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« Farrah Olivia | Main | Lakeside Asia Cafe »

Fri, Mar 30 2007 at 04:44 PM

Black's Bar and Kitchen

Posted by Jason, Mar 30, 2007

I wish I could pay the oyster shuckers at Black's Bar and Kitchen to be my own personal oyster shuckers. They have this way of shucking the oyster perfectly every time. I've had three dozen oysters there, and so far, not a single one has done anything but slide off the shell into my mouth without the least bit of prying.

The oysters at Black's Bar and Kitchen are definitely the way to go, especially the kusshis, which have become my favorite oysters since trying them at Black's for the first time. They're thick and meaty, but amazingly tender and go down easy because they're small. My favorite wine to drink with them is the Muscadet which conveniently is the cheapest wine by the glass, but complements the salty flavor of the oysters well because it's not too sweet and citrusy. Sometimes, I wish I'd just ordered three or four dozen of them and called it a night.

I've only ever sat at the spacious bar at Black's Bar and Kitchen where the atmosphere is fun and the bartenders quick to keep your glass full. Why would you sit anywhere else than the bar at a place like Black's? They have two bartenders at the bar, so the service is very quick. I was lucky to be served by Mike each time I was there (I hope he won't mind me mentioning him here, but I always feel compelled to talk about someone specific when I receive exceptional service from them.) You'll recognize him because he's the big jovial guy on the left side that treats everyone like his best buddy.

Black's Bar and Kitchen is the sister restaurant to Blacksalt, which has always been one of my favorite seafood places. Where Blacksalt has a tendency to pair their seafood with a heavily flavored sauce, Black's Bar and Kitchen takes a subtler approach to their dishes, leaving the quality of the ingredients to speak for themselves, but unfortunately, that's not always enough.

The seafood dishes that I've tried came off a little bland although, for those that like a good, honest seared tuna, Black's is a good choice. When you get past the slightly bitter flavor of the cocoa and black pepper crusting, the cut of tuna is superb and perfectly cooked -- almost cool in the middle and just the way it should be. The crispy whole fish, on the other hand, left me disappointed. There wasn't much meat on the bones of the fish and the citrus flavored sauce it was served with didn't do the trick for me. I think when I return, I'll just order the a la carte seafood like the organic salmon with a simple lemon herb sauce.

Once the aphrodisiac from the oysters wears off, you might want to refill with either the mint julep or chocolate trio, both of which have a month's worth of chocolate servings. The first is a warm, oozy chocolate lava cake with refreshing homemade mint ice cream that I liked very much. The latter, a combination of three rich chocolate desserts: two small chocolate ice cream sandwiches, a thin fallen chocolate souffle, and chocolate panna cotta. All three are very rich, but the chocolate ice cream sandwiches are the best, especially when eaten with the sparkling red dessert wine (the exact name escapes me) that's available on the menu by the glass and just happened to be on the house that night because "we looked like we were having a good time". Thank you Mike!

As I mentioned before, the Muscadet is probably the best deal for wines on the menu, but other than that, the wines on the menu are generally pretty expensive. Black's offers a good deal of wines by the glass and two different options for pours -- a 3 oz. or 6.5 oz pour. the 6.5 oz pours which is basically a normal glass that you can get anywhere else can go up to $15. I'd avoid glasses and just order a bottle.  I'll spare you the rant about the Montgomery County liquor board and just say in Black's defense that it's a lot easier for a restaurant in DC or Virginia to have a quality, low-priced wine list.

Black's Bar and Kitchen
7750 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814
Map
(301) 652-5525
www.blacksbarandkitchen.com

Details:
Hours: See web site
Dress Code: Business Casual
Parking: Street
Closest Metro: Bethesda
Reservations: Taken and recommended. Bar and cafe are first come first serve
Baby-Child friendly rating: 3 diapers. There are actually a good deal of families that go to Black's and I've even seen people with their children in the cafe/bar, which is non-smoking.

Categories: Bethesda, New American, Restaurant Reviews, Seafood
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dan

i love Black's Bar and Kitchen, and I've been there several times for lunch and once for dinner. The only problem is: the last time 5 friends and I were there for happy hour/dinner, we all food poisoning from the oysters. Violently violently sick. Everything tasted great going down, but 24 hours later, ehhhh....

Jason

Food poisoning is tough to track down or even prove. I've gotten sick after eating at restaurants before...but I can never tell if it's the food I ate or some bug that my son gave me. It's quite possible that one of you gave the rest of you the same bug, especially considering the timing of when you got sick. Then again, it could've been the oysters. After all, we aren't in a month ending in an "R". Here's some good info on when you can eat oysters.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/ck_culinary_qa/article/0,1971,FOOD_9796_1702258,00.html

Matt

I had the same food-poisoning experience as dan above. A group of six people went and had oysters there. Twenty-four hours later and we were all violently ill. We concluded that it had to be Black's because everyone only tangentially knew the others in the party. And we all got sick at the same time and had the same symptoms. It was definitely Black's. I will not be going back.

Andrea

Black's is great! You need to try the Carolina Mountain Trout. And the tuna is excellent every time.

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