Macdara “Mac” MacTigue has been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for decades. In Dublin, he worked at the Burlington Hotel (many consider it the Ritz or W of Ireland). He was the co-owner of Flanagan’s Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda. Last month, he and his partner, Stephen Godbout, opened Macdara’s Grille in the heart of Wheaton.
The restaurant is located at 2405 Price Avenue, in the old Rock Creek Chophouse location. It’s a very cozy spot, and fits the warm and welcoming description Godbout told me the restaurant was going for.
The cuisine is Classic American “with a dash of Irish charm.” Their chef is vegan trained and offers vegan options for most menu items when possible (including some of the specials).
We walked in and enjoyed the “bow wow wall”– a collections of portraits of some of the dogs that belong to a fewnof the regular customers. Bring in your photo and they’ll place it on the wall!
The bar was being tended by Macdara himself. He and Stephen fill in whenever and wherever necessary.
As we mentioned earlier, the restaurant is cozy and has a great atmosphere.
We started with a Devil’s Backbone and their Sauvignon Blanc.
We started with the bacon wrapped sweet potatoes.
Next came the honey ham croque-monsieur sliders. Highly recommended! A little of the mustard goes a long way.
What I’m about to say is bold, but I stand by it. We had their BBQ chicken mac ’n’ cheese, and it was the best mac n cheese I’ve ever had (mentioned in episode 8 of The MoCoShow podcast).
A little Caeser salad prior to the main course.
There aren’t many places you can find a $19 filet. The price is right on this one, and I was a fan of the red onion marmalade that came with it as well. We got the sautéed green beans as a side.
The crab stuffed flounder fillet, stuffed with crab, garlic, and peppers was awesome. The loaded baked potato was almost like a meal in itself!
We finished off our meal with the traditional Irish bread pudding. The family recipe comes from Macdara’s mother, and it was a great way to end the meal!
I was told about their brunch that’ll start this Sunday (9/2/18) from 11am-3pm. They shared with me this coupon that’ll give you 20% off your next brunch. If it’s anything like dinner, I recommend giving it a shot!
Hot Pot Legend currently has over 80 locations in over 20 different provinces in China. The Rockville location (595 Hungerford Drive) is the first location in the United States.
This was my first time trying hot pot. It’s kind of a mix between Melting Pot, Korean BBQ, and Mongolian BBQ (for those of you that remember BD’s).
Walking in, you’re greeted by a giant panda (that seems to be the theme). It’s definitely different...you’ll even have little panda pillows at your seat. I like pandas...I’m good with it!
Here’s how it works...
Choose your soup base:
• Sichuan Spices (very spicy...add sesame oil if you want it a bit milder)
• Tomato (usually not my thing, but tasty!)
• Pork Broth (most popular, my favorite)
Choose your meat:
• Fatty Brisket Slice*
• Sliced Beef
• Beef Tripe
• Sliced Lamb*
• Pork Belly*
• Pork Liver
• Sliced Chicken
Choose your seafood:
• Sliced Fish Filet
• Small Cuttlefish
* my favorites
Soy products (not pictured) include:
• Spongy Tofu
• Beancurd Sheet
• Beancurd Skin
Choose your noodles:
• Ramen Noodle
• Udon Noodle
• Rice Vermicelli
• Steamed Rice
• Mini Dumpling
Can’r really go wrong here...
• Beef Meatball
• Fish Ball
• Shrimp Ball
• Pork Meatball
• Fish Tofu
• Squid Ball
• Northern Style Meatball
• Cuttlefish Ball
• Quail Egg
• Mini Sausage
• Seaweed Knots
• Wood Mushroom
• White Radish
• Lotus Root
• Enoki Mushroom
• Shitake Mushroom
• Napa Cabbage
• Oyster Mushroom
• Crown Daisy
• Bok Choy
• Fried Bread Stick
You want to add any root veggies to the soup at the start so that you can eat them towards the end of your experience, since they take a while to cook.
The meat cooks in just a few seconds and you get to choose from about a dozen different dipping sauces, including:
• Chive Sauce
• Chinese Barbecue Sauce
• Chili Sauce
• Soy Sauce
• Sesame Oil
• Chef Sauce
I recommend experimenting with the different sauces.
This was a very different experience and I enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be visiting Hot Pot Legend again in the near future.
Nantucket’s Reef (9755 Traville Gateway in Rockville) opened in September of 2013, just five weeks after O’Donnell’s Sea Grill closed a few miles away in the Kentlands.
The restaurant is MoCo owned and operated. Owners Jonathan Bostin (grew up in Laytonsville and graduated from Poolesville High School) and Steve Deffinbaugh (graduated from Seneca Valley High School) have also opened a sister restaurant in Frederick– Ragin’ Reef (506 E. Church Street).
I have friends that rave about the happy hour and was told that it runs EVERY DAY from 3pm until close at the bar (Monday-Friday from 3pm-7pm in the dining room).
Nantucket’s Reef offers fresh seafood at an affordable price point. They also do brunch on weekends and serve bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas for just $9.50 with the purchase of any brunch entree.
Today I stopped in for a late lunch/early dinner and started with the Lobster Queso. The chips are made in-house and it was difficult keeping myself from filling up on them.
Another appetizer that came highly recommended was the Wicked Mussels. This dish comes with small pieces of chorizo sausage, pico, and lemon butter that makes for an awesome dipping sauce.
It’s summer, so we tried two of their most weather-appropriate cocktails– the Ship Wreck and Orange Crush. If you’re into tropical, sweet drinks, the Ship Wreck is for you.
They do offer a few non-seafood options. Pictures below are the Blackened Chicken Tacos from the lunch menu. They also have a Chicken Pecan and Chicken Caeser salad as well as Herb Roasted Chicken and a 13oz ribeye for anyone not into seafood.
I’m a crab cake guy. They call theirs the Crab “No” Cakes. It consists of double jumbo lump crab cakes with a side of thin cut fries, served with coke slaw and tartar sauce. I enjoyed the crab cakes and they have good fries too.
Cant leave without dessert, and we certainly didn’t. I highly recommend finishing off your meal with the bread pudding. It’s as good as it looks
Sasuns is named after the Armenian town where one of the owners grandparents were born (Sasun, now known as Sason, is currently a district in the Batman province of Turkey).
Vatche and Maral Abkarian decided to open the restaurant just over a year and a half ago. It’s located at 7217 Muncaster Mill Road, in the same location that was Home to Steaming Blues Crab House.
Their daughter Sophie, a recent Magruder graduate, can often be found running the counter– taking care of the carry-out customers and handling all of the dine-in orders.
“I used to cook for hundreds of people each year at my church, so I decided to do something crazy and open the restaurant.” said owner, Vatche Abkarian. He has lived in the area for nearly four decades and loves the Derwood community– where the restaurant is located and the family lives.
In addition to all the food we are showing below, Sasuns has items like chicken souvlaki, French fries, kebabs, pizza, cheesesteaks and a lot more!
We started by trying out their dips. We had the tabboulleh, muttabel (roasted eggplant and tahini), Baba Ganouj, and hummus. The Baba Ganouj was my favorite.
We tried all of the meats from their platters (chicken, ground beef, and tenderloin). I was a fan of all of them, but I’ll definitely order the tenderloin the next time I’m in.
Lahmajun, which is also known as “Armenian Pizza.” It contains minced meat and veggies (seems to be tomato based) and various spices.
Their cheese canoes are amazing. I’m definitely going to be ordering these again. One contained cheese and olives and the other had sliced soujouk (dried beef sausage).
Kibbeh: Lebanese beef croquettes
Dessert! Three different variations of baklava that are made in-house and a tart yogurt with a fruit based sauce and chia seeds.
I had the opportunity to check out JINYA Ramen Bar at Pike & Rose (910 Prose St., next to the Baked Bear and LL Bean) whose grand opening is this coming Tuesday, August 7th, 2018. I was extremely impressed.
JINYA specializes in ramen. Ramen is widely considered a Japanese dish, but there's much debate over whether the noodles were first made in Japan or China. Many say the dishes as invented in China but made popular/trendy in Japan.
Though many credit New York’s Momofuku with making the dish popular in the U.S., the ramen “boom” came about in California when more than 200 spots opened in the area in 2012 alone.
Now that you have a brief background, let’s get into what JINYA has to offer...
Their cocktails are fun, but more importantly, they taste great. They run from $10-$12.
Below you’ll see the:
• Love me some Painappuru (rum, pineapple juice, aperol, and sweet vermouth)
• Garden of Todai-Ji (tequila, matcha basil shochu, agave syrup, fresh lime juice)
• Temple of Love (Heaven Hill bourbon, Cocchi Torino, rosemary foam, JINYA house bitters)
• The Forbidden Kingdom (Nikka gin, fresh lemon juice, fresh orgeat, house bitters, Aperol Aperitif)
I was speaking with one of our area’s top chefs who told me that JINYA is unique because their other dishes are just as great as their ramen. We started with the Brussel Sprouts Tempura (crispy brussel sprouts with white truffle oil).
We moved on to the Takoyaki Octopus. It was battered octopus over egg tartar, topped with kewpie mayonnaise, okononiyaki sauce, fresh cut green onion and smoked bonito flakes. They were very tasty, but also very filling so make sure you don’t eat too many of these (may be hard to do).
The caramelized cauliflower contained toasted pine nuts and, crispy mint leaves, and lime sauce. It was light and tasty.
Ramen time. We had the chance to try four of them. I liked all of them and I’ll reveal my favorite soon. We started with the Tonkotsu Black (pork broth) and Sprouting Up Ramen (pork and chicken broth). Both broths were excellent. The Tonkotsu Black was served with thin noodles and the Sprouting Up was served with thick noodles. I’d give both a shot to find your preference on the type of noodles.
Next were the Tonkotsu Spicy (pork broth) and Spicy Creamy Vegan (vegetable broth). I could taste the kick in the spicy bowl, but it’s not overpowering– a good thing for me. I was surprised that my favorite bowl ended up being the Spicy Creamy Vegan. I love meat, so I wasn’t expecting to be a fan, but I truly thought it was the tastiest of the bunch. Initially, I had a new favorite with each new bowl I tried, but after going back and trying them all again, I am sticking with the Spicy Creamy Vegan as my personal favorite.
Poke bowls are popping up all over the area as well. Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish (usually tuna), or other meats, which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and various sauces.
JINYA has their own version. Below is the California Bowl. It contains salmon, spicy tuna, shrimp, seaweed salad, masago, avocado, and cilantro over rice.
For dessert we had mochi ice cream. Very similar to most variations of mochi ice cream I’ve had, with green tea and chocolate flavors available.
We finished off our meal with the Toki Highball. JINYA will soon have a Highball machine that will provide “super-carbonated” flavored draft water. The Toki Highball consists of the water mixed with Suntori Toki Whiskey. A great way to end an evening!
It was a little too warm to eat outside in the late afternoon/early evening, but their outdoor seating is going to be awesome based on what I saw.
JINYA has a lot to offer. It’ll be a reasonably priced option with great food for anyone looking to eat at Pike & Rose.
I love food. On this tab, you will see some of my favorite dishes and restaurants in MoCo!