Chefs use grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken, and steroid-free pulled pork that hail from sustainable sources to craft a bounty of tortilla-wrapped treats that take their names from the likes of Caddyshack, Fletch, and Seinfeld. It's this dual mindset of serious food and irreverent attitude that tinges every one of the eatery's southwestern morsels, from the Art Vandalay burrito to the John Coctostan quesadilla. As the kitchen staff crafts their daily batch of guacamole to join the lineup of six zesty salsas, diners choose from a list of more than 20 ingredients to fill out the entree that will soon be conjured before their eyes. Because dishes are made to order, each finds easy customization for vegetarian, gluten free, and low-calorie diets, and the absence of microwaves, trans-fats, and MSG keep eats wholesome. Meanwhile, a complimentary accompaniment of chips and salsa turns portions into full meals faster than an industry-grade blow-up ray.
In the words of owners Ali and Homerya Darugar, Russia House Restaurant aims to cultivate "the warm feeling that you are dining at your aristocratic grandmother's table." Indeed, Mrs. Darugar's years of professional chef experience are anchored in the childhood days she spent in her own grandmother's kitchen. So when the Darugars opened their restaurant in 1992, they naturally combined fine dining with a homey attention to detail and a commitment to addressing every guest as "Czar."
In the sun-flooded, linen-cloaked dining rooms, plates of French-influenced Russian, Continental, and Georgian cuisine rack up stellar reviews five stars at a time. Unfussy dishes of stuffed cabbage and lamb casserole share tables with elegant platters of filet mignon and other tender meats in rich, complex French sauces. Depending on what they order, guests may also witness Russia House's flair for culinary drama: many entrees are prepared tableside.
When flames leap out of the tabletops at Matsutake Sushi & Grill, diners applaud rather than dash to the exits. Skilled chefs carefully orchestrate each pyrotechnic display as they man tableside hibachi grills, flipping and searing buttery scallops or thick cuts of filet mignon in front of diners. As they douse platefuls of flame-kissed vegetables and meat with garlic butter, lemon, or their signature sauce, they dazzle guests with adroit knife skills and their ability to keep hoards of roving balloon animals at bay. For more delicate eats, the restaurant's sushi chefs roll tightly wrapped maki and slice orders of fresh sashimi behind the open-view sushi bar.
Framed artwork and Japanese-style silk screens lend a traditional feel to the red-walled dining room, although dangling pendant lights, a flat-screen television, and a holographic waitstaff imbue it with modern accents. Outside, guests chopstick into entrees al fresco on the open-air patio.
When creating their expansive menu of what the [Washingtonian] lauds as a "representative selection of the finer cookery of India," Harvest of India's chefs infuse each dish of northern Indian cuisine with their own personal styles. Meat-laden dishes include jumbo prawns steeped in a special chef's marinade before being cooked in the tandoor and lamb cooked in a blend of almonds and cream. Along with their solid lineup of entrees, croquettes of cottage cheese and raisins simmered in light cream sauce are among items that inspired the Washingtonian to name Harvest of India the "perfect restaurant" for vegetarians. Meals unfold in a newly renovated dining room where Indian music underscores the sound of skilled diners chewing in syncopation.
A charcoal clay oven roars to life every morning in Silk’s kitchen in preparation for a day full of roasting meats and vegetables and baking fresh breads including roti and naan. The authentic tandoor prepares a menu rich in traditional flavors derived from spices imported from all over India. A dash of pure saffron, wild black cardamom, and cinnamon enhances platters of long-grain basmati rice, a standard side dish that enhances lamb, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian dishes alike. Waiters shuttle chosen plates out to a regal dining room full of carved, throne-like dining chairs, gilded statues of deities, and napkins fancifully folded into fork-size saris.
By setting his restaurant at the less congested end of Atwells Avenue, Ken Turchetta has stayed under the radar in Federal Hill—a status he enjoys because it keeps his restaurant intimate. That’s why even after 12 years in business, it’s common to see him make a stop at every table.
Since the beginning, chef Hector Madrid has been Ken’s go-to artisan for creating authentic Italian dishes from fresh, local ingredients. The resultant spread is impressive: chicken and veal marsala, fish fillets, and rings-only calamari, all easily paired with red or white wine by the bottle or glass.