovers of food, you probably love eggs any time of day and in all sorts of guises — on pizzas, on vegetables, atop stews, etc. But tell me …

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FISHNET IN SHAW, CONT.:

Todd,

I appreciate the optimism re: Fishnet, but how exactly would you knit those 2 communities together with a seafood restaurant? If I understood your article correctly, there were 2 issues: 1) what a fish sandwich was, and 2) the price of the higher quality fish Ferhat serves.

In order to address issue 2, he would have to reduce the quality of his product, which doesn’t seem like a very exciting prospect.

Todd Kliman

I should’ve explained myself better. Thanks for giving me a chance to try again.

I’m not optimistic, actually.

I want to believe. But that’s different from believing.

As for knitting, I didn’t mean knitting via the vehicle of a fish sandwich. Yalcin is going to be remaking the restaurant, which cannot, now, be a copy of what he has in College Park. The new, different Fishnet has a chance to try to find the seam. And I hope — I’m speaking personally, now, as someone who cares about this city and the direction it’s going — that he succeeds.

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PHILLY BRUNCH:

Hi Todd-

My wife and I are headed to Philly for a wedding this weekend. Any suggestions for a nice brunch spot in the city? Anywhere new worth checking out?

Nothing outrageously expensive, but any cuisine is fine.

Thanks!

Todd Kliman

I haven’t had brunch up there in a while, but the last one I did have was at Garces Trading Co. and I loved it. And I’m not a big fan of brunch.

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REPORT FROM THE FIELD: DEL FRISCO AND JOE’S SEAFOOD AND STEAK, DC :

Hi Todd,

I love going out and eating a nice big steak from time to time. Needless to say, I am quite happy with the steak scene in DC.

Before my go to places were BLT Steak and Capital Grille, but I find myself not going there as often because of these two restaurants -Del Frisco Double Eagle and Joe’s Seafood and Steak. I love the atmosphere at Double Eagle but I am impressed with the person in charge of the broiler. The NY Strip and Ribeye steaks are cooked to order and tastes fantastic. You can’t go wrong with their version of cream of spinach – Spinach supreme. It’s a big plus when they serve you the steak, you can cut it right down the middle to make sure the temperature is correct.

What I really enjoy about Joe’s is their Jumbo Alaskan king crab legs. It’s prepared so you can easily eat the crab meat and love how they squeeze a lemon and give you a hot towel to get rid of the smell. The bone-in ribeye was probably the best ribeye I’ve eaten. You have to ask for a side of garlic butter on the side for an extra kick to the steak.

I saw a new steakhouse opened called Mastro’s. I will have to check it out.

Todd Kliman

Thanks for these great and hungry-making reports.

And it’s interesting to hear that as a steak lover you’re gravitating to different spots from the spots that dominated the steak-and-potatoes scene just five years ago.

Mastro’s is new, yes — right near Metro Center — and also new is Maxime, a French brasserie with a focus on steak frites.

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EGGS, CONT.:

Your mention of oefs in gelee reminded me of a funny section in Julie and Julia. As you might expect, they were not a hit.

I’m generally an eggs in the morning kind of person, always ordering an egg dish of some kind when dining out. I have a few exceptions.

A soft boiled egg in ramen is a glorious thing. Quail eggs make a terrific appetizer. I would also give a big thumbs up to spaghetti carbonara. Eggs & bacon meets pasta. What’s not to love?

Todd Kliman

Egg in ramen, yes!

Egg in carbonara, yes again!

What’s not to love is exactly right.

Anything, for me, where the yolk is rich and runny and makes a secondary sauce. One of the things I love love love is the yolk running into a red wine reduction with, for instance, seared scallops.

As for eggs in the morning — isn’t it interesting how many restaurants won’t do poached? (Too time-consuming, they say.) Or, if they do poached, they do it badly. (Too wet.) A lot of places — a LOT — screw up omelets, at least for my palate they do.

I like them very, very, very soft. It’s hard to communicate this to a server. I don’t want any brown on there. I don’t want them to be firm. I don’t want them to approach firm. This makes me an immensely annoying person to take an omelet order from, I know. Does anybody else have this persnicketiness when it comes to omelets? And if so, what words do you use to convey what you want?

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EGGS, CONT.:

South and SE Asian cuisines do wonderful dishes with eggs. A Bengali cookbook I have has a marvelous omelet masala curry – you make an omelet containing onion, chilies, and Indian spices, slice it into strips and add it to a tomato-based curry. It’s a home-style comfort dishes

James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor cookbook has a excellent hard boiled egg dish which is then fried and finished with a spicy sambal.

Todd Kliman

What’s the name of that Bengali cookbook? Sounds wonderful.

And wow, the Oseland dish sounds great, too.

We were just talking about glorious. Here’s more glorious: a 7-minute egg, with a dusting of truffle salt and cracked black pepper.

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VALET PARKING, CONT.:

For the Poster with Valet Parking Problem:

I agree that the employees of the valet parking are not employees of the restaurant, per se, but the valet company is in a binding contract with the restaurant to provide a service, so yes, I think the restaurant who contracted with them has an obligation to make things right for their customer.

The same customer came into their restaurant and spent money and only came in after parking their car with the contracted valet. Then the restaurant can take it up with the valet company later. This is just good customer service.

A good example is if a temporary assistant, from a temporary agency, works in a law firm for a day and is rude to the clients would the managers at the law firm say, oh well, she’s not our employee, she is just a temp and let the rudeness continue, or would they make their client happy?

Just a thought . . .

Todd Kliman

No, it’s a great thought, a very thoughtful and very reasonable thought.

And I love your analogy.

You’re right.

Thanks for taking the time to process this and respond …

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PUPUSERIA Y TAQUERIA RIOS:

The pupusa place in Wheaton is definitely gone. Something else in its place (in a largely deserted strip).

Todd Kliman

That’s too bad.

I just dug up the hard copy of my review, and was struck by what I wrote in the first sentence:

"At every one of my meals at Wheaton’s Pupuseria y Taqueria Rios, I saw more restaurant personnel than diners. One midweek night my family and I had the entire two-room place to ourselves until a solo diner walked in toward the end. It felt like he was intruding on our private party.
"I feel for Marian Rios, who runs the place with her sister, Marta Ochoa, and whose sister Lucia Ochoa runs the kitchen. This is by no means a perfect restaurant — I’ve had good service and spotty service, good food and mediocre food. But it deserves an audience, if only for the two dishes it touts in its name. ... "


EGGS, CONT.:

Regarding eggs, I love a poached egg on a hash with veggies, potatoes, and meat (whatever we have lying around and ready to throw in).

I am very intrigued by something I have seen on the show Master Chef Australia, where everyone seems to love to put an egg inside a ravioli. Have you had that? It looks so good and yet, relatively complex to prepare.

Todd Kliman

Had it, love it. Love it love it love it.

Uova da Ravioli. Very difficult to do. So easy to break the yolk.

Is there anyone out there with a technique for doing this that makes things easier? I’d love to know, though I doubt there is one.

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VALET PARKING, CONT.:

I never valet my car. Having worked at hotels and having witnessed multiple events (extra 20 miles on my car when the car was back with all windows down and AC at full blast, a friend’s car window left open causing the car to get soaked while we were in a meeting and caused a major electrical damage to the systems, etc.) and having to wait 30-45 min at times, I’ve given up on that and I’ll either park somewhere close and Uber/Cab or park somewhere and walk.

With that said, I realize it’s not possible for everyone. So, when a restaurant contracts with a valet operator, they know that their name will be associated with the experience, so, like they train their employees, it may be beneficial to make them understand their philosophy as opposed to “not my employee, not my problem” attitude.

Also, managers needs to be aware of all problems and how to rectify them, they like it or not… Speaking both as a frequent restaurant diner and a previous ops manager – anything under your roof (and outside your door) is your responsibility in the eyes of the customer, and I think it’s a great opportunity to enhance the experience. I’ve even seen restaurants that put a card from the restaurant or a card about their future events to use it as marketing.

Todd Kliman

Thanks for writing in …

And that’s two of you, now, saying that the restaurant, even if it’s not technically responsible, is responsible. Or should act as though it is.

Interesting.

As for not valeting … I mean, sure, I hear you. But what do you do if you don’t take a taxi or take an über? (über: the name gives me a shudder.)

I always wonder where my car goes when I valet it. I’ve sometimes waited almost twenty minutes for them to come back with it.

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EGGS, CONT.:

Soft eggs with scallops sounds wonderful. I’ll have to try making it sometime as I’ve never seen anything like it on a restaurant menu.

Speaking of eggs and Indian cooking, Rocky Mohan (Art of Indian Cuisine)has a terrific recipe that I’d forgotten about. In essence, add halved hard boiled eggs to a spicy, tomato-based sauce. It’s a favorite for me to make after Easter with all those leftover eggs.

Todd Kliman

At Curry Leaf, in Laurel, the chef, Saravan Krishnan, makes a terrific Hyderabadi egg curry, thick and cinnamony.

You tear off a hunk of the paratha and dip it into the curry, pinching off pieces of the hard-boiled eggs. Wonderful stuff.

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PHILLY BRUNCH, CONT.:

A few great places for brunch in Philadelphia:

High Street Cafe- near Old City, but far from touristy- hands down the best bakery in town, with (honestly) locally-sourced ingredients (a lot from the Amish and family-owned farms in Lancaster and Chester counties).

Sabrina’s, at the Italian Market- outstanding brunch dishes that are inventive, fun, and most importantly, delicious. Their seasonal pancakes and French toast are always good, and their fair trade organic coffee is worth the trip alone.

(The Famous) 4th Street Deli- every table is presented with a small bowl of health salad, half sours, and kosher dills. The whitefish salad, the corned beef, the pastrami, and the pastrami lox (my favorite) are all amazing. Gruff service sometimes, but the portions are ginormous, and it’s a really great experience.

Todd Kliman

This is great to get.

Many thanks for chiming in and putting this together. Hungry! as Max would say. *

(* apologies to the rest of you for a children’s TV reference. Carry on … )

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UOVA DA RAVIOLI, CONT.:

For one of my dinners at Seasonal Pantry, I asked Chef O’Brien for Uova da Ravioli and it was freaking amazing.

How can one not love a runny yolk?

Todd Kliman

I don’t know.

I mean, one can. One does. More than one, in fact. Many ones.

I can’t.

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THE EAT GREAT CHEAP ISSUE:

I wanted to thank you and Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegal, and the rest of the Washingtonian food staff for the tremendous 100 Cheap Eats issue, which I’ve been busily poring over ever since it arrived in the mail. It is obvious that a lot care, thought, and hard work went into this (even if it is hard work that I’d love to have the chance to do).

A couple of quick points — I really like the way you have rotated various Ethiopian restaurants onto the Cheap Eats list over the years. It would be easy to just anoint a few Ethiopian restaurants as the “best” and have them come back year after year. But there are so many good ones out there, that really wouldn’t be fair.

Second, I’m delighted to see that the cooking at China Star has returned to the quality it maintained for so many years. About a year ago, my wife and I ate there and there was a big sign announcing “new management.” The menu was completely different (no focus on Sichuan) and the meal was worse than the average neighborhood Chinese takeout joint. Maybe they re-hired the cooks from prior management?

Todd Kliman

Thank you for reading and being so devoted and so passionate.

Yeah, no anointing. You hit on something important. Even though mom ‘n’ pops tend to be more stable than fine dining spots, they’re still businesses that go through a good bit of change. Things can turn suddenly. And there’s always competition popping up.

The fun is in chasing down what’s interesting and new and good.

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FROM THE “DESK” OF CHEF JONATHAN COPELAND:

Taqueria Rios was closed when we went by last week, Todd. It does look as if it is closed permanently.

Though I was able to enjoy the shwarma and falafel at Max’s Kosher. What a delicious sandwich.

Can you imagine those meats and falafel and pickles and salad with the really wonderful flat bread they serve at kapnos? I dream of that marriage.

Jonathan Copeland

Todd Kliman

Actually, you’re in a position to make that union happen. Do it!

It’d be fascinating to see. And delicious.

Gotta run. Ravenous.

Be well, everyone, eat well, and let’s do it next Tuesday at 11 …

[missing you, TEK … ]