The Latest Bethesda-area Restaurant Openings, Closings and Trends
Cookies are making a come back; Ethiopian goes fast casual
In an era of fancier restaurant desserts, the cookie had crumbled in recent years. But no more. In fact, local cookie monsters are regularly gobbling up the venerable treats at Bethesda-area restaurants. Here are six places to appreciate this cool-again comfort food.
Summer Hour Santa Monica serves 12 varieties of cookies. Photo by Underabushel.com
BLACK'S BAR & KITCHEN
Executive Pastry Chef Melanie Parker bakes an assortment of old-time favorites, such as sugar, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. Available on the Lunch Express menu; ask for them at dinner. 7705 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-652-5525, www.blacksbarandkitchen.com
COMET PING PONG
Order a single chocolate chip cookie, or double the pleasure with an ice cream sandwich made with the cookies and filled with your choice of
Moorenko’s ice cream or Dolcezza gelato. Another option: vanilla or cinnamon ice cream sandwiched between two gingersnap cookies. 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-364-0404, www.cometpingpong.com
MACON BISTRO & LARDER
Macon Bistro’s nice-and-naughty combo features warm chocolate chip cookies and milk, spiked with 1½ ounces of Bulleit Rye. 5520 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-248-7807, www.maconbistro.com
At MoCo's Founding Farmers in Potomac, cookies are served warm. Photo by Michael Ventura.
MOCO'S FOUNDING FARMERS
Shortbread, macaroon, chocolate chunk, peanut butter and snickerdoodle cookies are served warm and can be accompanied by a glass of soy, almond or regular milk at this Potomac eatery. 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, 301-340-8783, www.wearefoundingfarmers.com
PRALINE BAKERY & BISTRO
Choose from 14 kinds of cookies all made with butter from a Maryland dairy. Flavors include lemon ginger, chocolate espresso and almond sable.
4611 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, 301-229-8180, www.praline-bakery.com
SUMMER HOUSE SANTA MONICA
Summer House sells about 500 cookies each weekend night; varieties include salted butter pecan, apple oatmeal and bacon-chocolate chip. 11825 Grand Park Ave., Pike & Rose, Rockville, 301-881-2381, summerhousesm.com
ETHIOPIAN GOES FAST CASUAL
Just when you thought that purveyors of every cuisine had borrowed Chipotle’s fast-casual set-up, here comes Ethio Express Grill, a Silver Spring restaurant that may be the first to do it with Ethiopian fare. Opened in November, Ethio serves up bright, fresh (and sometimes fiery) flavors in a clean, spare space.
Ethio Express Grill owners Yisak Fiseha (left) and Selam Gebreyes. Photo by Michael Ventura.
OWNERS: Selam Gebreyes and Yisak Fiseha, who were born and raised in Ethiopia. The couple lived in Silver Spring for six years before moving to Clarksburg in 2013. They’re both software engineers.
CONCEPT: Ethiopian food that’s fast, reasonably priced, healthy and simplified, making it more accessible to a wider audience.
Photos by Michael Ventura.
THE MENU: Choose among five bases (injera, pita, spaghetti, mixed greens or brown rice), four proteins (grilled beef, chicken, lamb or tofu), five sauces (hot, mild, Koch Kocha, yogurt honey or white balsamic) and 11 toppings (choose up to four, which include spicy lentils, yellow split peas and collard greens).
THE UPSHOT: People from all ethnic groups and different demographics are coming to the restaurant, Fiseha reports. At press time, Yelpers had given it a cumulative five-star rating.
952 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring, 301-844-5149, ethioexpressgrill-hub.com
Silver Spring resident Bill Glasser, a former writer and producer for the canceled crime-solving show America’s Most Wanted, had two missions in mind: He wanted to come up with an American version of “peasant pocket comfort food.” And he hoped to honor the heroic actions of “people who put others before themselves,” such as military service members, first responders, police and firefighters.
Bill Glasser with a plate of his Herogies at Fire Station 1 in Silver Spring. Photo by Mike Olliver.
The result, five years in the making, is Herogies, shield-shaped dough pockets that are a verbal play on pierogi, but that look and taste more like deep-fried empanadas. Glasser had a custom mold created, and devised eight fillings (six savory and two sweet) for the 3½-inch-wide pastry pockets. So far, “gourmet cheeseburger”—a mixture of ground beef, three cheeses, caramelized onions, dill pickle and a sauce with hints of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise—is the only flavor available at a few local restaurants.
The glib Glasser, who’s worked as a comedy writer and on-air radio personality, has big plans for his unusual product, which has garnered much press attention. He says he’d like to see it become a “ubiquitous finger food” that’s sold at sports stadiums, on military bases, in bars and even at rest stops on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Herogies are available at Fire Station 1 restaurant, 8131 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, and The Barking Dog, 4723 Elm St., Bethesda. For more information, see Glasser’s entertaining website, www.herogies.com.
BANANA LEAF: Chef/owner Raj Perera, who also owns a restaurant in New York City with the same name, oversees this no-frills ethnic eatery featuring Sri Lankan food.
TAKEAWAY: Worth a visit if only to sample an unfamiliar cuisine. Where else in our area can you get string hoppers (thin and lacy rice noodle pancakes) and lamprais (stuffed, baked banana leaves)?
5014 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-506-7554, www.bananaleafnewyork.com
BETHESDA BARBECUE COMPANY: Chef Dennis Friedman
turns his formal Elm Street restaurant, Newton’s Table, into a more-casual eatery focusing on a timelier trend: barbecue.
TAKEAWAY: So far, the meats broadcast blandness; where there’s fire, there’s not enough smoke.
4917 Elm St., Bethesda, 301-718-0550, bethesdabbq.com
Photo courtesy of Crave Bethesda
CRAVE: The Minnesota chainlet opens its first Mid-Atlantic locale, in a big space with a humongous menu of modern American dishes, plus sushi.
TAKEAWAY: Crave bites off more than it can chew; needs focus and better execution.
Westfield Montgomery mall, 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, 301-469-9600, cravebethesda.com