Food, Wine & Co.
This past Friday was my high school’s prom night, so to celebrate the occasion, my prom group ate at a relatively new American bistro called Food, Wine & Co. Going in, I was a bit apprehensive about the quality of food at Food, Wine & Co. because this Washington Post article stated that the restaurant underwent several changes in chefs, but the current chef Michael Harr seems to have been able to create a menu desirable to the masses. There is a variety of offerings ranging from pizza to hamburger to mussels.
The atmosphere of Food, Wine & Co. generates a vibe of casual yet business-like dining. Dimmed lights, glossed wooden tables, faux candles, and romantic chandeliers all make the restaurant suitable for a host of social events from afterwork gatherings to first dates. On a Friday night, I could hear vibrant chatter sprinkled with explosions of laughter, all these fueled by a vast selection of wine that lined the walls of Food, Wine & Co.’s more quiet, enclosed dining area. The kitchen itself opens itself for viewing by diners, which is nice, but the service was rather spotty. The waiters kept us waiting too long before we could order.
For starters, the bread basket arrived warm for a fresh-out-the-oven feel. A small bowl of whipped butter accompanied the basket, whetting my appetite for the oncoming bar snacks and appetizers.
The fried artichokes came stacked in a small tower. They felt surprisingly soft and carried only a mild flavor. Luckily, the creamy sauce that served as a base added a zesty flavor to the dish.
I am a huge fan of peanuts. I like them plain, roasted, caramelized, candied, or prepared in any way possible. Sweetened peanuts, such as honey-roasted peanuts, are my favorite, so the caramelized peanuts at Food, Wine & Co. strongly appealed to my tastes. In addition to a simple caramelization, the chef adds some spice to the mix with peppers and coats the peanuts with sesame seeds for an added crunch. The dual flavors of spiciness and sweetness combined with extra crunch make Food, Wine & Co.’s peanut snack a knockout.
The third bar snack, hush puppies, was admittedly less exciting than the previous two. While the crisp, fried shell of the hush puppies bestowed a lip-smacking texture to the dish, the inside of the hush puppies was uninspired, plain, and dry. The dish also lacked in terms of taste, despite the accompanying mayonnaise-like dipping sauce.
Like the hush puppies, Food, Wine & Co.’s spring pea soup did not appeal my taste buds. The soup felt gritty and thick and tasted abnormally salty. Perhaps the soup would work when accompanied with pasta or cooked grains, but by itself, the soup struggled to shine.
All of the entrées I tasted exceeded my expectations. Starting with the roasted salmon, which was cooked to perfection, I tasted roasted chicken and mussels. The salmon flaunted a darkened, crisp exterior like that of fried foods. Cutting into the salmon, my fork effortlessly separated the muscles along their edges, releasing a cloud of steam from the piping hot interior. Remnants of fat kept the salmon juicy, and liberal salt seasoning added delectable flavor to the dish. The accompanying vegetables resulted in a variety of textures from soft, wilted spinach to hard yet softened radish, resulting in a wholesome dish.
The mussels, though lacking in flavor, featured a unique feel, especially since I have never ate mussel before. They were soft, squishy, and juicy like a peeled, aging grape.
Unfortunately, I could not get a picture of the roasted chicken dish, which is a shame because the dish harbored a beautifully rustic, romanticized look. The taste did not disappoint either, as the chicken boasted tantalizing chars and a slice of roasted lemon on top.
Lastly, the fries that accompanied my date’s portobello mushroom burger were nicely crisp and moderately salted. A good portion of the fries bordered the edge of overcooking so as to appear transparent, but I personally like my fries in that style.
Food, Wine & Co.
7272 Wisconsin Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814