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Italian sausage appetizers, caramelized prosciutto-wrapped scallops over potatoes rosti, lamb loin with potato-spinach croquette, pan-roasted swordfish with a sort of Provencal confit and roast

chicken with root veggies are

first-rate, and nightly specials (braised veal cheeks, duck breast) have been as well. If anything, the kitchen tends toward a bit too much patience with its food: Browning, braising and

roasting are great arts, but a

little more daring off the heat would solve some meat toughness issues.


2477 18th St. NW; 202-232-5005. Sushi and sashimi $5-$15.

This casual little Adams Morgan joint, with its single-wingspan space and plywood-cube banquette and snack tables, puts the "bar" back in sushi bar -- honorably and comfortably. But surprisingly, the staff also knows from fish, if not elaborately then certainly better than the unusually extensive list of happy hour specials ($1 a piece or half-price) might suggest. And for those who prefer big rolls, the East Coast roll, with its crab and tempura-crunchies innards and "torched" salmon topping, is pretty indulgent. Also try the chicken, either as gyoza dumplings or skewered.

Roof Terrace Restaurant

2700 F St. NW (in the Kennedy Center); 202-416-8555. Entrees $25-$34.

It's a room with a view, for sure, and a few hits in the repertory, but this good-looking and logistically challenged kitchen still hits too many sour notes for such a showplace. High notes: tender lobster, fresh-tasting potato leek soup, tasty if clumsy roasted beet and Stilton salad, fine sablefish with sleek leek mousseline, patiently braised if blandish lamb shank and an obliging half-bottle wine list. But icy mussels, sawdust rolls and vegetables and risottos so undercooked they must have gone straight from prep kitchen to waiter are amateur errors.

Seven Seas

1776 E. Jefferson St. (in Federal Plaza), Rockville; 301-770-5020. Metro: Twinbrook. Entrees $8.50-$29.95.

Twenty years, a physical overhaul and lots of new regulations have changed this Chinese staple to some extent -- it's harder to import as much shellfish as in the old days, but the staff is more informative and the plumbing is more reliable -- but the draw of out-of-the-tank fish and clams, steamed black cod, Dungeness crab and even hearty braised pork butt make it seem like old times. The addition of all-afternoon dim sum is a plus and a bargain.

Kansai Sushi

128 E. Maple Ave., Vienna; 703-319-1300. Sushi $2.75-$13.50; entrees $9.95-$21.95.

In a time when sushi comes in more accents than even MSG, authentically prepared sushi, and equally important, sushi rice, is acutely desirable. Chef-owner Kanghee Han is meticulous, observant, generous and occasionally sly, as when it comes to the deep-fried "American roll." The homiest dishes are the best: nabeyaki udon, chicken or pork katsu (i.e., cutlets), vegetable tempura, chirashi gozen and the Korean-spicy sashimi dishes called haedubap.

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