Relic (Bethesda)

Everything we know we learned from Groupon.

Most recently, Groupon sent us to Bethesda to eat at Relic (4936 Fairmont), a riot of baroque red Tudor erotica (and food and drink!) that still makes my head spin days later even though we were only there for happy hour not for the dance club that breaks out after dark. I am not linking to their website because it commits the dual sins of automatically playing music upon arrival and of Flash, everywhere Flash.

Open for a year or so now, the restaurant itself is pretty good, and we did enjoy the decor, from kitschy plastic red chandeliers over the bar to the R-rated art along one wall to the huge portrait on the back wall of Henry VIII, the kind of painting where you keep looking over your shoulder to see if the eyes are watching you eat.  Scooby Doo and Shaggy would have freaked completely out if while pursuing a ghost they had stumbled into Relic.

Excellent happy hour specials, many things for $5 including (on Thursdays) perfect mojitos and (all weekdays) enormous burgers (cheese $2 upcharge), juicy and very good; Relic is proud of its Himalayan Salt Locker (we did not get a salt locker tour however) where they keep all their meat, and they grind their own beef for burgers. It was just as good as the ones at BGR up the street, and a better deal at happy hour pricing. The calamari was less successful, mostly breading (although crisply fried) and oddly boring, maybe the only thing in the place about which the term “boring” might apply.

Service was also great: Phil the bartender/manager is supercool and really knows what he’s doing back there; he was also training some new servers who were friendly and eager to learn. We ended up having to discuss the finer points of Groupon use with one of the owners, who was also friendly and accomodating. I’m pretty sure we’re not hip enough to visit Relic when it is in full-on nighttime getdown lounge mode — though I am tempted to go once, just to see what it’s like — but we will for sure return for happy hour or dinner down the road, though probably not often because it isn’t that convenient for us. If I worked in that part of Bethesda, I’d hit Relic for happy hour once a week.

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2 responses to “Relic (Bethesda)

  1. Talking of Groupons, we used up one of our Living Social deals for Ella’s last night. The place was surprisingly busy for a sleepy Sunday night – in fact we had to eat at the bar because table service was a 30 minute wait. I took your advice and got the Pepperoni which was, as you said, well cooked and blistered. However I have to admit that I found the pizza a little one-dimensional. Having had other pizzas at Ella’s before (the Bosco being one) I found the ‘roni far more greasy than I was expecting from them – not bad, just not quite as easy to eat as some of their other pizzas. I also think they’ve tweaked their Tiramisu – this time for the better.

  2. Funny, it was less greasy than I remembered, the pepperoni didn’t have little pools of liquid artery-clogging goodness like they used to. Maybe just an off night. Still good. NOT one-dimensional: cheese, pepperoni, sauce, crust. That’s pizza in THX Dolby surround-sound 4-D baby!!!

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