- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2008

, 9201 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, 301/589-3500. French-Creole. This old-fashioned restaurant has a new wine cellar-dining room and a lovely garden.

Executive chef Maurisee Upshur uses some of the Creole flavors of New Orleans and the spices of her Caribbean background in her cooking, which is basically French-inspired and very good.

- Corinna Lothar

, 1736 L St. NW, 202/467-0777. Italian. Chef Cesare Lanfranconi, who made magic in the kitchen at Tosca, now presides at Spezie. The food at Spezie is good, but uninspired.

Lunch and dinner menus are rich with choices. Pastas are very good; appetizers include such specialties as lamb carpaccio, crab and corn fritters, and a warm oyster stew. Meat and fish dishes are high-quality and well prepared, accompanied by interesting vegetable combinations, but often oversauced.

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, 405 Eighth St. NW; www.cafeatlantico.com/miniBar/miniBar.htm, 202/393-0812. Avant garde. Minibar, in Cafe Atlantico, is as much performance as gastronomic tour de force.

Guests sample 28 unique bite-sized dishes, such as beet tumbleweed and man-made eggs, all prepared in front of them on a $120-per-person prix-fixe menu. Two seatings nightly on six stools. Reservations taken a month in advance.

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Aqua Terra has been delivering the best of land and sea in a contemporary setting in downtown Annapolis for eight years.

The kitchen emphasizes creativity whether plates are large (such as the sesame-seared tuna atop lemon-grass risotto) or small (duck tacos; asparagus tempura; and shrimp and pork dumplings). Chocolate lava cake is the perfect gooey rich dessert.

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, 5125 MacArthur Blvd. NW, 202/966-5125. American. This informal, cheerful neighborhood restaurant in Washington’s Palisades area serves a nice mix of classic American dishes with a few variations, such as a lamb gyro sandwich, and steak tartare served in a Mason jar.

Chicken wings are terrific, Delmonico steak is excellent. Meat, fish, sandwiches and salads also on the menu.

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