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Since being self-banished from my old regular spot, Trio, I’ve been impatiently waiting for Le Diplomate to start serving lunch. But a girl’s got to eat, so I’ve been making the rounds. Falling into the al fresco dining category, the 17th Street staples Agora and Pizza No. 17, which has a few interesting additions to its pizza and sandwich offerings. Try the mortadella and mozzarella sandwich. The more dubious category of child-friendly has given me so-so meals at Commissary and Tortilla Coast.
As Michael Pollan hawks his book encourages people to get back into their kitchens, my mind wanders to simple treats that will let me spend more time outside in this beautiful spring weather. Maybe picnics are my inspiration or maybe it was a recent visit to Glen’s Gourmet Market in Dupont Circle. Newly opened in the former “secret Safeway” location at S and 20th Streets, this shop is certainly not a one-stop grocery experience. The deli and the produce suffer at the expense of super trendy food genres like sauces (hot, bbq, marinade) and things pickled. The store, which sells products produced “locally”–that is from NY to VA–also specializes in the ever-growing prepared food market.
The Washington City Paper is just out with its Best of D.C. lists and already they are out of date. The addition of Le Diplomate to the city scene could change a few of them–best burger, best brunch? At the very least, I’m sure the editors will add Best French to their categories (there’s Best Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Irish, but no French, which says plenty), but I’d suggest they also add Best Dining Experience and Le Diplomate would run away with it.
And when you find one, you can go every Sunday for brunch or every Friday and Saturday late night or several times a week for lunch. The best diners do all the classics well, but win you with their range and versatility. The Greek diner near my college, for example, had addictive tzatziki and superb silver dollar pancakes and inexpensive pitchers of beer. Heaven.
Best read of the week in the food sections goes to Bart Barnes in the Washington Post. If you’re familiar with that byline, you must be a regular reader of the Post’s obit page. His charming piece in the food section chronicles his desire to have a sandwich named after him, so for his 75th birthday party, guests were asked to bring their nominations. In the end, the Bart is cut up hot dogs, onion, peppers, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce on cheesy jalapeño bread. Sounds intense.
The pizza coverstory at the Washington Post food section this week is an example of style over substance. The behind-the-scenes narrative of the Tim Carman/Joe Yonan pizza cook-off, which Carman playfully suggests is rigged because Yonan is the boss, is light reading, but the ongoing joke leaves the reader thinking more about what Yonan’s year away from the Post did for his sense of humor than about pizza slinging. However, it did remind me of Pete Wells’ puzzling review of a Brooklyn pizzeria last week–strange in that it warranted a review and that Wells used an ill-concieved metaphor throughout (as in “the pizza version of the sparkly oven” and “the dessert is another of [the] tiled ovens”–editor please!) Anyway, this is the long process which brings me to this suggestion: On your next at-home pizza, try fennel, sausage, cheese, and red pepper flakes.
I’ve been hearing about Komi ever since moving to D.C. and always in a hushed voice with eyes widening for emphasis: This is the Best meal in town. I was skeptical after I saw the dining room, which I found underwhelming. But after a year of eating Johnny Monis’ inspired Thai food at Little Serow, I was ready to take the plunge into one of the most expensive tasting menus in town. Monis has earned my trust.
I don’t know who Jay Rayner is. I don’t recognize his face on the cover of his book. And yet I bought it based on presumed shared interests. It’s called The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner. Rayner is the restaurant critic for The London Observer and in 2006 or ’07 maybe he decided to travel the world on his quest.
It was with no small amount of glee that I read Tom Sietsema’s pan of the “new” minibar. My first experience two years ago at Jose Andres’ exclusive table for modernist cuisine was definitely three-plus star. But my second visit, earlier this year, was a big disappointment (turns out it was also a bargain). Judging from Sietsema’s review, many of the menu items have remained the same–every dish he mentioned, in fact, I’ve had–so what exactly makes Andres’ minibar new?
More than 15 years ago, I moved to Georgetown just a few blocks from Bistrot Lepic, then only a couple of years old. I was very excited about, though inexperienced with, traditional French fare, so I went the first chance I got. It was a date and in my mind it plays sort of like the German dinner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. We were kids pretending to be adults. I may have had a fake ID. I definitely had lamb and red wine. We sat in that brightly lit, shoebox-sized dining room and had a gay old time. My date’s credit card was rejected.