Todd Kliman panned America Eats Tavern this week. It may be better than the original incarnation of the restaurant, he says, but "It's a huge step up, after all, from 'laughably awful' to 'disappointingly bad.'"
America Eats Tavern is contrived where it should be inspired, stiff where it should be lived-in, and tone-deaf to the spirit of what it aspires to capture. You'll search in vain for any signs of passion. Or joy. But not for incongruities. Emblazoned above the open kitchen are the first words of the Constitution: "We the People." We the people who charge $25 for a burger.
Kliman says the restaurant lacks energy, and had to send back a steak and a burger. "The best dish at the three meals I ate was one the Spanish chef has been cranking out for decades: an expertly tangy gazpacho." [Washingtonian]
For his First Bite, Tom Sietsema heads to H Street's Ocopa, which he finds to be an authentic tribute to Peru.
Your next move should be to order a seviche, maybe the "clasico," featuring rockfish or mahi-mahi. Delgado makes his raw fish dishes to order, which means you can still taste the featured attraction in its mix of lime, red onion, garlic and ginger. Another draw, papa con ocopa, is a salad of sliced white and purple fingerling potatoes and cooked quail eggs draped in a velvety cheese sauce. Ocopa takes its name from that sauce, which involves evaporated milk, queso fresco, huacatay and ají amarillo (chili peppers). [WaPo]
The $20 Diner features three places that didn't quite make the cut for the column. That includes Silver Spring's Pho Tan Vinh, Casa Fiesta in D.C. and Fat Pete's in Cleveland Park. He'd think higher of Fat Pete's, it seems, had DCity Smokehouse not just opened.
Their sliced brisket is a thing of beauty, ribbons of moist beef topped with a thin layer of softened fat and an assertive crust, or bark, formed from a heated fusion of garlic powder, Old Bay, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, salt and other spices. It's a full-throated bark. The pair's pork spare ribs are equally unrestrained, at once lacquered with brown sugar and then layered with herbs and spices, including an overly vocal note of oregano, which drowns out the others. [WaPo]
Don Rockwell visits Cork Wine Bar.
The menu is virtually the same, but the dishes themselves are quite different. It had been far too long since I'd been to Cork, and the difference in the execution was crystal clear. Each chef has their own style, and Khalid and Diane have apparently given the kitchen greater latitude than I would have ever imagined. Highlights were the fritto misto which was just as good as any rendition I've had here, and the sandwich which was perhaps better than any rendition I've had here, although the fontina on it was a bit overpowering... [DR]
America Eats Tavern [Photo: R. Lopez]