Ask Tom: Last meals, currywurst, tasting menus, Thanksgiving dinner and tables for one

Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Food Critic
Wednesday, November 11, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema discussed last meals, currywurst, tasting menus, Thanksgiving dinner and tables for one on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. ET.


Leavenworth, Kansas: Hi ya, Tom. Not to be overly morbid but with the news being filled about the execution of the D.C. sniper, it got me thinking. What would be your last meal request? Mine would be:

-Colossal Florida Stone Crabs (assuming in season) or seared foie gras

-Caviar with iced vodka

-My grandmother's matzoh ball soup

-Porterhouse steak from Peter Luger's

-Extra crispy shoe-string fries

For dessert either Red Velvet or traditional coconut cake.

All washed down with an '82 first growth bordeaux- say Margaux, Petrus or Lafite depending on what they had in the prison wine cellars....

Tom Sietsema: I know who this is, and I know he's sitting in a posh office in Washington rather than a cold cell in Leavenworth!

Interesting to read today that John Allen Muhammad requested only that his last meal not be revealed to the press.

But I digress.

My imaginary last meal changes from fantasy to fantasy, but right now it would definitely include:

A Manhattan from the bar at Palena

Kumamoto oysters from the cold, deep waters around Seattle

Tuna tartare-filled sesame cones from The Source

Roast chicken from Zuni Cafe in San Francisco

Whatever red wine Mark Slater suggested

My mom's lemon meringue pie

Time's up!

Chatters, what would *you* want to eat in your last hour or so on earth?

On a much lighter topic, happy Wednesday, everyone. Thanks for taking time out from your work (or holiday) to spend some time with me this morning.


Yucca Valley, Calif.: Tom, you had mentioned that you are going to Palm Springs. I am wondering if that trip has already taken place and if you are ready to report on your findings.

Tom Sietsema: I am back. It was a quickie trip and involved home cooking. But I managed to squeeze in five restaurant visits. In brief: Love the weather, great architecture, but I wouldn't want to be a restaurant critic in Palm Springs.

I'll be reporting on what's *good* there in a Postcard from Tom in Travel later this month.


Vienna, Va.: First off, thanks for all the great work. Just went and enjoyed yet another fantastic dinner at Four Sisters -- I love that it's a great place to keep trying different dishes and consistently enjoy them within a reasonable price range.

Now, I have a question. I have eaten at Minibar, and while I enjoyed it, I think I lost appreciation for how fantastic the food was by the time I was presented with the 15th interesting concoction. A friend wants to try Table 21 at Volt, and while I'm definitely interested, I'm a little worried I'm going to walk away with the same feeling. Is Table 21 a totally different approach, or is it similar? I know that I'm a spoiled diner if this is my main concern, but trying to find the right spot for a special night out.

Tom Sietsema: Yes, you are a spoiled diner! lol.

Table 21 in Frederick is very similar in (service/presentation) style to Minibar in Washington. But your chances of seeing -- and even being served BY the top chef -- is also greater at Volt.

All that said, you really ought to check out the Maryland destination. I had a swell time there. 2009 Dining Guide: Table 21


Alexandria, Va.: Do restaurants overlook the dining needs and tastes of the elderly? Do they frown on the elderly ordering from a "Kid's Menu"? Could that menu section not be changed to include the other end of the age spectrum? What about dietary restrictions? Several of the menu items recently ordered by an elderly parent have been mildly spicy. This was not noted on the menu, nor implied by the type of food ordered. Many restaurant goers cannot abide even mild spices, so a notation after the menu listing would be helpful.

Tom Sietsema: Instead of ordering from the children's menu, your parent might consider ordering an appetizer or two for a meal. (Starters, in my opinion, tend to be more interesting.)

Also, I think people with special needs need to be proactive, by 1) calling ahead to see if their dietary restrictions can be accommodated and 2) letting their server know precisely what they can and cannot have.


Washington, D.C.: Tom, where should I take my father next Friday night who is visiting from San Francisco? On past visits, he's loved the Tabard Inn and Lebanese Taverna, but he wants to try something new. He is slightly hard of hearing so finds noisy restaurants extremely unpleasant. I was thinking Palena or Rasika, but welcome any suggestions. No East Asian or Mexican, as he eats a lot of that in S.F. and wants something different. Also, no steakhouses. Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: I think Palena is an excellent idea, and D.C.-specific, thanks to former White House chef Frank Ruta. Rasika, unfortunately, would be too hard on dad's ears. 2009 Dining Guide: Palena


Adams Morgan, D.C.: Love the chat Tom thanks so much. I have a quick question that hopefully will be easy for you to answer. Now that it is suppose to be getting colder out and wetter I have been craving German food, and especially that lovely Berlin great the currywurst. Do you know if any of the German place in the area have this? Thanks. Also had dinner at Poste the other day and while the services was not great, really slow, the crispy envelope of pig's trotter was amazing.

Tom Sietsema: You're in luck! I just got off the phone with Alex Herold, the owner of Old Europe in Glover Park. He tells me that while currywurst is not on the German restaurant's regular menu, diners can request it at both lunch and dinner. The base is bratwurst, to which the kitchen adds a "catsup" made with curry seasoning. Review: Old Europe


Borderstan: Tom, how often do you attend food events? Will I see you lurking at the Capital Food Fight this evening? Or do you prefer to keep a low profile and skip these?

Tom Sietsema: I rarely go to public gatherings. Tonight, however, I'm mixing work and pleasure by starting the evening (shameless plug for the Post TV critic!) at a book party in honor of my pal Hank Stuever. His new book, Tinsel, is being celebrated in Kalorama.


Ashton: Last try. Only four more days until a dinner reservation at La Grenouille and another later at The View in New York City. Any advice/experience from anyone here today? Would appreciate a little help. Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: Le Grenouille? Gosh, I loved the French classic when I last ate there (in another century, I have to confess). Isn't the View in the Marriott Marquis? I tend to shy away from revolving dining rooms.


Chagrin Falls, Ohio: Hi Tom, We are meeting our son in D.C. for Thanksgiving. Do you know restaurants that are serving on the holiday? I want three stars if possible.

Tom Sietsema: Among the many places that will be serving turkey and trimmings on Nov. 26 -- and perform well during the rest of the year -- are Adour, Corduroy, Bourbon Steak, Oval Room, Cafe du Parc, Vidalia and the new Kellari Taverna, previewed in today's First Bite column in the Food section. Today's First Bite: Kellari Taverna


D.C.: Good morning - any ideas for a not to stuffy, but upscale, different restaurant for a holiday party for 10? Two are vegetarians, otherwise we love all kinds of food.

Tom Sietsema: What about salads and pizza at Comet Ping Pong? Or mezze at Zaytinya, hopefully on that overhang looking down on the crowd on the main floor? Heritage India and pillow-strewn banquettes in Glover Park could also be fun. 2009 Dining Guide: Comet


NW D.C.: Dear Tom, I am a longtime, dedicated follower of your writing and your chats -- thanks for helping to make D.C. dining feel like an exciting group adventure! Just wanted to second your First Bite column on Kellari Taverna -- I have been there twice since it opened and am looking forward to my next visit. For those who know Greek dining culture, it is really an estiatorio (even more upscale than a psarotaverna), but worth it. Food, service, and atmosphere are all terrific. Here's my question: Tom, do you think the K St. location will eventually limit the evening opening hours? We like to eat quite late and often have trouble finding places that are not bars/lounges and don't consider 10 p.m. arrivals ever-so-slightly frustrating.

Tom Sietsema: Hmmmm. D.C. is not a late-night town. My hunch is, if the numbers aren't there to support all the servers and cooks, the restaurant is likely to trim its hours.


Volt: Is the reference to Bryan Voltaggio as the "top chef" a spoiler? Do you know something we don't know? Dying to find out who wins and cheering for BV.

Tom Sietsema: I'm not saying he is and I'm not saying he isn't!


Final meal: Freshly caught Maine lobsters, w/melted butter

Selection of fine cheeses, with fresh fruit, bread & crackers. Maybe some fresh butter too.

Great chardonnay, dry

German chocolate cake

Tom Sietsema: Cheese, I forgot to include cheese!


I have to ask for the check?: So according to the 100 things restaurant employees shouldn't do, one is delivering the check before asking. Is that really true? I hate when I have to ask for the check; I'd much prefer to have it delivered as soon as I either decline dessert or finish dessert. I don't feel rushed (especially if I'm told "whenever you're ready"), and it just makes sense to me. Asking for the check is as silly as asking to order.

Tom Sietsema: I don't mind getting the check in, say, a diner after I've finished my meal. But in a "better" restaurant, unless I've specifically requested it ahead of time, I prefer to see my bill only after I've signaled my waiter for it.

What do the rest of you think?


Washington, D.C.: Tom I'm not sure what "Alexandria, Va.:" was getting at. Were they trying to say that "the elderly" should be confined to bland food? The people I know who cannot abide even mild spices vary across the age range. As far as not being able to non-spiced food, I usually find the oppisite to be true. Thai/Vietnamise, Mexican, Greek, Indian, and BBQ that only hint, if that, at their true origins seems to be the norm rather than the other way around.

Tom Sietsema: I agree, and should have added more to my comments. Just because someone is a member of AARP doesn't mean she desires/needs a bland diet.


Mass Ave. NW: Hi, Tom! I just wanted to comment on my first trip to Bibiana this Friday. My husband and I went for our 8:30 reservation knowing, from reading past reviews, that we may have to wait for our table. We ended up having to wait a few minutes shy of an hour! Although we were not happy about having to wait that long for our reserved table, I do have to commend the staff for making the wait as enjoyable as possible. We were treated to meatballs and stuffed dates at the bar while we waited and were also comped dessert. We didn't request any of the free food, but it was greatly appreciated and turned a potentially frustrating evening into a nice one. Crazy wait aside...the food was fantastic -- we shared the smoked gnocci and the duck.

Tom Sietsema: Did anyone explain the reason for the epic wait?


Last Meal: Lobsers -- I'm horribly allergic, so I could beat the state to it!

Tom Sietsema: Funny! (Or not.)


My Last Meal: What a great conversation topic... A Small Cup of White Chili from the Arlington Bistro Bistro (circa 1999) recipe.

Tuna Tataki from (the name I don't remember) place on Quentin Rd between Coney Island Ave & E. 11th ST, Brooklyn, NY

A few McDonalds French Fries

Sonic Cherry Limeade

Fresh Maine lobster tail with warm drawn butter

NY Strip, medium topped with blue cheese

Mixed berry cobbler topped with Haagen Daz Vamiall ice cream

There's probably more, but I can't think of any right now that wouldn't involve a 8 hour plane ride (Roquefort Shrimp from Jacko in Hertzlia, Israel, Roquefort soup from Apropos in Beer Sheva, Israel, and a falafel from any street vendor in Tel Aviv.)

Tom Sietsema: Why just "a few" fries there? It's your last meal, after all! I fifure you're saving room for the steak and the cobbler?


Final Meal, Va.: In certain situations you have to stall for time, so my final meal would be a bushel of blue crabs with old bay.

Tom Sietsema: Very clever. I guess your last meal would have to start in early afternoon for a 9 p.m. good-bye?


Crystal City: Tom, my family (parents and sis) are going to the National Theatre the Friday after turkey, and I wanted to get a handful of suggestions of places to eat before hand. Less noise is preferred as the old man has a sensitive hearing aid. It doesn't have to be next door per se, so, anything you can recommend would be great. Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: One of several restaurants that comes to mind nearby hired an interesting new chef this week.

Ever been to the Fourth Estate in the National Press Club building? (I didn't think so.) Read all about it: Fourth Estate taps new chef


Two delicious choices...: Tom,

My husband and I had to cancel an anniversary getaway and have decided to have a nice dinner instead. We're currently between Central and 1789 - we've been to neither. Opinion? Thanks!!

Tom Sietsema: Go to 1789, a Georgetown institution, and try to get a seat in one of the ground-floor dining rooms.


Bowie: Since prisons and lobsters have come up...

Travel guide I got in Maine said prisoners in that state rioted during the 19th century because they were being fed lobster too often.

Tom Sietsema: Fascinating.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Tom,

Just wanted to share an experience we had on Saturday night at J&G Steakhouse. Some out of town friends were visiting and staying at the W, so we decided to give the restaurant a try. After reading your dining guide and seeing your feature on table #43, we called (several weeks in advance) and put in a request to be seated at this table. When we were brought to our table and realized that it wasn't #43, we inquired about it and our hostess politely told us that there was another party at the table but it looked like they were finishing and there was a chance we could move to it when they left. We thanked her, sat at the table we were brought to and were perfectly happy to remain there all night. A short time later, a lady who identified herself as one of the managers came to the table and started to give us what felt like the 3rd degree. She started off by saying that she understood we had requested #43 and we confirmed that. She then repeatedly asked us, "Why did you request the table? Why did you want the table?" Puzzled, we variously answered, "Because we heard it was a nice table." This didn't satisfy her and she continued with, "Yes, but WHY do you want the table??" -- I finally piped up and said "I read about it." She responded with "Exactly! And do you know what happens when Tom Sietsema writes about a table?" We ventured "Uh, everyone requests the table?" -- this prompted another "Exactly!" She ended the exchange with some placating words assuring us that she would make sure to stop by and make sure everything went smoothly for us that night. We never saw her again and quite frankly, after her condescending speech we were quite glad of that. We had not thrown a fit or made a fuss about not getting our requested table, and we certainly did not ask to see a manager for an explanation. If she had wanted to explain why we couldn't move she could have done a perfectly good job of that without making us feel belittled and somehow in the wrong. The encounter w/her at the beginning of our meal really started the evening off on the wrong foot! On the plus side, our server Mark was really great and the food was delicious.

Tom Sietsema: How odd, especially because you weren't being demanding about relocating to table No. 43. What possible good could come from a hostess who demands to know why you inquired about a specific place to sit? Is there more to this story, I wonder? 2009 Dining Guide: 10 terrific tables


SS MD: Tom; a comment or general complaint. I'm in good shape work regularly and can pack it away with the best of them, but portion sizes seem out of control. Unless you are looking for the French cris de foi it is nearly impossible to get through a simple 3-4 course meal.

Recently went to Brasserie Beck, lived for 4 years in Brussels and get the craving. The food was great, the service top notch, but the appetizer was larger than any main course I ever had in Brussels. It really distracted from getting the sense of a good European meal. I noticed that most people were just getting a main, maybe also splitting one appetizer and passing on dessert. It seems especially bad form for a place that is otherwise doing such a good job of taking me back to Brussels. I really am not picking of BB, but it was the latest one of these let downs.

It fine for an "American" restaurant to do American portions, but for me American portion size in what is claiming to be a European or Asian place is just as off putting as getting the spicing wrong. I want the whole experience Aperitif, salad, first course, main course, dessert, degustif, without feeling like a whale or leaving half the food on my plate.

Tom Sietsema: Here! Here! One of my few complaints about the aforementioned Kellari is the portion sizes. Some of the dishes could easily be halved there.


Washington, D.C.: Tom, I saw that in your First Bite column on Kellari Taverna you mentioned the free cookies the restaurant provides. I was sitting at their bar this weekend and noticed that, despite the large serving spoon the restaurant provided for patrons to use when picking up the complimentary cookies, several people just reached their hands into the bowl and grabbed the cookies. After seeing that, there was no way I was going to take a cookie, even though I wanted to try one. Can this serve as a public service announcement to diners? It's just gross to stick your hands in a communal bowl. I sat there wondering if there was anything else the restaurant could do to make sure the cookies weren't manhandled by their customers, but I couldn't come up with anything. Can you?

Also, although I enjoyed my meal at the restaurant, I had to wait over a half hour for my table. The hostess acknowledged when I walked in that they were backed up and the wait would be "15-20 minutes." Obviously, it was longer. I didn't complain at all, but was obviously a little put off. In a situation like that, should the restaurant offer at least a free drink at the bar? Or is that expecting too much?

Tom Sietsema: I avoided those cookies for the exact same reason! A little sign ("Please use spoon to handle cookies") would be welcome, yes?

Did you have a reserved table? Sounds like you did. In that case, the restaurant should have offered you something at the 20-minute mark.


Colorado Springs: If you can take one more shot at "Just one?", I have hosted, and I admit I've used that term. Won't anymore. However, when I say that, I'm also asking: -Did someone just drop you off, and is he parking the car? -Are you the first person of a party of 12, and do I need to scramble to arrange tables?

These are legitimate inquiries. I'll use whatever wording you and chatters recommend, but I need that information. I have to say, I think those objecting are a little quick to take offense.

Tom Sietsema: Fair point, Colorado Springs. "Will it be one tonight?" -- hold the "just" -- sounds better to these ears.

Chatters, what would *you* like to hear as a solo act?


Washington, D.C.: Tom: Great conversation today... I have a question about eating an entree and drinks at the bar area at restaurants. What sort of tip does one leave the bartender??

Tom Sietsema: The same as what a diner should leave in the dining room, provided the service is good or better: About 20 percent. (The bar tender is providing a service, right?)


Alexandria, Va.: In today's Dish column, your line about portion sizes that belong on Wilma Flintstone's table made me laugh -- you're much funnier than Weingarten IMO. Since you're at your wittiest when restaurants are at their worst, I was wondering whether a scathing no-star review is in the cards any time soon? It's been quite a while since you reviewed Grace's Mandarin.

Tom Sietsema: I don't come close to being as funny as Gene. But thanks for the words of support.

There's a negative review in your future (before the close of 2009), but it's not anything to laugh about. And it might come as a surprise to some readers.


What i'd like to hear if i go into a restaurant alone: "How many?"

Tom Sietsema: Isn't that kind of abrupt?


In the vanguard in 1974: On the Just One Thread: I am a female executive who has had some interesting experiences. To wit: I was travelling on business and stayed at the Palmer House in Chicago. At dinner in their steakhouse, I was pointedly seated next to a man who was interested in a one night stand. This was the maitre d's doing. Also, in Jamaica, I went to lunch at the hotel I was staying at, and was asked for my room key to prove I was there as a guest and not as a lady of easy virtue looking for clients.

Tom Sietsema: These were all decades ago (I hope)?

Get this: Not long ago, I had a dining companion beg off a review so he could swing with a couple. I said: I'm on deadline! He said: This is too good to pass up.

Needless to say, I crossed him off my list.


Just one: What about "how many in your party" -- and if you respond "just one," well, perhaps it's time for the Hax chat.

Tom Sietsema: Good advice.


D.C. French eater: Bibiana should not be considered as an Italian restaurant as it is NOT

The only three Italian restaurants worth to mention in the Washington metropolitan area are: Obelisk, Teatro and his Chef Table,Tosca

What do you think?

Tom Sietsema: I think the chefs at Al Tiramisu and Spezie might have a bone to pick with you.


Arlington: Very strange the above comment!! We went to Bibiana and the food was as bland and a cork. This is not an Italian restaurant. This is a recreation of a marketable vision of fast food. My lamb was wrapped into half inch thick roll of fat and therefore uneatable, the white beans still hard and flavorless, the meat balls not better then the canned progresso ones. Sorry, I have a lot of respect for this company and their other restaurants, but Bibiana is nothing more then a mediocre restaurant who targets fast food eaters.

Tom Sietsema: I think you have a lot of detractors. Including me. First Bite: Bibiana


Friday Evening Romantic Meal: Hi Tom,

Thanks for all your help in discovering new and interesting places to visit! My husband and I are celebrating an anniversary of sorts on Friday. We don't want to break the bank, but would like somewhere romantic and not so loud. It can be in Virginia or D.C.

Can you help?

Tom Sietsema: Mind a drive? I think Bistro L'Hermitage would be perfect for the occasion. 2009 Dining Guide: Bistro L'Hermitage


Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a brunch spot on this rainy Veterans Day. My boss recomended Creme Cafe on U Street. What can you tell me about Creme Cafe? Also, I am not familiar with Creme Cafe but I am familiar with Chef Orlando Hitzig from Mark & Orlando's. Love his food. Is it true he is at Creme Cafe?

Tom Sietsema: Indeed he is. But he just started. Give him some time. Fresh start: Chef Hitzig pops up at Creme Cafe


SS, MD: Persimmon in Bethesda, yay or nay? Better than Faryab or not?

Tom Sietsema: Two very different restaurants. I've had consistently good Afghan food at Faryab, however. Review: Faryab


Washington, D.C.: I have now had dinner at Komi three times and I am utterly baffled at why you describe it as great restaurant. I frequently go to the great restaurants of the world as well as D.C., and Komi reminds me of a parody of great cuisine and fine dining. I do not always completely agree with your assessments (I do not like sweetbreads so tastes matter), but 98 percent of the time our views are reasonably close. In the case of Komi, we are 180 degrees apart on all fronts, cuisine, service, ambiance. After three attempts I must be missing something. Enlighten me.

Tom Sietsema: I'm curious: Why do you keep returning if you don't like it?

Komi is special in more ways than I have time to detail here. To me, it exemplifies a breed of American restaurant that puts a lot of consideration into informed (but not smug) service; comfortable (but not stifling) ambiance; and food that looks and tastes of itself instead of being tortured into something it's not. 2009 Dining Guide: Komi


Washington, D.C.: Tom, I would never beg off. How do I get on your "list"? I'm interesting, sometimes scathing, sometimes sweet, banterful, fun...

Tom Sietsema: Sign on the dotted line, please.


Mass Ave NW: in response to your Bibiana question...the reason for the delay was that there were tables lingering over dessert and/or coffee.

Tom Sietsema: Aha. Too bad the host couldn't have "invited" them to the lounge to continue their evening.


Do you know exactly how to eat an Oreo?: Well, to do it, you unscrew it, very fast. 'Cause a kid'll eat the middle of an Oreo first, and save the chocolate cookie outside, for last.

Someone already beat me to "My bologna has a first name,..."

Fun to think back on all those old jingles. On a business trip a colleague and I once sang all the old ones we could think of on the street en route to dinner one evening. ("Mutual of Omaha is people...") We got lots of grins from folks our age, and wide eyes from everyone else!

Tom Sietsema: My kind of traveller!

Speaking of jingles, please weigh in on my most recent Sietsema's Table, featuring this very topic. Sietsema's Table: Food jingles we love to hate


Arlington, Va.: Hello, Tom-

Thanks for your recommendation of Eventide -- we dined there for the first time on Saturday night and really enjoyed it. The ambiance and service were outstanding, and the food was delicious as well. My only quibble is that the main courses were enormous portions -- probably twice what we were expecting. It felt a bit strange to take home somewhat elegant food (duck for me; pork for him). I know this is probably an unusual criticism but did want to provide the feedback.

Tom Sietsema: Restaurants can't win, can they? One man's "super-size" is another man's "regular." (I can vouch for the quality of even Eventide's leftovers, having taken home that pork in question myself.)


What's on the menu today?: I know we've been through this before, but can't restaurants find a better way to update their menus? If they say they serve seasonal favorites why is their menu from Spring '09? Maybe they should Twitter.

Tom Sietsema: These days, there's no excuse for a restaurant not to keep current online. The best way to do that is to have someone on the restaurant staff be in charge of all things Internet-related.


Herndon, Va.: Tom,

I have one free day in the San Francisco area this weekend. If I had to pick one Chinese (preferably Cantonese) restaurant in the area what should it be?

Tom Sietsema: Yank Sing is the go-to place for dim sum.


Fairfax, Va.: Why did you choose to become a food critic and did you have any background knowledge in food?

Tom Sietsema: I sort of fell into the food profession.

After college, I knew I wanted to be a journalist after having interned for a TV network (ABC, where I worked on Good Morning America) and a major newspaper (the Chicago Sun-Times, where I reported to the Washington bureau chief). I got my foot in the door of the Washington Post as a copy aide in the newsroom, where I quickly applied for anything in the place that looked better. I interviewed for the position of assistant to Bob Wwoodward and Phyllis Richman. She hired me and got me hooked on food -- eating it, cooking it, writing about it.


D.C. Server: I just wanted to weigh in on the debate about whether a server should tell their guests their name. As a person who works in a fine dinning restaurant that is also owned by a large, international hotel chain, it is part of our hotel standards that we give out our name. It is also required that we call guests by their last names. We may not agree with the policies of the hotel, but it is our job to follow to follow them. My hotel frequently sends secret shoppers into the restaurant to ensure that we are following its standards. Please keep that in mind when you are enjoying a meal out.

Tom Sietsema: This post is a response to last week's chat, during which we heard from seemingly everyone logged on.

One reader followed up with a funny story: His girlfriend, a waitress, had a couple come in with cash for her a week or so after they dined in her restaurant. It seems they unknowingly grossly undertipped her and wanted to make amends -- which they did easily, since she had given the couple her name at the beginning of their meal!


G Street NW: Tom, what on earth is going on with Mark Furstenberg? On my multiple visits to G Street Foods he's been chatty, friendly, greeting people.....very unlike the persona I remember from Breadline. He seems downright happy. What gives?? PS--food at the new G Street is very tasty!!!!!

Tom Sietsema: Mark Furstenerg friendly? Ladies and gentlemen, hell has frozen over!

I agree: the worldly snack food at G Street Food is very appealing. Mr. Furstenberg even makes a convincing bibimbap. Good to Go: Jane Black's take on G Street Food


Old Hickory Steakhouse: Tom...

About a year ago, you posted a First Bite about the Old Hickory Steakhouse at National Harbor. You seemed to like the atmosphere and were okay with the food. Have you been back since or have you heard any buzz one way or the other?? Thanks

Tom Sietsema: I've not returned to the steak house since that column. Has anyone else eaten there? First Bite: Old Hickory Steakhouse


Fairfax, Va.: Any recommendations on good Indian cuisine in the D.C. area...

Tom Sietsema: Lots. At the top end are restaurants like Rasika and Bombay Club, both in DC. In the middle are dining rooms including Passage to India in Bethesda and Delhi Club in Arlington. For cheap and good, I gravitate to Nirvana in DC and Tiffin in Takoma Park. 2005 Review: Nirvana


Arlington, Va.: Tom,

My husband and I have our parents coming in town and want to take them to dinner. They are not foodies at all, and in fact, my dad purports to be "allergic" to fancy food. We've done Carlyle, Evening Star, they even liked DC Coast a lot. Any help with simple, American style food with a quite atmosphere would be of help.

Tom Sietsema: Among the restaurants that more or less fit that category are Ardeo in Cleveland Park, Artie's in Fairfax, Old Ebbittt Grill near the Treasury Building and the newish Columbia Firehouse in Old Town. 2009 Dining Guide: Artie's


Thanks to the veterans: For those enjoying a holiday today, and those who aren't, giving thanks to the Veterans who have put their lives on the line for our country.

Tom Sietsema: I second that. My dad was in the USMC (purple heart. go, dad!), my nephew is, too. And my little brother has helped make the Army stronger, in my humble opinion. Oo-rah!

Over and out until next week. Thanks for the lively hour.


A veteran food writer, Sietsema has worked as a critic in Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Milwaukee and covers the local scene in his Dining, First Bite and Dish columns and moderates the Sietsema's Table discussion group. Find all of Tom Sietsema's Washington Post writing at Join his live Q&A every Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET.

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