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Gallery Restaurant and Lounge, Silver Spring - Closed

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This restaurant and nightspot, located on East-West Highway just off Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, is opening today with a chef who is making his Washington debut.

Chef Ward Deal arrives in the area on the heels of working at a popular Mexican restaurant in Montreal called Fandango.

The menu is Contemporary Latin -- no fusion here -- with appetizers like quinoa crusted chicken on sugar cane sticks served with tamarind chili sauce; Chorizo paired with ginger mash and topped with grilled onions; and of course, Ceviche.

Entrees feature a fiery lamb shank marinated with chili peppers; roasted chicken in toasted peanut and panca chile sauce; and vegetarian enchiladas.

I concede my bias: I just started working there. But at a menu tasting last night, the dishes were among the most exciting and flavorful I've had at the three restaurants I've worked at since moving back to the DC area.

Hope to see some Rockwellians stop by sometime soon!

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Daily Candy highlighted it yesterday:

January 13, 2006

Gallery Talk

Sure, a gallery is a great place to gaze intently at art; meet pensive, black-clad types; and foster personal growth. But can you get wasted or stuff yourself with food there?

Not unless you want to get some pretty mean looks from those ridiculous art snobs.

All that is about to change with the opening of Gallery Restaurant and Lounge — a new resto and lounge in the Blair Mill Arts Center in Silver Spring. Chef Ward Deal has put together a menu that melds Caribbean and Latin American tastes. Try the anticuchos, chile-marinated pork shank, or Caribbean-Chino salad. Top it off with a Venezuelan chocolate tart and a bottle from the extensive list of South American wines.

The two floors showcase contemporary design in a comfortable way. There are plenty of seats at the large bars and couches to loll about on, as well as private dining areas. And when the weather is warm, you can groove to the house DJs inside and out while you eat.

And if gloomy-looking, holier-than-thou types begin spewing crap about the designer’s use of “negative space” or “visual metaphor,” don’t worry.

Just give a few nasty looks of your own.

Gallery Restaurant and Lounge, 1115 East West Highway, Silver Spring (301-589-2555 or gallerysilverspring.com).

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I went to Gallery this past weekend. First off, it is a very cool and attractive place, which I think will add to Silver Spring's burgeoning nightlife. In the same way that Jackie's has transformed a funky old garage, the space inside is very cool for the suburbs, which I appreciate. I will say that I had not been to the "Blair Mill Arts Center" before, so it was a pleasant surprise.

The place is quite spacious, which makes me wonder why they sat us in a table that overlooked the blinding light from the kitchen. It was not that crowded, but we had already moved from a cold seat by the window, so we stayed there.

The food is Latin American. I was lulled into ordering the Mojito. While not the worst I have ever had (that one was in Miami, believe it or not), it was not as good as my gold standard (Cafe Atlantico). But we drank on, and listened to the techno music, which matched the setting. They said they would have DJs in the future, and that there would be a dance floor for dancing in the future.

The wine list seemed fine, though Argentina was spelled three different ways. They are a new place, so I assume this will be fixed soon.

We received fried plantain chips after we ordered, which I thought was a nice touch. The staff seemed very attentive, and came to check on us often... so while it is new (I think only open a week or so), they are trying.

We had a few appetizers and a few entrees. The better of the two aps was the Chorizo with Boniato Mash. The chorizo was lightly (not overly) spicy, which was nicely contrasted with the sweet Boniato. I don't think I have ever had boniato mash before, but I enjoyed it. It was like a sweet mashed potato, but not as sweet as a sweet potato.

The other ap was Guacamole, which was fine. They said the chips were made in-house. I found that it was better with the lighter plantain ships that they gave us previously.

My husband had the Chipotle Shrimp. It seemed fine, not outstanding. The scoop of rice with it was one of the smallest I have ever seen as a side dish. The shrimp were spicy, but again not overly. I had the Braised Pork shank (also served with the Boniato mash). It enjoyed it, but it the texture of the braised meat and the mashed boniato was so similar, I felt like it needed something else to contrast. The flavor of the lamb was sweet and spicy at times, bland at others.

I don't know what our final bill price was (note the prices are not on the web site). The entrees were @ $18 and up range, the appetizers were @ $9 + each, so this is a moderate to expensive place. The mojito was @ $ 8.50 and I think the wines by the glass were around $8-10 a glass.

We will likely go back for the fun atmosphere, and the decent food. I think I would order a few aps and maybe skip the entrees if I was watching $$$ as the appetizers were of a good size. There were some larger round corner tables that look like they would be fun for a group.

I was happy for a new, non-chain restaurant to open, we will have to try some more of the menu for a better sense of the food. The food seemed similar to Civiche, which opened recently closer to the movie theater, etc. In comparison, I thought some of the food may have been better at Civiche, but a bit more expensive (then at Gallery). Both are attractive spaces, which next to the chain restaurants is a nice change. Like Jackie's, I think the food is OK, but could be a little better for the price. These same restaurants in DC proper would likely need to rise to a higher standard.

one minor quip... the closest parking is a lot that is about a 1/2 a block away, the cost is $5.00. For some reason the parking is only $3.00 for those going to the Mayorga coffee shop. It wouldn't hurt to have the price be the same for Gallery's patrons, especially when it is FREE everywhere else in Silver Spring after 6:30. I think there was valet parking, but I didn't see the sign until we left, and I am not sure how much it was.

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Well we gave Gallery another try. I find it strange that they don't seem to be very busy. Perhaps they would rather be a lounge/ club and not a restaurant/ lounge. We arrived @ 8:30 and met friends for drinks. Perhaps since it was cold, there was not much of a crowd. There were a few people in the bar area, and maybe 4 tables in the restaurant area.

Overall, I would say the lounge area is the more successful part of this venture, as when we left later in the evening (say @ 11), there was a small crowd there at least.

My drink (a house specialty on their list) was not very good. After this and the not so good mojito I had last time, I would stick to beer and wine. Like last time, it seemed a bit weak. Since there was not that many people there, it could not be because they were busy.

We had some appetizers, which were fine. The guacamole was fine, though they seem to be serving it with less chips then last time we ordered it. The chorizo and boniato mash is still their best thing on the appetizer list. The empanadas were tiny and in need of salsa or some sort of sauce as they were quite dry.

we did get some entrees later, the chipolte shrimp was enjoyed by our friend that ordered it. I had the Churrasco (skirt steak, with yucca fries). I enjoyed it, but if you like it more on the medium rare side, you need to ask for it rare, as it came out as more medium to well done. It came with a spicy mayo for the yucca fries that was interesting. A few folks had the mussels, which also came with the yucca fries and sauce.

I will say it is nice to have an interesting lounge in Silver Spring, but there was something strange about how empty it was for most of the night. It is such a big place, you feel a little strange being one of only a few tables filled. I think they need to do some PR. I also don't understand the upstairs bar that is street level. It has been completely empty both times we have come.

FYI, they have added prices to their web site. (http://gallerysilverspring.com/)

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Gallery is a DOPE spot for House Music. They have secured Roy Davis, Jr as a monthy resident. Davis is a legend of the Chicago electronic music scene. For DC (and Silver Spring) this club is huge.

Why do I say this on a food board? Just to remind people that this place probably puts their club first over the food. That is just my observation, not based on any food-related experiences there.

The menu looks delicious though:


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