Tom Sietsema’s 2008 review of Cashion’s Eat Place

October 12, 2008

John Manolatos bought this beloved foodie hangout from his longtime bosses, Ann Cashion and John Fulchino, over a year ago. Any plans to replace the sign out front now that he’s the top dog? “With all the changes in D.C., new restaurants from out of town, I thought it would be really cool to keep Cashion’s as it is,” says the 34-year-old chef. Wise move. And smarter still for him to maintain the high quality -- the designer ingredients, the intriguing wine list -- promoted from Day One at the modern American restaurant in Adams Morgan. Regular customers can still find veal sweetbreads, goat cheese souffles and signs that Cashion is a Mississippi native (notice the collard greens slipped between sheets of pasta in the mushroom lasagna?). But these days, the ever-changing menu also acknowledges Manolatos’s heritage, with vegetable spreads among the appetizers and Greek sweets among the desserts. Indeed, one of the best dishes at a recent dinner was plump grilled quail, rubbed with hot spices and served with a chickpea curry. And one of the best hunks of meat for a mile remains the bison rib-eye, massaged with Middle Eastern spices and draped in a cloak that’s as sweet with honey as it is zesty with ancho. Some servers are smoother than others, and not every dish is something to text home about. But it’s a comfort to return to this warmly lit room and a pleasure to find the rear walls dressed, as always, with the family photos of the principals. (That’s the chef’s dad watching over the kitchen entrance.)

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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