Not many years ago, the best you could do for dinner in downtown Silver Spring was the Quarry House Tavern (https://www.quarryhousetavern.com/), a smoky, beery, eat-in bar in a big, dark basement that made some of the best burgers on the planet.
Then Discovery TV and the American Film Institute moved to town, and suddenly there were lots of Chardonnay sippers searching for someplace to dine. Enter Ray’s the Classics, (https://www.raystheclassics.com/index.html) which began to serve up fabulous steaks and wines. Excellent service and crisply ironed table linens made for happy, elegant meals—though even back then I wished Ray would hire a pastry chef. The restaurant got everything else right, but to end a fancy meal with a fizzle of a dessert was just wrong.
My husband and I returned to Ray’s for a romantic Valentine’s dinner this year and found a completely different place. The linens were gone. The rug was frayed. The service was rushed. The appetizers and salads were almost inedible. And the desserts were still a disaster. OK, Ray has downscaled a bit. But the steaks are still great and so are the wines. Why doesn’t he start offering fries and decent salads? That would turn this now tatty steakhouse into a brasserie, and we’d all be delighted to return and manger.
Whatever he does, he’d better make an effort to turn his restaurant around or he will surely get clobbered by Silver Spring's newest yupscale eatery.
8407 Kitchen Bar (https://8407kb.com/) has just opened at 8407 Ramsey Avenue, across from the transportation hub now under construction at the Metro station.
This place is chic, sunny, and inviting, with huge picture windows, walls of exposed brick, and wooden ceiling beams. And judging from what my husband and I tasted two nights ago, it appears that Chef Pedro Matamoros (formerly of the Tabard Inn in Washington, DC, and Nicaro here in Silver Spring) has put together a sensational menu.
We started with a Pimms and gin, garnished with a slice of cucumber, and a glass of French Chardonnay. (Yes, I’m one of those drinkers. Busted.)
A bread basket arrived. Properly lined with linen, it held slices of sourdough—some white, some tan, all studded with bits of cherries. The butter, in a shallow dish, was soft and spreadable.
Then glorious salads—one Caesar, with a long anchovy laid artfully atop the lettuce; one bib lettuce sprinkled with diced apple and crumbled bleu cheese and lightly candied walnuts.
The waiter's timing was spot on. My glass had one swallow of wine left when he asked if I’d like more.
Our entrées arrived—scallops with a beautifully caramelized crust and a silken interior served in a sauce that my husband insisted that I sample; and a perfectly sautéed soft-shell crab laid over squid-ink pasta.
Did we want dessert? Tricky question. I’ve had too many badly conceived and executed sweets lately (including a dense slab of chocolate goo masquerading as a torte at the Tabard Inn) and was almost inclined to save the calories. But I was curious, especially since we were eating here for the first time. My husband ordered crème brûlée, which was—hooray—made from scratch. (Yes, chefs, my mouth can tell if you use anything but fresh eggs and cream.) I devoured the most divine chocolate tart, which had a flaky crust and a dab of almond toffee ice cream on top. And then, when only crumbs and cream were left, I picked up the plate and licked it clean. Yes, I did.
Turns out, of course, THIS PLACE HAS A REAL PASTRY CHEF! Which is one of the many reasons why we’ll be back.