April 18, 2014

Dec 12, 201209:05 AMTable Talk

First Taste: Du-par’s Hamburger Hamlet

Dec 12, 2012 - 09:05 AM
First Taste: Du-par’s Hamburger Hamlet

Born in Jersey, raised in Philly, I’m a hard-core diner gal. So when I heard that Du-par’s, a Los Angeles-based chain that’s been serving up legendary pancakes and pies since 1938, had joined forces with Bethesda’s Hamburger Hamlet, I was in blue plate heaven.

Du-par’s owner “Biff” Naylor and Hamlet owner Keith Warlick, friends and neighbors in Los Angeles, hatched this joint venture to help offset the high rent in Bethesda, according to Naylor. Open 24 hours, the idea “was to see if we could do more business to make the rent more reasonable,” he said.

The restaurant added the Du-par’s offerings about a week and a half ago, and while I don’t want to put the kibosh on the kitchen—which is still adjusting to serving two menus—early indications are that it needs more practice.

The pancakes and omelets were good, but in both cases, I’ve certainly had fluffier, and a diner menu needs to offer a terrific cup of coffee—not just an okay one.

As for Du-par’s famous homemade pies, the two I tried were sub-par. The coconut custard, overpopulated with shredded coconut, had temperatures zones of warm and cold, even in one bite. What’s more, the crust was hard, not flaky, and the custard was dense and pasty, not creamy. Ditto on the crust and filling in the chocolate cream pie, plus its topping more closely resembled the consistency of whipped potatoes than freshly whipped cream.

While a glazed doughnut and Danish were the best of the bunch, the enormous brownie had to be the most bizarre version I’ve ever encountered—I got it for carryout, and everyone at home marveled at its likeness to a fudge brick, in weight, appearance and texture.

Night owls looking for a 3 a.m. French toast fix have a needed destination. As for me, I’ll wait until the kitchen training kicks in to give the place another try, most likely during normal waking hours.  

10400 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, hamburgerhamlet.com, du-pars.com, 301-897-5350.

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About This Blog

Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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