Bethesda Magazine’s Favorite New Restaurants
More than 70 restaurants have opened in the Bethesda area in the last two years. Food critic David Hagedorn chooses his 10 favorites.
8. Owen’s Ordinary
Roughly 50 beers are on draft at Owen’s Ordinary, and the beer menu is broken down into six flavor categories. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg
If there is a finer beer program in Montgomery County than the one at Owen’s Ordinary, I haven’t found it. The person responsible for that is Greg Engert, the beer director of Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG). That company, owned by restaurateur Michael Babin, operates 19 food and beverage concepts in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia; Owen’s Ordinary, which opened in the Pike & Rose development in October 2016, is its first Maryland property.
There are roughly 50 brews on draft, half from Maryland, and 150 canned and bottled offerings, one-third of which are from Maryland breweries. (The list changes frequently.) A 2014 Maryland law allows small craft brewers to self-distribute up to 3,000 barrels of beer annually; NRG buys from 13 of them, including Denizens (Silver Spring), Waredaca (Laytonsville), Cushwa (Williamsport), Goonda (Baltimore) and Hysteria (Columbia).
The 114-seat dining room at Owen’s, where the décor is steampunk-meets-English-country-house, is lovely, but if you’re interested in sports, head to the 50-seat bar area or, better yet now that warm weather is upon us, the 60-seat beer garden and watch games being shown on several televisions.
Engert has set up the beer menu to enable people with even rudimentary knowledge of that libation to explore easily. He divides the menu into flavor categories (malt, fruit and spice, crisp, tart and funky, hop, and roast) and even informs you of the beer’s temperature and the kind of glass it’s served in. Drafts are offered in 4-ounce tasting pours ($2 to $6) or full portions that range from 10 to 16 ounces ($6 to $12).
Food-wise, you can’t go wrong choosing menu items whose provenance is NRG’s own Red Apron Butcher, such as the juicy 8-ounce Angus burger and double stack cheeseburger, or the steak tartare blended with hard-boiled egg, chopped cornichons (pickles), capers and whole-grain mustard. Best of all, though, are the Bavarian specialties offered in the bar and the beer garden: bratwurst or kielbasa with sauerkraut; chicken schnitzel; and senfbraten, roasted pork with mustard gravy and braised red cabbage. While you’re at it, get a house-made soft pretzel with zesty beer cheese.
11820 Trade St. (Pike & Rose), North Bethesda | 301-245-1226 | owensordinarymd.com