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.
Hours: See web site
Dress Code: Business Casual
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.