The far western side of Montgomery County is a sad place for a foodie. We have just a handful of places that are worth your dining dollars. Starting in Palisades (OK, that's across the DC line, but not by much) we have:
- BlackSalt - superb but expensive
- Figs Fine Food - wonderful but more of a lunch place IMO
- Et Voila - never tire of moules frite
- Sur La Place - never tire of moules frite, directly across the street from Et Voila
- A Japanese place I've never been to
- Listrani - neighborhood pizza joint, some like it but I really believe it is just convenience and absence of choices
- Kemble Park Tavern - just closed, meh bar food
Then nothing until Glen Echo and the Inn at Glen Echo - basically an Irish pub. It is good, but I still miss its predecessor, which was fine dining.
Then another wasteland. In the tiny strip center at the circle just above Glen Echo, there is what has to be the world's worst pizza, in a disgusting filthy pizza shop that smells so bad you want to retch. How this place passes health inspections I do not know.
Above that, across the one-lane bridge and past the three-way stop sign for the ramp onto the Clara Barton parkway is a small strip center at the corner of Seven Locks Road. Until recently, it had little to offer. Just a bizarre and non-too-clean sandwich shop/convenience store that had a strange mix of food.
Now some of these places are quite enjoyable, but not exactly the full spectrum of dining options.
So your choices were: drive to Bethesda and encounter the parking wars, stay home and cook (oh the horror!), or starve.
Well, things just improved a bit. Wild Tomato, a new restaurant from the owners of Persimmon, has opened in that small shopping center up in Cabin John. We went last night, arriving about 6:15 and a good thing because they do not take reservations and about 15 minutes later, all tables were full and there was a waiting line of about 16 people. The hostess confirmed that they always fill up by 6:40 and have people waiting - and there really isn't much of a waiting area. Just a small corner near the front door with a few chairs.
The place is quite small - maybe 5 or 6 4-tops and about 8 2-tops. It is casual (jeans are fine) and nicely decorated with bright oil colors (all featuring vegetables) around the walls. Those of us who are females of a certain age - always hot - won't mind the blast of cold air that comes in every time the door opens. The place is too small for a wind break or double-door entry. If you are a person with a functioning thermostat, you may want to stay away from the door in the winter.
Service is friendly but a bit uneven - to be expected at week three after opening. I think part of it had to do with how many people came in at about the same time. It did take quite a while to have our order taken but otherwise pacing wasn't bad. I also had the sense that the kitchen struggles to keep up.
The food. We shared a Greek salad. It was loaded with olives but otherwise was just an ordinary salad. The feta was not chunks, but finely grated, which I didn't mind. The greens were fresh. We also shared the pork loin with fruit compote over polenta. This was a lovely winter dish, perfectly cooked. Three decent sized pieces of pork loin arranged attractively on a long plate covered with a bed of polenta and kale. We really enjoyed it. They showed restraint with the fruit compote so the dish was not too sweet, as might have been the case. We also shared the creme brulee. Eh. Not much flavor.
Overall, we really liked this place and look forward to returning many times. Welcome to the nabe, Wild Tomato!