Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Five Best Things I Put In My Mouth - 2014

It's that time of year again fans and friends. I take a walk down memory land and recap my favorite meals of the year. These are in chronological order, so do not despair if you're at the bottom or top of the list chef friends. There are hyperlinks to the review in the name of the restaurant if you'd like to read the full post about any particular culinary adventure. Thanks for reading folks.

Let's start in May. I had a dinner alone while my wife was at Nerd Prom. I'd been meaning to get to Mintwood Place for quite a while. I was sorry it had taken so long once I got some of Cedric's Steak Tartare. Brilliant take on the dish and best I've ever had.

My next dish comes from a humble food truck. See, it's not all about fancy places with big tabs. It's about the food. The Firecracker Fried Egg from Culinary Nomad at the Central Farm Market was astounding. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a must-try.

I took a trip to Costa Rica in August and had the opportunity to dine at some excellent restaurants. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera to all of them. I had the presence of mind to capture dinner at La Esquina de Buenos Aires though. The dessert there was so good I can recall it like it was yesterday. Perfectly matched textures and flavors in a crepe filled with caramel then bruleed.

The weekend after I got back from Costa Rica I had the pleasure of attending a dinner party at a friends house. The chefs were none other than Byan Voltaggio and Mike Isabella. Crazy, right? That night Mike brought a dish that knocked my socks off. Lamb Neck with charred yogurt and lemon. Mike does the most amazing things with a good way.

Next up, and last dish of the post, are the lamb chops at Bastille in Alexandria. Maybe it was just Year of the Lamb for me, but these chops were spicy, crispy, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Bravo.

Thanks for joining me on a journey down memory lane. I plan to get out to more restaurants in 2015. 2014 was a busy year so I didn't get out as much as I'd have liked's good to have goals right?
Thanks for reading folks. Best wishes for happy holidays and a great new year.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Newton's Table - Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

Newton's Table
4917 Elm St. 
Bethesda, MD 20814

Newton's Table was chef Dennis Friedman's first solo effort. He opened this restaurant after working for many noted chefs including Daniel Boulud, Michel Richard, and Bob Kinkead. 
It is an oasis of white table cloths, quietude, and civility just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Bethesda's restaurant row.  Alas, all good things must come to an end. The last night of service for Newton's Table is New Year's Eve. 
I've had many good meals at this restaurant and wanted to take a trip down memory lane on Friday.
Cheryl, Alex and I dined well that night. I started off with a Rittenhouse Rye Manhattan and Cheryl had a nice glass of Cab.
We started out with the mushroom flatbread, which was the special appetizer of the evening. Several different type of mushrooms with garlic and cream on a grilled and baked flatbread. Very tasty. Cheryl liked it even though she generally doesn't like mushrooms. These flatbreads are going to carry over into the new concept.
The other appetizer we had was the Kobe Wontons with garlic aioli. Crispy with perfect chunks of Kobe beef. The aioli is crafted with some unexpected flavors to elevate it above the usual.
Cheryl had the special of the night, which was a smoked, pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and salad served on a Martin's Roll. This treat was a trial for the new concept which will, if everything goes according to plan, open in January.
Alex had the Fuzu, which is a noodle dish that has become popular for lunch at Newton's Table as well as Newton's Noodle downtown.
I had the Chilean Sea Bass. Crispy top and buttery-soft inside. Excellent.

Pig Brittle. Yes, it's real brittle and real pork in there. The bitterness of the caramel and sweetness of the vanilla ice cream go perfectly together. This dish will also carry over to the new concept.
We also shared the Petit Fours plate. Mini Eclairs and bites of Lemon Squares with a cream puff. The lemon squares will make an appearance at the new concept as well, albeit in a modified format/recipe.

You might be wondering how I know so much about the new concept? Well, Dennis and I have been friends for a long time. We used to sit and chat about food and the restaurant business in general fairly frequently. He also followed my posts on this blog and on Facebook and thought that a collaboration of our skills might make for a good concept. Something that's not fine-dining, but better than your run-of-the-mill neighborhood joint. 
It will be called Bethesda Barbecue Company
We're looking forward to bringing some genuine, thoughtful barbecue to Bethesda. We intend it to be a family restaurant with a creative cocktail program. We're engaging local, organic food purveyors, testing recipes and techniques, and soliciting advice from our friends, who are some of the best in the restaurant business.
Stay tuned for updates!

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