You could not have asked for a better day for this year’s Taste of Bethesda. The weather was perfect, there were new restaurants to explore, and most importantly, we didn’t have to worry about parking.
Fresh Grill: Our first stop was Bethesda’s latest burger entrant, Fresh Grill.They have received some praise over on Yelp since their recent opening, so I decided to check out what they had to offer. I usually shy away from using tickets on samples of a slider, but I have to admit, I walked away impressed.
The bun was fresh, the bacon was thick, and the beef was juicy. Now I want to know what an entire cheeseburger tastes like from this place. Good stuff (and no, I’m not referring to Spike’s).
Bistro Provence: This was supposed to be our next stop as I was very much anticipating Yannick Cam’s French cuisine, but much to our dismay, the bistro’s kiosk was nowhere to be found! Quite a disappointment as they were originally advertised to be a part of Taste of Bethesda. They were even listed on the map handouts!
Nest Café: Nest has proven time and time again that they are one of the most underrated venues in Bethesda. Not only were they offering an array of higher-end options at their booth, but they had separate lines dedicated to each of the entrees they were serving up.
The left line featured mussels which were being freshly prepared in what looked like a delicious broth. I opted for the line on the right, which was not a sample mind you, but an entire serving of their “Drive by BBQ”.
Customers had their choice of meat (brisket, chicken, pulled pork) as well as sauce (I went with the brisket and Texas molasses-blend sauce), and let me tell you, it basically represented my lunch for the day and rendered all other tickets nearly useless.
For the cost of four tickets, which is essentially five dollars, customers received an overstuffed sandwich full of brisket, drenched in sauce, all atop a hearty bun. I had to sit down at a nearby table to consume all of it, but once again, Nest delivered.
In comparison, the same sandwich would cost you $13.95 at a table inside Nest, excluding the accompanying fries and coleslaw. Basically, it’s downright refreshing to see restaurants such as Nest actually take the time to offer a full portion of their menu’s offerings during Taste of Bethesda for such an unbelievable value.
Morton’s of Bethesda: For one careless reason or another, I decided to waste two tickets on their petit filet mignon sandwich. Between the meat being well done (if you could even find it), and the oversized potato roll, this was a poor decision and even worse sample. For such a high-class establishment, I would have expected better from them.
Yamas: The newly-opened Greek restaurant was offering samples of gyros and falafel, so I went with the latter since I had already had my fair share of meat for the day.
The chick peas were fresh, crispy, and overall had good flavor. Not as tasty as Amsterdam Falafel, but I liked it. The size of the portion was fairy generous as well. My only pet peeve was the use of whole wheat pita. It just did not taste nearly as good as regular pita bread. The texture, dryness, and overall bland flavor just takes the entire dish down a notch.
Olazzo: I decided to use the last of our tickets at a neighborhood staple, Olazzo. I went with the Penne Rose with meatball for a cost of three tickets. Unsurprisingly, the dish was excellent. The rose sauce was thick and creamy while you could taste all the wonderful spices the house-made meatball was prepared with. The two together made for a great combination.
Overall, I’d say the entire day was a success. While there was only one misstep (Morton’s), the rest of the venues I tried were solid choices. Now if only people wouldn’t take their enormously-sized dogs that could carry small children on top of, I’d be a happy man.