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Blue 44, Chevy Chase DC


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At a friend's suggestion I had lunch yesterday at Blue 44 (link), which has opened within the last couple of weeks or so on Connecticut Ave in Chevy Chase DC - where Senor Pepper's or whatever it was called used to be, just south of the Safeway, just south of Chevy Chase Circle.

I had a very good burger with blue cheese and fried onions, for something like $11. Fried oysters as an appetizer had a really nice crisp outside and really nice juicy inside. Others were happy with their food too.

Basically seems like a good neighborhood place, in a neighborhood that desperately needed one.

That's about the full extent of what I know, but it was nice and I'll go back.

Now back to your regularly-scheduled discussion of Shake Shack.

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We went the first week it opened. Pierogis were good. Everything else (arugula salad, baby back ribs, burger) was fine but nothing special. Owners/staff seem friendly and attentive. Interior has been pleasantly transformed and the food is a big step up from Senor Pepper's. It's walking distance from home and my kid fences nearby multiple days a week, so we'll probably end up eating there pretty regularly. But I can't say I'm excited about it. One of those "it's a convenience, not an event" kind of places and not a bargain either. I think I'd be much happier with a Burger Joint.

Maybe I just need to drink more to appreciate these kinds of places, LOL! (Though if I did, wouldn't I find the Bud Light banner scary?) Jake's American Grille (a few blocks south) seems to aspire to the same niche. The menus just put me to sleep.

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We've been here a few times and think its an excellent addition to a neighborhood full of mediocre and often overpriced options. Granted they tend to stick to the staples but what they do, they do well. Most of the entrees are in the $10-15 dollar range which seems reasonable to me in this day and age and they have a nice, not dumbed down kids menu that is only $6 IIRC and is basically smaller versions of the adult dishes.

We've had the deviled eggs, pierogies, fried oysters (too salty), spaghetti and meatballs, philly cheesesteak, pasta w/ wild mushrooms and asparagus, caramelized fennel (outstanding!) and a few other bits and pieces. All have been uniformly very good, with the exception of the oysters which suffered from a heavy hand. On Sunday, 4 of us had dinner including 2 beers for me and a margarita for my wife for $68......maybe I've become inured to high prices around here but I thought that was good value

I would go here in a heartbeat over any other area venue (Parthenon - yuck, Arucola - woeful service, Jakes - tries to be fancier than it really is). Jakes is probbaly the best direct comparison and I would argue that Blue 44 are executing way better than Jakes right now.

My only quibble is their beer list: Shocktop, Sam Adams, and some other nondescript beer on draft just doesn't cut it these days for me with all the great local and national microbrews out there.

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Walked into Blue 44 at 8pm on a Saturday and it was a full house. We were told that a table for 2 would be about 15 minutes so to the bar we went.

The walls have a vaguely Bavarian(?) feel to them -- white with dark wood trim. The ceiling is handsome dark pressed tin tiles. The bar area at the back of the room is somewhat poorly designed as it is right by the kitchen and once all the bar stools are taken, anyone left standing does constant battle with the waitstaff running food to the table. The beer list (as mentioned above) is not exciting. Four flatscreens were showing college football.

After about a 15-20 minute wait we where shown to the "best seat in the house" a cute and charming two seat booth built into the wood panel divider running down the middle of the room.

Food

Being Pittsburgh inspired we of course had to go with an order of the Pierogis ($8 for 4), soft and pillowy, sitting on a bed of onions (not quite caramelized as advertised) and a dollop of sour cream. A nice appetizer, worthy ordering again, although I felt like the pierogis could have used just a hint of salt to play of the onions and sour cream. Makes a good sized appetizer for one person or light snack for two people.

The Big Veggie Caprese ($9), basically an open faced sandwich, two thick slices of Italian bread, piled high with mozzarella, sliced tomato, fresh basil, roasted red peppers, and grilled eggplant, zucchini & red onion, drizzled with creamy balsamic vinaigrette. Comes with a large tangle of arugula. This thing is large and quite satisfying, and a deal at $9...our one thought was it would be much improved if the veggies (esp. the eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions) were served warm, or at least room temp.

Ratatouille ($15), also a very pleasing dish, especially on a chilly night. The polenta (seemed to be the quick cook polenta) was tasty, with a touch of rosemary. Came with two medallions of toasted goat cheese and pile of veggies...could have used a little more flavor from the herbs...and again a hint more salt.

Overall, a favorable first trip to Blue 44. The plating is much more sophisticated then it needs to be. Plenty of dishes went by that looked very appetizing. The quality of the food at the price point was good. Seemed like the food just needed a little tweaking with the seasoning to go from decent/good to good/very good. And they need to improve their beer list. The restaurant has a comfortable neighborhood vibe, which seems to be exactly what they are aiming for.

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Nubs

(As Opposed To Big, Long Things)

Think Kirby Puckett as opposed to Stefka Kostadinova. Short and squat, versus long and lean.

The reason you won't find 1 french fry greater than 2-3 inches long at Blue 44 is because the chef uses the meat of his potato in his chips.

PS I Blue 44 once: Mrs. Riggins got pissed.

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Had a really nice meal here a couple Saturdays ago. Called ahead and asked how long the wait would be for 8 and they asked what time and told us they would reserve a table for 6 pm on Saturday (4 adults/4 kids). We arrived right at 6 and were shown to our reserved table. Service was excellent and between all of us we sampled a fair amount of the menu. The stand outs were:

Sweet Thai Chili Wings $8
Asian marinated chicken wings tossed in sweet Thai chili sauce

Fried Oysters $11
Plump, sweet, and briny lightly fried oysters served with apple horseradish sauce

Grilled Hanger Steak $19
Grilled hanger steak served with creamy Dijon potato gratin, sautéed spinach, crispy shaved fried onions, and Cognac green peppercorn sauce

Also, they a Pot Roast special that looked really good but no one ordered

Nothing mind blowing but solid food at affordable prices and great service. Nice place for easy family meals. Place was packed by the time we left but it is a small spot.

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This place continues to be very solid and has made it into our regular rotation. Stopped in again last night with my MIL in tow. Great service, nice dinner specials to mix things up, easy on the wallet, kid friendly and easy parking. We find ourselves going here instead of fighting the traffic and parking in Bethesda. Wine list could use some improvement but not a deal breaker. Apparently very popular with families as nearly half the tables had kids of varying ages.

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