January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

No. 83: Black’s Bar and Kitchen

When Black Salt opened in 2004, it seemed as if owners Jeff and Barbara Black were forsaking cozy comfort for contemporary swank. With the makeover of their Bethesda outpost, Black’s Bar and Kitchen, the couple took yet another trend-conscious leap forward.

The new place is an Architectural Digest –ready showpiece, with its Asian-influenced patio of stone and metal, a wood-paneled bar evoking the wine rooms of the West Coast, and a glowing, orange-suffused triptych of trees stretching the length of the dining room. Even with its trendy roster of raw-bar selections, small plates, and wood-grilled meats and fishes, the plates most worth seeking out call to mind the old Black’s heartiness: sesame fried oysters, twice-cooked chicken (just a marvelous fried bird), a mussel chowder, and pan-roasted cod with clams and chorizo. (The leaden corn dog and duck quesadilla could use retooling.)

It’s the desserts—especially a fig tart with honey ice cream, a fabulous chocolate trio with panna cotta, a fallen-soufflé tart, and a fudgy ice-cream sandwich—that bring together the old and new: They’re as glamorous and good as the visuals.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.