Friday, September 21, 2007

Bowie, Maryland: A Dining Mecca (?)


With a few notable exceptions, Bowie, Maryland has suffered from a distinct lack of quality independent restaurants for a very long time. Sure the big chains are there if you want them. The Olive Garden, Carrabas, Outback Steakhouse have remained the mainstay of sit-down dining in the beloved Levitt made paradise, so it is with great pleasure that I can note that there are some exciting things going on in the hood.

First off, The Old Bowie Town Grill in old town Bowie opened just under a year ago, and they are truly beginning to find their stride. They serve standard bar and grill fare with a focus on fresh seafood in a pleasant atmosphere and it makes for the perfect “after church stop” or casual Saturday lunch/ dinner. The restaurant is right next to the Old Bowie Train Station housed in a building that until two years ago, was a huge antique store and emporium. They were plagued with delays and construction surprises in getting the restaurant open, but now that it is complete I can say it was worth the trouble and the wait. Look for their extra homey house made soups and quality burgers and sandwiches. They serve a pot roast sandwich which is to die for and we love their desserts. Especially the Carrot Cake, which is tall, dense and moist with a not too sweet cream cheese icing. You will also find a commendable selection steak, pasta and seafood entrees.

OLD BOWIE TOWN GRILLE
8604 Chestnut Avenue
Bowie, Maryland 20715
301-464-8800
Monday & Tuesday: 4:00PM - 11:00PM Wednesday - Sunday: 11:00AM -11:00PM

Monterey Mexican Restaurant has taken over the old Memphis Barbecue location on Route 3, just off Highway 50, and it’s nice to see something in that space, which remained empty for close to two years. I have two words for you: Carnitas and Flan.
Large chunks of roast pork butt, cooked for over 12 hours are served to you au natural with a generous helping of refried beans, Mexican rice, avocado crema, pico de gallo and fresh hot flour tortillas. The pork is so rich, so meaty and juicy that it truly needs nothing further to send your tastebuds into an interstellar “mouthgasm”. Monterey starts you out with the ubiquitous basket of corn chips and salsa, but for a welcome twist they also include a small bowl of a spicy ranch dressing for dipping. Plenty of common tex-mex fare is featured on the menu, as well as some more authentic Mexican specialties such as carne asada, tamales and pescado veracruzano. The combo platters are great and everything you would expect from a decent Mexican restaurant, but nothing out of the ordinary. But let’s talk about dessert. There is one clear choice. You want the flan. Don’t say you’re too full… you want the flan. I don’t care if you’re a diabetic… you want the flan. What’s that? You don’t like flan? Order it anyway. The owner makes the flan himself from his grandmother’s recipe and if grandma lived in Bowie, I would drive to her house right now just to kiss her. It’s a dense custard with a hint of Mexican cinnamon (canela), swimming in a light caramel sauce. Typically it’s served with a nice topping of whipped cream and nothing more. The perfect ending to a splendid meal and undoubtedly the best flan I have ever tasted.

As a side note: Steven and I never finish our meals here, so we load up the leftovers and use them for a Saturday morning breakfast of what we lovingly call “leftover Mexican” omelets. Everything goes in. We don’t need to eat again until dinner.

4449 Mitchellville RoadBowie, MD20716
(301) 262-8080 phone

It’s unfair to review a restaurant after just one visit and, especially, when that one visit is during their first weekend in operation, but it looks like the Monte Restaurant group will have another hit on their hands with their most recent opening, the aptly named, PomoGrille. Located on MD450 in the new section of the FreeState Shopping Centre, the PomoGrille is a casual Italian eatery featuring a wide array of Italian specialties, pastas, salads and brick oven pizza. The décor is invigorating and chic with a liberal use of vibrant red colored walls and tiles and a smart design that makes the most of the space they have to work with. The open kitchen is clean and bright and the whole restaurant seems to have a vibe to it. It’s early on, and there are some kinks to work out with the service staff and the kitchen, but the Monte group has a proven record of working out kinks as they also own local favorites Squisito Pizza, Café Mezzanote and the 4Seasons Grille. The fine folks of Bowie Maryland are so unaccustomed to a decent sit-down dining establishment that it appeared as though half the town came in thinking it was a carryout restaurant on the night of our visit, somewhat taking the Pomo management by surprise. The detractors are small in comparison with the potential of the PomoGrille and my money says this place will become a treasured Bowie favorite in very short order.

We are excited to see the Monte Restaurant Group’s next project Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen opening soon. Go Monte Go!


PomoGrille
Freestate Shopping Centre 15700 Old Annapolis Road
Bowie, MD! 301-352-POMO



2 comments:

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Kevin The Critic said...

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Kevin