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What's Good Now in DC


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I've done a fair amount of eating in DC (and drinking...disappointedly...except for one decent cocktail bar in Old Town Alexandria) over the years but I'm now moving to the area in the next couple mon

I ate there a few years ago. I remember thinking it was just okay. Maybe it's different now--I remember some sort of inside-out meatball app. But he might like it.

Restaurant Nora was disappointing. As was an Italian place on Connecticut, just above the zoo.

Panda Gourmet in the decrepit Days Inn on New York Avenue (near Union Market). mix of Sichuan and Shaanxi cooking. Dan-Dan Noodles were pretty good though I prefer GS style with the sauteed greens underneath. cold noodles were excellent. they were out of the dry-braised pork intestines but the double cooked pork was the best I've ever had. excellent pork belly...cooked perfectly and then crisped on the outside. plenty of ma la. for a Shaanxi dish the rougo moi (sp.?) was ok...interesting anyway. need to go back with a group. two people isn't enough for this kind of place.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Rose's Luxury: the hottest opening of the fall (at least until Bluejacket opens) and the first place with culinary ambition on Barracks Row.

 

Chef is listed in various materials as being an alum of Momofuku Noodle, MCrady's and Aldea. I don't know if he was at any of those for more than three days but when I first saw the menu I immediately thought that it was Momofuku influenced and now having eaten there I can confirm that.

 

Pretty space. Service was warm and good. Cocktails are served in beautiful glassware (how long will that last?)...and are very good for restaurant cocktails. (though my Martinez to start was still the best.) wine list is very small...probably 15 bottles total but with a clear emphasis on venturing away from the DC standbys.

 

bread service is not an afterthought...house potato bread...excellent butter...and some form of bacon bit-things (not the salad bar crap). small menu is composed of small plates and then two large plates to share. Tom Sietsema had raved about the pork app dish: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/off-to-a-great-start-at-roses-luxury/2013/10/14/013b1888-3031-11e3-8906-3daa2bcde110_story.html

it is very good...though what it really is is an excellent (but not perfect) larb with canned lychees and a coconut foam added (that none of the reviewers in DC so far seem to have caught on to that is kind of shocking). I'm a fan...but it's not a knock-em-dead dish if you've had excellent larb before. grilled romaine with various cheese and an avocado (?) puree was unobjectionable but a bit boring. several pasta dishes on the menu...was talked into trying the spaghetti with strawberry and ricotta....turns out it's a sauce of about 45% strawberries and 55% tomatoes (we're on the last few local tomatoes in the greenmarkets here)...it certainly wasn't bad...but neither was it an improvement on a good tomato sauce...ultimately it's a gimmick dish. there are others I want to try. also need to return for the popcorn and lobster soup and those large plates...both the brisket and the pork tenderloin with redeye gravy looked attractive (saw them going out). mixed experience this time but there was more than enough promise to return very shortly. Place is getting a huge amount of buzz...not merited yet (part of it is that DC simply doesn't have anything like this)...but there's clearly real potential.

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Izakaya Seki: cult favorite as among the best (if not the best) Japanese in DC. supposed to have very good sashimi too though didn't try that on this trip. very casual in decor...small space (with an upstairs)...sat at the open kitchen. very good sake list and the best Japanese beer list I've seen in the U.S. Not just Hitachino (still had three varieties of course)...small but good Japanese whiskey selection as well.

we started with a big bowl of uni with a quail egg. it was good as a big bowl of very good but not transcendent uni could be. there's a large handwritten list of specials. ordered the whole grilled salt-cured saba. very good...although it was broiled not grilled. then another special of fried "ara"? basically four different fried fish cheeks. very tasty...lots of bones though. a plate of mushrooms sauteed in butter (mainly shimeji) was kind of boring. needed salt and maybe citrus or a dash of vinegar. lots of other interesting stuff going out. will eat here again.

 

they're just taking good fish and cooking it really simply. seasoning/saucing only as needed (barely). plating was mostly fastidious...garnishes are simple but careful.

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You know...Bibiana isn't at all bad...(carciofi and brodetto were serviceable on Saturday night, polpette are pretty good...their pasta courses in general are good. and the pricing is in line with other big box, expense account/suburbanite weekend date places -- in DC they're the same thing) but there's no reason to ever eat here when you can go to 2 Amy's or Etto..or the Red Hen for that matter. yes the service is more formal at Bibiana...and the decor more polished, if soul-less, but none of that really works for what is ultimately a rusticish Italian menu. and the food's better at those other places anyway.

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