Here’s my response to people who want “something nice,” hold the sticker shock, in Arlington. A sibling to the tiny Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, Water & Wall is a young restaurant with an easygoing staff and a window-wrapped dining room remarkable most for the cloud-like lights floating overhead.
Chef Tim Ma sends out dishes as fetching as you might find at some of Washington’s top tables, with flavor profiles to match. Ma’s crisp duck confit decked out with green tomato chow-chow would look right at home at Mintwood Place, and his saffron pasta with crushed paprika almonds, grated manchego and shaved summer squash has Red Hen written all over it. Not every dish is a delight; lamb spiced with harissa lacks the desired heat. Pacing can be off as well, with food sometimes preceding drinks. The wrinkles are nothing an exquisite $8 chicken liver mousse with blueberry compote or snowy, $18 Thai-style catfish semi-sweetened with savory caramel sauce can’t smooth away. Desserts have improved from the early months. My vote goes to the peanut butter-chocolate tart that tastes like Reese’s Pieces, only more refined, and buttermilk scones pressed into service as shortcake with whatever fruit is in season.
Make a dinner date with the restaurant on Sunday and Monday. The payoff: Bottles of wines $75 and under are offered half-price.