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Tom Sietsema Rates Rooster & Owl Worthy of Three Stars

Eater logo Eater 3/22/2019 Gabe Hiatt
a bowl of food: Barbecue carrots with cornbread ice cream from Rooster & Owl. © Rey Lopez/Eater D.C. Barbecue carrots with cornbread ice cream from Rooster & Owl.

What the critics are saying this week

Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema reviewed Rooster & Owl this week, declaring himself “extraordinarily well fed” with a three-star rating (excellent) for chef-owner — and former Uber driver — Yuan Tang. Name-checking other favorites (Himitsu, Fancy Raddish, Three Blacksmiths), Sietsema writes that getting a table at the 50-seat restaurant will soon be “as challenging as the union of Kellyanne and George Conway.”

The gnocchi was so impressive that Sietsema wonders “if Fabio Trabocchi or Amy Brandwein has momentarily slipped into Tang’s Batman Crocs.” The Carolina barbecue carrots also left strong impression:

“A number of restaurants are pushing carrots as center-of-the-plate attractions, but no kitchen has made them taste heartier and sassier; Tang applies a dry rub to the baby vegetables before roasting them to softness and applying barbecue sauce thereafter. The tang is the ideal foil to their cool and silken accompaniment.”

Meanwhile, Sietsema’s colleague Tim Carman revisits a place that “still feels like a crime scene,” the revamped food court in Tysons Galleria. Mike Isabella’s multi-concept emporium, the one that started his downfall, is gone. A Taste of Urbanspace sprung up in its place, and Carman calls the variety of new concepts a “mouthwatering collection” of vendors. He’s particularly enamored with the pho Lao som soup at Sen Khao, the noodle stall from Thip Khao and Padaek chef Seng Luangrath:

“With its base of sour chicken broth, the soup is a collision of colors and ingredients: garlic chips, scallions, stewed tomatoes, chile oil, fish sauce, dried shrimp, celery, preserved cabbage, peanuts and noodles. Its power is derived from its twin poles of attraction and repulsion, life and death, sweetness and decay. You won’t understand it, even after it’s gone.”

The Post also recently sent Maura Judkis to Frenchy’s Naturel for a taste test of the Logan Circle bistro that replaced the Bird. Judkis enjoys the bottomless frites — cooked in beef tallow like McDonald’s did before the vilification of trans fats — but takes issue with the service:

“On one visit, we arrived to a vacant host stand and stood for more than five minutes in the entrance. Servers and bartenders ignored us despite making eye contact, and when we were finally seated, our table had a dirty plate on it. On a second visit, I made a reservation, but the restaurant was slammed and had a line that spilled out of the building. For the 25 minutes we waited for our table, the only place to stand was either outside in the cold or directly in the path of servers. And when my friend finished her bowl of unlimited fries, a server took it away without asking if she would like a refill.”

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