Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Short Shots

Every once in a while I get backed up on some of my restaurant reviews. Here are some short takes on recent experiences that you may find interesting.

"Bagels And …"

There are some good places for bagels in Montgomery County, but alas, DC and the remainder of the metro area have a distinct lack of decent authentic bagels. Let’s face the facts, while Einstein Bagels may provide a tasty breakfast sandwich, their bagels are no more than rolls with holes. A true bagel is a thing to be reckoned with. A true bagel is proofed then BOILED in water before baking. It has some bite, some chew. It shouldn’t just fall flat like a hamburger bun.

Bagel purists rejoice! Our beloved Annapolis is home to the aptly named "Bagels And…"
a true bagelry that knows what it is doing. All the varieties you would expect, including Bialys. All the schmears you would expect. We love the Veggie Light which is packed with hand cut vegetables. Great for breakfast, they also do sandwiches at lunch. What's Patrick's pick? Their Nova Lox are some of the finest I’ve ever tasted.

2019 West StAnnapolis, MD 21401
(410) 224-8686‎

Mia's Pizza

On our first visit to Mia’s we had just recieved our first blast of lovely spring weather so the patio was packed and it seemed like a festival was going on. I guess everyone knows that the chef Mia (actually Melissa) worked at seminal DC Pizza houses of worship, 2Amys and Pizzeria Paradiso. The menu is very similar to 2Amys and while I have to say she comes pretty damn close to the same quality product it falls just a hair short. That being said this definitely the best pizza in the Bethesda/Rockville area.

Salads are divine. I had the Roasted Beet, Mango and Orange Salad. It was spiked with a good douse of olive oil and fresh baby arugula. Fantastic. Steven had the arugula, gorgonzola and pear salad. Equally yummy.

For Pizza, I had the Di Mare Pizza, which consisted of Mozzarella di Bufala, red peppers, tomatoes and mussels in their shells. For good measure I asked that they add some anchovies. I was glad I did, the pizza was fantastic, flavorful, hot and chewy. As the mussels steamed open on the pizza they released their essence on the crust, just adding another layer of flavor. Steven had the Margherita pizza. He liked it but said he's had better. Service was delightful and it's an attractive place. I can tell that Mia’s will become a frequent stop for us! I spied a Puttanesca pizza on the menu that sounds scintillating! Always good to have a reason to go back!

4926 Cordell Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814 (301) 718-6427

Lemongrass Too

This is my favorite Thai restaurant and I have eaten at quite a few. Once inside, you would never think you were at the end of a strip mall sandwiched between the likes of a Best Buy and a Petsmart. The decor is hip and inviting. It has a very "Pottery Barn" feel about it.

I know everyone loves the West Avenue, Annapolis, location of this blossoming Thai restaurant mini chain, but I find that location to be too cramped and often difficult to get in. (I guess I suffer from suburban tendencies)

Start with the crispy duck salad, tossed with a spicy lime dressing that's downright addictive, or try the crispy calamari with its sweet and spicy dipping sauce. The squid is flash-fried, tender and virtually greaseless.

For entrees, you can't go wrong with the Pad Thai, which will remind you why you fell in love with Thai food in the first place. Also, their curries are outstanding. We love the Panang Curry with chicken. It's the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, creamy, peanuty goodness. For my money, though, Seafood is the real star. Shrimp Pik Khur will make your lips tingle with spiciness. Basil Mussels are another great entree choice if you are looking for something light. Pad Pik King is another great selection. Your choice of chicken, shrimp or beef is stir-fried in a hot red curry paste with green beans. Presentations are always artful and colorful.

Desserts are good, too. You can't go wrong with the Mango and Sticky rice. We have found the service to always be a strong suit for the place. They seem to have an endless supply of hip young people at each of their locations, adding to the overall chic vibe of the place. Casual, refined and delicious ... What more could you ask for? Oh yeah.. they have outdoor seating, too.

2631 Housley Rd Annapolis, MD 21401 (410) 224-8424
Big Fish Grille

If you are a devoted Rehoboth Beach Bum like myself then you are probably familiar with the Big Fish Grill on Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach, DE. When we saw the sign go up for the Big Fish Grille in our very own Crofton we had high hopes that it would be as good as our "fave-rave" beach stop of the same name, (sans the "e"). Please note the addition of the letter "e" at the end of "Grille". I guess that's an "e" for effort, which, in this case, may very well be a problem.

Please note, the restaurants are not affiliated.

So far I've had mixed feelings about the Big Fish in Crofton. The decor almost works, but it swings a little too much to the "kitschy" (wavy mirrors, hanging plaster of Paris fish, underwater color scheme complete with blue neon wave) That coupled with homemade signage lends itself to an overall "amateurish" feeling.

The food is good, but somewhat pricey for Crofton. Noted: they offer a fresh Hawaiian fish selection flown in daily from Honolulu and also offer some great local fish. On our last visit I had the blackened Rockfish. It was very good, although, arguably just a hair overcooked. Carlos was with us that night and he ordered a Philadelphia roll and crab stuffed mushrooms. Both were fantastic. We also got a half dozen raw oysters which were sweet and tasty.

My main complaint with the menu is that they try to do too much. In addition to the chef's selection of seafood and steak options they offer 6 fresh fish options with your choice of preparation. No where on the menu is a simple grilled fish selection. Everything is either smothered in spice or hidden under a sauce. Even the herb-crusted fish is topped with Panko bread crumbs and then sauced. I'm always suspect about a place that sauces everything.

Brunch here is very ordinary. Strap on the feed bag and load up on starch, starch and more starch. They put out a beautiful smoked salmon display, but then they serve it with cold, stale mini bagels that taste like they came from McDonalds. All in all this place is really close to being great, but they just don't quite make it. Service is always nice.

They need to retool the menu, slim down the preparations and offer honest, good seafood. That extra "e" at the end of Grille is really unnecessary.

1260 Crain Hwy Crofton, MD 21114 (410) 451-3133

The Parkway Deli

The Parkway is a long time favorite. A tried and true stand-by when you don't want to make a fuss, but you need some good ole fashioned Jewish comfort food, even if you're not Jewish. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the Parkway is not going to win any awards for decor, but service is always fast, efficient and friendly.

I have a Parkway "routine" when I go. I ALWAYS order the 1/2 baked chicken with gravy and two sides, with a diet Cel-Ray Soda. Sides for me are ALWAYS a salad and potato pancakes. Then I order the "small" matzo ball soup (the "large" is enough to kill ya). The matzo ball soup is delicious, with fresh chicken stock and light matzo balls, real chunks of chicken, noodles and veg.

The potato pancakes are a must. Have them with the apple sauce. You also get your choice of roll, bagel or challah. Portions are HUGE and It's way too much food. I always take some home with me.

Every dinner entree gets a trip to the pickle bar, too, which features yummy, house-made, fresh and dill pickles among other briny things. The carrot and raisin salad is great! You won't have enough room to eat dessert when you leave, so stop at the counter on the way out and pick up a black and white cookie for later. Everything on the menu is great. Truly it's hard to go wrong. Deli sandwiches are not the "stacked" style you would see in a NY Jewish deli, so go to NY if that is what you're looking for, but if you're looking for a decent home cooked meal and mother is far away, this the next best thing.

8317 Grubb Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20901 (301) 587-1427
Lemongrass Four

Imagine our excitement when we discovered that Lemongrass had opened an outpost in our very own Crofton! We ran in on opening night. You can read my Yelp review of that experience by hitting the Yelp link below. It’s too early for a proper review, but you can expect to read something soon.

2225A Defense HWY Crofton, MD 21114

My Butcher and More

Think you can't find a great butcher anymore? I beg to differ. My Butcher and More, in Gambrills MD, brings back that old time quality and service that seems to be lost these days, and certainly not available in your local supermarket. My Butcher and More carries an outstanding selection of above average cuts of meat, with a definite nod to beef. Hand cut steaks, pork, sausage and nice variety of Boars Head Meats and Cold Cuts. Cheeses are also available, along with a nice variety of bbq necessities, sauces and even a limited selection of vegetables.

Aside from the excellent product selection is the outstanding service, which starts with Mike the owner. If you have a question about meat, Mike is your man. Don't see what you want in the case out front? Just ask, they probably have it in the back.

1334 Defense Hwy, Ste E, Gambrills, MD 21054 (410) 451-3296


So there you have it. What are some of your favorites? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave me a post, I'm always up for a dining adventure.

No comments: