Last night we went to the Cafe Bethesda (located on the corner of Wilson Lane and Cordell Avenue). I hadn't been there for several months but had heard that there was a new chef there. His name is Eric McCoy and he recently had been a sous chef at Citronelle in DC. The menu was full of interesting and creative combinations and had been updated from the previous menu. He's only been there since January, so he's still pulling some things together. For example, he's upgrading the wine glasses and will be getting new plates to enhance the fine dining experience.
The restaurant is rather small but, unlike many small restaurants (Persimmon, for example), does not become aversively noisy even when full. We appreciated the fine and attentive service. Many of the wait staff have been there for a long time and experience showed.
My husband and I both ordered the fois gras appetizer. This was the only disappointment in the meal. We were presented with three thin slices of fois gras confit with a few slices of grilled brioche bread and an almost marmalade like fruit condiment. We were expecting something more lavish.
For entrees, the couple we were with both ordered fish. One had seared tuna on pearl pasta in a wild mushroom reduction and the other had salmon. Both said their dishes were excellent. I had the veal which was also quite good. My husband had the lamb wrapped in eggplant.
The sauces that accompanied the various dishes showed depth of flavor. Later, in talking with the chef, he explained the complex reductions that go into the sauces.
The desserts were also unusual. I had a sweet orange polenta with honey ice cream. The polenta had a bit of a carmelized sugar coating (like on a creme brulee). My husband had a delicious savarin with fresh fruit. The other couple split a molten chocolate cake with ice cream. Everyone found it a delicious experience.
We also enjoyed a lovely bottle of Reisling wine from Johannesburg which was only $22.
There was a tasting menu that we didn't try because everyone at the table would need to have ordered it. The Chef said that if we were to come on a weekday evening that wasn't too busy, we could give him a price range and some idea of the number of courses we would like to have and he could make a wonderful feast for us. This is an offer to be carefully considered!
Bethesda needs more fine dining like this. Eric McCoy is just getting started. I'd love to hear if anyone else has tried Bethesda Cafe recently and what your experiences have been.