Aug 16, 201311:11 AMTable Talk
First Taste: Benny’s Bar & Grill
Photo by Carole Sugarman. See more photos of Benny's Bar & Grill and Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar below.
Every suburban neighborhood needs a restaurant that serves a variety of decent, uncomplicated food at moderate prices. Whoever is joining the group—mom, dad, grandma, the kids—can find something to eat, especially on a night when nobody feels like eating ethnic.
Benny’s Bar & Grill, which opened in May in the revitalized Cabin John Shopping Center & Mall, fits the bill.
“The servers will not need to explain the menu to you,” owner Benson Fischer said before the place opened, regarding the burgers, steaks, pizza and sandwiches he planned to offer (see my blog, March 20).
Indeed, our very nice server didn’t need to explain much about the barbecued pork ribs—other than that it was a full rack, and that the bone-in rib eye Cowboy steak was a good deal for $21.99 (Tuesday is Steak Night; the entrée usually goes for a pricey $32.99).
As for the quality of the food, my limited sampling was good enough that I’d definitely go back to try more. Those ribs were smoky, very meaty and tender—but still with a little give. That steak had a great grilled flavor, although my knife had to zigzag around a bit too much gristle and fat. The French fries are fresh, thick and hand-cut, and I could have plowed through the whole mound if I hadn’t exercised some rare self control.
It was, however, easy to employ moderation with the hot fudge cake; the dried-out cake couldn’t even be rescued by the slab of ice cream in the middle, nor its river of hot fudge.
Fischer did a terrific job with the interior; the 1940s-era décor creates a clubby setting that Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin would have liked, with black-and-white photos of old movie stars. Just FYI, Gloria Swanson is in the ladies’ room.
7747 Tuckerman Lane, Potomac, 301-299-3377, www.bennysbargrill.com
End note: Last night was the fundraising dinner for the new Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar, which officially opens today at North Bethesda Market. About 170 people showed up and paid $40 apiece; 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Manna Food Center, Montgomery County’s main food bank.
This is the fourth location for the Cleveland-based chain, which is making inroads into the Washington area, with plans to open two other restaurants in 2014—one in Gaithersburg’s new Downtown Crown development, the other in Tysons Corner.
Paladar Co-President Andy Himmel, restaurant General Manager Angel Briscoe, incoming Manna Food Center Executive Director Jackie DeCarlo and Friends of White Flint Executive Director Lindsay Hoffman all participated in the ribbon cutting.
The spicy guacamole, ropa vieja and Mexican chocolate cake are promising.
11333 Woodglen Drive, Rockville, 301-816-1100, www.paladarlatinkitchen.com