Black's Bar and Kitchen: Off the hook

Aug. 23, 2005, midnight | By Eve Gleichman | 18 years, 11 months ago

Bethesda's Gulf Coast seafood restaurant leaves empty plates and wallets

Not often does one find sixteen varieties of fresh oysters on the menu of a somewhat hidden restaurant in the middle of a busy town. At Black's Bar and Kitchen, these fresh oysters are only a fraction of the seafood options on the menu, and the rest is equally impressive. The bill may not be easy on the teen wallet, but it sure seems worth it when you're served some of the freshest seafood in town.

Black's is owned by Jeff and Barbara Black, founders of Addie's Restaurant in Rockville, Black Market Bistro in Garrett Park, and BlackSalt in Washington, DC. After sampling food from each sister restaurant, I have concluded that Black's is the best of the ensemble, in terms of food, service and atmosphere.      

The bar and restaurant are smartly divided by a half-length wall that does not completely separate the two functions. The atmosphere is dimly lit, but pleasant, and servers bustle through twisting isles of sleek booths and tables, setting bowls of sweet and savory breads on each table.

Our young lively waitress takes our order promptly, labeling the Prince Edward Island Mussels "awesome," an adjective that hardly does this appetizer justice. A delectable shallot-garlic-tomato combination lies beneath these succulent shellfish, making the first bite of the evening unsurpassed. The buttermilk-battered calamari — delicately breaded squid served with Creole tartar sauce — is also a winner, and makes for one of the best renditions of this dish available.

Do not miss out on the fabulous key lime glazed wild rockfish, presented with a zesty pineapple coulis and citrus relish alongside coconut rice, red bean ragout, and tart greens. The pineapple and citrus mixture is especially complimentary to the incredibly mild fish.

The Prince Edward Island mussels make a second appearance in the seafood linguine, delightfully thin pasta al dente prepared with tasty gulf shrimp and littleneck clams. Imported prosciutto, orange, fresh basil, pine nuts and oven-dried tomato richen the dish further, making each bite true bliss.

"Let me guess," our waitress says with a smile just few minutes after laying out three deserts. "The desert is awful, and you want me to take it away." In fact, she is partially correct. The crème brulee — rich cream beneath a delicate golden shell that is easily penetrated with a spoon — is sensational. The strudel is pleasantly warm on the inside and wrapped in a flaky crust alongside a refreshing peach sorbet. All is delicious save the red grape sorbet, an artificial tasting dessert reminiscent of a grape Popsicle. After tasting the unimpressive desert herself under our encouragement, our server agrees with the table's consensus, and clears the plate from both the table and the check promptly.

The service at Black's is great; the food is brought out at timely intervals even during a seemingly busy night and the servers appear more than happy to be of assistance.

If you're a seafood lover with a big paycheck, Black's Bar and Kitchen has your name written all over it. The kitchen prides itself on having some of the freshest seafood in the area, and the amazing appetizers and entrees show it. The congenial atmosphere is truly a pleasure to be a part of, and the area is a fun place to be before or after eating.

Black's Bar and Kitchen is located at 750 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. To contact the restaurant, call 301-652-6278.

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