Restaurant Reviews


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Not that he has any clue who we are or what we look like. But whatever! Totes saw you today, Tom!

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Last week, we stopped by Suna, Chef Johnny Spero’s technique-driven restaurant above Acqua al Due in Eastern Market.  We were there to see if they could provide us with a list of the dishes we enjoyed at a birthday dinner back in December.  As it turns out, our timing couldn’t have been worse.

On Friday, Tom Sietsema broke the news that Suna would close after Saturday’s dinner service.  Just today, he released his much-less-than-positive review that had already gone to print before the restaurant announced its closure.  While it doesn’t look like Tom will be shedding any tears over the closure, we’re sorry to see Suna go.

Considering the fact that Sietsema’s dinners and ours seemed to include many of the same dishes, how did we come away with such a different opinion?  Some thoughts after the jump. (more…)

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Suna restaurant closed last Saturday. 

 

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We’ve been meaning to taste Bryan Voltaggio’s cooking for years now. Even before his turn on Top Chef, we were hearing rave reviews about the techniques and the ingredients on display at VOLT in Frederick, Maryland.  But it’s just far enough from DC that we didn’t want to take on a tasting menu and then have to drive home after an evening of food and drink.

Although VOLT still holds a place on our “must visit” list, it has become much easier for Washingtonians to have a Voltaggio experience.  His new restaurant, Range, is Metro accessible (Friendship Heights station on the Red Line) and serving up brunch, lunch and dinner throughout the week.

Earlier this week, Tom Sietsema published his three-star review of Range based on four impressive dinner visits.  That kind of scrutiny can be tough on a restaurant, but we put them to a different kind of stress test: a Saturday brunch with a toddler in tow.  Would their reputation for service and attention show through mid-day Saturday?

Find out after the jump. (more…)

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On Valentine’s Day, Katsuya Fukushima and his team opened Daikaya’s ramen bar to lines around the block. With the success of H Street’s Toki Underground and the pedigree of Katsuya and owner Daisuke Utugawa (think Sushi-Ko), Daikaya has been one of the most anticipated restaurants to open here in a while. We couldn’t wait – the very next night, we were there.do

As luck would have it, we scored two seats at the bar that surrounds the open kitchen. Looking across the gigantic pots of steaming broth, we had a view of the chefs in action. There were five of them crammed into the tiny space (Chef Fukushima later explained that they were training two new chefs at the time and there are usually only three). With small, precise movements and tight choreography, they rapidly turned out bowl after bowl of four different kinds of noodle soup.

Check out the varieties and a little bit more about Daikaya after the jump. (more…)

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If you’ve ever left one of the Eat Good Food Group’s Alexandria restaurants wishing you could replicate what you just ate at home, consider yourself one step closer.  Tomorrow at 6 PM, Society Fair opens its doors to the public, offering many of the ingredients used at Restaurant Eve, the Majestic, Eamonn’s, PX and Virtue Feed & Grain.  Get ready to raid Chef Cathal Armstrong’s pantries.

We had an opportunity to take a look around as Rob Shinn and his team were getting ready for this week’s opening, and we were like kids in a candy store as we moved from butcher’s counter to coffee station to bakery racks.  Goods we’d only read about before (being unable to find them at local grocers) were all around us.  Where’s Julie Andrews to sing about “favorite things” when you need her?

Lots of pictures and your plan of attack after the jump. (more…)

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If you’re like us, right about now you’re torn between your good intentions to eat better (more whole foods, less processed junk) and a craving for big flavors.  Starting at 11 AM this morning, it will become just a little bit easier to find that balance in Clarendon.  Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, a burritos-and-fajitas restaurant that originated in Miami, opens for business today.

On the surface, Lime may seem like another quick-service Mexican restaurant – Baja Fresh, Chipotle – but we stopped in to take a look around, and what we found surprised us.  Lime is much closer to a fast-casual sit-down restaurant, as evidenced by their focus on service (and their adult beverage menu).  They’re planning to offer speedy lunch options for office-workers on the go as well as a more relaxed sit-down experience for those who prefer to savor their meals.

We walked in on Lime during service training, and they were kind enough to give their cooks an impromptu test run as well so we could see a few of their more popular dishes as they’ll be served.  Check them out after the jump along with some photos of the inviting decor and the amenities that Lime is most proud of. (more…)

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If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, you don’t need us to remind you that you’re running out of time.  Hanukkah begins at sunset next Tuesday, and Christmas Day is just a few days behind that.  Unless you’re willing to pay for express shipping, most online retailers won’t guarantee delivery in time for the holidays at this point.

Fortunately, you’ve still got plenty of time to shop if you Think Local First.  We’ll save the pitches about supporting the local economy and encouraging eclectic and diverse retail options for another time…right now, all you need to think about is the fact that you can buy your last-minute gifts right up until the Night Before Christmas if you shop in-store.

Stumped for gift ideas?  If you’re shopping for someone who loves cooking, eating or drinking in the Washington area, we’re here to help.  From now until Christmas Day we’ll be offering twelve of our favorites – some old, some new, all tasty.  We’re starting off with a delicious source for sweet treats on Barracks Row:

On the first day ’til Christmas, my true love gave to me…a Caramelized Pear and Goat Cheese macaron from the Sweet Lobby!

The siblings, originally from Trinidad, are both graduates of MIT with degrees in engineering…not your average patissier‘s background.    Winnette fell in love with macarons and French pastry while in Paris, and she has been applying her scientific training to perfecting her recipes ever since.  When the opportunity came to open their own shop on Barracks Row, these Hill-dwellers jumped at the chance.

While their technique and attention to detail are traditional, some of the flavors that the Sweet Lobby works into their macarons are anything but ordinary.  Think black sesame pumpkin, hazelnut praline salted caramel (yes, all those tastes are in one macron) and chili-spiked chocolate.  The little treats are sold individually or in stylish orange-and-cocoa boxes of 4, 16 or even 40!

Despite (or possibly because of) their delicate texture and air of refinement, it’s highly unlikely that macarons will ever supplant cupcakes as DC’s go-to sugar fix.  Thankfully, the Sweet Lobby has you covered on the cakier front, as well.  With buttercream frosting (on most) and cake that is moist and dense, they’ll go toe-to-toe with almost any DC cupcake contender.

Since opening in June, the Sweet Lobby has been establishing a reputation as a go-to source for some of the most delicious macarons this side of the Seine.  The complex little pastries, with their brittle shells and near-liquid interiors, demand a perfectionist’s touch.  Fortunately for us, the Sweet Lobby has Winnette and Timothy McIntosh.

And as if the cupcakes and the macarons weren’t enough for such a small space, the McIntosh siblings sell madeleines and shortbread in several flavors.  They’ve also created Steep, a line of custom blended loose-leaf teas.  Work with the Sweet Lobby staff and you’ll be sure to find a gift combination that works for your loved one.

The flavors of both the macarons and the cupcakes change daily, so you’ll want to check in with them via Facebook or Twitter to get the latest update. Prices are better than many competitors’, with cupcakes selling for $2.75 and macarons go for $1.75 each.

The Sweet Lobby
404 8th St., SE
Washington, DC
The Sweet Lobby on Urbanspoon

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Neighborhood and community.

Since July of 1997, Evening Star Cafe has been an integral part of both for the residents of Del Ray.  It has been the site of first dates, proposals and countless other milestones in their lives.  So you can understand the level of interest caused by the restaurant’s recent remodel, and the pressure on the Neighborhood Restaurant Group to get it right.

The wait ends tonight at 5:30, when new chef Jim Jeffords and his team throw open the doors to welcome the neighborhood back for the first time.  Although there are plenty of changes to ooh and aah over, the regulars will be pleased to see that it’s still the same old Evening Star at heart.  And the fact that they can now make reservations throughout the evening via OpenTable will likely be a welcome addition, as well.

We stopped by yesterday for a quick look around and a chat with the staff.  Details, including some work-in-progress photos and a few new menu items to whet your appetite, after the jump. (more…)

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