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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The DCWD Restaurant Power Rankings, November 2014

If you missed it, here's our explanation of the power rankings, and the initial post. Now for the updates:

10 Restaurants We're Excited About 

Reduced to 10.

1. Bluejacket
2. Eat the Rich
3. Et Voila!
4. Daikaya - upstairs.
5. Alba Osteria 
6. Restaurant Eve
7. Water and Wall
8. Thally
9. Unum
10. Crane and Turtle

The DCWD Restaurant Power Rankings

Removed J&G Steakhouse - closed; Tallula - closed; Eventide - closed. Added Rose's Luxury, Red Hen, The Partisan, Cava Mezze, DGS, Table, and Del Campo. Changes to the Top 10 after recent meals at minibar, Proof, and Rasika.

1. Komi 
2. Proof 
3. Toki Underground 
4. Blue Duck Tavern
5. Rose's Luxury
6. Rasika
7. Red Hen
8. Minibar - updated review to come
9. Inn at Little Washington 
10. Birch and Barley 
11. Iron Gate
12. Fiola
13. Volt

14. Rappahannock Oyster Bar
15. Society Fair
16. Trummer's on Main
17. Comet Ping Pong
18. Mintwood Place
19. Thai X-ing 

20. Compass Rose - review to come
21. Vermilion
22. 2941
23. Marcel's
24. Estadio
25. Little Serow
26. Bar Pilar
27. Cork
28. The Source 

29. Equinox
30. Posto 

31. Corduroy
32. Ghibellina
33. Zaytinya
34. Smith Commons
35. Graffiato
36. Jaleo
37. Granville Moore's
38. Maple Ave

39. Southern Efficiency  
40. The Partisan
41. Brasserie Beck 
42. Rogue 24 
43. Kapnos
44. Casa Luca
45. ChurchKey
46. Ted's Bulletin
47. Lyon Hall
48. Izakaya Seki 

49. Rasika West End
50. Bistro Bis
51. 701 

52. BLT Steak 
53. Bourbon Steak
54. Etto
55. Four Sisters
56. Big Bear Café

57. Cava Mezze
58. Meridian Pint 

59. Seventh Hill Pizza
60. DGS 
61. Medium Rare
62. Le Diplomate 
63. Obelisk
64. Oval Room
65. Art and Soul
66. CityZen
67. Poste
68. Bearnaise 

69. BlackSalt 
70. Central Michel Richard 
71. Doi Moi 
72. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace 
73. Ripple
74. Kramerbooks/Afterwords
75. Vidalia
76. Range
77. The Pig
78. 2 Amys 

79. Sushi-Ko
80. Table
81. Del Campo
82. 1789 
83. Hank's Oyster Bar
84. Oyamel
85. Tabard Inn
86. Nava Thai Noodle
87. Pho 75
88. Café Saint Ex
89. Hill Country 

90. Masala Art 
91. Vinoteca 
92. Smoke and Barrel 
93. Mussel Bar
94. Right Proper Brewing Company
95. Satellite Room
96. Taan Noodles
97. The Brixton
98. Sushi Taro

99. Garden District
100. Cedar 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Agua 301

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Waterfront/Navy Yard

The Setup

The awesome part of the Nats $5 tickets, is that even in a good season, there's always a chance to see them play for cheap if you're willing to get there early enough. The downside is you're down by Navy Yard with three hours to kill. So with Official Friends of DCWD MPDD and MM and Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas, we found ourselves on the patio of Agua 301.

The Vibe

There's a certain look that most Latin American restaurants go far (see: Casa Oaxaca), and Agua 301 is no exception. Set inside the first floor of one of the newly constructed apartment-style condo buildings on the waterfront, it's sort of like a simpler version of Oyamel without the butterflies and skulls (which is a way of saying, I suppose, take away what makes Oyamel's decor unique and put together): a vermilion backsplash, some Mexican kitsch, some salsa music in the background. Add onto it a wide wrap around patio set amidst some trees and the waterfront park, and you've got a decent enough setting. The downside is the vibe: given its proximity to the ballpark and its general atmosphere, the place is a little loud and party-like.

The Food

We split a bunch of items, but three stand out in the memory. Texas orders a wild mushroom huarache, essentially a flatbread covered with roasted mushrooms, cheese, corn, and huitlacoche. For all the bold ingredients there and for my love of huitlacoche, this is pretty bland, tasting more like portabella and nothing else. Pretty flat.

The other two were tacos, which come in pairs. To split with Texas, I get the baja fish tacos, battered bits with a chipotle cream sauce, cabbage, and pico. I've had fish tacos all over, and these didn't necessarily measure up. They were fine, but other than a hint of spice, nothing to call home about.

I also order the pork belly tacos, which are the best dish on the night. Topped with a pineapple salsa and a light aioli, it was unctuous, sweet, and tangy all at the same time. Pretty nice and worth ordering.

The Verdict

Fine if you're around, but nothing to go out of your way to go to.

Food Rating: **
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Bar Rating:
Party in the USA
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)
: One of my favorite city walks is the revitalized Navy Yard/Waterfront. The sets of bridges, the water park, and the updated green space is a perfect way to just lounge away an afternoon.

Agua 301 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

DCWD Travels: Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore

Plaudits: Washingtonian Top 100 2012, 2013, and 2014
Neighborhood: Baltimore, MD

The Setup

It was Official Friend of DCWD Alison who came up with the brilliant idea for a trip to Baltimore. In truth it was because her hometown Cardinals were there for a series with the O's, but it was a perfect excuse to finally get a chance to eat at Woodberry Kitchen. Along for the trip was Official Friend of DCWD Roman, and Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas.

The Vibe

Lots of restaurants force the post-industrial thing, glomming garage lighting and refurbished wood and exposed brick onto what generally would could easily be a white table cloth building. Woodberry Kitchen, on the other hand, is post-industrial, set in what clearly used to be a warehouse in what is now a vibrant arts district. And in its way, there's nothing that's not absolutely charming about the restaurant: the open kitchen that hugs the back corner of the restaurant. The letter board menu that hangs next to a brick pizza oven. The two-story built-in shelves that house stacked logs of firewood. The clean and sleak black lines of the room that accent its wood. And probably the best part, a broad patio set up like a garden where the four of us have our brunch.

The Food

Frankly, there's almost too much going on with the menu; everything on it tantalizes and tempts. Which is unfortunate, because on this day, my stomach is having problems and I have to eschew the more adventurous options. I settle on the soft shell crab (because damnsit if I am going to leave Baltimore without having crab), sitting upon a bed of quartered tomatoes, pea shoots, and a slice of pullman-style toast and basil mayo. It's fresh and bright with a nice crunch on the crab, certainly one of the better soft shells I've had in a long time..

For her part, with the promise of the local provenance of the meat, Texas orders the chicken and biscuit, slathered in bacon gravy and topped with a sunny side up egg. Your mileage will vary based on how you like your fried chicken batter; I really liked this one. Texas could've done without the egg, but really dug the gravy.

Alison and Roman both go traditional brunch dishes, with Alison ordering my second choice: a hashbrown in a baking pan topped with a generous salad of roasted cherry tomatoes, squash, scallions, chicory, a slow cooked egg, and what's described as fish pepper honey. This is incredibly fun and the flavor combinations are super spot on. About the only thing is that with the baking dish, the hashbrowns get a little too charred, which at points threatens the balance of flavors.

Roman's dish is the most photogenic: a flatbread (honestly more like a personal pizza) of breakfast sausage, buttered potatoes, sweet onions, cheddar, and one rather picturesque egg. The one thing I didn't get a bite of, but probably the most delectable looking.

The Verdict

Transcendent is a strong word, but I definitely get what all the hype is about. And this was just brunch. Strong, fresh, bright flavors that feel both rustic and familiar, and innovative.

Food Rating: **** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Bar Rating:
Quiet Drinks
(out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)

Woodberry Kitchen on Urbanspoon