Ask Tom: Rants, raves and questions on the DC dining scene

Sep 26, 2018

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema entertains your dining questions, rants and raves.

Find all of Tom Sietsema's Washington Post work at washingtonpost.com/tomsietsema.

Watching the video of Ted Cruz & his wife dining at Fiona Monday night; how is it this fine dining establishment let in a group that clearly wasn't there to dine? How can restaurants prevent their patrons being hassled - what is the correct protocol for the manager in those situations?

I think the fine-dining restaurant did the best it could under the circumstances, by escorting the couple through a side door and asking the activists (who were tipped off, and hanging at the bar) to leave. A lot of establishments don't have plans in place to deal with such relatively recent problems. They should, to protect their clientele, staff and property.  "All Things Considered" interviewed me yesterday on the issue. Here's the audio.

 

Good morning, everyone. It feels great be back in the driver's seat, after two weeks off so I could concentrate on the fall dining guide, which starts today with the release of my Top 10 list of favorite restaurants. No. 10 is Kuya Ja's in Rockville. The others will appear each weekday til full launch.

 

Where have you been eating since the last chat? What's on your mind? Type to me. 

 

Tom, I went to Gravitas and found it nothing like your first bite review. First off, the service was terrible. The orders came out wrong. Dishes like the pasta were cold. Even when all four of us ordered the same dish, only two received it and the other two had other courses. Weird that they would not allow us to enjoy the same fish together. Desserts were cloyingly sweet (as was the tuna.). When we mentioned this after paying to the manager Sam, he basically shrugged as if he did not care. In addition, one member of our party is vegan. We had three exchanges in advance that the chef would accommodate her and he was creating a menu for her. Upon arrival she was told she could have cold salads and sliced fruit with the sole vegan option of beets. After several conversations, the chef aggressively to sauté vegetables. Bottom line is that this is an expensive prix fix restaurant with incompetent service and mediocre food. I hope you revisit as this is on on worst list.

Thanks for the feedback. I returned after my preview and found a restaurant that didn't grab me quite the same way. I love the look of the place, and the food is beautiful. But it needs to be consistently delicious. I was most impressed with beginnings and endings at Gravitas, the subject of my review in the Sunday Magazine.

Care to weigh in on a topic raised in yesterday's Gene Weingarten chat? He said he gets annoyed when a waiter comes back with your credit card and says some variation of "Thanks for coming in, Mr. Weingarten." He says it's a forced kind of familiarity gained only from reading your credit card and aimed only at getting a higher tip. Where does this stand on your list of pet peeves, if anywhere?

Somewhere between "Good evening" and "Thank you for joining us tonight."  It doesn't bother me at all, to be honest.

Have you had a chance to try it yet? Seems like a welcome addition to my neighborhood and has been packed every time I walk by!

I have a long list of new restaurants I need to try, now that I'm finished revisiting previous favorites for the fall dining guide. The freshly-minted, modern American Prather's on the Alley in Mount Vernon Triangle is one of them. 

Hi, Tom, I have 2 questions. First, how about some love for tried and true local restaurant chains like the Great American and Hank's groups? I know you're busy getting the news out about the latest (which is greatly appreciated) and have revisited a few oldies, but I was reminded this weekend of just how high standards both of these groups have maintained. And I'm curious to know how long an owner has to stay in time out to be forgiven by you. I'm talking about Mike Isabella, who has apologized for his behavior, instituted awareness training and has suffered a huge financial blow. I'm not personally all that crazy about him but think Requin at The Wharf is a superb destination and deserves a mention from you every once in a while. After all, it may turn out that some of the other restaurants you have heaped praise on could be just as guilty of bad conduct as Isabella but we just don't know about it yet.

I haven't been to one of the Great American Restaurant brands in some time, but I've enjoyed them in years past as examples of solid establishments that excel at service and good food at a fair price. Thanks for the memory jog. As for Hank's, while I haven't reviewed the new Wharf destination, I've certainly steered readers to the other branches in this forum within the past year.  Finally, I'm not shunning Requin exactlyI just don't think it's as good a restaurant as the one that opened, pre-scandal and with Michael Rafidi in the kitchen.

Hi Tom, Thanks for your weekly chats! I look forward to them every week. Your chat used to be posted on the WP home page and the last several chats have not been. At first I thought maybe you were out of town or the chat was cancelled. I finally found your weekly chat by searching your name. Is there a reason your chat is no longer published/posted to the home page? Thanks.

My chats will continue to be promoted on the home page -- just not when I'm away, as I have been the last two weeks, scrambling to meet my deadline for the fall dining guide, which appears Oct. 14 in print (earlier online). 

Hello Tom! I am a huge fan of yours and a fellow SFS grad from Georgetown. I'm celebrating my birthday with friends this weekend and am torn before Poca Madre and Supra? What says the most trusted man in the Washington's food scene?

Thanks for the kind words. I vote for Poca Madre, the upscale Mexican restaurant in the old Del Campo space. Victor Albisu is cooking something special there. 

How does a food loving person go about becoming a food critic, and do you ever invite food lovers to eat with you?

The way I got into the business -- starting as a tiny fish in a big pond and moving on to increasingly better newspaper gigs (and Microsoft Sidewalk) -- doesn't really apply anymore. The whole landscape has changed. But if you're serious about food criticism, you should study the greats (M.F.K. Fisher, Jonathan Gold, Ruth Reichl, among others); learn to cook; travel and eat as widely as possible; invite a food writer whose work you admire to coffee for a chat; become a master of some subject (pies, coffee, the cooking of Idaho, so people turn to you with related questions); and write, write, write, even if it's just a neighborhood newsletter, because editors will need to have a body of work to look at before you'd even be considered for a job. 

Two questions in one here, Tom: If you could have dinner with any D.C. chef, who would it be: - For the conversation? - For the cooking? (It's okay if it's the same person for both.) Can't wait to hear your answer. Thanks!

Right this minute, my choices would be 1) Jose Andres, for many reasons, and 2) Amy Brandwein. Her Italian food is very much to my taste. It manages to be simple, elegant and delicious at the same time. Comforting, too. 

Hi Tom, Fellow Minnesotan here. Went to Pappe with friends on a random Sunday and it was delicious. Have you been?

Clearly you didn't read my preview! (Sigh.) 

By chance, I saw your article about off-Strip dining days before my husband and I visited Las Vegas in early September. For our last dinner of the trip, we took your advice and Uber-ed out to Pizzeria Monzu. You couldn't have steered us better. The wine and beer lists had stellar variety and palatable prices. The size of the pizzas - my God! - even the small was generous, and the crust so perfectly made I wished there were more of it. But more impressive was the service - a waiter who engaged us in lively conversation about our visit to Vegas and our hometown (Baltimore), and a manager who dropped by our table on a Monday evening to ensure we'd had a great experience. The only drawback is that our day jobs are so far away from such a gem. Thank you, again, for a timely and on-target recommendation, Tom.

I'm pleased to here one of my Vegas suggestions worked out for you. I, too, was enamored of the service at Pizzeria Monzu

Tom you have repeatedly said President Trump should dine out more. Based on the insane response by staff at Fiola when Ted Cruz and his wife were assaulted while eating, can you blame Republicans for not wanting to dine in Washington, D.C.?

You have a point. In the case of POTUS, however, I don't think protesters would be able to get close to his table, let alone his person.

Hi Tom, Wanted to give you a "State of the Restaurant" report of our favorite place and to our disappointment it is not good. Food used to be so authentic (to a point of eye watering spicy) and we loved it and will try to ease the pain with the fresh salad and sticky rice. On this visit on a Friday, surprisingly no long lines (word got out or the heavy rains forecast was the culprit), the food was so cloyingly sweet except for the salad and a the minced chicken dish (reminders of the delicious past). I am sad and disappointed because the dinner there was a treat, analogous to a travel to Thailand without actually flying out. Maybe you can let the chef know.

I beg to differ, and I base that on two recent dinners at Little Serow, one a special seafood-themed "golden mermaid" night just before the Thai standard bearer went on its annual summer break. Indeed, my second meal, earlier this month, was one of the most delicious ever there. And the place was packed. 

Dear friends just moved to Glover Park and I'd like to treat them to someplace near their new digs, where $100 will go far. Any cuisine at all. Who could help but you? Thanks, Tom.

Easy: Casolare is where you want to treat your friends. The Italian restaurant, from the Boston-based chef Michael Schlow, is in the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel

Hi Tom, We've decided to head to DC for a last minute babymoon the first weekend of October. What do you recommend that we might be able to get reservations for on short notice? No allergies, no food preferences, range of price points ok. One thing I really miss is cocktails, which places can do justice to mocktails? Thanks!

A restaurant with a good cocktail list should be able to whip up a good booze-free drink. I'd start with the aforementioned, Italian-inspired Centrolina or the Asian-themed Momofuku, both in CityCenterDC -- and both with open tables as of this morning (but I wouldn't count on it for long).

My wife and I will be celebrating my birthday at Pineapple and Pearls later this month, and couldn't be more excited. I hoped I might get your thoughts though on whether to spring for the additional cost of the advertised "Special" that evening": Perigord Truffle Ice Cream Sundae Topped with White Sturgeon Caviar. It's described thusly: "Starting with a rich vanilla ice cream base, we blend in Perigord truffles, which are poached and preserved at the height of truffle season. In a blending of savory and sweet, we serve it along side a savory whipped cream, a black olive shortbread, a salted buttermilk caramel, crispy shoe-string potatoes, sprinkles (of course) and at your leisure as much or as little of luscious California white sturgeon caviar as you please." My wife and I have reasonably adventurous palates, but we have almost no experience with caviar. And while I adore truffles, I've never before tasted them in a sweet dish. Is this a preparation you've perhaps tried in your visits there? Should we just bite the bullet and say yes, or might it be just a bit too "out there"?

A greatly modified version of the dish (coconut ice cream topped with caviar) is offered at Rose's Luxury, Pineapple and Pearl's more casual sibling. I'd try the combination there, if you're curious. For the record: I didn't indulge in the special at Pineapple and Pearls when I revisited there in August.

Sometime ago you suggested a restaurant in Barcelona that you liked. My wife wrote it down as we are going there next month. I lost her note (and am catching hell for it). Can you tell me the name of the place?

Indeed, I can. The restaurant you need to commit to memory is Disfrutar. It's difficult to reserve. Good luck!

I am meeting friends for lunch in Baltimore -- and then retreating to watch election returns. I recall your column about a high-end DC restaurant offering their full wine list for half-price at lunch. Anything similarly fantastic in Baltimore on either food or wine?

I'm drawing a blank on high-end destinations that are open for lunch. The luxe Charleston, for instance, is dinner-only. In the heart of the city, there's R. House, with 10 food stalls from which to choose. That could be fun. And for something more classic, if worn around the edges, there's Lexington Market for crab cakes and oysters at Faidley's, among other attractions.

Hi tom and welcome back! question--what is the appropriate tip when a meal has been comped due to issues in the kitchen? recently i was at dinner with some friends and the kitchen had issues and our food was greatly delayed. We inquired with the waitress and the manager came over and apologized and explained the situation. we were shocked that he comped the entire meal---but weren't sure what to leave as a tip? is it what the tip would have been on the meal? or more?

I'd tip on the cost of the meal.

Welcome back Tom. One of the chatters the last time you were on wrote about waiting an hour for appetizers to arrive. I was a little skeptical of the length of time from both the diners and restaurants perspective however, the chat did get me to wondering. What do you consider to be a reasonable wait for courses to arrive and/or between courses. I assume it might be a time range given the type of restaurant and how busy they are on any given night. Thank you for all the good advice you give.

Something to keep in mind: busy waiters and hungry diners experience time much differently. I seriously doubt the original poster waited a full hour for starters. It just doesn't ring true to me. The standard wait time before courses is roughly 10 minutes. Any longer than that, I'd inquire.

My husband and I have the opportunity for a date night in NYC next month. We're deep in the trenches of parenthood with three young children, so an opportunity like this doesn't come up often these days. I'm feeling overwhelmed trying to choose a restaurant, however. We're both adventurous eaters and enjoy all foods, although I don't want to eat at a Mexican food restaurant (I was raised on the border and nothing I've tried in the Mid-Atlantic has ever rivaled my memories of food from home). We don't need anything fancy, "cozy and delicious" is more our speed. Maybe something we wouldn't be able to easily duplicate in DC (not that we get out much here lately, to be honest!). Any thoughts? (We'll be staying in midtown but don't mind hopping to a different neighborhood.) Or any recommendations on sources for researching the NYC dining scene?

For cozy (and delicious), I love the Dutch, on the corner of Sullivan and Prince streets, which is where I go on my own dime for terrific American fare. If you can't get a table, belly up to the bar. New and good and just as lovely: Simon & the Whale, near Gramercy Park.

Hi Tom, Love your chats and have tried to keep up with all the reviews since moving to DC three years ago. I'm planning a birthday dinner for myself and will have five other guests and am trying to decide where to go. My number 1 choice is currently Maydan (I do plan to be up at midnight 28 days in advance!), but if not would need to decide on somewhere else. Currently I'm looking at Del Mar, Poca Madre, Chloe, Elle, or Little Pearl. What would you suggest?

You have a great list going. Let me add to it: the bedouin tent at Compass Rose. It's something very different and definitely intimate.

I agree with you. I went to Little Serow at the end of last summer and had one of the best meals of my life there.

Uh huh. Chiang Mai-esque, if you ask me.

Hi Tom! My wife and I are going to the Big Island and Kauai (with a one-day stop in Honolulu) for our thirtieth birthdays this fall. Do you have any can’t-miss food recommendations? We don’t have any dietary or palate restrictions. Thanks!

Can't assist with the Big Island, but my pal and fellow food writer David Hagedorn suggests JO2 in Kapaa in Kauai as well as Piazza in Princeville. A must-go bakery: Midnight Bear Breads in Hanapepe.

We just bought a subscription to the Studio and see many pre-theater dining options, but not sure which are worth our time. We’re up for any cuisine, mid-range on expenses. We don’t mind walking a few blocks for a good experience. Thanks.

There are a wealth of options near the stage: Estadio for Spanish, Ghibellina for pizza and Italian, Le Diplomate for French fare. 

Hi Tom, last night my husband and I were lucky enough to celebrate my birthday at the fantastic Del Mar — great service (thanks Stan!), atmosphere, food, wine, the works. And this weekend we're going to meet my parents for a second birthday dinner in Baltimore. We're all adventurous eaters, but my husband has a nut allergy, which can make things challenging. I'd like to keep the price point lower than Del Mar — closer to $75 a head with a drink or two. Any suggestions?

Here's something you don't see very often: a Venezuelan restaurant.

Love your column! Not sure if you have any experience with this specifically, but I need to buy a cake for a friends upcoming birthday. She is not the Costco-sheetcake type of person so we were looking for possible bakeries/stores that have pretty and decent-tasting cakes. Anywhere is DC or Northern VA would work. Thanks!

In the District, my first choice is Buttercream Bakeshop, where pastry maven Tiffany MacIsaac works her magic. In Northern Virginia, consider the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe in Arlington (more traditional, but delicious). Anyone else care to weigh in? I don't order many cakes.

Hi Tom - love your chats! I read them religiously every Wednesday. Can you recommend a good BOYB restaurant in DC? My wife's friends are visiting from out of town in a few weeks and are bringing some wine from their collection. They'd like to bring a bottle or two to dinner with us. They're staying near the White House, so ideally, the restaurant would be within a walk or short Uber from there. Corkage fee is ok. Any thoughts? Thanks!

One restaurant that comes to mind is Tosca, the lobbyist favorite downtown. The fee to bring your own wine there is $25 (with a two-bottle maximum). 

Absolutely can confirm. We were at a restaurant where the Obamas were dining during his presidency. We were "wanded" with metal detectors upon entry to rhe dining room AND return from the bathroom; secret service watched everyone to make sure they were actually sitting down at a table. No chance in *HECK* protesters would get anywhere close to Trump or Pence.

Thanks for the field report.

Hi Tom, Hope all is well. love your chats. I was out for lunch the other day at a fairly popular restaurant. The waiter approached each table with the same rehearsed speech re: specials etc. As he wound up he asked in a very loud voice "Any allergy situations I need to be aware of?" I do not have allergies (food or otherwise) but it seemed to me to put people in a very uncomfortable situation and that it was a breach of privacy so I just wondered your thoughts?

Better safe than sorry? The "Any allergies?" question is posed  just about everywhere but Popeye's these days.

Hi-I am trying to find a special place(DC /MD/VA) to celebrate a big milestone in my husband's career. Need an intimate setting/will have toasts/family style welcome/cocktails and then sit down dinner/$100 -$150pp

Have you seen the private dining rooms at Fiola Mare (Georgetown), Poca Madre (near Chinatown) and Del Mar  (at the Wharf)? All beautiful.

Hello Tom, (long time reader, first time asker). For my birthday not long ago I went out to dinner with my family at Bazin's on Church. My grandmother, aunt, mother, father, sister and I were sat at a large round table and after the waiter did the usual -- introduction, menu highlights, round of water & drink orders -- he came back to take our orders. He started by asking my mother, who was sitting just to the right of where he was standing, skipped my father, and moved straight to asking my aunt, with the clear intention of taking my order next. Before he got to that point, my mother, an ardent postfeminist but normally a particularly unflappable woman, stopped him and asked bluntly, "Are you seriously going to skip him?" and then launched into a mini-lecture about gender equality and how demeaning it is to assume women need to be coddled. My grandmother and aunt didn't see an issue with his behavior, my father was trying to become invisible, and my sister and I (both Millennials) just felt bad for the waiter. I eat at nice restaurants not infrequently and I've never encountered that type of preferential treatment before. So my question is, is that really a thing?Seriously, isn't it needlessly complicated to take people's orders out of order?

I've seen this happen before, but not often. Part of me thinks it's kind of sweet.  Depending on how waiters take down requests, it shouldn't be extra work.

Hi Tom! Huge fan over here. I love these chats, and tried to ask a question last week, but here I am trying again. My boyfriend and I are huge foodies—but also budgeting millennials. We have a big anniversary coming up and want to celebrate by taking ourselves out to a nice meal. We are (finally) willing to spend around $35-$45 per person. However, my biggest pet peeve these days is small plates/small portion restaurants, where you have to buy a whole bunch of little things to feel full, and then you end up spending way more than you expected to. (I had a terrible experience at Arroz, where my mother and I ordered gambas al ajillo to share as a starter, and it was a tiny plate of 3 shrimp for $19! Crazy ridiculous!!) I want enough food that is worth the money I’m spending! Do you have any suggestions of places that will actually fill us up, in our budget? I was thinking The Salt Line, Fiola Mare, Maydan... We love ethnic food and would love to be purchasing a dinner that we wouldn’t easily make at home. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

The restaurants you tick off are out of your price range. If you want goodness and fullness, check out Ambar, with branches in Arlington and the District. For $35, you get unlimited (and very good) Balkan small plates.

Tom, I greatly look forward to your chats each week to help keep up on the DC dinning scene and I appreciate all the advice you give on where to spend our money. One thing I would appreciate more of is when someone asks for a recommendation it would be helpful if you would sometimes name one or two places in the area we should definitely avoid, particularly if it's a place you once praised but have heard or experienced bad things recently. As an example, I recently dined at Blue Duck Tavern and was underwhelmed by the experience. I subsequently saw you dissuade a chatter from dining there. If I had known that, I certainly would have made other plans. That sort of advice more often would be very helpful.

Duly noted. But that can be tricky, too. I don't want to go out of my way to ding a place if a reader hasn't brought up the name of a restaurant that's no good.  (Make sense? Kind of awkward to respond, "Here's my suggestion in X neighborhood, but definitely steer clear of the following 10 restaurants.")

Setting aside everything else (atmosphere, cost, noise level, etc.), what restaurant in DC/Metro area has the best roasted chicken? The kind of roasted chicken where each bite causes you to wonder how in the heck they do what consistently fails when trying to recreate at home.

One of the better examples right now is served at Chloe near Nats Park. The contemporary American restaurant serves a spiced roast chicken with a tangy chili-lime dipping sauce. Readers, feel free to chime in with your favorite birds.

I hope you are still a big fan since I just made reservations for my husband's birthday?!

Honestly? I still like it, but if it's Mid-Atlantic you want, the Dabney is better and more consistent. Plus, ARP gets too many service and other complaints for me to recommend it. 

I'm with Gene on this one. I dislike it when waiters and store clerks look at my credit card and then address me by name in an attempt to appear "friendly". If I wanted to be friends, I'd give them my name. Maybe if my name was Jane Smith I wouldn't mind, but my last name is uncommon and nearly impossible for English-speakers to pronounce correctly. So their fake friendliness falls flat and becomes embarrassing as they unsuccessfully attempt to say my name, mangle it, and then feel like they need to apologize. Better to just go with "thanks for coming in!"

Yep. I was summoned to jury duty earlier this month, and I knew the minute the clerk announced, "This next name is going to be mangled," I was about to be called to a panel.

Depending on what the chatter means by "Nova" -- Victoria's Cakery in Old Town Fairfax is absolutely delicious. They're special-order only and you can pick your flavors.

Adding it to the list.

It would tell me that the waiter actually looked at my card. True story. I used my wife’s credit card fir nearly a year when mine was misplaced. Only twice did someone notice that I (male) was using Kimberly’s card.

Since I have about a dozen aliases, I respond to all sorts of names that aren't my own.

Surprised you're not going with Kinship given your (in my opinion, accurate) praise of the restaurant and it's featured roast chicken!

(Slapping myself on the head): Yes to the grand bird at Kinship.

Did they not read the chat where you repeatedly explain how to pronounce it?

CLEARLY not. lol

Hi, Tom. Last night my husband and I had a terrible dining experience at Fleming's in Tysons Corner. As our tomahawk steak arrived (loaded with fat, by the way), the fire alarm sounded . . . and sounded . . . and sounded, throughout the entire entree. The server came by to let us know that it was a false alarm and that we could stay. Our dinner was ruined--we couldn't enjoy our meal with the strobe lights and the alarm blaring, especially considering that it went on for a good 10-15 minutes. The manager came by to apologize, but she didn't offer us a round of drinks or anything like that to make up for the ruined meal. When we paid the over $200 bill, I couldn't help but feel cheated. Should I have specifically asked the manager to make it up to us?

You have my sympathy. Ten minutes is a long time to endure a false fire alarm. I'm on the fence about the restaurant's responsibility to diners -- a round of drinks or whatever could get mighty expensive in a steakhouse -- but if you didn't like your steak, you should have piped up. Two different issues there, I realize. 

Hi Tom - a good friend is retiring from long-time federal service - need your thoughts about yummy, hip suggestions near Capitol Hill, with Metro access. Partiers will range in age and they're Feds, so cost-effectiveness is key. She's great and will be missed, nothing better than good food and friends. Look forward to hearing your recommendations.

What about the second floor of Ambar, the convivial Balkan restaurant? Or Joselito for very good Spanish cooking? 

Today's my birthday! I'm meeting my wife (who works near Farragut square) for lunch. Any suggestions for something nice? I was thinking somewhere with a nice prix fixe lunch might be fun. Rare? Oval Room? Any other suggestions for a nice-but-not-crazy lunch that's close to Farragut? Thanks!

(You are just now planning this?)

 

Don't have time to look up fixed price menus, but I can vouch for the traditional Indian cooking and festive environs at the Bombay Club in that neck of the woods.

 

(You are just now planning this?)

 

Pastries by Randolph. Their white chocolate mousse cake is beautiful and delicious!

Yes! Thanks for the memory jog.

Have a show at the anthem. Where do you suggest eating first? I have never been down to the wharf.

Lots of good choices, including Kaliwa and Mi Vida for mid-priced Asian and Mexican, respectively. DO NOT PLAN on just showing up with a confirmed table, however. They're packed on concert nights.

We had the caviar-truffle-non sweetened ice cream special at P&P last week, and it was one of the best parts of our meal. So if your budget can stand it I would go for it.

Good to know. Thanks.

I've ordered cakes a couple of times from Sticky Fingers in Columbia Heights. They have 20 different types of cake on their standard order form and are much more affordable than other cake options I researched; 'basic' flavors (standard vanilla, boston creme, tiramisu, etc.) start at 6" for $30 and a 9" cake for $55.

This group is a fount/font of knowledge.

Aloha! We just got back from the big island a few weeks back and recommend eating at Merrimans. Thoughtful touches, local food, and you can wear a hawaiian shirt to dinner!

And just before we sign off!

Hi Tom- Welcome back! I am just wondering if when you go out with a group in order to write a review, does everyone in the group generally leave with the same impression? Are there ever times when you love a place and someone else thought it was awful or vice versa? Do they give you their impressions for articles or do you base it on your own takeaways?

The Post pays me for my impressions, not those of my dining companions. Do I listen to them? Of course. Do I always agree with them? No.  I've quoted a few over the years, however, when I want to illustrate a point.

I highly recommend the mocktails at The Dabney in Blagden Alley. I'm 7.5 months along and their mocktails are inventive, tasty and the perfect treat for someone sick of drinking water and ginger ale (that might be me). For what it's worth, I've also asked for mocktails at some of the DC cocktail bars and I find that they often trend very sweet. I'm more of a dry cocktail kind of lady, so I've been more disappointed with the off-menu mocktail orders than I have at places that consistently have mocktails on the menu.

Good to know.

Did you mean "DO NOT PLAN on just showing up with a confirmed table, however."? Or should it have been "without"?

Typing too fast. What I meant to say is: You'll need reservations.

We haven't chatted since the Michelin Guide came out, any thoughts on this year's selections? Blue Duck Tavern...really?

Right? Among other places. (Plume?) Honestly, I don't think the French guide has the resources to do the job our market deserves. Here's the news story by my colleague Maura Judkis. While I was happy that the  Inn at Little Washington got its third star, I definitely have issues with the publication.

 

That's a wrap for today, gang. I'll be here next Wednesday to pick up where we left off, should you wish. It's great to be back. Have a delicious rest of the week.

In This Chat
Tom Sietsema
Tom Sietsema has been the Washington Post food critic since 2000. In leaner years, he worked for the Microsoft Corporation, where he launched sidewalk.com; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; the San Francisco Chronicle; and the Milwaukee Journal. A graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, he has also written for Food & Wine, Gourmet, GQ, Travel & Leisure and other national publications. In 2016, he received an award from the James Beard Foundation for his series identifying and rating the "10 Best Food Cities in America" the previous year.
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