Known for its pretty grounds and frilly dining rooms, Mrs. K’s Toll House is a Silver Spring institution. Upstairs in the historic Tudor house, the antique-filled interior looks much the same as it did when the restaurant opened in 1930—but check out the basement. Over the past year, it’s been transformed into a cavernous stone-and-brick wine cellar with a stone-topped bar and dining areas seating nearly 100.
“We had lots of requests for a bar—there’s no bar upstairs,” says general manager and wine director Spiro Gioldasis. He envisioned a renovation of the previously unused basement that would incorporate a bar and showcase the restaurant’s wine program. The owners of Mrs. K’s let him run with the idea (one of them is his sister), and it’s now open for lunch and dinner.
The $1-million-plus renovation incorporates vintage brick floors and walls with custom ironwork and cabinetry and newly-installed, temperature-controlled wine storage to house an expanded collection of more than 10,000 bottles. Gioldasis’s wine list includes 600 labels and 64 wines by the glass—impressive, especially for wine-restrictive Montgomery County.
Chef Maurisee Upshur, an 11-year vet of Mrs. K’s, has added a menu of small plates between $7 and $15 for diners inclined to sip and snack in the new cellar. Smaller portions of classic dishes—jumbo lump crab cakes, Caesar salad—are joined by fancier fare such as goose-Sauternes pate with cornichons and ahi tuna au poivre. The regular menu is also available downstairs. Reservations are recommended for tables in the wine cellar, but walk-ins are welcome at the bar. And special occasion diners partial to their regular upstairs tables can now stop here first for a drink.
9201 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; 301-589-3500; mrsks.com.