Load up that SmarTrip card because Food Wine & Co. in Bethesda is definitely worth visiting. Chef Michael Harr pushes the boundaries just enough to have slightly daring food in the suburbs. That being said, The Best Thing on the Menu is not so fancy but still frickin delicious: Fried Potato Tots with Gruyere Cheese and Spicy Ketchup.
The tots are more like mashed potato squares than the typical basket weave tots you find at fast food establishments (or that Napoleon Dynamite subsists on). Chef Harr must spoon out the silkiest, smoothest mashed potatoes, lace them with cheese and drop them straight into the deep fryer – definitely not something to try at home. They’re comforting, funky thanks to the gruyere, and of course warm & gooey. Nevin Martell digs them too, and other tots in the area.
For something a little more refined (but not quite as sinfully satisfying) opt for the grilled calamari appetizer because of its layered flavor profile. Chef Harr combines tender grilled calamari with arugula pesto, pickled raspberries, pine nuts, peppercress and croutons for crunch.
As far as entrees, you can’t go wrong with either their decadent truffle burger or the lamb burger topped with a biting tomato harissa jam.
Want to try food straight from the heart of the Julia Child of Puerto Rico? Visit Mio near McPhereson Square to experience Chef Giovanna Huyke’s Latin cuisine. She is a master at using cool carbs like yucca and plantains: mashing them, frying them and even boldly stuffing them with blood sausage.
The Best Thing on the Menu: Calamares con Ajo, Setas y Chiles de Simojovel (pan roasted calamari with shitake mushrooms, garlic and chile) is fun for several reasons. We’re already suckers for grilled calamari … why fry something that’s good to begin with? But here, the chef combines two elements (mushrooms and calamari) that have virtually the same texture. We’ve never seen this combination before. Serving this dish with a grilled lemon is an added bonus. Also, this appetizer is quite large, making it perfect for sharing.
Be sure to ask for their specials. While we were there, they were offering Lechón (suckling pig) in either an appetizer or entree-sized portion. We watched as they carved it, and it was served with pickled yucca.
Wanna try cooking in Chef Huyke’s kitchen? Mio offers this very opportunity. Their whole food philosophy focuses on Cocina Abierta, which means their kitchen is open to aspiring chefs, foodies and culinary aficionados, who for one night can make their Food Network fantasies come true. This “Guest Chef for a Day” program allows you to cook up a feast in support of a charity. Learn more here.
Calamares con Ajo, Setas y Chiles de Simojovel not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.
Kellari Taverna is a squeeze of fresh lemon on an otherwise uninspired strip of restaurants on K Street. Their fresh fish display, giant cheese wheel perched on the bar and the grab-n-go cookies by the door are just a selection of the touches of authenticity at this expansive Greek seafood spot.
Whether for business lunch or pre-theatre dinner, Kellari’s Best Thing on the Menu: Calamari, Lightly Grilled will likely appear on all tables. We have chosen to emphasize “Lightly Grilled” because there is also a fried option. With calamari this fresh, frying would be a crime punishable by having to eat a Wendy’s fish sandwich.
These are the largest rings ever encountered in years of calamari-eating adventures. Who knew they could get so big? In searching for more information, we came across this gem of a video of a giant squid in its natural habitat from our friends at NBC and NHK News Japan. Apparently, the colossal squid can reach measurements of 39–46 ft. long. Calamari from these Kraken-like cephalopods would likely produce calamari rings you could hula-hoop with.
Kellari Taverna’s fare is extremely fresh. The restaurant had prioritized farm-to-table procedures and selecting top indigents long before it was trendy. Another fun fact, Kellari Taverna can be found on seamless, so you can get the BTM delivered to your house. A source says they often send an actual waiter wearing his bow tie as the delivery guy.
Calamari, Lightly Grilled not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.