Sunday, August 9, 2009

Black's Bar: Nice but expensive -- and SLOW

After a long drive back from the beach, we arrived home well after 7 and in no mood to cook anything. Our car discussion focused around something "exotic" but since we had no appetite for a long drive, even as far as downtown, that ruled out things like Rasika even if we could have gotten a reservation. I pushed Indique as an alternative, or possibly the bar at Palena (not exactly exotic) but somehow we ended up at Black's Bar in Bethesda.

My initial worries about whether we could get a table were unfounded...the place was almost totally empty. There must be something going on...was there a food poisoning episode or something we were unaware of? In any case, we plunked ourselves down in the bar (slightly more atmospheric than the deserted dining room) and waited to order. And waited, and waited. For a deserted restaurant, service sure was slow. The waiter was friendly, and competent when he showed up, but that took a lot longer than it should have. Given that we were sitting in plain view.

Ordering was a bit complicated by the fact that the appetizer/salad half of the menu was missing from both our menus (and not just ours...we saw this happen to at least one other person) so the menu appeared quite limited. After some considerable delay, Michael finally managed to get a bottle of wine ordered...he splurged, somewhat, on a bottle of Silverado Chardonnay which was certainly pleasant, if a bit on the austere side, but hardly worth $54, I didn't think.

Anyhow, we finally got the menu situation straightened out, ordered, and got food. I have to say that once it finally got there, the food was excellent. Michael had an arugula salad and I, on his recommendation, had the fried artichoke salad. He followed up with the salmon (naturally) and I had the seafood stew, which was really quite good...full of shellfish and with a delicious spicy tomato-based broth that stood up very well on its own. And very filling.

The tab for all of this pleasure was $120 plus tip. I really can't complain about the quality and good food is rarely cheap, especially not fish. However, I usually leave the Black restaurants...whether the Bar & Kitchen or Blacksalt...feeling like the evening was expensive for what it was. I suppose I wish we could run in there and grab an informal meal and get out for less than $100, which I suppose we COULD if we didn't keep drinking $50 bottles of wine.