to our readers
FOR BUSY BETHESDA-AREA RESIDENTS,
“not cooking” doesn’t always mean dining at a
restaurant. It could also mean getting takeout or
having food delivered.
My wife, Susan, and I are no exceptions. We
dine out often, but probably once a week we pick
up food on the way home or order online for
delivery. A while back we ordered so often from
Himalayan Heritage in Bethesda that I knew the
name and backstory of the delivery person.
(She is from Montreal.)
You can get takeout from virtually every
restaurant in the Bethesda area—and get food
delivered from many of them. You also can get
prepared dinners at numerous food markets,
large and small, and at the many farmers markets
in Montgomery County.
With literally hundreds of takeout choices, it’s
difficult to know where to go. So we gave Food
Editor Carole Sugarman an ample budget and
simple instructions: Go out and find the best
carryout the area has to offer.
During a 10-week stretch this winter, Sugarman
didn’t cook dinner once. She sampled more than
100 dishes from 60 different restaurants, markets
and food trucks. That included eating carryout
barbecue on Valentine’s Day (which she described
as “good, but not particularly romantic”), scout-
ing farmers markets during the most frigid days
in January, and dashing in and out of restaurants
and markets. “My trunk and backseat were often
stacked with frozen lasagnas, pierogis, blintzes,
dumplings, barbecue,” she says. “The smell of pizza
in my car was especially easy to detect.”
Did she miss cooking? “Eventually, yes,” Sugar-
man says. “It was so nice just to prepare a piece
of salmon on the grill pan, served with some
simple couscous. But now that I’m back in the
kitchen, I’m thinking about what delivery service
I’ll be calling on soon.” Sugarman’s guide—called
“What’s For Dinner?”—begins on page 88.
ON A MORNING in late March, two things
happened at adjacent Bethesda restaurants that
epitomized two trends that are altering the local restaurant scene. At Pitzze Table, a popular pizza place,
county sheriff’s deputies arrived and closed the
restaurant for failing to pay rent. Meanwhile,
representatives of Robert Wiedmaier’s RW
Restaurant Group were next door at Markham’s
Bar and Grill, negotiating the final details of
a takeover of that space.
Pitzze and Markham’s are recent casualties
in what increasingly looks like a losing war for
independently owned restaurants. Battered and
bruised by rising rents, many local restaurants
are closing or just barely hanging on. This trend
is particularly unfortunate because the locally
owned restaurants generally have strong ties to
the community and are, of course, one of a kind.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that
local, chef-driven restaurant groups are moving in. Besides local ownership, these chef-driven
restaurants share an important element: Each
is unique, with its own concept, chef and menu.
Almost without exception, these restaurants
are enriching the local food scene. Writer Steve
Goldstein examines these trends in “Here Come
the Chefs,” beginning on page 114.
I hope you enjoy our Food & Restaurant issue.
Please send me an email with your thoughts at
Editor-in-Chief & Publisher
DINNER IS READY