First Look: General Store

By: Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano

At the General Store and Post Office Tavern, carryout—a practice discouraged at chef/owner Gillian Clark’s now-closed Colorado Kitchen—is not only an option; it’s the best option. While customers at Clark’s first restaurant enjoyed her glorified diner food in the 1940s-like space, the faux-vintage atmosphere at the six-month-old General Store isn’t conducive to sticking around, which is a shame.

Here, comfort food means tasty renditions of green-bean casserole, chili with cornbread, and a superb Wagyu-beef hot dog. Clark’s peppery fried chicken—which flew out the door at Colorado Kitchen—is back along with other guilty pleasures such as macaroni and cheese and buttermilk chess pie. The value is unbeatable, too: Almost everything is less than $10.

But there’s no such familiarity in the surroundings. Should you wait for a server or order at the counter? There’s no one to greet you and explain. The oddly broken-up space discourages conventional table arrangements, which in turn inhibits conversation. And the antique tchotchkes feel artificial. Only when a customer drops a quarter into the nickelodeon piano does the place come alive.

The good news is that the fried chicken can survive a 30-minute car ride—and it crisps right up in the oven the next day.

General Store and Post Office Tavern, 6 Post Office Rd., Silver Spring; 301-562-8787. Open Tuesday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner. Starters $4 to $8, entrées $4 to $12.50.

This appeared in the July, 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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