Category Archives: Mrs. K's

For Whom The Toll House Bells

Well, that just makes no sense.  I’ll start again.

We returned to Mrs. K’s Toll House (9201 Colesville) last night for dinner, and we still like it and don’t find it particularly “strange” as Tom Sietsema describes it this weekend. The restaurant is old, maybe better to say long-standing, and could be stodgy — I think some people expect it to be — but isn’t, including the food.  Mrs. Me liked the pasta whose sauce Mr. Sietsema described as wallpaper paste. Make of that what you will.

He is right about a number of things, though: the chorizo croquettes are good (we got them on a previous visit); crabcakes are large and crabby with almost no filler; the filet mignon and salmon were big hits with our dining companions who had not been to K’s before. Angus beef sliders were tasty although the meat was a little overcooked. We always sit in the wine-cellary basement, great ambience down there, cozy without being crowded, they did a fine job in the 2008 remodel making the space seem older and more authentic than it really is.

We also continue to enjoy the service, which in our experience is friendly, efficient, knowledgable; last night they worked with us to find a wine we all enjoyed, a 2000 Chateu Mondorion bordeaux, at non-outrageous price ($45, about a 100% markup, very reasonable by modern restaurant standards).

Mrs. K’s will never be hip or trendy, like say the new 8407, but it remains one of the nicest restaurants in this neck of the MoCo. And the downstairs is pretty cool, if you like Napa and that kind of thing. Which we do.

Hooray for Hollywood (East)

Don’t take it from me, I haven’t been to the new Wheaton Mall location yet.  But WaPo professional diner Tom Sietsema has, and he writes a fairly rave review for their dim sum (despite being “greasy”) in his new restaurant guide, to be published in the WaPo Magazine this weekend and online already. Congrats HE, I will revisit you myself soon.

Sietsema’s theme this time is revisiting old favorites; in addition to Hollywood, he also hits Mrs. K’s Toll House (9201 Colesville) in Silver Spring and describes it as “at turns strange and satisfying,” liking it less well than HE apparently.  Mrs. K is conveniently on my agenda for this weekend as well; we like the atmosphere downstairs and have generally been happy with our food there. Wonder if they’ll be trying extra hard thanks to Tom?

A Saturday of Good Eatin’

But not so much in Wheaton (hmm, what is the subtext there?).  We took a friend to Joe’s Noodle House (1488-C Rockville Pike) for lunch, and Joe was in fine form. Hot’n’sour soup in its usual perfect balance; scallion pancake crispy and savory and salty (but not too); best kung pao chicken ever, the real stuff: chicken, peanuts, hot peppers, ginger, scallions, that’s it.  We also tried the beef chow fun, which was tasty with incredibly tender beef, and also the stir-fried sliced pork with hot pepper and leek, which is listed with a single chili pepper on the menu but should have two or maybe even two plus a star, because it was scorching hot — in a good way; you can still taste the flavor of the sauce and the pork. I will order it again for sure. Nearly killed our friend though. No problems this day with insufficiently spicy food!

For dinner, we met other friends at the General Store at Forest Glen (6 Post Office Road), Gillian Clark’s relatively new place, where we had to try the much-discussed fried chicken. Our verdict was mostly positive: moist, flavorful, tasty but not crispy skin. Our only real problem with the food in general and the chicken in particular was that it was only somewhat warm, not hot, and had probably been sitting out for a while before serving. Not sure whether this is a common flaw at the General Store, but it was the only real flaw and we were able to get past it no problem. We had heard that the service can be a bit brusque, but we didn’t encounter any problems on that front either.

We liked the mac’n’cheese side and loved the collard greens. I am not particularly experienced in the ways of collard greens, and recently had a fine version at a friend’s house (wooo Porter!), but Gillian Clark’s collard greens are amazing.  Really, really good. I can’t describe the taste, just…good, and quick to disappear. Cornbread was also excellent, moist, flavorful…I guess that could describe much of the (not large) menu. The fish tacos were not moist, but had a kick and the guacamole provided maybe more flavor than the fish itself. Still, a solid dish. Ham and gruyere turnovers had a poor ratio of filling to pastry, but fortunately the pastry was outstanding, and the filling was good if unevenly distributed. They also had an interesting sauce drizzled on top — they looked like breakfasty strawberry turnovers, but the sauce had a hint of barbecue. Overall a positive visit, all the food was at least good and some was great; the decor was a little too minimalist and oddly laid out for our taste, and also too brightly lit. I hear they do a brist takeout business, and that does not surprise me. Good food, but maybe better eaten at home. We poked our heads into the “Post Office Tavern” in the basement, which seemed small and dark and fun, with a friendly bartender and wider beer selection than in the main restaurant. We will try it sometime.

But this time, instead of the POT, we went to Mrs. K’s (9201 Colesville) where we enjoyed a Rock & Vine (California) cabernet at the basement bar, which was packed, as Joe’s had been for lunch. The General Store was also doing a solid business, a mix of eat-in and take-out. All in all, more evidence that despite the mediocre economy, Montgomery County’s restaurants continue to do good business — at least the good ones do.

Return to Mrs. K’s

Officially Mrs. K’s Tollhouse Restaurant (9201 Colesville, Silver Spring). First time back there since New Year’s Eve, and we got the same table, downstairs in the lovely renovated wine cellar, but happily this time the adjacent table did not house drunken elderly men and their rambling sexually explicit conversation.  Nor did our own table!

Mrs. K does solid salads, but the appetizer winner was a quintet of potato-chorizo croquettes, crisp outside and buttery inside with a slight kick.  I liked them better than Mrs. Me, no surprise, and they were a great value at $8 (they are not listed on the online menu). The crab cake appetizer was (reportedly) good despite an overabundance of sauce.  I also enjoyed the New Zealand lamb chops, perfectly medium or maybe a little more rare than that, on a bed of mashed potatos and carrots. Mrs. K’s isn’t cheap, but their food seems consistently very good across the board, based on two visits, and the atmosphere in the cellar is a big winner.  Something is just slightly off with the service, though I can’t put my finger on exactly what; it is friendly and informative and unobtrusive, sometimes perhaps too unobtrusive, as sometimes no servers are to be seen for long stretches.  Time between courses also seems a little longer than optimal, although we were having quality conversation so didn’t mind too much — but I noticed, nevertheless.