Sunday, May 31, 2015

Met Bethesda Food Review

Met BOSTON Burger with Fries

It's almost impossible to keep track of all the (dining) changes at Westfield Montgomery; but it's even more difficult to overlook one of its crown jewels, Met Bethesda which recently opened on the third and top level, opposite (the equally new) ArcLight Cinemas.

My first visit was for lunch... on National Hamburger Day, no less. So much for the Met Brick Chicken (my original choice.) It's downright un-American not to order a burger on burger day; but there's certainly no rule against ordering multiple appetizers, right? I'm very literal in my interpretations; so I probably went a bit overboard in ordering a Bread Basket ($6) Crispy Coconut Calamari ($12) and two Char-Bar dishes... Brown Sugar Beef and Salmon Belly ($8 and $6 respectively.) I prefer to call myself thorough, and leave it at that.

Hand-cut Buttermilk Biscuits

Server Grace lived up to her name (and then some) guiding me through the delicate waters of over-ordering. Each plate arrived with perfect timing/spacing, allowing me to enjoy everything at a nice, leisurely pace. The first bite(s) could very well have been the best... Hand-cut Buttermilk Biscuits (three of 'em, big and piping hot) served with a sinfully tasty honey maple better. It's a lot for one person (even me) but I'd rather be full, than miss out on some of the finest biscuits in all of Maryland. Don't you dare miss them.

Crispy Coconut Calamari

Next up, Met's calamari - which missed the boat a little (in comparison to the rest of the meal.) I liked the red "crack" sauce; but I didn't taste a shred of coconut, I'm afraid. The rings are a bit small as well, but at least well-flavored. Looking back, I should have probably stuck with the Char-Bar bites and those amazing biscuits.

Brown Sugar Beef

Speaking of, it's hard to do better than the Brown Sugar Beef skewers, even if there's only two of them. Big on flavor? Look no further than these sweet sticks of cilantro and sesame: They were literally oozing piquancy. Almost as nice, two tender slices of Salmon Belly atop charred tomato (great texture, especially for seafood) and drizzled with sauce.

Salmon Belly

Four plates down, one half-pound burger (and fries) to go! Thankfully, Grace and the kitchen gave me a few extra minutes to "make room." Long enough to inhale the rest of what must have been a very expensive decorating bill. Met Bethesda is beautiful to look at, and benefits from a generous amount of spacing (feel free to trade secrets... there's loads of room between tables.) It was a bit quiet early on; but once the music came on (M.I.A., Coldplay) the Metropolitan Kitchen & Bar truly came alive. Overall, great ambiance. Arriving early also has its perks: I was able to choose my own seat... towards the back, and with a sweeping, panoramic window view.

For the record, every day should be National Hamburger Day in my book... especially if it's centered around Met's BOSTON Burger, an ode-to-breakfast creation with bacon, egg & cheddar (minus the cheese.) It's a wee bit pricey ($15) but you get eight ounces of Met prime blend, prepared on a wood burning grill. The burger was perfectly cooked (MEDIUM) and formed, tucked inside a soft brioche bun. It also came with hot, skin-on French fries that were remarkably clean (no oily taste) and tasty. Kudos for an expertly prepared egg too. Reasonably messy, the only thing missing was a moist towelette afterwards. Somehow, I didn't seem to miss the Met Brick Chicken after all. Delicious burger? Check, check, check.

It's a fancy lunch, especially for a shopping mall; but I imagine a leisurely dinner (over an hour or two, with friends) would be even more spot-on. The sprawling space (with a fancy/fun bar, smack in the middle) appears best suited for a big crowd... the type you're bound to see before/after a date night movie next door. After all, I have a "date" with a Met Brick Chicken, that still needs tending to.