The ThipHive Is Going To Get Me For This One…

[ 0 ] May 12, 2016 |

When new restaurants come to D.C., the whole town is up in arms trying to snag a reservation.  The new place must have the essential requirements, however, to garner this type of attention.  First, it must seat 40 or less.  Second, it must be extremely hard to get a reservation, patrons must have a minimum wait time of three hours on a Friday night to be legit.  Lastly, it must have the underground buzz i.e. underdeveloped website with murky details about the restaurant, a chef that has left one of the Michelin/James Beard acclaimed restaurants to make “simple, but eclectic” dishes and/or it has not been run through the media circuit.  Now, I am not saying I subscribe to these rules when deciding where to go but this is reality of the situation.

Finally having some downtime to try some new places, I decided on three places that have the Washington “foodie” scene buzzing.  Masseria, Tail Up Goat and Thip Kao were the chosen few and all for different reasons.

Masseria:  Any place that has 90’s hip hop as the soundtrack of choice on a Wednesday night has won my vote simply for entertainment.  There is nothing like hearing Biggie Smalls (*Notorious B.I.G.”) “Hypnotize” while digging into a fresh batch of gnocchi.  Now this is probably not the soundtrack of choice every night for those of us who are not fans of the late great, but I can appreciate a place that leaves the elevator music to other spots serving up the artificial goods.  There is nothing artificial about Masseria, authentic is the best way to describe the small plates of pasta.

Maccheroni (Venison Ragu) @ Masseria

Maccheroni (Venison Ragu) @ Masseria

Not a fan of the fact that Italian takes on the portion size of sashimi but my waistline was happy to get those carbs in at a healthy pace.  I have visited Masseria for happy hour and the same sentiments carried over for dinner, pricey is the best way to describe the bill.  After spending nearly $300 on dinner I left feeling full, not bursting, but wondering whether I could have had this experience elsewhere for less.  Additionally, the service was a little spotty.  Our waitress could have been having a bad day, which is why I typically leave this out of reviews.  There seemed to be a thin line between distraction and/or irritation, which transferred over to the experience.  For $250+, you should be greeted with a smile everytime you look at your waiter.

The verdict on Masseria?  I would return for drinks/apps/happy hour.  The front patio screams cosmopolitan summers return.

Masseria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tail Up Goat:  Hands down, this is my favorite new restaurant in D.C.  The vibe was very casual with little arrogance which would have been warranted after tasting the dishes.  Dish after dish was consistent.  I started strong and ended strong.  Additionally, the price points and menu items were approachable despite the fact that the menu is all over the place.  You can get everything from grilled rabbit sausage to lasagna.

Whole Stuffed Porgy @ Tail Up Goat

Whole Stuffed Porgy @ Tail Up Goat

Tail Up Goat is hard to find so forget the Google Maps.  It is tucked inside a small secluded side street that after the many 21-year-old drunken nights in Adams Morgan, I had never even seen this strip.  The restaurant does not warn you on the hassle of trying to locate the place.  Guess this goes to that “murky” details part I mentioned earlier.

The verdict on Tail Up Goat?  YES, I will absolutely return here.  For $100, I left full, palate happy and reminding myself to download the Talib Kwali song that was playing in the restaurant during my meal (Y’all know I’m a sucker for hip hop).

Tail Up Goat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thip Khao:  Don’t believe the hype.  This was the title that kept repeating itself in my brain after my visit here.  People in D.C. love this place and rave about it.  The “ThipHive”, as I now call them, were astonished that I did not find Thip Khao to be the best thing since sliced bread.  The number one thing out of everyone’s mouth when I tell them I did not like this place is “You didn’t know what to order”.  How did I miss that memo when:  1.  I asked the waitress what I should order, 2.  Everything she recommended is supposedly the most “popular and authentic of dishes” and 3.  If a restaurant is that good, shouldn’t everything be good?!  Thip Kao had some strong starters but as the dishes flowed out, I was continually disappointed plate by plate either due to flavor or the cooking temperature was not up to par.  The Hu Muu Todd on the Jungle Menu (Fried pig’s ears with tamarind salt and Jaew Bong-Sriracha sauce), for example, were undercooked leaving me with the sicking feeling that I might never eat the other white meat again.

The verdict:  I will not be returning.  All the hype got in my head.  One the one hand I am grateful for being able to try something new.  On the other hand, in hindsight, I should have saved my coins for a trip to Laos because this place did not do much for the alleged DC “Laos Food Movement”.

Thip Khao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Category: restaurant reviews, Reviews, Washington D.C.

About the Author ()

Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Panama, Washington, DC and North Carolina. All four places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9, FOX 5 DC and WJLA (ABC Affiliate) News Channel 8. During the 2016-2017 football season, Johnna aired on Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic (CSN) show, Redskins Life, as the weekly tailgate host. Johnna is currently a regular contributor to the FOX Baltimore Weekend morning show.

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