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Chef Tony's (formerly Visions), Bethesda


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Hello all...

20 year veteran of the restaurant business...yes! Restaurant owner in Bethesda

Podcaster from the past, owner of several websites mostly for fun...cheflifeonline.com and our current restaurant site www.visionsbethesda.com

We are just opening our place in Bethesda and welcome commentary...big fan of seafood, and losing weight (lost 110 lbs last year)...struggling with it lately , but not relapsed, just challenged partially...

Love to hear from other local foodies, tattoo fans, or techie types. Shoot me an email to Cheftony@visionsbethesda.com and we'll chat!

Take care...Chef T :blink:

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Welcome! And congrats on your first post!

But what a tease! :blink: No pictures of the tats? Or, the before and after 110 weight loss pics? Those (of us) who are still struggling with the Fit for Summer challenge could use the encouragement.

Again, welcome!

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Has anyone been here lately? And if so, what's the scoop?

I had dinner there last night (filet mignon satay, whole striped bass), and raised it substantially in the dining guide. It seems they do very good work on the grill, it's a nice space, service is friendly, and they have two chef-owners which hedges against off-evenings.

It pains me that Visions "competes" against David Craig (they're right next door), because these are precisely the type of chef-owned, independent restaurants that I want to succeed. With all the mediocre restaurants in Bethesda, packed to the gills, both of these establishments deserve to be bustling with business - but I fear they might not be. Bethesda, are you listening?

Cheers,

Rocks.

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My husband and I also dined at Visions on Saturday night. We had the calamari and short ribs to start. For entrees, I had the stuffed salmon and husband had the filet satay. This was my second visit to Visions and I was pleased to see a few more bodies in the place as well as some additions to the menu. The calamari was breaded and fried with a light hand and the lemon aoli on the side provided for a nice, tangy bite. The short ribs were a little chewier than I normally like, but the smoky and sweet asian bbq sauce served with it was delicious enough to compensate for the slight well-doneness. I tried a bite of the husband's satays and they were cooked to a perfect medium rare, with a nice char from the grill. My salmon, stuffed with brie, crab, and artichokes, was also cooked perfectly. The stuffing had a nice ratio of brie versus artichoke and crab, so that the dish didn't come across as too cheesy. I appreciated the generous portion of potatoes, creamy and mashed with the skins, particularly since I've been off the carbs as of late (trying to lose the last 10 pounds) and this was my first night back "on" them. They were very tasty and made me grateful to have carbs back in my life. What could have felt like a heavy meal with the potatoes, and salmon, and brie, was clearly made with a lighter hand and I didn't leave the meal feeling weighed down.

The atmosphere of this restaurant is great. The wine seemed to be flowing at almost every table. The food is straightforward and the presentation is simple. Service was prompt and pleasant. I hope this place continues to bring in more patrons. Bethesda needs more places like this.

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My husband and I also dined at Visions on Saturday night. We had the calamari and short ribs to start. For entrees, I had the stuffed salmon and husband had the filet satay. This was my second visit to Visions and I was pleased to see a few more bodies in the place as well as some additions to the menu. The calamari was breaded and fried with a light hand and the lemon aoli on the side provided for a nice, tangy bite. The short ribs were a little chewier than I normally like, but the smoky and sweet asian bbq sauce served with it was delicious enough to compensate for the slight well-doneness. I tried a bite of the husband's satays and they were cooked to a perfect medium rare, with a nice char from the grill. My salmon, stuffed with brie, crab, and artichokes, was also cooked perfectly. The stuffing had a nice ratio of brie versus artichoke and crab, so that the dish didn't come across as too cheesy. I appreciated the generous portion of potatoes, creamy and mashed with the skins, particularly since I've been off the carbs as of late (trying to lose the last 10 pounds) and this was my first night back "on" them. They were very tasty and made me grateful to have carbs back in my life. What could have felt like a heavy meal with the potatoes, and salmon, and brie, was clearly made with a lighter hand and I didn't leave the meal feeling weighed down.

The atmosphere of this restaurant is great. The wine seemed to be flowing at almost every table. The food is straightforward and the presentation is simple. Service was prompt and pleasant. I hope this place continues to bring in more patrons. Bethesda needs more places like this.

As we try to stay "aware" of what our guests are saying, I'm extremely happy to see you had a nice time. We really put a lot of efforts into our place, and have had a great response. We'll see how the Bethesda summer treats us, but being a native, it's natural to be a little quiet during the next few months. Thanks again! :lol:

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Visions is batting .500 so far.

I've had two very different dining experiences. The more recent one sadly did not measure up to the first meal a couple of months ago. This past Saturday night, the service was friendly, but uneven. The hostess was very friendly and accommodated our request to move to a table closer to one of the ceiling fans, but there was a SNAFU with our appetizer order (which could be partially our fault since we placed an order for calamari, then asked to see the 3-course prix fixe menu, and then re-placed the calamari order). At any rate, the calamari never showed up, and the staff was sincerely apologetic.

Quite a long time passed before we received our bread. It arrived at almost the same time as our entrees. Finally, the menu could have been more descriptive. I ordered the Israeli Couscous, and was expecting the round pearl dish, but instead, it was served in the elongated rice-like form. Luckily, my date and I inadvertently ordered for one another, so we switched entrees, and I enjoyed the Salmon Penne in basil pesto cream.

It was quite crowded, which may account for the service issues. I had previously been to Visions for brunch and thought that the Savannah Shrimp & Grits was phenomenal. Perfect mix of creaminess, spiciness and oiliness.

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Remember what I said about David Craig?

Remember what I said about Mark and Orlando's?

Restaurants need a certain critical mass of customers in order to perform to their abilities, and I wonder if Visions isn't teetering on the edge. We have a lot of new members from the Bethesda area, and I'd love to see their feedback here about this chef-owned restaurant - a little mom-n-pop which deserves to survive these post-Memorial Day doldrums having an adverse effect on restaurants all over the DC region, especially in competitive areas like Bethesda.

Visions is not an expensive restaurant. Looking through the menu last night, here are the price points at dinner:

Appetizers: $8.00 average

Salads: $6.50

Entrees: $19.50

Desserts: $5.50

A special 3-course dinner menu is available for $29 every night - that's less expensive than Restaurant Week, and there are seven apps, seven entrees, and five desserts from which to choose.

Filet Mignon Satay ($10.95) "Mali style" with cucumber salad and balsamic reduction was a big skewer of grilled tenderloin, and just as good as I remember from before. The Seared Giant Scallops ($21.80) with risotto and grilled asparagus was a large portion of food for the money - I was stuffed and had no room for dessert.

I don't want to sit here and cheerlead, but I will, in fact, pontificate: Visions is exactly the type of independent restaurant that makes Bethesda's landscape more interesting. Although it had a good crowd in back last night, my gut feeling is that this restaurant is in trouble, so let me restate my questions above, this time in the imperative:

Remember what I said about David Craig.

Remember what I said about Mark and Orlando's.

And get your robotic, non-explorative, strip-mall-supporting carcasses out of Austin Grill, Benihana, Cheesecake Factory, Clyde's, Houston's, Jaleo, and TGIFridays, and start living your lives on something other than ennui-induced cruise-control.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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And get your robotic, non-explorative, strip-mall-supporting carcasses out of Austin Grill, Benihana, Cheesecake Factory, Clyde's, Houston's, Jaleo, and TGIFridays, and start living your lives on something other than ennui-induced cruise-control.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I'm not sure what my life will be like without TGI McFunsters in it, though.... :D

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Hello all...

20 year veteran of the restaurant business...yes! Restaurant owner in Bethesda

Podcaster from the past, owner of several websites mostly for fun...cheflifeonline.com and our current restaurant site www.visionsbethesda.com

We are just opening our place in Bethesda and welcome commentary...big fan of seafood, and losing weight (lost 110 lbs last year)...struggling with it lately , but not relapsed, just challenged partially...

Love to hear from other local foodies, tattoo fans, or techie types. Shoot me an email to Cheftony@visionsbethesda.com and we'll chat!

Take care...Chef T :D

New nominee for worst restaurant web site.

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New nominee for worst restaurant web site.

hey! Thanks for the nomination!! :D:blink: Well, I'm certainly guilty of throwing my passion ahead of ability, certainly in web design...while not all of us have $5,000 to put up a beautiful, flash based (terrible for Google) web site like other places, I actually get a lot of compliments on our site. That being said, we rank top 1-3 on Google for "Bethesda restaurant" and you can finally sleep...I have a new site that I"m launching tonight. :(

Love the feedback though, as I hustle my business, I take care of it, and bottom line, my janky site (In your opinion) is certainly getting the job done. My bubble guru (the sound) is getting adjusted, I know it's annoying :P

Anyhoo, thanks for reading, look for my upcoming Video Podcast and keep them cards and letters coming, Lobster coming next week...

Summer Lobster Deals

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Indeed. Note: turn your volume down before visiting if you are at work (or even if you are at home).

thanks...new video will be soft, i've thought of your comment often...didn't mean to interrupt anyones day :D

Went for Visions for dinner Friday night. Crabcake appetizer was pretty good. Scallops and risotto were done perfectly. Chocolate mousse heavenly. It was my first time, but will be back.

thanks for stopping in, and thanks for posting...

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I'm game...I live in Bethesda and try to give every restaurant a fair shot! I will be taking two friends out to dinner on June 22. I'll make a reservation and look forward to eating at Visions!

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I have wanted to check this place out for a while- so when meeting a friend for brunch today I suggested Visions. I REALLY wanted to like it there. I know brunch is code for the b team doing the cooking, and it was the day after taste of bethesda... but I was disappointed. First there was no milk in the place when I requested it for my coffee. Then we both ordered double the kids breakfast- bacon, eggs, french toast and fruit. A few minutes after ordering, the waiter returned to tell us that their fresh fruit is not as fresh as they would like- could he send out chocolate truffles instead... fine (and on another day, likely very exciting)- but not what I wanted at 11 am. Then the eggs tasted a bit off, and the bacon was not crispy. The eggs may have been fine, but with the caramel sauce on the french toast I wasn't sure. The french toast was very good.

I might check them out for a dinner or happy hour. Though I hadn't checked them out before- I do live in the neighborhood so would have been happy to love it so I could go back and recommend to my friends.

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We had dinner here on Friday evening, and really enjoyed it. It started a bit rough--the server seated us at a wobbly table, then left us alone for about five minutes. But everything after that was smooth sailing (he indicated that they had a group of 12 in the back, and had really been slammed that night. We were moved to a level table and everything was just fine).

Food was great. Portions were hefty and prices were friendly. To the extent that there is a modern American food, I think this is it, a blend of cuisines attempting some sort of harmonization. Our crawfish egg rolls, with peanut sauce, were mostly Asian but not quite (but very satisfying). My cross-cut ribs were more BBQ than teriyaki, and the jicama slaw on the side was really delicious (the old bay fries were not very interesting, but this was a minor hiccup). The crab pasta was really great, the sweetness from the crab really blending nicely with the other ingredients. Strangely (for us, at least), the winner of the night was the grilled romaine salad. It seemed not so interesting on the menu, but wow this was a great salad and we look forward to going back for more.

Service was friendly and exceedingly informative throughout. We live in Rockville, but this is a short drive for us and we expect that we will be back soon.

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So I wanted to catch up all the readers of DonRockwell.com on what has been happening with our restaurant.

I'll keep it brief and concise...

To clarify the concept, we will change the name officially in about two weeks to "Chef Tony's". Some people didn't get that "Visions" was a restaurant and since I am proprietor and Chef, just makes sense as a brand.

Our menus have been changed to a DAILY UPDATED menu with major changes every week. WE are buying locally at Farm Stands and such, working with our local purveyors of fine meats, cheeses, fish and seafood and changing the menu to reflect what we are able to buy daily. Working this type of menu takes a lot of time and care, we really want to bring the best of each weekly offerings in Meat, Fish, Dairy and Produce to our menu.

Here is an example of our menu....http://screencast.com/t/ZGY3YzRkODQt from today...

Also we're featuring a small Tapas Menu Daily...along with wine and beer specials as time goes on...

Yes, I'm promoting my brand, but really just want to feature the hard work we've put into the place and how we are working to be your favorite spot. Also, we don't see many places truly doing a daily seafood menu and working to create true interest in Farm to Table...Chefs in the market shaking hands with the actual farmer...that's for real.

Thanks for listening, please keep us in mind.

Chef Tony

http://www.ChefTonysBethesda.com

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Haven't seen any reviews of this place in a while...thought I'd chime in.

I went over the weekend to take advantage of a Capital Deals coupon...three course meal for two for $40.

When we got there we were asked if we were using a coupon, and got a specific menu for it, which looked like Restaurant Week type menu, missing all of the higher priced foods that are on the real menu. Didn't bother me at all, as that's pretty much what I expected for such a good price...plus, there were still a lot of good options on the menu.

Let me digress from the food for a second...this place is, physically, utterly charmless. I always roll my eyes when Sietsema goes on about style, decor or architecture in a review and skip on the the part about the food, but Chef Tony's really, really needs a makeover or an updating. It didn't help that there's no central ac...only a few window units and ceiling fans, and that it was uncomfortably hot inside on a 90 degree day.

Back to the food.

We had the mussels and the fried calamari to start. The calamari was too heavily breaded for my taste, which made it a bit soggy, but it was still pretty tasty. The mussels were excellent. The broth was good enough that I asked the server for bread to sop up the sauce, but he came back with pita triangles which don't work at all for that purpose. It was a shame to see the bowl taken away still filled with yummy broth.

For the main course, we had parmesan crusted sole and penne with crab and a spicy tomato sauce. The fish was a little under seasoned, and a bit bland even with the lemon caper sauce. but was nicely crunchy. The pasta had a nice kick to it, with a nice amount of what appeared to be backfin crab. There was a bit too much cartilage left in though, which didn't bother me too much, but I heard two other tables complaining about it. Again, some good bread for sopping the sauce would have been nice.

For dessert, we had a sweet potato "pie" with pecan ice cream, which was essentially a sweet potato brulee, and fried plantains with ice cream and nutella sauce. They both sounded much better on paper than they actually were, and we barely ate either of them.

The service was decent, but they seemed understaffed and harried...maybe they had a bunch of extra people coming in to use coupons.

All in all, I'd go back if I had another coupon, but not otherwise. The regular prices and food selection are pretty comparable with Grapeseed, and I like that place a lot better.

Just one more note, Chef Tony's website is a bit of a mess...doesn't contribute to a good first impression. I know I'm sounding nitpicky at this point, but it all contributes to the feeling that the place simply needs to concentrate a bit more on the details. Just my two cents.

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I went to Chef Tony's for lunch yesterday. (Sidebar: I'm liking this two-kids-in-school-all-day thing.)

I'd never been here, and I hadn't heard any anecdotal information, which is odd; usually I'll hear something. So armed with a handy-dandy lunch Groupon, in I went.

First look: it's pretty drab. Not that it should affect the quality of the food, but sometimes you notice the dining room, and you'd like for it to be the right reason. This is decidedly not the right reason. But moving on. Service is friendly, chummy, unpretentious, but fairly well timed. There were only a few parties seated, a guy eating at the bar, and one gentleman holding down the front, but he could multitask.

Started with the cream of crab soup; nice base, not too heavy, encircling a small mound of lump crab. Nice touch; I liked it. I'd been served one too many bowls of gummy, flabby, lukewarm seafood-based chowders, and this flew above it. Little drop of sherry at the finish. I could have used a little heat, but I am one of those people that doctors soup with hot sauce.

Relaxed pacing. I ordered a soft-shell crab plate, which came with sauteed squash and potatoes. Check that; I got TWO soft-shells. The server said the chef forgot that the lunch only comes with one, so they just left it on there and sent it out. Score!

Pretty good on this regard; the crabs had a light breading and were flash fried (I think.) Didn't turn out greasy or heavy. Felt a little restrained, but for me, that's fine - the crabs were nice. (Got to get them while the gettin's good, right?) A little salty on the veggies; it happens. I would have given dessert a shot but the 2nd crab took the extra room, and I'm a Maryland-bred guy - I'm not leaving crab on a plate for love or money.

Maybe worth a 2nd look. Juust maybe.

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The gf's mother had a Groupon for brunch...not sure on the exact details of the Groupon but it covered a brunch entree and two drinks. Food was a mixed bag...but overall we had a nice time. Chef Tony's has a neighborhood vibe and seemed like the sort of place where you might find a couple go to dishes and become a regular in the rotation if you lived nearby, but not sure it's worth a trek. I would agree with the above couple postings that the decor is rather drab.

Bloody Mary - Solid effort, very peppery. A dash or two of hot sauce rounded out the flavor.

Fried Calamari - Batter barely holding on, super tender, some chopped up pickled hot peppers for a touch of heat. I would order again

Chorizo Omelet - It wasn't really an omelet, more like they just cooked the eggs and then throw in some slices of chorizo. The chorizo they used wasn't particularly good, not much flavor, no kick. The promised jack cheese was nonexistent. Overall a disappointing effort. The bacon that came with it was good, but the home fries were flat out bad - just slices of potato that had been tossed into the fryer untill beige, no onions or peppers or seasoning.

Sweet potato "pie" - Now this was fantastic...basically sweet potato pie filling brulee with pecan ice cream melting on top. Would definitely order this again.

So the bloody mary, calamari, and dessert were all good. Maybe they just don't do brunch items very well.

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I know this is short notice, but has anyone been to Chef Tony's recently? I've got a dinner discount for the prix fixe menu that I need to use before it expires, so we're going tonight. Anything to recommend or advise against? I'll post a review after we eat. I'm so far behind in putting reviews on DR I'm ashamed of myself. I've got to get caught up.

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2 hours ago, hunter said:

I know this is short notice, but has anyone been to Chef Tony's recently? I've got a dinner discount for the prix fixe menu that I need to use before it expires, so we're going tonight. Anything to recommend or advise against? I'll post a review after we eat. I'm so far behind in putting reviews on DR I'm ashamed of myself. I've got to get caught up.

Man, I just saw this. If you get this note, tell Tony I said hello and to ask for whatever he thinks is best. He can put out some really good food, but it will help to put yourself in his hands, and I haven't been in years. He's one of the good people - but he won't have seen your note. I hope you see this in time - I had some minor surgery today, and have been sleeping for several hours. If you play this card, please tip well - he's chef-owner, and I don't think he's getting rich.

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I haven't had a "normal" meal at Chef Tony's in a while, but I've really enjoyed two of their new/special items. 

They have fantastic pupusas which they sell only on Saturday afternoons...the bean and cheese are my favorite. 

And they're now selling Detroit-style pizza...don't know if this is a permanent fixture, or something short term, but it's really good. Bethesda is inundated with Neapolitan style pizzas, so it's nice to have a little variety. 

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