A Flashy Import with Humbler Offerings

THE SMITH

901 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004 (http://thesmithrestaurant.com/)

* and 1/2 (Satisfactory/Good)

When I first heard about The Smith, a trendy New York City transplant to Penn Quarter downtown, it peaked my interest. An American-styled brasserie with an industrial feel, and updated takes on classics: it sounded like a perfect take on the modern restaurant. The Smith looks and feels like a bustling NYC restaurant (be prepared to yell and be yelled out during a table conversation). But while the concept is sound, the food is just a bit underwhelming. Throughout our meal, however, there are moments of fantastic cookery, if you know where to look.

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On The Road with CPT: New York City

As we were making our way around in city a cab, I remarked to my wife that you would probably be able to eat at a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an entire year straight, and still have plenty of untapped locations for the future. And so it goes in New York City. According to the all-knowing interwebs, Manhattan alone is home to around 24,000 different restaurants, with constant openings and closings. Factor in surrounding boroughs like the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, and that number skyrockets. Long story short: NYC is, without a doubt, the biggest eating hub in the country. There’s no shortage of options, regardless of what you’re craving.

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Mid-Atlantic Focus; Flawless Execution

THE DABNEY

122 Blagden Alley, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (http://thedabney.com/)

*** (Excellent)

When my wife and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina (a post is still in the works, promise!), one of the meals that I was most excited about was Husk. Chef Sean Brock’s restaurant did not disappoint, and I look forward to returning again soon. So when word first got out about the opening of The Dabney, a restaurant helmed by one of Brock’s protégées, Jeremiah Langhorne, my interest was peaked. When I read that Langhorne would, as his mentor did for Southern foods and crops, be sourcing and spotlighting ingredients from the Mid-Atlantic, I was intrigued. And when I heard that Langhorne had found a local friend and teacher in Baltimore’s Spike Gjerde, I knew I had to go. The Dabney, I’m happy to report, lived up to and exceeded my lofty expectations.

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Little Brother…All Grown Up

PARTS & LABOR

2600 N. Howard Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 (http://partsandlaborbutchery.com/)

** and 1/2 (Good/Very Good)

Spike Gjerde is fast becoming synonymous with Baltimore. The chef-owner of Woodberry Kitchen, the locally-sourced restaurant in Clipper Mill, opened his most recent offering, Parts & Labor, in Charles Village back in 2014. Little brother is housed in a former garage, features an open-flame hearth as the heart of the kitchen, and a retail shop which sells house-made sandwiches and fresh cuts of meat during the day. Parts & Labor, which butchers its own meat and serves in the same capacity for Woodberry, knows its way around the various cuts. It is this respect for meat-centric dishes, and the quality of the execution, which makes one legitimately question whether Parts & Labor is catching up to its well-reviewed sibling.

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Hidden Amongst the Homes

SALT

2127 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21231 (http://www.salttavern.com/)

** and 1/2 (Good/Very Good)

For a decade now, the quiet neighborhood of Butchers Hill, located on the northeastern border of Patterson Park, has housed a small restaurant tucked away in a mostly residential area. Salt, which features brick walls, warm wooden tables, and a friendly staff, gives reason for searching out the remote location. My wife, ever the adventurer, happened to stumble across the restaurant a couple of years back. We’ve managed to dine there on several occasions over the years, but I wanted a chance to see whether Salt is continuing to deliver during its ten year anniversary.

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Moments of Promise, But Work to be Done

THE RIGGSBY

1731 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20009 (http://www.theriggsby.com/)

* and 1/2 (Satisfactory/Good)

Expectations were high heading into dinner at The Riggsby, Boston-based Chef Michael Schlow’s newest addition to his D.C. contingent (Schlow also owns Tico, the well-reviewed restaurant on 14th Street). My go-to food source, Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post, had high praise for The Riggsby. The Washingtonian had fond words. Friends were excited and noted all the positive reviews being heaped on the restaurant. Located on the bottom floor of The Carlyle, a swanky Kimpton Hotel nestled a few blocks from Dupont Circle, the restaurant had prime real estate and a very cool vibe. If only the quality of the food matched the digs, I too, would be singing the praises of The Riggsby.

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A Baltimore Staple

WOODBERRY KITCHEN

2010 Clipper Park Road, No. 126, Baltimore, MD 21211 (http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/)

*** (Very Good/Excellent)

Baltimore tends to be the lesser known city in the DMV; the little brother of Washington, DC. And in some respects it’s true: there are less attractions, less restaurants, and contains a smaller population. My wife and I tend to skew towards DC whenever we want to go out – whether it’s dinner, drinks, or meeting up with folks. There are exceptions to the rule though; some fantastic finds in Baltimore…you just have to know where to look.

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The Return of a King

KINSHIP

1015 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (http://kinshipdc.com/)

**** (Outstanding)


CityZen, the longstanding restaurant located in the Mandarin Oriental, closed after 10 years of excellence in 2014. Although I never made it to chef Eric Ziebold’s beloved (and well-reviewed) restaurant, everything I heard and read had nothing but praise to offer. When Ziebold announced his sister restaurants – Kinship (which opened in early January) and Metier (which has a planned opening for February) – the DC food scene took notice. Now I understand why.

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