Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Black's Bar and Kitchen

going with the flow.

impromptu happiness. because numerous co-workers were unable to celebrate my previously mentioned friend’s celebratory going away happy hour last week at cantina, they decided to plan an impromptu happy hour at Black’s Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda.

little did they know that I had recently added sister restaurant BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant to my must go to restaurant list. If I had to choose one type of food that I would consider myself a connoisseur of/eat every day, it would be seafood. So, I was ecstatic to find out there is a fun unique slew of “modern american” restaurants in the DMV area which specialize in seafood. needless to say, despite the 40 minute metro ride, i would be at this happy hour.

I arrived a little late but my co-workers had already started chowing down on some mussels, oysters and flatbread, all of which looked delicious. Upon walking into Black’s, I knew that I was going to love this place. The restaurant is divided into two parts, the long (beautiful) bar area filled with high tables and stools and boasting a soft brown wood color. On the other side, is the sit down restaurant area, which on its wall features an awesome panoramic forest landscape which matches perfectly with the dim lighting and overall relaxed but not snooty ambiance. In the Bethesda suburb, it could have been easy for this restaurant to be snooty, too expensive and not good for the more “local” scene, but on the contrary, it has more of a sophisticated, stylish but relaxed vibe. i dig it. oh and two words: open kitchen. need i say anymore?

owners and chefs, Jeff & Barbara Black, are not new to the food scene in the DMV as Black’s is one of their four restaurants in the area. they also own Addie’s (Rockville MD- New American), Black Market Bistro (Garret Park MD- New American Cuisine) and the aforementioned, BlackSalt (Washington DC- Contemporary American Seafood). They have garnered critical acclaim and praise for all of their restauraunts with most of them (if not all) making it onto the the Washingtonian’s Top 100 list. they are wonderfully revitalizing the DMV american/contemporary seafood scene. thank God.

Back to Black. Black’s features a wonderful 4-7 mon-fri happy hour, also late night thurs-sat specials and an 11-5 sunday happy hour. but more importantly they have great deals. they have stella, blue moon and smitwick’s on tap for $3.75 and they also have miller light (for those of you who like that…) for $2.75. They also have a daily selection of wines for $5.00 by the glass. Another side note, their wine display is quiet impressive as it forms the wall behind the bar, and I was told that the red’s are kept at a perfect 57 degrees. take that luke warm red wine.

I mentioned that a large part of my dislike of Cantina was founded in its lack of food happy hour specials. No worries, we did not have that problem at Black’s. They only had four items but the 3/4 items that we had off that menu, were delicious. We ordered “Addie’s Mussels”, which are cooked in a tomato, garlic, shallots, lemon and parsley sauce. So fresh and so delicious. Definitely on par with Brasserie Beck. I ordered the Fried Squid (Calamari) which was absolutely delicious. Definitely, some of the best I have ever had and that is saying a lot because I have had some delectable Calamari. It was fried perfectly, not too hard but just right, and the seasoning was light enough that you still tasted the squid but well enough that you weren’t overpowered by the seafood taste. It was also served with an un-recreatable sauce but it had a mayonnaise base (maybe some tartar and ketchup?). I thought I would save the oysters for last because one thing that you must know about Black’s is that it is known for it’s Oyster Bar. So fresh. So delicious. They just slide right off the half shell. The Chesapeake Bay Oyster is their stalworth but they have a variety of other rotating oysters depending on what is freshest that day. so great. We also had a wood grilled flatbread that was topped with cheese, mushrooms and deliciousness. I can’t remember what all it had on it but it was super tasty.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by my trip to Black’s. I had no idea that this gem was in Bethesda and I would definitely make the trek back up there again for an actual dinner. Furthermore, their other restaurants were recommended by my co-workers who live up in Maryland, so I would also make the journey up there to see what the buzz is all about. Black’s is a great place for both a group and/or a date because they divide the area’s so well. Also, if you want a relaxed date, you can definitely head to the bar area or the great large outdoor patio space.

Grade: B+/A-

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