From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants
THE SCENE. A little bit of Napa comes to Bethesda in this airy wine bar/bistro done in pale woods with hits of plum and burgundy. In fair weather the front windows open to the street. When cold winds blow, it's cozy inside at the wine bar and in the intimate dining room. Popular with longtime oenophiles as well as the young and trendy.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. The anything-goes menu of beginnings, middles, and ends. Wines also can be had every which way--by the glass, in flights, half pours, half bottles, and bottles.
WHAT YOU WON'T. Chef Jeff Heineman's approach to comfort cuisine--i.e., seasonally based dishes and a penchant for toying with flavors--means some plates might not be ready for prime time.
BEST DISHES. Steamed mussels with tomatoes, garlic, and wine; crunchy cornmeal-fried oysters with bacon beurre blanc; goat-cheese mousse with hazelnuts; braised veal cheeks, lent a jolt of sweetness from grapes and balsamic vinegar; fried chicken and waffles with a sherry-vinegar bourbon sauce standing in for maple syrup; autumnal pumpkin panna cotta.