The Food Critic’s Picks: 5 Dishes to Try Now

Plus the one dish to avoid.

Brisket Buns at Momofuku CCDC. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Some highlights (and a lowlight!) from a week’s worth of meals.

The five best (in no particular order):

Brisket buns at Momofuku CCDC

1090 I St., NW; 202-602-1832

David Chang’s CityCenterDC satellite is still doing some of the best steamed buns in town. This version holds luscious slices of fatty brisket with richness-cutting horseradish and pickled onion.

Chocolate pudding at Society Fair

277 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-3247

A sadly hard dessert to find these days outside of grocery store shelves. And so, the takeout tub at Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s whimsical cafe/butcher/prepared food shop in Old Town is worth making a special trip for. You can tell it’s made with good chocolate, but it’s got plenty of cool creaminess, too (and a nice little hit of salt).

Morning bun at Junction Bakery and Bistro

1508 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-436-0025

This Del Ray bakery was jumping last Thursday morning. I intended to take a only a few test bites of the morning bun—a spiral of croissant dough drenched in an orange-y syrup that turns crackly at the edges—but ended up housing the whole damn thing.

Smoked catfish dip at the Dabney

122 Blagden Alley, NW; 202-450-1015

Mid-summer is the time to hit this Blagden Alley restaurant—for the tomatoes, summer melon, corn, angel food cake with peaches, and best of all, this dip. It’s got chunks of smoky fish bound with Duke’s mayo, cream cheese, and hot sauce, among other things—and is served with big, thin shards of cornmeal chips. We ordered one of these for a table of four, but we each could have had our own bowl.

Gyro-spiced lamb sausage at Komi 

1509 17th St., NW; 202-332-9200

Tough to pick among the many knockout dishes currently playing here, but this gyro-inspired plate—with amazingly light and finely ground sausage patties, yogurt, and slightly sweet crispy potatoes, was my favorite.

And the one worst: 

Brisket hash at Kingbird

2650 Virginia Ave., NW; 202-827-1600

It was the first weekend the Watergate’s new restaurant was doing brunch, so there’s plenty of time for them to get their stuff together. But menu-wise, there are still a lot of kinks to work out. It tells you something that the high point of the $120 meal was a hash-brown patty that was a ringer for the one at McD’s. The low was this $24 “hash” that was oddly devoid of potatoes and was basically a skillet of diced fatty brisket in oily sauce.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

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