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Bad Saint, Filipino in Columbia Heights Owned by Nick Pimentel and Genevieve Villamora - Chef Tom Cunanan is Departing

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On 2/4/2019 at 2:19 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

So when do they start taking reservations for the next reservable day?  Midnight or some other time?

It looks like 12am Wednesday for the entire 4th week out (Mon-Sun) if that makes any sense. They just opened 3/4 - 3/10.

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17 hours ago, funkyfood said:

i can't seem to click on open times.  what am i doing wrong?

Oops, I just noticed that they had loaded the times - I didn't actually try to book! Maybe they will be unlocked later..

ETA: I missed the exact time, but it might have been around Wed noon? I checked around 12:20pm (not 100% sure) and all the new slots had been booked.

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They now have a chef's choice for $65 per person, which was a large amount of food for a solo diner. I suppose they're shooting for the Little Serow restaurant model - 6 savory dishes and 1 small dessert. Very good, but I am not sure that I would return unless I was local and lived in the neighborhood.

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Bad Saint hardly needs more kudos (the 28 or so seats are constantly filled), but a meal there this week confirmed that it's truly one of our gems.  Genevieve Villamora is the perfect host/proprietor and Tom Cunanan's cooking is as soulful and delicious as just about anything in town.  (An eggplant/squash/tofu dish was spectacular.)  He's very worthy of representing D.C. as a James Beard finalist in Chicago next week.

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Steve had a free afternoon on Friday and he didn't mind getting in line at 3 p.m. so we tried Bad Saint again.  He was the 3rd person in line, and the person immediately in front of him was a stand-in for someone else.  As it turns out, neither people in front of us wanted to eat like an early-bird so we got to choose our seats.  We chose the two seats at the counter facing the kitchen - probably the best seats in the house.

Standing for 2 hrs builds up a mighty thirst, which we slaked with San Miguel.  We also ordered all 5 meat/fish dishes.  We didn't do the tasting menu because the tasting menu didn't include the crab dish.


The first to come out was the Rellenong Alimasag - lump crab, crab fat, fish roe, & garlic butter ($40).  The main flavor is that of crab fat or tomalley.  This is an acquired taste for some.  I don't mind it but I'm not crazy about it either.  I would've preferred some other flavor to the dish as well (can't detect the garlic butter).  On the bites in which you got some fish roe, they do provide some pop and salty fishiness.  The dish also came with Chinese fried crullers (you-tiao) - would've been nice to have more of those.


The second dish to come out was the Kinilaw - octopus ceviche with purple yam and Thai chili.  We tried it and agreed it was good (not great) and declined to eat more.  The texture of the octopus was fine, but the flavor simply did wow us (kind of muted).


The third dish was Tinolang Manok - poached chicken with ginger/scallion.  We got half a chicken, including neck and butt.  The chicken was nicely poached - very tender, but there was no flavor.  I think it's a fail - you can get a better tasting version at a much cheaper price at a real Chinese restaurant.  My mom and grandma both made better versions.  After eating a couple of pieces each, I took the rest home - added soy sauce and sesame seed oil and let it sit overnight.


The fourth dish was Pinakbet - shrimp and vegetable stew with XO sauce.  Our shrimp was slightly overcooked.  The eggplant was almost raw.  The stew was pungently fishy (presumably from their XO sauce).  We simply didn't enjoy this dish.


The last dish was Lechon.  Rather than sliced roast pork, we got some mediocre pulled pork, topped with some crispy pork skin that has been scraped clean.  This is not the lechon of my dreams.  In fact, I ate maybe 2 bites.  Steve reluctantly took the rest home (not sure he planned on eating it or treat his dog with it).


So of the 5 dishes, one was really good, one was good, and 3 were simply not good enough.  We left wondering maybe we should've gone with the tasting menu.

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