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.
The lobster meat is barely dressed and ultrafresh in the lobster roll at Millie’s. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg
If ever there was proof that the formula for success is location, location, location, Millie’s is it. Spring Valley, a well-heeled neighborhood loaded with families, has a dearth of restaurants, so restaurateur Bo Blair (Due South, Jetties, Surfside, et al.) seized the opportunity. He teamed up with his longtime executive chef, David Scribner, and debuted his second Millie’s seafood restaurant (with Baja touches) in May 2017 on Massachusetts Avenue NW. (The flagship opened on Nantucket in 2010.)
The 90-seat restaurant and its 30-seat bar area are decorated with a navy blue and white color scheme and outfitted with nautical bric-a-brac, such as colorful oars on the walls and a ceiling light fixture fashioned from an inverted rowboat. A spacious patio seats 120. The menu is designed to appeal to everyone, and does. The appetizers induce impulse buying the moment you sit down: “May we have the trio of guacamole, queso with poblano pepper, and salsa with tortilla chips while we’re looking over the menu, please?”
Start with one of the generous and well-made traditional or modern cocktails, or choose from the beer and wine lists and let the bold graphics help you easily pinpoint the category you have in mind. After snacks, have a bowl (or cup) of dreamy clam chowder rife with potatoes, corn, chopped clams and bacon. Menu sections of quesadillas and tacos appeal to grown-ups and kids alike. My Rhode Island Avenue quesadilla is thick with medium-rare skirt steak, mushrooms, roasted poblano peppers, onions and jack cheese. When you take some of it home (which is likely), the very accommodating server supplies you with new containers of sour cream and salsa—a nice touch. (Tacos are just as abundant.) The fried butterflied shrimp platter I try is fine enough, but the lobster roll at Millie’s is a scene-stealer and just what it should be: a buttery griddled roll split and lined with a Bibb lettuce leaf and filled to overflowing with barely dressed, ultrafresh chunks of lobster meat. For dessert, hit the walk-up window outside and order from 12 flavors of Gifford’s ice cream and sundry toppings (such as Heath bars, Oreos and M&M’s).
4866 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. | 202-733-5789 | milliesdc.com