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Tom Sietsema Gives St. Anselm Three Stars

Eater logo Eater 12/14/2018 Gabe Hiatt
a dining room table in front of a building: The dining room at St. Anselm © Rey Lopez/Eater DC The dining room at St. Anselm

What the critics are saying this week

St. Anselm

The Washington Post published Tom Sietsema’s review of St. Anselm this week, delighting fans of chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Eater D.C.’s 2018 Chef of the Year, by delivering three out of four stars. That’s “excellent” by the newspaper’s standards. Over the course of four visits — Sietsema said so in the comments — the only flaws the expert flaw-finder could uncover were a “metallic-tasting” grilled broccoli and carrots “not flattered by black garlic and dates.” Everything else — the casually dressed waiters, the wood-polished atmosphere, the Opinel steak knives, the wine list, the small bites, the seafood, and the steak — had Sietsema applauding through his keyboard. His “new favorite way to eat cooked oysters” is sauced with smoked herb butter. Salmon collar makes him think more restaurants should serve the cut of fish. More herb butter, mingling with juices from a flat iron steak, is a convincing reason for the critic’s party to clean the plates. Sietsema insists that St. Anselm should drop the tavern charade and just accept the steakhouse title, “because it excels at so much of it.” [WaPo]

Meatball Shop

Sietsema’s colleague Tim Carman fared worse at the Meatball Shop, but at least he got to compare living in Washington to being extruded through a meat grinder. (We are all meatballs in 2018). Carman calls the crab balls from the New York chain “forgettable,” writing the potato chip crust is “thick as a bank vault.” The lobster ball melt is a “crime against crustaceans.” Mainly, Carman thinks the fast-casual, sit-down place leads diners astray because the gamut of options can create combinations that don’t work. He recommends keeping it simple, like he did when he ate the classic beef-and-pork meatballs with tomato sauce, braised kale, and rigatoni. [WaPo]

Little Beast

The Post also sent Maura Judkis to Little Beast in Chevy Chase, where the reporter sampled a taste of savory entrees from Naomi Gallego, an accomplished pastry chef who has been promoted to an executive role. Judkis declares Gallego’s romesco pizza with smoked chicken and almonds “a winner” and commends braised short ribs as “buttery-soft.” Given Gallego’s resume (Blue Duck Tavern, Le Diplomate), it’s a shame that nobody offered Judkis a dessert menu. She observed hiccups with the service at her table and others, “though all were promptly corrected with a gratis drink or appetizer.” [WaPo]

Little Sesame

Washington City Paper’s ‘Wiching Hour feature checked in on the eggplant pita from Little Sesame, the popular fast-casual hummus bowl shop in Dupont. Caroline Jones calls the sandwich “simple but flavorful” and shouts out the pickled cabbage for packing “just the right amount of acidity.” Struggling to find cons, Jones writes that it’s not the prettiest sandwich and points out that the vegetarian dish makes no attempt to mimic meat before rating it as a 5 out of 5. [WCP]

FROM THE BLOGS: Been There, Eaten That tried out Baba, the sister spot to Ambar in Clarendon, and writer Lori Gardner recommends ordering anything with a fresh Balkan cheese called kajmak. It’s in the steak tartare — which, Gardner says, gets an “extra oomph” from fried capers — and a dish of forest mushrooms with fried polenta. [Been There, Eaten That]

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