It’s been approximately nine months since the Pizzeria Uno that occupied a prime spot on Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street shut down. Many people were wondering what would take over the storefront given the large space and ideal location in Downtown Bethesda.
When it was announced that Francis Namin, owner of the outstanding Cork 57, would be opening a restaurant dedicated to continental cuisine and an outstanding wine selection, it immediately piqued our interest.
Food Wine and Co. finally opened its doors early last week which made it the obvious choice for DMV Dining’s dinner plans last night.
As soon as we walked in, we instantly noticed the clean, wood interior which accentuated the wine bar-themed décor. There’s a reason why this place took so long to open as the entire space was gutted from top to bottom. There is a striking display case by the bar of the charcuterie and cheese selection, as well as raw bar options of oysters and crab legs.
Upon our arrival, the hostess immediately greeted us and seated us at a butcher block-style table. We were also told that we could order happy hour specials in the dining area and did not have to sit at the bar.
Our server soon followed and handed us an impressive beer and wine list. Since this restaurant is owned by the same person that operates Cork 57, this wasn’t incredibly shocking, but it was great to see nonetheless. Any restaurant that features Ommengang Witte on tap is not joking around. Add in the fact that they were offering $4 Abita Light draughts for happy hour and we’re in serious business.
Speaking of happy hour, Food Wine Co. also featured dollar Malpec oysters. Rachel and I split a half dozen of these and came away very impressed with not only the presentation but also of the three sauces that accompanied them. As soon as we finished we ordered another half dozen since they were so good, and for a dollar a piece, they were quite a bargain. Instead of your traditional cocktail and horseradish combo, the plate came with wasabi, cucumber, and white wine dressings. Very different, yet enjoyable. Black’s might have some serious competition here, and I’m all for it.
As for our main course, I went with the pork belly sandwich. It was topped with crispy shallots and glazed with a savory raspberry BBQ sauce and served on a roll that was prepared in-house (as is the case with all of their breads according to the menu).
The sandwich was excellent as it wasn’t excessively greasy yet still encompassed that delicious pork belly flavor while the sauce emphasized the care it took to prepare in the kitchen. Even the fries seemed freshly-cut and were much better than I’ve had at similar eateries.
Rachel opted for the ahi tuna salad which was beautifully served in rare pieces with a sesame seed crust, along with greens, carrot ribbons, kalamata olives, and a wasabi dressing that had quite a kick. It was a rather satisfying salad and a generous portion of tuna as well.
As we were finishing our entrees, the server discreetly dropped off a dessert menu then asked later if we were interested. Everything sounded delicious, most notably the goat cheesecake and a free form apple tart. We reluctantly declined because we were so full, but we will definitely have to indulge ourselves on a future visit.
We mentioned to the server that Rachel works in the building, and he asked us what we thought of our meal and to definitely come back soon as well as tell our friends and colleagues. He gave her a business card with the manager’s name on the back, and even cut us a discount on the bill! It was a very nice touch and you could tell they were anxious to see what we thought.
Overall, this seems like a great new addition to Downtown Bethesda. The prices are a little on the higher side, but so was the quality of everything presented, so it obviously seemed worth it. They also serve lunch which features smaller, less expensive variations of what is offered on their dinner menu. We were already eyeing the large bar area for a happy hour in the near future.
There is currently a website for Food Wine and Co. but the content is severely lacking. We definitely recommend they update it soon with the menu so others can see what this delightful new restaurant has to offer.