- This place looks beautiful, but is an unmitigated disappointment.
- Deeply uninspiring menu, inexcusably abysmal service, and (despite the masthead) a lame wine list.
- Exactly the kind of place that gives Bethesda a bad name. I went with friends from DC with skeptical priors about restaurants in the suburbs and it was embarrassing!
Monday, April 30, 2012
7272 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, 301-652-8008, website
Saturday, April 21, 2012
4918 Del Ray Ave, Bethesda, 301-986-4920, website
Duds: unexciting paella, limited wine list
- Really lovely low-key family-run Spanish tapas, with Salvadoran extras
- Starts with great bread, thick green olive oil, and cheery staff
- I want to adore this place, but not quite there yet
- Tapas mostly tasty, but nothing memorable
- The wine list is all low-end and could use some additions
Duds: unexciting paella, limited wine list
Friday, April 20, 2012
8804 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, 301-564-1009, no website
Duds: Lobster rolls
- The idea is perfect: a little trailer in a parking lot, big pile of firewood, huge roadside smoker, slow-roasting no-frills BBQ. Unfortunately, the execution, at least so far, stinks.
- The ribs and pulled pork are passable, but not up to the quality of the competition (such as Urban BBQ).
- The lobster rolls, which face stiff competition these days from the likes of nearby Freddy's and the mobile Red Hook Food Truck), are downright scary. I took two home and on arrival they smelled so bad I just threw them away. If lobster isn't super-fresh, how can they even serve it?
- The old-school mac & cheese is pretty darn good, but I'm not coming all the way here just for that.
- It sure looks cramped in the trailer, but that's no reason for the guys to be so gruff and grumpy. (It's BBQ, lighten up!)
- Why, oh why, would any place close at 7pm? I recently stopped in to give it one last try, but arrived at 7.05 and they were done. So am I.
Monday, April 16, 2012
6831 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20815, tel (301) 951-0062, restaurant website
Winner of my Best Indian (take-out), Best Undiscovered gem
- UPDATE: As of April 2013, Saveur seems to be CLOSED. Bummer.
- Tiny family-run place you have probably passed a million times but never noticed. It's tucked into a blah plaza near Trader Joe's (just the kind of place Tyler Cowen is hunting) in the middle of Bethesda.
- Saveur India reminds me of the great hidden Indian places you can find in London but not Washington DC.
- The food is also like you'll find in Britain, always fresh and bursting with flavor and vibrant colors.
- The choices are fairly limited, but I think that's a good thing when it's just a family place.
- Go for the food, not the atmosphere. I have always taken-out or had the food delivered since the decor is a little drab.
Favorites: Saag Paneer is the best I've ever had, Coorgi Murgh, Yellow Daal
Duds: None so far, but I wish they had more spicy chicken options
Friday, April 13, 2012
12505 Park Potomac, Potomac, 301-340-8783, website
Duds: Nothing was really bad per se, I just felt awful after eating it.
- I like the downtown DC Founding Farmers and had high hopes. They were dashed.
- Despite its weird location in a plaza overlooking 270, the inside has a lively buzz. The owners have clearly put a lot of effort (and $) into the decor of recycled and reclaimed materials, but it feels like they are trying too hard.
- The menu is eclectic, with a leaning on old-school southern-style comfort food with a modern twist: deviled eggs with lobster, thick-cut bacon lollipops on a stick, chili dogs, fried chicken and waffles, chicken pot pie, you get the idea...
- At first this seems like good fun, but it all adds to up to a disappointing menu of mostly fried and deeply unhealthy food. I started to wonder if the local organic theme was just to distract you from the death-on-a-plate?
Thursday, April 12, 2012
2007 Chapman Ave, Rockville, 240-290-4827, website
Winner of my Best BBQ
Duds: Mac & cheese too bland
Winner of my Best BBQ
- I'm a late convert to Carolina low country BBQ, but it's now one of my favorites. Urban is so far the best I've found around DC.
- Some of the embrace-death-appetizers (Fritos pie, Redneck Fondue, Urban Soul Rolls) are yummy but will give you a coronary. Only for the young and brave.
- One of those places where you can feel that staff love the food too. Always a good sign.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
8626 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, 301-650-0061, website
Duds: Don't always have Ethiopian beer (Harar!)
Cost: $$Winner of my Best Ethiopian
- I love Ethiopian food but don't always want to schlep down to the U Street corridor (my current DC favorite is Etete), so I'm always on the lookout for a suburban option that's as good. Abol is it.
- Local family-run place, delicious home cooked dishes, warm and friendly service.
12274 Rockville Pike (Federal Plaza) 301-770-4894 in Rockville or 4916 Elm Street in Bethesda, 301-907-3399, website
Duds: Salads are lame, Chicken & veal dishes not as tasty as the pastas
Cost: $$Winner of my Best Italian (comfort food), Best Pizza
- A solid local Italian place for NY-style pizza and old-school comfort-food pastas.
- Not sure if the chef is different or what, but the Rockville location in Federal Plaza is consistently better than downtown Bethesda. Worth driving out to this location.
- Good for family dinner or to drop in for quick lunch
Sunday, April 1, 2012
4867 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, 240-743-4257, website
Duds: Fried shrimp, Lobster nachos, Whoopie pie.
- I love the concept: a lively, rustic, lobster shack in the middle of Bethesda. Feels almost like you are at the beach. The menu is promising: lobster rolls, fried shrimp, fried whole belly clams, and they've recently added salads and plenty of new options.
- It still feels like a start-up, however, and I'm not yet a fan.
- Service is consistently awful, staff often visibly unhappy.
- Lobster rolls are good enough, but that's faint praise for a place with such a name. The meat is fresh and it's not overdressed, but the roll is barely toasted and it appears to have been thrown together without much care. (For a perfect lobster roll, chase down the Red Hook food truck.)
- The fried shrimp are positively minuscule, overly battered, and way too salty.
- The beer list is impressive but the wine list is utterly pathetic. A crisp white wine goes perfectly with a lobster roll, but the only sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio on offer is ultra-cheap Barefoot ($4.47 at Total wine, $28 here). How hard is it to add a better wine?
- A recent conversation that sums up the problems with Freddy's:
- Me: "The waiter says you are out of all the white wines. Is that right?"
- Bartender: "We don't sell much wine."
- Me: "I see that. Probably because there aren't any. Why not?"
- Bartender: "Because we sell 140 beers."
- Me: "Yes, but surely some of your customers drink wine. You are owned by Grapeseed which is literally right next door and they have a great wine list. Couldn't you offer at least one or two decent wines?"
- Bartender: "Go eat at Grapeseed."
- Enough said.