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Tom Sietsema

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  1. I was simply trying to answer as many questions as I could in the hour. Also: I based my assessment of MA's on two recent visits.
  2. Marty, I think you're right about the pricing at the Line, but the duck easily feeds four or more, plus the duck and the made-to-order (duck fat) tortillas are pretty rich. (The feast comes with a duck confit salad, too.) Ericandblueboy, I'm fully aware you're no fan of mine, but I have yet to have even a good version of Peking duck at Peter Chang in Bethesda. Then again, my bar is pretty high: Duck de Chine in Beijing.
  3. Not sure what the comment about "being busy and writing poorly" is referring to (me?), but allow me to address a few things. 1) Yes, the Washington Post is a huge platform. It's one of the most important publications in the world. I feel grateful every day that I get to write about a subject I care deeply about. I also feel a real responsibility to fairly and accurately cover the restaurant scene. To that end, I eat out about a dozen meals a week. I'm fortunate that my employer picks up the tab, but I never take that for granted. (Then again, the Post also pays White House reporters to fl
  4. Regarding Don's post above, my chat isn't a "strategy," but a way to address readers' questions and comments in real time and in a more personal venue than print. I learn as much as I (hopefully) give in that hour every week. Just for the record, my "little corner" (as Don puts it) is the second best-read chat on the WP site (after Carolyn Hax) and enjoys a national, even international, audience. If it wasn't effective, I would have dropped it by now. But the regular give and take is one of the most important things I do. I'm posting for the first time in years (?) because I get tired of
  5. I wrote about R Family Kitchen because it's run by the same owners of the previous restaurant in that space, TapaBar, which I liked and considered to be a solid, two-star establishment. Also because I like to vary cuisine styles, price points and locations from week to week in my First Bite column. This is considered a preview, by the way, not a star-rated critique. I figured readers might be curious about TapaBar's replacement. I know I was.
  6. I'd like to thank all of YOU for the good questions! This is a smart crowd. I've really enjoyed my week here. As for my interest in the Titanic .... I was fascinated by disasters as a kid (hmmm, a harbinger of things to come?) I read everything I could about the Hindenburg, the Morro Castle, the Andrea Doria and so on. But I really fell in love with the story of the Titanic. Here was this supposedly unsinkable ship -- crowded with VIPS and the first with such luxuries as a swimming pool -- and it sailed for less than a week. There was so much glamour and mystery surroundin
  7. I was baffled by the readers who got angry when I went to Baltimore to review a place because 1) I've done it before, 2) Pazo was worth people knowing about, and 3) Baltimore is less of a drive away than some of the Virginia restaurants I've written about. Given the reaction from a few vocal diners, you would have thought I went to Dallas for the Sunday! lol I will continue to review those places in the greater Washington area that I feel are important or otherwise worth knowing about. Seventy percent of the Post readership resides in the suburbs, after all. And, in my defense, I heard
  8. I eat out with a mix of people -- young/old, straight/gay, Caucasian/non-Caucasian, single/married -- and do in fact include kids in some of those visits. It's interesting to see their different perspectives -- how loud places affect my older acquaintances, for instance, or how vegetarians try to navigate a steak house menu. I write for a general audience and try to think about the needs and concerns of a diverse group of readers as I make my rounds. Thanks for your suggestions. I'll be keeping my eyes open for coloring books, high chairs and things other than chicken nuggets o
  9. The text of my weekly chat is archived as it appears online. There is no "after hours" editing (sometimes much to my chagrin). Cesare is NOT leaving Tosca. I don't believe I wrote anything like that. He is NOT advising the team at the fledgling Extra Virgin any longer, however. Maybe that's the update you recall seeing.
  10. 1) First, I think competition is healthy. Having more than one voice weighing in on restaurants is a GOOD thing. The myriad blogs have not really changed the way I write or cancelled out the rule I try to maintain about waiting a month or so to review new restaurants. But I DO like to be first with news about chef changes, restaurant closings, etc. in the Weekly Dish, and I sometimes feel at a disadvantage in reporting those things, because I'm tethered to print deadlines. If something big happens on a Tuesday, I have to wait until the next week to write about it (in the Food section), unless
  11. Ha! I rarely use my full name when I'm introduced in Washington, because when I do, the typical reaction is "I want your job!" or something similar -- followed by 15 minutes of the usual questions: What's your favorite restaurant? Do you wear disguises? How often do you eat out? Can I tag along? and so on and so forth. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I would rather talk about somebody else's profession than my own. Every once in awhile, I'll meet a waiter or a restaurant manager in a social setting, but I try to steer clear of functions where that might happen. I never go to
  12. Duly noted, sir! Thanks for the helpful feedback. I probably do a better job highlighting inexpensive places in my Magazine and Food section columns than I do in my online chats, because in the rush (and crush!) on Wednesday mornings, I sometimes forget about a good hole-in-the-wall or two. But I'm conscious of that now. Did you notice I mentioned Kotobuki as a cheap but quality source for sushi, and the Spy Museum for its kid-friendly menu, in yesterday's discussion? I hope to include plenty of cheap-to-moderate places in my fall dining guide, too.
  13. 1) I've been doing this for so long, I can almost (almost) predict how many stars a place is going to get based on one visit, a visit where I can sample at least four or more dishes. BUT, I've been surprised -- pleasantly and unpleasantly -- enough times that I would hesitate to really praise or damn a restaurant based on a single experience. Even good restaurants have off days and even bad restaurants can occasionally turn out a decent meal, you know? 2) I've been On The Other Side before, when I was writing reviews online for Microsoft, and I loved it! I could beat print competition wit
  14. I love anything by Anne Tyler. The nonfiction book that gave me the most pleasure in recent years was TRUMAN. "Wizard of Oz" is up there. It's really not a kid's movie at all. Lots of life information packed therein. Hitchcock's "Rear Window" is another gem. Was Grace Kelly sexy or what? I know I'll think of others. I'm a jazz fan. I like swing and big band, too, possibly because my dad played bass when he was in the USMC. One of the great joys in my life was meeting Ella Fitzgerald through Natalie Cole, whose brother was a close friend of mine out in California. I'm a secret country weste
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