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Silver in Bethesda Befuddles Tim Carman

Plus, reviews of The Majestic and Barley Mac

R. Lopez

For this week’s full review in the Washington Post, Tim Carman tries updated diner Silver in Bethesda. He gives the restaurant from the team behind Silver Diner one star and suggests sticking to simpler fare like the cheeseburger and fluffy pancakes. Overall, he finds the concept disjointed, particularly the emphasis on seasonal cuisine. Many of the flavors are strangely autumnal, including a decent chicken piccata served with a puzzling side of butternut squash puree. Carman writes:

"Too many plates strike similar off notes. The huevos rancheros ditch their rustic preparation for an uptown mashup of chorizo, bison hash, egg, avocado, goat cheese and rice, a combination that has no hope of fusing together without more sauce. The crab cakes come laced with tarragon, whose licorice voice dominates the sweet whisper of the Chesapeake crab meat. The roasted artichoke "Caesar" piles on so many atypical elements that you can’t see the salad through the pecans, tomatoes, kale and cilantro-based dressing." [WaPo]

Maura Judkis checks out The Majestic for the First Bite column in the Washington Post. The Old Town Alexandria restaurant, which dates back to 1932, has undergone quite a few makeovers since 2007. The latest incarnation opened in May under the direction of Alexandria Restaurant Partners and chef Gaby Hakman. Dishes like salmon and quinoa and pork chops and polenta are uninventive, but Judkis really likes the rotisserie chicen served over panzanella. The fried olives and baked feta are also good, but there’s some serious service problems. She writes:

"Two of our meals were delivered cold, and one was overcooked. On another visit, we asked another server for an additional minute to review the menu; he took the directive literally, returning almost exactly 60 seconds later, with deliberations still ongoing. Later during that meal, unfinished appetizers were cleared without invitation, to make room for entrees that arrived too soon. Two of our meals were delivered cold, and one was overcooked." [WaPo]

Laura Hayes tries Barley Mac in Rosslyn for the First Taste column in Arlington Magazine. She encounters a few kinks to work out (amateurish presentation of the coccoli appetizer, as well as cold potatoes) at the new whiskey-focused restaurant and bar. But the food is good overall. She writes:

"Entrees ($14-$29) include pasta, pizza, sandwiches and composed plates. The grilled salmon, drizzled with spinach pesto atop a barley risotto, attracted my fork again and again. (If only the salmon had escaped the grill a little sooner.) Another standout is Barley Mac’s take on steak frites. The bistro cut is robust in flavor and cooked to a textbook medium rare. Its supporting cast: fries so big I have a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids moment, along with three dipping sauces and an overdressed arugula salad." [Arlington]

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