Editors' pick

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

Cajun/Creole, Seafood
$$$$ ($15-$24)
Jeff Black is behind this casual ode to gulf coast seafood.
5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Fri-Sat
noon-midnight; Sun
11 a.m.-11 p.m.
(Logan Circle)
Dupont Circle (Red Line)
86 decibels (Extremely loud)

Editorial Review

You’ve seen the list, now see who missed
By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, October 28, 2012

The results of my 13th annual Fall Dining Guide are out, and as in years past, many were called but few were chosen: Forty restaurants made the cut to be on my list of favorite places to eat around Washington. You may wonder why a particular establishment didn’t rate last week. Some of the contenders slipped in quality. Some were in transition. Other candidates piqued my interest but weren’t as convincing as some of their peers -- the restaurants I ultimately served up. Here’s a taste from some of the many auditions:

The Delta prize of a catfish sandwich that drove some of us to gush at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace isn’t the catch it was when the seafood restaurant burst on the scene in Logan Circle last year. Nor does the gumbo come with as much swagger as in the early months of the dining room, the fifth from local chef Jeff Black. And at one recent visit to the bar, which opens to the sidewalk in good weather, the guy behind the counter acts as if he’d rather be getting a root canal than dealing with the public. That’s Pearl Dive on a lesser day. Other times -- say, “brunch” on a Friday -- the kitchen sends out food that suggests all is well. There’s a flock of fried chicken on the market right now, but few versions better than the platter here, which stars a bird that is everything you want it to be (crisp, golden, juicy) and which teams up with fine coleslaw, smashed potatoes and pickled vegetables that can leave a guy in tears. Etouffee, on the other hand, is overwhelmed by pepper. The constants here remain the oysters on the half-shell, always neatly shucked and never in need of anything but a squeeze of lemon, and the faux-weathered setting. The chandelier over the bar is made from an old chain, and your tabletop began life as a floor joist.


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