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WaPo To Sietsema: There Was A Bug In Your Soup

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From the Washington Post’s “Editor’s Note“:

    Critic Tom Sietsema should have recused himself from reviewing the Commissary, a restaurant featured in the Oct. 29 Food section. He and one of the restaurant’s owners had earlier had a personal relationship. The Washington Post regrets that he reviewed this restaurant, and will remove the review from its online archive.

Well, lucky for you readers, we’ve got the review after the jump, including such criticisms as…

…”There’s little at Commissary (1443 P St. NW; 202-299-0018) that will remind anyone of Merkado, the Asian-Latin restaurant that preceded it at the same address in Logan Circle.”

…”Commissary, for all its energy and youth, is a swell place to hang but a lackluster place to eat. The menu is packed with more options than a supermarket cereal aisle, but I’d be willing to sacrifice quantity for quality.”

“One of Commissary’s top sellers is pizza, but Domino’s tastes like haute cuisine compared with the flavorless pie I encountered, its cardboard crust slathered with what smacked of canned tomato paste.”

So what’s this Editor’s Note about? Sietsema taking revenge on a personal relationship gone sour? Enquiring minds want to know…


    There’s little at Commissary (1443 P St. NW; 202-299-0018) that will remind anyone of Merkado, the Asian-Latin restaurant that preceded it at the same address in Logan Circle.

    Gone are the outsize painted faces on the walls, the tablecloths and the concrete bar. Taking their place at Commissary, which launched Sept. 8: lots of chalkboards and mirrors, bare surfaces and a black slate bar.

    “We wanted to make Commissary more comfortable, more approachable” than Merkado, says David Winer, who transformed the space during a two-week makeover this summer. His casual new restaurant also finds clusters of comfortable chairs in the center of the room for lounging, breakfast served until 5 p.m. and free WiFi.

    The restaurateur also wanted to draw a distinction between this place and his other restaurant on the same block. “We didn’t want Commissary to be Logan [Tavern],” Winer says. “If you want meatloaf, you have to go to Logan. If you want a tuna melt, come here.”

    And if you want something satisfying? Commissary, for all its energy and youth, is a swell place to hang but a lackluster place to eat. The menu is packed with more options than a supermarket cereal aisle, but I’d be willing to sacrifice quantity for quality.

    One of Commissary’s top sellers is pizza, but Domino’s tastes like haute cuisine compared with the flavorless pie I encountered, its cardboard crust slathered with what smacked of canned tomato paste. Juiceless and crumbly mini-burgers went back to the kitchen unfinished, as did a side of woefully greasy onion rings (which our sunny waitress graciously took off the bill).

    The tamarind sauce on an entree of salmon was far more sweet than tart, and clam chowder appeared to originate from a can rather than from scratch.

    When Winer tells me he and his chef created the menu starting with price points, I believe him. The food is inexpensive; unfortunately, it tastes that way, too.

    The restaurateur says the name for his venture came from its positive association with “movie lots and military bases,” although a lawyer friend rejected the idea. “Commissary,” Winer said, “reminded him of visiting clients in prison.”

    We want to say it, but . . . we won’t.

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