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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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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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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Still Reliable Over a Decade In

MATCHBOX

Multiple Locations in DC, MD, and VA (http://www.matchboxrestaurants.com/)

* and 1/2 (Satisfactory/Good)

Matchbox, the original, opened in Chinatown in 2002. That original location remains today; now with six sister restaurants spread throughout the District, Maryland, and Virginia (with a single outpost in Palm Springs, California). The 14th Street outpost, where our most recent dinner took place, maintains strong influences from the original: a long countertop bar, plenty of wood accents and tables, and an open kitchen featuring a wood burning oven. Similar still: the consistency of the food; holding strong more than a decade after the original.

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Newly Discovered Regional Cuisines

MAKETTO

1351 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 (http://maketto1351.com/)

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


“It’s growing on me.” That was the constant tenant I had over the course of my meal at Maketto, Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s ode to Taiwanese and Cambodian cooking. It was a sentiment that was shared by my dining group (full disclosure: which this time around, did not include my wife). The four of us entered into the restaurant with high levels of anticipation: rumors of to-die-for pork buns and fried chicken have run rampant around the DMV since Maketto opened in April 2015.

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