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Agua 301, Modern Mexican Near Nationals Park From The Owners of Zest - Chef Antonio Burrell Has Departed


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I was shocked to read this from Sietsema in today's Post, complaining of oversalted food at Agua 301. When I was there last week practically everything was underseasoned and undersalted, to the point of outright blandness. The one exception was perhaps the barbacoa flautas, which were a delicious and crispy appetizer. But everything else, including the guac and the salsa, needed salt and more assertive seasoning. It was a shame, because otherwise the dishes were well made and nicely presented (if rather skimpy for their price). I wasn't drinking that evening, but I heard from those who were in our rather large group that the drinks were well made and strong. The service was excellent.

I wonder if the restaurant heard about Sietsema's criticism before it appeared, and overcompensated.

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I wonder if the restaurant heard about Sietsema's criticism before it appeared, and overcompensated.

That is a very distinct possibility --

http://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-tom-1-22-14.html

Q. Agua 301

Hi Tom. Have you been to this new modern Mexican down by Nat's Park yet?

A. Tom Sietsema

I have. Initial reaction: Someone needs to remove the salt shaker from the kitchen. Everything I had there was doused with the stuff.

"“ January 22, 2014 11:05 AM

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Sitting at the bar on a sunny Saturday, watching the river and all the people walking, running and biking in the fine weather, is a great lunch option at The Yards. We initially walked into Blue Jacket, which was dreadfully overheated, and walked right out. So we decided on Morini, but it wasn't open. Agua 301 wasn't our first choice but the experience was very satisfying. Service at the bar was great, and we enjoyed the guacamole, ceviche and the ensalada de calle. It was a light and flavorful meal, with a taste of summer that we have been craving. We did not experience the salt issues described upthread, but we did find that the guacamole benefitted from th addition of the salsa thwt arrived with the chips.

The walk along the river from Nationals stadium through the Navy Yard is just lovely. This path is going to be very, very popular as the weather improves and the dining and drinking options at the Yards increase.

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We stopped in for lunch before the Nats game yesterday, and I wish I could give a more positive report.  While nothing was bad, exactly, nothing was good, or even slightly better than ok.  (Except the micheladas, which were perfect, and served with the remainder of the bottle of Tecate.)

Guacamole was somehow simultaneously too smooth and processed, and too chunky.  It was as if half had been whizzed in a blender, and then mixed with big cubes of un-mashed avocado.  I wish I could say the batch we had just needed a shot of lime juice, or a sprinkle of salt, but really, it needed both, plus cilantro, and spice.

The salsa that is served gratis looked concerningly creamy, but had a great flavor and a moderate spice level.  No complaints there.

We shared fish tacos and chilaquiles as mains.  The fish tacos tasted mainly of the tortilla in which they were served.  The fish pieces themselves had a nice crunchy breading, but someone seemingly forgot to season it.  Rice and beans served on the side were actually better than most...the beans were just a bit too saucy, but were flecked with tasty crumbles of salty cotija.  The chilaquiles were served with dry scrambled eggs sitting atop room temperature sauce-soaked tortilla chips.  Cold eggs on top of cold mush is not a winning dish.  I was tempted to send it back, but ultimately dumped some of the piping hot black beans on top and kept moving.  I think we may have ordered wrong, and probably should've stuck with ceviche and salads...

The chicken quesadilla from the kids menu was something one might expect to get at the airport.  I know it's for kids, but man...kids dig on some amount of flavor in their food too (at least mine does, and he bypassed the entire quesadilla for extra helpings of rice and beans).

Our server was great, and mentioned that the new chef would be making significant changes in the dinner menu, but not the brunch...After our visit, I would urge him to take a look at that one too.

The location is so awesome, I really hope they whip the menu into shape...if not, the Michelada was still great, and I would happily head back for drinks with some chips and salsa.

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Went to Agua 301 last night for the first time.

A haiku:

Ceviche too cooked.

Tacos, however? Really great.

Overall, just...meh.

Al pastor was delicious - crispy pork belly without being too gristly or fatty. Pineapple habanero salsa was a great match with the pork. Carne asada with kimchi was a nice flavor combination, although the meat could have been a little more tender. Apparently they make their own kimchi. Tortillas were nice, corn I believe. Ceviche was big lumps of fish - a little too chewy, almost as if it had been poached beforehand. Also had a well-made pisco sour and a really sweet hibiscus margarita. May return if in the area, but certainly not going out of our way to get here.

Cheers!

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