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Roof, Owner Alan Pohoryles' Modern American on Norfolk and Cordell Avenue - Bethesda - Closed Nov 23, 2014

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I've been walking past the construction zone that became Roof Bethesda (and Smashburger) for a while now, so I was pleased to see it finally open and thought I'd check it out. From what I've been reading, I thought it was going to be more of a hip, rootop bar scene that also happened to have food, but I was happy to see that I was wrong...well, maybe not wrong, they're certainly going for the hip bar part...it's also a serious restaurant. And a darn good one at that.

Let me start with a negative though. Unless your restaurant has some sort of really wacky concept, I really, really don't need the server to start with a long winded explanation of the menu. It's a restaurant. It's a menu. Appetizers are smaller than entrees. Yes, I can see that the cocktails are on top, and the wine is on the bottom. I get it. I've dined before. Don't get me wrong, our server was excellent and friendly...I know this comes from the top. Stop it.

Anyway, we started with a Smithwicks draft, $7, and a Russian Mule, $10 (I think that's what it was called), an excellent drink with vodka, ginger and lime juice served in a copper cup, which stayed nicely chilled throughout the meal. Cute.

We skipped appetizers and went right to entrees,

Tagliatelle Pasta and Clams
Handmade egg noodles, local clams, garlic, butter, tomatoes, $18


Mountain Trout Almondine
French beans, red bliss potatoes, almonds, caper-brown butter sauce $18

Both were excellent and, as you can see, reasonably priced. Nothing especially earth-shattering or creative, just simple and well made. Exactly what I tend to look for in a restaurant.

We finished with a Sticky Toffee Pudding ($10 on the menu, charged $8) which could have used a big big scoop of ice cream instead of the chantilly cream on top, but was warm and tasty despite that.

Food aside, I do have a few issues though.

The main one is the lack of separation between the bar and the main dining area. It was loud, and the bar crowd was practically spilling into the dining room on a Monday night...can't imagine what it'll be like on a Friday or Saturday night. Might take some work to convince people that this is as much a restaurant as a bar. But the main room is beautiful....it's on the second floor of the building and is pretty much all window...you get a very nice view of the neighborhood.

Also, and I know I sound like a broken record here, the menu on the website was vastly different from the menu we received, and didn't specify prices. Drives me crazy. I was really looking forward to the churros mentioned online, and was disappointed when they didn't have them. Ideally? Update the menu on the website daily. If that's too hard, note on the website that it's a sample menu, and post the full one daily on your Facebook page. Easy.

In general though, this was one of the most pleasant meals I've had in Bethesda in a while. I know it's early, but it looks like I'll be adding this to the rotation along with Grapeseed, Food Wine and Co., and a few others as long as it doesn't get too loud and bar-oriented.

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