DCCH Fave reviews(some) here: Komi, Proof, others.
In another post (search jondubus) I'd asked DC CH'ers to review my list of restaurants to hit for my trip to DC. last week(6/29 thru 7/3).ALL were helpful, so I wanted to give back feedback of my impressions. Impressions only-not fair to judge a restaurant on one visit.
Final lineup and subjects for this thread:
Oohs & Ahhs-lunch
El Pollo Rico-lunch
Taqueria Nacional-lunch again
I'll start with Jose Andres Cafe Atlantico: short wait at the bar waiting for my table sipping a well-made Mojito made with Splenda at my request. Started off with the fois gras soup-fair amount of fois gras, beautiful broth with puffy corn islands; nice but pricey. Next up-grilled octopus ap-crunchy texture, very agreeable presentation ,with clean seafood taste but didn't knock my socks off. Finally, main was Feijao Tropeiro-"deconstructed" Brazillian pork stew with black beans, rice, oranges & other ingridients. It was deconstructed in that it was served as a whole pork chop, with the other ingredients served on the side. Pork chop was quite juicy but a bit overdone,IMO. In retrospect, I'd rather the stew was not "deconstructed". Quite well made, but not thrilling. Best dish here for me was the fois gras soup.The diner next to me got doused with an unknown libation.
Oohs & Ahhs
Great lemon-pepper wings, but disaponted there wasn't other deep-fried chicken pieces-they'd be spectacular. Better collards than those served under my chicken at Palena Cafe! Satisfying mac & cheese. Hole in the wall place that's rightly proud of it's food and takes care of it.
I'm assuming readers will check restaurant websites or search other posts for more details. I'm just adding recent experience and my .02. Reviews of the other restaurants listed above in this post will follow.....
Thanks for your report back so far. I always try to recommend Oohs and Aahs, but not everyone is willing to take me up on going to a hole-in-the-wall. Good for you. Well made soul food is not easy to find.
I love the dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico as well as the audacious Minibar, but I don't recommend it for their regular fare.
I look forward to hearing more about the rest of your list.
Steve & littlewing-much of my final lineup is off your recs. Many Thanks! To resume...
Lunch twice at TAQUERIA NACIONAL; On first visit I had a fish taco and a pork taco. Alas, since I arrived at 2pm, yucca fries were already sold out. Fish taco had deliciously-coated whiting cubes nestled in a warm taco-was great with a little Chilhula present on the communal tables. Pork taco was nearly the equal of the fish. Not crowded at all at that time (TN closes at 3PM), except for a few workers from the NBC news offices across the little plaza from Johnny's Half-shell, adjacent to, and the operators of, TN. Second lunch two days later: (at noon, very crowded,mildly chaotic but fast-moving line, this time) This visit would have been marred by an error made on my order- I ordered a fish taco again, 1 beef taco, and 1 chorizo/cheese+ Yucca fries. Scored the fries this time, but only got 2 beef tacos, but at at the correct price charged. Tip: Check your order's pick-up slip for accuracy when you pay. Mistake was offset by the delicious beef and lettuce tacos with serve yourself mild green & mild red salsa avail. at the counter. Yucca fries, sort of steak fries midway between zuchinni and potato, had their blandness sparked with a great flavored green mayo to dip. Cost was around $7.50 and was fuel enough for my bicycle excursion on DC streets for a couple hours. Menu was far more extensive than I could get to on this trip. If you go, investigate this further. A Winner hands-down
Next up is RASIKA...I promise to get to KOMI soon, but for my memory's sake I 'm going in the order listed in my OP..... If I hadn't dined at Komi, Rasika would be my pick as my best experience on this trip. I did the pre-theater menu, a bargain at $30. App was a Seekh kabob, finely ground lamb formed into a longish tube and wrapped around its skewer, then grilled. Interesting flavors but I wasn't crazy about the fine texture. Lamb Roganjosh, however, was a knockout dish. Roganjosh is simply lamb curry, but the Rasika rendition I had was superbly executed. With accompaniments of Rasika's incredible nan, at once airy and toasty, and Basmati rice like I've never had, I got a completely new perspective on Indian food. The nan was so good I'd like to watch it being made in the tandoori sometime. I had very friendly and attentive service, despite my dining solo, including an earnest inquiry about my satisfaction from the captain. Don't miss this.
Next dinner was: PALENA CAFE
I started with a pricey but quite beautiful consomme ($15) with fois gras in it. Very friendly service, though my server noted she is just learning wines-very knowledgeable about the menu however. The cafe allows ordering ala carte from the regular menu, but the Cafe menu is given to you at the same time. The highlight was the half roast chicken. I've had the signature roast chicken at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, but on this occasion I thought PC's was better. When I made the initial cut into Palena's, a puff of steam escaped, then juices, as though it was litaeraly bursting with flavor and goodness. (I've never seen that) The bird sat on a bed of collards that were still somewhat chewy, compared to those I'd had at Oohs and Ahhs. Collards are one of the few foods I can think of that can actually benefit from sitting on a steam table, as at Ooohs & Ahhs. The online menu lists the roast chicken at $13, but I could swear it was listed for $15 on my menu. Regardless, it's an incredible bargain. The only better chicken I've had was take out with a bottle of white Burgundy in Paris at the Parc du Champ du Mars, watching the lights come on and darkness falling at the Eifel Tower. Entirely different context. See my photo of PC's wonderful roast chicken. I was the earliest diner at PC on a Tuesday night, but it quickly filled by the time I left.
Next day found me at El POLLO RICO in Arlington near GMU for lunch. It would not be fair comparison of EPR's chicken to what I had the night before at Palena Cafe. This is clearly a large, crowded, crank 'em out kind of place and does quite well with that. Highly consistent Peruvian style rotisserie, admirably accompanied with cole slaw and steak fries. I would have liked to compare this with Super Pollo (more side options), but it would have been chicken overkill on my part.