- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2008

Domaso Trattoria Moderna

1121 N. 19th St., Arlington

703/351-1211

Contemporary Italian

Domaso Trattoria Moderna is the stylish restaurant in the Palomar Hotel in Rosslyn. Many of the dishes are pure Italian, such as panzanella (bread salad), and a pork-based barley and barlotti (bean) soup.

The best antipasto is a dish simply called polenta. Two large triangles of baked polenta are imbued with a rich creamy sauce enhanced with the suggestion of truffles. It’s simple, elegant and delicious.

Pastas are good and varied. Small red-snapper ravioli are sauteed with shrimp, clams, mussels and tomato in a white wine sauce. Potato-stuffed tortelloni in a sauce of goat-milk butter and pecorino cheese are delicate and delicious.

A boneless half chicken roasted and then sauteed with mushrooms and tiny chestnut balls is excellent. Sea bream (orata) filets are mild, and the accompanying lemon-white-wine sauce complements the delicacy of the fish. Herb-rubbed beef tenderloin is perfectly prepared. Domaso’s extensive wine list is almost entirely Italian. Service is outstanding.

Corinna Lothar

Cafe 8

424 Eighth St. SE

202/547-1555

Turkish

Cafe 8 is a new Turkish restaurant, the latest addition to Capitol Hill’s culinary scene. It is cozy, and the food is moderately priced and pretty good, although not innovative. There are no delicate garnishes or avant-garde preparations.

Owner Turan Tombul, who also owns the more upscale Italian Locanda nearby, wants this restaurant’s Turkish home cooking to be affordable for neighborhood families and others to enjoy on nights they don’t feel like cooking at home.

If the first few busy months are any indication, Cafe 8’s unpretentious, moderately priced Turkish home cooking and its upscale look make it welcome on the Hill. Get a reservation if you’re planning to dine at Cafe 8 on the weekend.

The restaurant is open 10 to 12 hours a day, and the menu and prices stay the same. Familiar Turkish dishes include Iskender and Adana kebabs.

Gabriella Boston

Gerard Pangaud Bistro

915 15th St. NW

202/737-4445

French

In 2006, Gerard Pangaud left his restaurant, Gerard’s Place, for a senior position at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda. He has returned to McPherson Square part time, renaming the restaurant Gerard Pangaud Bistro, revamping the menu, presiding as executive chef and cooking there from time to time. The chefs in the kitchen are students whom he taught and trained. He trained them well. The cooking is first-rate.

Starters include a salad of beautiful and refreshing red and golden beets, roasted in olive oil and paired with a spoonful of a creamy goat cheese; diver scallops, sauteed and dressed with a subtle citrus beurre blanc and chopped orange; nuggets of veal sweetbreads sauteed to a crisp finish; and a cake of wild mushrooms with a sorrel sauce.

Braised short ribs make an outstanding main course. Saddle of venison is served with sweet potato and beet puree. Wild coho salmon is sauteed with carrots in a lemon-ginger beurre blanc.

A delicate mango tart with a passion-fruit sauce is not to be missed. The restaurant does not charge a corkage fee during the week.

Corinna Lothar

Federal House Bar & Grille

22 Market Space, Annapolis

410/268-2576

American

Federal House Bar & Grille serves traditional Chesapeake Bay fare — seafood, steak and pasta — in a historic Annapolis building.

The raw bar is one of the freshest in town and usually has a nice selection of oysters, clams, mussels and shrimp available daily. Signature soups such as cream of crab or crock of onion gratin are good remedies for taking off the winter chill.

Appetizers are comfortable favorites: spinach-and-artichoke dip, crab bruschetta, buffalo wings, coconut shrimp, and clams casino, to name a few.

Baked oysters Hogan ($10.95) are topped with crab imperial and baked to a golden brown. The crab imperial featured nice chunks of crabmeat and was wonderfully light. The oysters were perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor.

Crab cakes, Angus burgers, and fish, all served with fries, round out the sandwich board. There also are a number of vegetarian sandwiches.

For main plates, four fish dishes are featured daily: mahi-mahi, halibut, yellowfin tuna and tilapia — any of which can be blackened, baked or grilled. Meat lovers can choose filet mignon or grilled rib-eye.

Scott Haring

BLT Steak

1625 I St. NW

202/689-8999

American

BLT Steak — for Bistro Laurent Tourondel — is more high-end steakhouse than bistro, a capital version of the New York BLTs. It is a comfortable place to enjoy very good food.

The dinner menu with dinner prices is available at lunch. The kitchen also prepares several hefty salads and sandwiches and a few lunch entrees. A mixed vegetable salad topped with slices of excellent fried chicken is particularly good. A large cheese popover is hot, perfectly baked and irresistible.

Steaks vary from a 10-ounce hanger steak for $24 to Kobe strip steak at $26 per ounce. A recent special was a 10-ounce Kobe hanger steak for $33. The perfectly seasoned steak was cooked as ordered, but a peppercorn sauce was mediocre. Braised beef short ribs are superb.

Small portions of potatoes (baked, gratin, hash brown, fried or mashed) and vegetables (spinach, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms) can be ordered as sides.

Seafood includes Dover sole, lobster, swordfish, tuna, cod, scallops and grilled shrimp. Nothing is remarkable about the shrimp cocktail except the size of the shrimp.

Desserts include an excellent crepe souffle with a passion-fruit coulis. Service is friendly and efficient.

Corinna Lothar

Hudson Restaurant and Lounge

2030 M St. NW

202/872-8700

Contemporary

Hudson, a new restaurant and lounge in the David Greggory restaurant space in the District’s West End, has a sleek look and a well-stocked bar, but in terms of food offerings, it falls short.

The menu, which includes everything from Thai curry mussels to buttermilk fried chicken, has the look of a Top 40 chart — something to please everyone but nothing to excite or thrill; no originality and no risk-taking.

Hudson has the feel — and price — of an upscale chain restaurant, and considering that it’s a stone’s throw from several large hotels, this probably makes good business sense: a wide range of choices but nothing too out there.

The interior is modern and tastefully done but not unique. The service is speedy, but knowledge of food and food preparation is lacking; you get the feeling there is no passion or real interest in food here. Some may say it lacks soul.

This is reflected in the kitchen as well. No garnishes, no unexpected flavor combinations, no stellar produce or meat selections and no creative presentations. It’s a business, not a place that pushes a culinary envelope.

— Gabriella Boston

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