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Lock 72 (Formerly River Falls Tavern), American Seafood Restaurant on River Road in Potomac Village Shopping Center


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I'd have to characterize our recent meal here as "the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts".  There's potential here, but I don't really understand what they're trying to be.  The ingredients seems to be very good, the kitchen seems to be able to execute technique, but the dishes themselves...

First, the good news.  The table snack is pieces of lavash crisps, served with with an olive tapenade and a sundried tomato dip, all excellent.  As one might expect, the crabcakes are the same excellent items that River Falls has long been known for.  Various vegetable accompaniments were made with well-prepped baby vegetables, cooked just through.

But then.  The potential of their half-chicken, further divided into a decently roasted breast and a wonderful buttermilk-fried deboned thigh, is entirely undermined by the sea of cloyingly sweet bourbon-honey sauce poured over the top.  I can't even begin to understand the conceptualization of this dish.  Two techniques, totally different, each producing a crisp exterior texture, and ideally a moist and savory interior.  (The thigh was excellent; the breast was a bit lacking in moisture.)  And then you turn those hard-earned textures to mush and drown the chicken flavors in a brown sauce that would make Ruby Tuesday's proud, killing the dish.  Killing. The. Dish.

Portions of the sides were blue-haired-people-in-Florida huge, and generally fired in individual skillets.  The ones we tried were good, not exemplary, and tending slightly towards what Porcupine refers to as "gray food".  Maybe it was just the subdued lighting in the place.  The crab and artichoke dip was an odd version, very liquid at first, with not that much crabmeat in it, but plated with a reef of artichoke hearts down the center.  The confused textures made it hard to dip the soda bread into, as the cream would immediately run off and it would trail cheesy stringers from any attempts to use the spoon.  It was also quite large.  By the end of our meal, it had firmed up considerably, but we were to stuffed to attempt any more of it.

I just don't know.  Potomac Village has long suffered from restaurants that only aspired to be "good enough", despite the high rents, and I can't say that this one breaks the mold.  On this visit, the Tavern certainly wasn't as satisfying, nor as revelatory, as the lately revived Old Angler's has been.

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Brunch today was disappointing. I consider this area of Potomac to be obscenely overpriced, but my wife and I were hungry and needed a bite before heading back to Virginia. And with Robert Wiedmaier involved, what would go wrong?

Well, my general advice is to avoid this portion of Potomac unless you just won the lotto and have stupid money to spend. My $23 breakfast plate wasn't necessarily bad, but it was average at best and consisted of about $3 of ingredients. The two (medium) eggs were nicely cooked over easy and served medium hot, as if they were the last item plated. The split and toasted English muffin was probably from a bag of Thomas's muffins. The potatoes were nicely home fried with good crunch, but might not have added up to an entire potato. The two sausage links were the star of the plate, maybe sourced from a good butcher. The "seasonal fruit" was 3/4 of a strawberry that would be destined for the waste bin at a bib gourmand restaurant. This might have been a great $12.95 plate at Silver Diner or Bob and Edith's, but I expect more from Robert Wiedmaier.

But then, this was Potomac.

My wife had the salmon burger and declared it delicious. I tasted the fries and they were soggy. But a spanking good salmon burger for $16 should at least be praised for not being a $23 breakfast plate with $3 worth of ingredients.

But then, this was Potomac.

A few years ago we dined at Renato nearby. It was exorbitantly expensive, and of average quality. I'm think that "expensive and average" is a required description for meals in Potomac.

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