Tuesday, December 10 at 11 AM
Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype? The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online. Host Todd Kliman

Editor’s Note: Washingtonian Online moderators and hosts retain editorial control over chats and choose the most relevant questions; hosts can decline to answer questions.

Published December 4, 2013

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype? The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online.

From scoping out scruffy holes in the wall to weighing the merits of four-star wanna-bes, from scouring the 'burbs and exurbs to hitting the city's streets, Todd Kliman covers a lot of territory.

Winner of a James Beard Foundation Award in 2005 for the country's best newspaper column about food, Kliman is food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The Washingtonian. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper'sThe Oxford American, Lucky Peach, The Daily Beast and Men's Health, among others, and he has been selected four times for inclusion in the Best Food Writing anthologies. He was a finalist for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and recently took home first-place honors for feature writing from the Association of Food Journalists.

Kliman is the author of The Wild Vine, a literary exploration of two entwined mysteries: an obscure grape that rose to prominence, only to disappear, and its present-day evangelist, a foul-mouthed transgendered multi-millionaire vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.

Todd previously taught writing and literature at American University and Howard University. At Howard, he was also the editorial advisor to The Illtop Journal, Chris Rock's humor magazine modeled after the Harvard Lampoon.

Can't wait a week to talk to Todd? Follow him on Twitter for dining reports, tips, and breaking news from the culinary world. Or write to him: tkliman@washingtonian.com 

...............………………………………………………………………………………...

W H E R E   I ' M   E A T I N G   N O W   .  .  .

Shoo-fly Diner, Baltimore
The high-falutin diner is not an easy idea to pull off. The tendency among pedigreed chefs is to fancify, to nudge the diner to go against its humble nature -- witness the curried frogs legs with  watermelon radishes that turned up on the menu one night at Family Meal in Frederick last year, or the starchy service and air of restraint that make a meal at The Majestic feel more formal than fun. This one -- from Spike Gjerde and Amy Gjerde, who also own and operate Woodberry Kitchen and Artifact -- gets it right. Not a little money was spent on restoring the one-time shoe store, but sitting in the comfy dining room or at the downstairs lunch counter you are not made to stand in awe of what money can buy, casting your eye over the detail work as if it were a Renaissance fresco. You're invited to settle in. A recent review in the Baltimore Sun criticized the menu, which doubles as a placemat, for not making sense. I find it to be a charming homage to the soda fountains and diners of old, and a friend and I enjoyed poring over its details (and game-planning our final courses among a slew of options) in the time between placing my order and diving into dinner. The night I was in, the lone dish with fine-dining pretensions was the chicken and dumplings, but I appreciated how grounded it was for something so refined; I could also appreciate its pricetag ($13 for a good-sized bowl; and among the 10 dishes we ordered this night, it was the most expensive). Its best feature was its broth, which showed the sort of deep, foundational work that Spike Gjerde insists upon. A slight saltiness was evident by the end, when it had cooled, but it was not hard to miss how good the stock is; a single spoonful, and I was thinking of bones slow-roasting in the oven before being dropped in a stockpot. The burger is not obviously special -- nothing extra in the patty, and no unexpected embellishments. What makes it good is that the meat is rich without being fatty, and that the kitchen has found a way to reprise the smell and taste of the old-time flat-top burgers with their distinctive outer crust. The egg salad sandwich, on the other hand, is obviously special -- the creation, unmistakably, of someone who adores egg salad sandwiches. This one's served open-faced on a long, thick slice of bread; picture a French bread pizza. The star ingredient is not over mayo-ed, nor presented too finely or too coarsely, and is topped with some of the lightest homemade potato chips I've ever eaten, along with a scattering of shaved radishes and microgreens. The bread is worthy of top billing. It's homemade, as are all the baked goods at Woodberry Kitchen and Artifact. In fact, from the jelly for the excellent biscuit to the soft-serve ice cream (which comes in two varieties at the moment, cream and cafe au lait), everything you eat here is made from scratch. Gjerde also only serves meat that his staff has butchered, and is fanatical in procuring a local source for his products (an Asian-style noodle salad on the menu at Artifact featured Maryland peanuts). As at Woodberry, almost as much thought has gone into the drinks as the eats. There's a neat twist on a black Russian, which is served in a cup and saucer and goes down like a boozed-up espresso. The soft-serve is repurposed for a homemade milk shake featuring an oatmeal stout that went down far too fast for something so subtle and complex. A slushie made with 101-proof bourbon and fresh pear cider went down even faster. My complains this night were few -- quibbles more than criticisms. Creamed collards is a great idea, but they clotted after a few minutes at the table, and the dish only really came into focus with a few splashes of chef Gjerde's fish pepper sauce, which sits out on the table the way a bottle of Heinz does at a conventional diner. I would have liked more crispiness from the otherwise tasty Buffalo oysters (a twist on Buffalo wings). Most restaurants that serve pies, serve them too cold; the chocolate chiffon, here, is better than most in that regard -- it had only a chill -- but it would have been a lot better at room temperature. And the crust was too hard to penetrate with a fork. I cannot quibble, however, with its silken interior, which showcases one of the best versions of dark chocolate mousse I have eaten anywhere, pie or no. The perfect ending, this night, was the Tollhouse cookie, which came to the table still warm, as if snatched from the cookie sheet the moment it was done. A cold glass of milk alongside it would have been nice. But I'm not complaining.

Kogiya, Annandale
The new king of Koreatown. This is the best Korean barbecue out there right now, served up by a slew of young, t-shirted staffers in a rollicking, industrial setting. Go for the marinated pork ribs.

Bangkok Golden, Falls Church
I was tempted to say this a while back, but didn't. I will now, after a recent knockout visit: I'd rather go here, for the Lao menu, than Little Serow. The range of tastes is vast, and every plate is alive with flavor -- bright and pungent and smoky and funky. Not to mention crunch and heat. Not to mention a shorter wait and a lighter bill (my recent meal of four dishes and a beer, pre-tax: $43).

Rose's Luxury, DC
I love the crackle in the room when you walk in. I'm not talking about mere noise; lots of restaurants have noise. I'm not even talking about buzz, that sense that a new place is hot. This one has an energy that is unmistakable, a sense that you have entered a kind of rare and cherished zone where the enthusiasm of the kitchen and the staff is returned in kind by the diners, who all seem to walk out the door with smiles on their faces. It's not hard to understand why. Rose's Luxury has an old-school vibe, and a sort of making-it-up-as-we-go-along feel, from the homey, unassuming way the menu bids you to settle in and order to the dinner party-run-amok vibe to the yahrzeit-look-alike votives to the beer glasses that are sawed-off wine bottles. The chef, Aaron Silverman, logged stints in such high-profile kitchens as Momofuku in New York and Husk and McCrady's in Charleston, and you don't have to look hard to see elements of each of these places in the room and on the plate. Like his mentors David Chang and Sean Brock, he aims to bring off a marriage of extreme playfulness and extreme precision. The bulk of the menu consists of a dozen small plates in which Silverman sets out to cross the wires, compositionally speaking, and see what happens. A pate is a braiding of French, Italian (garlic bread are the toasts), Vietnamese (the rich, crushed-peanut topped spread brims with star anise), and I want to say Jewish (the brine for the jalapenos, onions and cukes that add crunch and tang tastes deli to me). It's seamlessly done, and highly addictive. He crosses high and low in a soup that tastes at once like liquefied popcorn and a delicate lobster veloute (the sweetness calls out for some sort of counterbalancing ingredient, or more lobster). It's not all derring-do. His gnocchi are more properly a kind of ravioli, stuffed with fennel and mint, sauced with not-too-much butter and topped with a generous scattering of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. You'd be hard put to find five better pasta dishes in town right now. The final course is a page not out of Momofuku or Husk or McCrady's, but out of Komi -- share plates for two. In one, you lay luscious slices of perfectly smoked brisket on griddled Texas toast, add on tangy strands of pickled cabbage and smear the whole thing with a fluffy horseradish cream. The other is built around a beautifully brined pork chop -- sweet and aromatic and rich as the best pork can be -- with potlikker beans and a textbook red-eye gravy. The final act needs re-staging. The lack of a pastry chef doesn't help, nor does the tendency to over-think and over-embellish. Quenelles of chocolate cream sprinkled with dried rose petals and intended for spreading on slices of charred bread feels twee, not interesting, and hardly satisfies. More of the sink-in simplicity of the share courses would go a long way. Still, this is one of the most exciting debuts of the year. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of the most exciting debuts of the past three years.

Khan Kabob, Chantilly
The best karahi I've had in ages, maybe ever, is a version here made with lamb brains. The brains, for the leery, resemble tiny curds, and the sauce of garlic, ginger, cilantro, tomato and chilis is so concentrated, and so smoky, that even after you've had your fill it's difficult to stop dipping your torn naan into the hammered metal vessel. Tariq Khan, the owner, was for many years part of the Ravi Kabob empire; he's created a worthy rival.

Yia Yia's Kitchen, Beltsville
If you want to see what a gyro can be, order the pork. It's sliced from a conical spit, and the meat is so dark you'd think it was charred. That's the effect of slow cooking, of melting fat, herbs and spices coming together to form a kind of bark. The meat is luscious, like that of a great spare rib, and you can pick up notes of fresh oregano and cinnamon. It's enfolded by a thick, griddled pita, into which the cooks stuff fistfuls of hot fries, along with tzaziki, chopped onions and tomato. The rest of the menu is rewarding, too -- pork chops with long-cooked green beans, onions and tomatoes; a good pastitsio; and a strapping mound of lamb bolognese.

.............................................................................................................................

FOLLOW-UP: ROSE'S LUXURY AND KIDS:

Todd -

Someone asked you last week about bringing little people to Rose's and wanted to share our experience.

We met friends who have a 6 mos old for dinner there, right around, 5:30 on a Saturday night (so pre-rush but still fairly busy). They couldn't have been lovelier.

I dont think they had highchairs, but they put us at a table we could nestle the carseat under the table near the wall. Our server continually checked to make sure we were comfortable with that set up. They in no way rushed us out to move on to a baby-free table.

Todd Kliman:

Impressive.

Especially from an American restaurant.

In a way, though, it doesn’t surprise me, because the staff there is so warm and sincere — the folks on the floor genuinely seem to want people to have a good time.

Good morning, everyone. A snowy, cold morning, it’s true, but we’re all indoors, I trust, with something warm to eat or drink, I hope, and I’m glad you’ve taken a moment out of your day to join me here.

Fire away with your questions, comments, gripes, rants, musings, tips … whatever’s on your mind this morning …

IN PRAISE OF: FABRICE BENDANO:

Do you where is Fabrice Bendano working now?

We missed Adour's desserts

Thanks

Todd Kliman:

You’re not the only one. He’s a big-time talent.

The one constant at the late Adour was Bendano’s desserts, almost all of them fabulous. Baba au rhum, souffle, Armagnac fig tart, macarons …

I hear he’s consulting these days, having turned down offers from a couple of places in town, including, I understand, a recent, prominent arrival on the scene.

Problem is, who in town is doing desserts like this right now? Showpiece desserts of exquisite craftsmanship. Desserts that satisfy the ego of the pastry chef, but also the needs of the diner. Central Michel Richard and who else?

The state of dessert in this city, right now, is pretty bad.

But of course that isn’t stopping most restaurants from charging as if there’s a top-tier talent on the premises.

Re: CURRY LEAF, IN LAUREL:

Got the parents to leave Ashburn and took them up to Laurel to Curry Leaf.

We tried the lemon rice and it was as good as advertised.

My parents ordered the karahi but their karahi is not in the same league as Khan Kabob. I ordered the lamb chops and I was very happy with them. Well marinated, perfectly cooked in the tandoor, slightly charred but succulent down to the bone.

My dad also tried dosa for the first time in his life and he loved it. He loved the crispy edges but liked how still soft in the center.

Overall a good dining experience and it was good to cross the border and try out some of the food in Maryland ;)

Naeem

Todd Kliman:

See, Maryland won’t bite …

I can’t think of many Virginians who would do what you did. Drive to Maryland to dinner? And not to eat at a place like Range, or even Black Market Bistro, but at Curry Leaf? Very rare.

I know more Marylanders who venture into Virginia to eat, though it’s not all that common either. Of course, there’s much more reason for Marylanders to go to Virginia — aside from the two great Thai spots in Wheaton, the half-dozen Chinese gems in Rockville, 8407 Kitchen + Bar and the Michael Landrum-less The Classics (still good) in Silver Spring, Black Market in Garrett Park, Pho 88 and Yia Yia’s Kitchen and Sardi’s in Beltsville (a nice little pocket there, all within a couple of blocks of one another), and Curry Leaf and RG’s BBQ in Laurel, what is there to draw someone from far away?

Pretty amazing, that a slice of the country with that much affluence and seeming interest has not that much in the way of places to dine. Restaurateurs will cite the liquor laws, which are restrictive, and taxes, which they claim are too high. But I think it’s also demographics, and an aging population in the prime money areas like Bethesda. (Bethesda tends to attract a lot of safe stuff from established names, spinoffs of existing brands. And beyond that the scene is pretty stagnant.) The activity, the ferment, the development, the money flow is in Virginia.

Re: SHOO-FLY, IN BALTIMORE:

Like a lot of foodies I was interested in the fact that you and Tom Sietsema disagreed so widely on Shoo-fly. My BF and I happened to be up visiting friends near Baltimore and dropped by this weekend. I told him when we sat down, "I can't wait to see who's right."

Well, I have to say that I'm with you, Todd. I love so much about this place. All the things you talked about already, and also the fact that it's just a place I want to spend time in.

The food was good and some of it was great, like the corned beef and cabbage and the chicken and dumplngs. All the drinks we had were excellent - my BF LOVED the slushie you talked about, and couldnt' stop talking about it - and I had an alcoholic milkshake I'm still thinking about.

We went downstairs and played pinball when we were done, and that was a blast.

Thanks so much for this tip, Todd, and making our Saturday so memorable.

Todd Kliman:

I’m glad to hear it.

I can tell you that I’ve been a second time since I wrote my first look, and that I liked it just as much as the first time. I had a lot of good food, but I still think this is a gestalt place, a place that really adds up when you take it all in, the kids’ room with the pinball machine that you pointed out, the sincere and likable staff (even if there are slight missteps), the excellent prices (it would be 30% more expensive if it were in or near DC), the food that doesn’t try too hard to be fancy (saving its effort for good shopping and foundational details), the fun drinks, the good desserts.

I think a lot of this is also about expectations. Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in the region. And Artifact was a smart follow-up. But as I said, I think a high-end diner is a fraught idea. And I had diminished expectations because of that when he opened, though I did think that if anybody might be able to make this idea work, it would be Gjerde.

The challenge is, could he be content to be plain? Restaurateurs are, generally, terrified of plain. But plain is what’s needed in a place like this. Not dull, not uninspired — plain. No tweaking and interpreting and our-version-of-ing, no passing off what’s in the room and on the plate as some kind of radical improvement upon a humble and beloved genre.

I say that for the most part, he has been content to be plain.

ETIQUETTE: HOW DO YOU LEAVE A RESTAURANT BEFORE ORDERING?:

Hi Todd-

Can you offer any advice/etiquette on how to properly leave a restaurant before ordering?

Do you only have until your server comes by - do you say anything? Do you just leave?

I can think of several occasions where for various reasons (price, variety, service, overall bad vibes) I have wanted to leave a restaurant.

But is there any avoiding the awkwardness?

Thanks.

Todd Kliman:

You know what? In the eight years of hosting this chat, I’m pretty sure I’ve never had anyone ask this question.

And it’s an interesting one.

We’ve all left restaurants before ordering, right? It’s never easy. It’s never not awkward.

The best thing to do is to not try to sneak out. Call the waiter or waitress over, say something to the effect of — this is not what we were hoping for, sorry — and get up and leave.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever left a restaurant after you’ve ordered a dish. Or after you’ve ordered and tasted that dish.

That’s even more awkward. And even harder to explain. But again, the best thing is to be direct and honest — this time with a manager, not a server — make your case as clearly and unemotionally as you can, pay for the dish, tip the server and leave quietly.

LIQUOR LAWS, CONT.:

But VA's ABC laws and restrictions make it tough in VA for restaurants especially those that want a bar business becuse the ABC restricts happy hour promotions and your food sales still must meet certain % ie 45 % at least.

Todd Kliman:

Right, which was my point — that it’s not just liquor laws and taxes.

Virginia, for some reason, has it over Maryland these days. If you go on to Yelp in this area, and want to narrow a restaurant search to a neighborhood, you can do that for D.C. and also for Virginia. You can’t do it for Maryland, because there’s no option to break Maryland down into neighborhoods.

Bethesda is aging and conservative in its tastes, with a pretty stagnant scene; Silver Spring already sprung, and it wasn’t much of a springing; Wheaton is an ethnic pocket, and so, for the most part, is Rockville — and increasingly, so is Gaithersburg, for that matter; and developers and restaurateurs are uninterested in Prince George’s County, thereby eliminating a vast swath of western Maryland.

SPEAKING OF CENTRAL MICHEL RICHARD ...:

My friend and I stopped in for lunch several weeks ago and had a very good meal.

The charcuterie sampler remind me of why large wooden boards piled high with cured meats became so popular in the first place - two salamis, two shaved hams, pate, and Michel's famed faux gras served with some excellent toasted bread, we just needed larger servings of the mustard and pickles to keep up with all the meat.

The lobster bisque tasted of deep roasted lobster and the frisee salad was a masterpiece of simple but elegant presentation, with the frisee finely shredded and dotted with lardons and croutons.

It helped that we were eating on his expense account, but sometimes you have to take advantage of expense accounts.

Todd Kliman:

I can’t really blame you — I do it every day. :)

I had two meals this summer at Central, and was impressed, as well. Impressed, because the buzz is off, clearly — the restaurant opened, what, seven years ago? — and because Michel Richard is busy in NY with his two recent openings.

Sebastian Posada is the current chef de cuisine, and doing a terrific job of rendering the master’s surprising (and surprisingly intricate) dishes, and David Hale, the GM, keeps things humming.

TAPAS PLACES: WHERE TO TURN?:

Hi Todd,

There seems to be so many tapas restaurants in DC these days (Oyamel, Teddy and Bully Bar, Estadio, Jaleo, Boqueria, La Tasca, Comet Ping Pong, etc...), which do you feel is the best place for newbies to try tapas?

I've always enjoyed Jaleo (DC location is my fav location) and want to venture out and try other tapas places.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks,

Fred

Todd Kliman:

Not that I think it’s ultimately that important, but we should probably make a distinction, here, between tapas places and small plates places.

Small plates places took inspiration from tapas places, which took inspiration from Spanish tapas places, which aren’t the same as the places you see in the States. What you see in the States are not small, spirited bars with a small selection of simply cooked foods, but something more like tapas restaurants — in other words, small plates places.

Got that?

But still.

Of the Spanish branch of small plates, I like Estadio and the downtown Jaleo and, just behind those, Boqueria.

I’m mystified by the appeal of Barcelona, on 14th St., where I recently waited AN HOUR AND TWENTY ON A MONDAY NIGHT. The only thing I can figure is that the prices are so much more reasonable than the vast majority of spots on that street. It can’t be the heated patio, can it? And it’s not as if there aren’t a ton of bars in the immediate area. The cooking? The very definition of mediocre.

As for quote-unquote small plates, I’d direct you to Rose’s Luxury, the new Barracks Row restaurant, which is sending out some of the most rewarding small plates in the city right now. And don’t sleep on Zaytina, for Greek/Lebanese/Turkish small plates.

Re: BANGKOK GOLDEN & DOI MOI :

Doi Moi & Bangkok Golden:

My wife and I went to Doi Moi a few weeks ago and enjoyed our meal but we kept asking ourselves could we have gotten the same types of dishes for half the price by going to an ethnic mom and pop operation outside the beltway.

Thanks to Todd we found our way to Bangkok golden and the Laos menu.

The crispy rice salad is worth ordering on every visit.

We also had as I call it the love child of Vietnamese and Thai cooking, which takes the curry broth from Thai and incorporates it with the vermicelli noodles that one would find in classic Vietnamese Pho.

The only dish we did not like was the tilapia that was steamed in the banana leaf. It seemed like the fish had been over steamed and we did not enjoy the texture of the fish.

Speaking of servers our server at Doi Moi was excellent. She pointed out some dishes and we asked her which one she enjoys the most and her eyes lit up over the crab noodle dish and the halibut in jungle curry. Both were excellent recommendations by our server.

Todd Kliman:

That’s an interesting compare-and-contrast.

Next you should do a back-to-back of Bangkok Golden’s Lao menu (for lunch) and Little Serow (for dinner).

JUST MOVED TO THE HILL: WHERE DO I EAT?:

We just moved up to The Hill. Love the neighborhood; seems the right place for lots of interesting eats.

Yes, there are lots of restaurants, but surprisingly little in the "really good" category. Or can you help?

Todd Kliman:

I can help.

The newest arrival, Rose’s Luxury, on Barracks Row, is the best thing to hit the Hill since … well, since so long ago that I can’t even come up with a proper comp. Take a look at my quickie review up top.

Beyond that — yeah, not much that you’d seek out if you weren’t close by. I think Montmartre, a French bistro in Eastern Market, is very dependable, and sometimes more than very dependable. Cava, a Greek mezze spot, also on Barracks Row, ie in that category as well. I like Hank’s for oysters and beer. I enjoy Ambar, a trendy Balkan-inspired bar/restaurant, for brunch. I like Good Stuff for a shake and a burger (in that order), hold the fries.

You’re not far from H St.’s Atlas District, where I like Ethiopic (though not the escalating prices), Batter Bowl Bakery (love the open-faced sandwiches on good, fresh-baked breads), Shawafel (for hummus and chicken shwarma), Toki Underground (ramen), and Le Grenier (a hearty French bistro, with good crepes and good desserts).

Hope that helps.

ROSE'S LUXURY, CONT.:

My girlfriend took me out for a memorable birthday dinner at Rose’s Luxury.

We had the pleasure of sitting at the bar with Bobby, the tatted and talented bartender. She made sure my birthday was special with a smoky mescal drink balanced by a hit of blueberry vinegar and comforting sage. And the homemade fat-back cider moonshine felt like sitting around a campfire with old friends. She capped off the night with an over-the-top candle and a top off.

The food also brought welcome updates on favorable memories. The gratis roll was somehow combination of the best baked potatoes and the best rolls that I’ve ever tasted. The lobster popcorn soup combined my family lobster bake in Matunuck with movie theater popcorn that receives an extra twirl of butter. The perfectly crispy cauliflower sat on a bed of Greek yogurt that makes me dread ever putting Chobani in my mouth again. Even the vanilla, sea salt, and olive oil dessert evoked (a drastically improved version of) the fried ice cream from Chi Chi’s that I so dearly loved in my chubby childhood.

Coincidentally, or by fate, the Roger Bros. 1847 Remembrance Collection fork perfectly matched the heirloom silverware that my Grandma gave me and I now use at my house.

The effortless warmth and precise execution put the restaurant in an exclusive category that I’ve only felt at Little Serow and Komi. The restaurant has more than hype; it has soul.

Todd Kliman:

I love your descriptions. Especially the reference to Chobani (eh, not great) and Chi Chi’s (be honest — we all remember eating there, right? And some of us remember working there — oy.)

And you’re absolutely right, it absolutely oozes soul. I hope it can hold on tight to it as the crowds come.

JUST MOVED TO N. ROCKVILLE -- WHAT ARE THE MUST-HIT SPOTS?:

Hi Todd,

I've been following your chats for a while now and love hearing your weekly thoughts and comments.

I just moved from downtown Silver Spring out to Derwood an am just wondering if there's any must-hit spots in that north Rockville or Gaithersburg area. My husband and I are fairly adventurous eaters and don't mind splurging here and there so any suggestion you have is appreciated.

Thanks!

Brooke

Todd Kliman:

I’d say there’s a lot to keep you happily occupied.

Il Pizzico is a place I don’t often recommend, mostly because I dislike the way they hustle people out — and for a trattoria-style Italian meal, at that. But the cooking’s consistently good.

Also in that northern part of Rockville: Cava, for good Greek mezze; Quench, for (sometimes reaching, but frequently tasty enough) small plates and cocktails; and Michael’s Noodles, for Chinese in a bistro-like setting (I love their Chinese-style hot and sour soup).

In Gaithersburg you’ve got Thai House, you’ve got Tortacos (a good taco spot, with a neat taco fixins bar), you’ve got Sardi’s (terrific spit-roasted Peruvian chicken). In the Kentlands, there’s the wonderful Jaymar Colombian Breeze, for Colombian cooking, including great arepas and soups.

Hope that helps.

By the way, in Derwood proper, I like Outta the Way Cafe. Fun place, very decent pub-style food.

BETHESDA AND RESTAURANTS, CONT.:

I'm a devoted Marylander, born and bread (little food pun there, I don't mean any harm) in Montgomery county. I completely understand your point about Bethesda being an affluent but stodgy area.

My question is, wouldn't an excellent restaurant still be able to attract a crowd?

My example would be a place like Evening Star Cafe in Del Ray... the food isn't outrageously exotic, it just happens to be a carefully crafted, unique venue.

I happen to think that if you plunked that down in just about any neighborhood, that hood would step up and support it.

Todd Kliman:

Thanks for chiming in on this …

Here’s the thing, though — that’s an altogether different point.

Do I think a restaurant like that might do well in Bethesda? Sure. Maybe. The point is, why are there no restaurateurs opening a place like that? Why are they opening knock-offs of existing places, like the group that runs Cava or Jaleo, or setting up shop with half-hearted places meant to cash in on a reputation, like Mussel Bar? Why are the restaurateurs who want to open places like that going to Virginia, if they aren’t going to D.C.?

I haven’t looked at the numbers in a while, but I remember seeing a comparison of Maryland and Virginia some years ago. There was more affluence in close-in northern Virginia, and, if I’m not mistaken, close-in northern Virginia was younger, too.

TAPAS, CONT.:

Thanks for the clarification. One hour and 20 minute wait for Barcelona. Thanks for letting me know its not worth the wait :) Maybe it will improve in time.

I will have to check out Rose's Luxury!

Improve in time? I really doubt it.

This is not the kind of place that you can expect to improve in time. It’s a multi-place sort of place, with many locations in the tri-state area; it’s a big company.

Most places, sadly, do not improve in time. Many stay just as they are, unless there’s a change in the kitchen — in which case they usually either get better, fast, or dramatically worse.

Occasionally, though, you do see a place improve, and it’s a wonderful thing. I love when it happens.

Lunch!

Time to run.

Thanks for spending the time with me and us this morning and early afternoon. And for the questions and comments and musings. It was nice to not have to think about snow and slush and scraping, etc. for a while, and I hope it was the same for all of you as well.

Be well, eat well, and let’s do it again next Tuesday at 11 …







[missing you, TEK … ]



Categories:

Kliman Online
Subscribe to Washingtonian

Ask a question

Our host will take your questions until December 10, 2013 4:30 PM

 
Posted at 11:52 AM/ET, 12/04/2013 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Chats