2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
“Is everything to your liking?" a server at the Source wants to know. More than ever these days, the answer to the question at this pan-Asian restaurant is entirely clear. “Yes" to the saffron-colored squash soup that zooms from hot to sour in every spoonful. “Yes" to the crisp chive dumplings that rouse me from bed for Saturday brunch with a twist. And “yes!" to the rich, chili-fueled duck curry ladled around a cone of rice draped with a coconut reduction that looks like white lava running down a mountain. Garnishes of roasted peanuts and kaffir lime boost that last dish to a Hall of Fame of fresh ideas from chef Scott Drewno. Frog legs tossed with blistered shishito peppers are an interesting idea but soggy in the execution. Seconds, please, of the dainty sesame-miso cones capped with teasing tuna tartare. Streams of light pour into the dining room, a sleek export from everybody's favorite Californian-by-way-of-Austria: no, not Arnold, but Wolfgang. The Source is the source of happy meals for adults.
The Scene: Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant at the Newseum gives its first floor over to an airy lounge with plenty of wines by the glass, a few draft beers and a dozen cocktails divided into "Classics" and "Specialty" categories. It's already a popular destination for happy hour groups, business meetings and dates.
What Works: The Classics section is especially strong. A Sazerac is made with Sazerac rye whiskey, the pungent herbsaint liquor and old-school Peychaud bitters. The Sidecar strikes the right balance between tart sour mix (made in-house) and soft Martell cognac. The modern side is serviceable -- a mojito muddled with ginger, a gin martini muddled with cucumber -- but the Peach Creek, which finds Knob Creek bourbon shaken with white peach puree and topped with fresh ginger, is crisp and sweet. Service is quick and polite, and the bartenders are fairly exacting.
What Doesn't: The "Specialty" section includes a Flirtini, which makes me instantly deduct 20 points from my review. (Maybe if it was 1998 and I was dating Carrie Bradshaw, I wouldn't mind.) Actually, most of my problems with the Source have nothing to do with what's in my glass. The tables nearest to the bar are really, really low. If you have to sit on one of the stools, you look like you're squatting on the floor. The soundtrack -- Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin -- seems out of place in such a modern (and ostensibly hip) setting. Also, the three televisions behind the bar aren't angled towards the ground, leading to less-than-optimum viewing from the barstools.
The Cost: Everything is $12.
Tip: Can't get a reservation at the restaurant? The full menu is available at the bar.
-- Fritz Hahn (November 2007)