Tag Archives: Bethesda

PassionFish Bethesda — Lunch on 9 August 2019

PassionFish

PassionFish

It’s that time of the year again, when restaurateurs counter the industry’s traditional late-summer slump by offering special deals to attract diners. Between late July and mid-September, you can find a Restaurant Week promotion in almost every American city where “going out for a good meal” implies something a little more exciting than having dinner at Burger King.

Washington, DC, and its suburbs have three overlapping Restaurant Week programs: one based in Bethesda, featuring restaurants in suburban Maryland, one in Alexandria, Virginia, and one covering the entire metropolitan area. It’s not unusual for some restaurants to extend their Restaurant Week specials for a second week, or even longer, which means that in August, I tend to dine very well, at a relatively low cost.

First stop for me this summer: PassionFish Bethesda.

Lobster and Carrot Ginger Bisque

Lobster and Carrot Ginger Bisque

I’ve gotten into the habit of almost always beginning RW at one of the Passion Food Hospitality group’s restaurants, like PassionFish Bethesda, District Commons, or the now-closed and much-missed Acadiana, and I’ve never had any regrets.

This time, I started with a Lobster and Carrot Ginger Bisque, with lobster (duh), carrots, and peas.

Red Thai Curry and Golden Pineapple

Red Thai Curry and Golden Pineapple

The Red Thai Curry, with a hint of Kaffir lime, had just the right heat for my Western tastes, and the golden pineapple was a nice complement. Served with shrimp over jasmine rice.

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

A wonderful dessert, but I kept thinking that it looked like it belonged with another meal. It was a very “European” dessert following an Asian main, resulting in a slight culture clash. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this Chocolate Mousse Crunch with strawberry coulis.


At the Bethesda Metro Station

It was good to see the waters flowing again at the entrance to the Bethesda Metro Station. In its earlier years, Metro put a lot of effort into making some of the approaches to station entrances architecturally interesting. That’s no longer a priority, unfortunately.

Advertisements

Duck Duck Goose — Lunch on 25 July 2018

Duck Duck Goose

Duck Duck Goose

Duck Duck Goose has been on my Restaurants to Try list for a long time. It just got a very favourable write-up in the Washington Post, which prompted me to metro up to Bethesda, Maryland, to check it out.

The restaurant occupies the building that used to house Brasserie Monte Carlo, a nice little French place that was one of my frequent stops when I was in Bethesda. I still miss their onion tarts.

Lamb Bolognese

Lamb Bolognese

Duck Duck Goose’s online menu is a bit tricky. It doesn’t differentiate between starters and mains, and the prices aren’t much help in figuring out which is which, so estimating the size of the portions is just a guess. Lamb Bolognese, my starter, had the same price as Steak Frites, my main.

The lamb dish, with Elysian Fields lamb, spaghettini, and heirloom tomatoes, was a knock-out. I started searching for Lamb Bolognese recipes as soon as I got home.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

The Steak Frites were…Steak Frites. Good, as steak frites usually are, but not as memorable as the lamb dish.

I can see why Duck Duck Goose has become a neighbourhood favourite.

Barrel and Crow — Lunch on 19 January 2018

Barrel and Crow

Barrel and Crow

2018 Winter Restaurant Week 1, Day 4

Barrel and Crow left me unimpressed.

Parisienne Gnocchi

Parisienne Gnocchi

My starter was Parisienne Gnocchi.

“Parisienne Gnocchi”? So was it Franco-Italian or Italo-French? That got me thinking about all kinds of unlikely possibilities: Tacos a la Montréal. Generalissimo Tso’s Chicken. Persian Pork Loin.

What I got was gnocchi with wild mushrooms, brown butter, sage, and pecorino.

 Steak Frites

Steak Frites

This was a disappointment. I’ve always thought you couldn’t go wrong ordering Steak Frites, but Barrel and Crow proved that you could. It reminded me of that old joke about meals on cruise ships: The food wasn’t very good, and the portions were too small.

The Duck Fat Parmesan Fries were fine, but the Grilled Hanger Steak—what there was of it—was flavourless.

With all the restaurant choices in Bethesda, I’m unlikely to return to Barrel and Crow, although the fish and chips platter at the next table looked really inviting, and I’m always on the lookout for good fish and chips.

Guardado’s — Lunch on 18 January 2018

Guardado's

Guardado’s

2018 Winter Restaurant Week 1, Day 3

Lots to catch up on, after my involuntary absence from the Web.

Bethesda and Alexandria’s Restaurant Weeks differ from Metro RW in that while all the Metro RW participating restaurants charge the same prices—$22 plus tax, tip, and drinks at lunch, and $35 plus etc. at dinner—the “local” RWs allow variable pricing. That lets good but inexpensive places take part, offering RW deals at a lower price point.

Which brings us to today’s lunch, tapas at Guardado’s in Bethesda. Guardado’s has been around since 2007, and serves a mix of dishes from Spain and Latin America. The chef, Nicolas Guardado, was formerly head chef at Jaleo, and in a certain part of the restaurant world, you just can’t have a better item on your résumé than working for Jose Andres, The Man Who Brought Tapas to America.

The tapas were excellent, and since Guardado’s regular menu qualifies it as a “Cheap Eats” winner, I’ll be back.

Gambas con Chorizo

Gambas con Chorizo

This was a sizzling combination of sautéed shrimp and chorizo with tomato concassé, red wine, and thyme.

Salmon

My second choice was grilled salmon topped with roasted garlic—it was the roasted garlic that sold me on the dish—on a bed of olives and capers. Both choices were beautifully done.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

A rose is a rose is a rose. And a chocolate mousse is a chocolate mousse is a chocolate mousse.

Can’t go wrong. What else is there to say?

PassionFish — Lunch on 16 January 2018

The PassionFish Mermaid

The PassionFish Mermaid

2018 Winter Restaurant Week 1, Day 1

Looking back, I noticed that during 2017 Summer RW I’d revisited more restaurants that I already knew and enjoyed than new places. For 2018 Winter RW, I’ve made a conscious effort to correct that failing. About 75% of the places on my tentative list are new to me.

My first stop, though, was someplace that I just had to try again: PassionFish, in Bethesda. Was it really as good as I remembered it?

Turns out, it was better.

Crab & Corn Chowder

I was able to narrow down the choice of a starter to the Crab & Corn Chowder with jumbo lump crab meat and green onions or the Lobster Butternut Squash Bisque with toasted pepitas and pumpkin oil. The excellent server said he’d choose the chowder, and I have always relied on the kindness recommendations of strangers waiters, unless they’re clearly trying to up-sell me.

It was a good choice.

Red Thai Curry

Red Thai Curry

I’d decided on a main of Red Thai Curry Shrimp and Golden Pineapple with jasmine rice and kaffir lime as soon as I saw it on the menu. My server suggested bringing an extra portion of rice, because this was a hot, hot dish. He was right again.

A note on the sloppiness of the presentation: That wasn’t the restaurant’s fault, it was mine. The curry came in a separate bowl, which you can see in the background. I served myself a small portion of the curry to start, and I wasn’t very careful plating the serving.

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

On the other hand, I had nothing to do with the plating of this elegant Chocolate Mousse Crunch with vanilla-bean anglaise and strawberry coulis. This was a stunner. It tasted even better than it looked.

All in all, the meal was about as close to perfect as it could be.


After cheerfully over-tipping that helpful server, I walked across the street to the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema, just in time for a matinee screening of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Much as I love film, I hardly ever go to the movies anymore. During 2017, fr’instance, I saw 6.75 times as many movies on airplanes as I saw in movie theatres, because what else are you going to do when it’s three in the morning and you’re somewhere over the Atlantic. (True Fact: I calculated that figure at three in the morning, somewhere over the Atlantic.)

Besides, 95% of the world’s movies and tv shows easily accessible for streaming, which is a good argument for staying at home, where it’s warm and you can pause or replay the action and you don’t even have to wear pants if you don’t want to.

But Three Billboards was written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh, and his In Bruges is one of my five favourite films of the 21st century, so…

He’s created another profane, violent, and hilarious classic. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell all give what might be their best performances.

Le Vieux Logis — Lunch on 11 August 2017

2017 Summer Restaurant Weeks: Week One, Day One

Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week starts on the Friday before the much bigger Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, so it’s become something of a tradition for me—which means I’ve done it more than twice—to kick off the month-long moveable feast in Bethesda. And there’s no better place to start than at the refreshed and revitalized Le Vieux Logis, aka “The Old Lodge,” which is generally considered one of the best of the unincorporated area’s ~200 restaurants.

Terrine

Terrine

You can think of a “terrine” as being so similar to a pâté that the difference doesn’t really matter to most diners. They’re both made in loaf pans, and served sliced. This was a velvety Roquefort Terrine, with an apple, endive, walnut, and pear salad. The matchstick apple slices gave it a good tang.

Salmon

Salmon Pesto

The menu described this as a “Crispy Crêpe of Salmon Pesto,” but it seemed to me to be more of a puff pastry than a crêpe. I suppose this is similar to the fine line between terrine/pâté, and I defer to the chef, who knows far better than I. Crêpe or puff pastry, it was an excellent main, and came with a serving of ratatouille Nicoise and piquillo sauce. (Piquillo is a sweet-tasting pepper, without the usual pepper heat.)

Dessert

Dessert

Oh, yes. Dessert was a warm chocolate coulant, with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. A coulant is a soft-centered rich chocolate cake—it’s sometimes called a Chocolate Molten Cake. When you break the cake’s outer “shell,” melted chocolate floods the plate.


My two rules for photography in a restaurant: Never use a flash to photograph food, and never photograph other diners. The only exception is when you’re part of a large, celebratory occasion, and you know all the people in camera range. So, as is the case today, my photos are sometimes less than great, and I’ve rarely included interior pictures in these postings.

This year, I’m going to try to find those interior shots on the restaurants’ websites, and include a few if possible. Here are a couple from Le Vieux Logis:


Great start to a month of what I hope will be great dining!

Grapeseed — Bastille Day Lunch

Bethesda’s Grapeseed doesn’t identify itself as a French restaurant, but its menu features some dishes that would be at home in any Paris bistro. I thought it would be a good place for a Bastille Day lunch.

Besides, I’ve been dining at Grapeseed for ages, and wanted to make a final visit, because it’s closing at the end of July, after 17 years. Cleveland Park’s Nam Viet, another old favourite that dates back to the turn of the century, closed just a few weeks ago, and now this. Add the closure over the past year of other restaurants I’ve enjoyed like Vidalia, the Little Fountain, Panache, and Poste, and It’s like one of those teen slasher movies from the 80s, where random characters get knocked off for no good reason.

A person given to hyperbole might think my dining scene has turned into Camp Crystal Lake, and my homey restaurants are the horny camp counselors, but of course I’d never write anything that silly….

Anyway, back to lunch.

Wild Mushroom Fricassee

Wild Mushroom Fricassee

My starter was Wild Mushroom Fricassee, something I’d never tried before. As soon as I got home, I started researching recipes for this one, because it was definitely something I want to eat again. The mushrooms were served on truffle polenta, and the sauce was rich and buttery.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

What could be more French than Steak Frites? It was exactly what I wanted.


Au Revoir, Grapeseed. You’ll be missed.