January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants
A sunny, sophisticated wine bar and bistro.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published January 24, 2007
100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Address: 4865 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-986-9592
Neighborhood: Bethesda/Glen Echo
Cuisines: Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open Monday through Thursday 5 to 10; Friday and Saturday 5 to 11
Nearby Metro Stops: Bethesda
Price Range: Expensive
Dress: Upscale Casual
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Roasted piquillo pepper with goat cheese; fried oysters in beurre blanc; smoked trout with pears and crème fraîche; mushroom fricassee; calamari with chorizo and lemon; lobster in caramel sauce; roasted balsamic chicken; grilled quail; braised short ribs;

No. 73: Grapeseed

Who would expect to find the area’s best s’more in a wine bar? Yet here it is: a warm, crumbly brownie sitting in graham-cracker cream and topped with a thick cap of perfectly browned house-made marshmallow—the kind of dessert you smile about the next day.

Jeff Heineman’s Northern California–inspired wine bar is about more than upscale nostalgia food, but his s’more sums up the chef’s aim—food that’s tasty, a little trendy, and not too challenging; cilantro-scented salt or molasses gastrique are as out there as the kitchen gets. So on quiet nights you’ll find solo diners at the blond-wood bar tucking into pan-roasted half chicken with marcona almonds and swabbing truffled frites in garlic aïoli, and on weekends decked-out twentysomethings hanging out over small plates of lush miso-braised Kurobuta pork, crispy tilapia with citrus vinaigrette, a mushroom fricassee, or cornmeal-crusted oysters.

Grapeseed has done well by its wines despite Montgomery County’s liquor laws. There are 100 selections available by the glass or the three-ounce tasting pour; the claret-and-plum walls are decorated with vintage Italian liquor posters, corkscrews, and colored bottles. The menu quotes oenophiles like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Dumas and suggests pairings with every dish. Who knew that tawny port goes so well with marshmallow and chocolate?

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Posted at 11:38 AM/ET, 01/24/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews