Wednesday, July 31, 2013

POPEYES CHICKEN WAFFLE TENDERS REVIEW (VIDEO)

Popeyes new Chicken Waffle Tenders arrived in restaurants Monday. Last night, I stopped by the Popeyes at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road to try them. Here's my review, including close-ups of the tenders and special sauce.

Chicken Waffle Tenders are only available for a limited time.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

POMEGRANATE & CO. CLOSING IN ROCKVILLE TOWN SQUARE (PHOTOS)

Longtime tenant Pomegranate & Co. is closing its store in Rockville Town Square.

They are currently holding a 50%-off closing sale.

Monday, July 29, 2013

ROCKVILLE PLANNING COMMISSION NOMINEES SKEPTICAL OF ROCKVILLE PIKE PLAN

A very significant item on the agenda of tonight's Rockville Mayor and Council meeting (7:00 PM at City Hall) is the appointment of two citizens to vacant seats on the Rockville Planning Commission. Those who fill the seats could well determine the outcome of the Rockville Pike Plan, and the future of the city's APFO.

Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, who has been critical of plans to promote urban density in suburban Rockville,  has had mixed success with her previous appointments. While Marcuccio has had the opportunity to completely shift what has, in recent decades, been a pro-development body, there is still not a solid majority in opposition to the Pike Plan.

If one were to place bets on the 5 sitting members' potential Pike Plan votes, well, that would be difficult.

Only Jack Leiderman is a likely NO vote. David Hill and John Tyner II are likely YES votes, if the changes they've suggested are approved.

But Dion Trahan and Don Hadley have yet to reveal their hand. Both have been skeptical of the urbanization concept the plan represents.

2 YES, 1 NO, 2 UNKNOWNS.

Enter 2 new members:

Mayor Marcuccio has nominated Charles Littlefield and Anne Goodman. Both are skeptics of the Pike Plan. Littlefield served on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance committee in 2011, and issued his own Minority Report that dissented against attempts to weaken the ordinance.

In his report, Littlefield made clear that he feels a strong APFO is essential to protect residents from out-of-control growth:

"As a member of this Committee I witnessed an aggressiveness on the part of certain developers, elected officials and public planners to push through large-scale residential development regardless of public opinion. The impression they made on me left me firmly convinced that Rockville's APFO/ APFS should not be weakened. From the perspective of a Rockville resident/ homeowner, the APFO 'evens the playing field' between everyday citizens and organized, connected and financially powerful developers. Without this tool, it would be virtually impossible for citizens to stop an undesirable development project from occurring and negatively impacting our quality of life."

Goodman also expressed concern "about the potential for weakening the APFO to allow more development" in her Pike Plan testimony.

While Marcuccio and Councilmember Bridget Newton owe much of their political support to voters who favor limiting growth and building heights, councilmembers Tom Moore and Mark Pierzchala are running (for council and mayor, respectively) on a more aggressive development platform.

It could be a contentious meeting tonight, as a result.

If approved by the council, could strong arguments by Littlefield and Goodman lead to a 5-2 or 4-3 defeat for the Pike Plan? Can they get majority support tonight, with outgoing councilmember John Hall as the potential deciding vote?

Intrigue! Suspense! Stay tuned!

Friday, July 26, 2013

SNEAK PREVIEW OF NEW VERIZON PREMIUM RETAIL STORE AT 11431 ROCKVILLE PIKE (PHOTOS)

A Verizon Premium retail outlet is moving into the space vacated by The Countertop Store at 11431 Rockville Pike.

The White Flint-area strip mall location is just north of Fitzgerald Auto Mall.

Store hours are already posted on the door, and Verizon decor has already made over the interior.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

CHICK-FIL-A ROCKVILLE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE (PHOTOS)

Here's the latest progress at the Chick-fil-A Rockville construction site in the Montrose Crossing shopping center on Rockville Pike.

The restaurant is scheduled to open August 22.

It's pretty clear at this point that the restaurant will not have a drive-thru, which seems strange for 2013, and given its automobile-convenient location off of the exit from the Montrose Parkway.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

PALADAR LATIN KITCHEN AND RUM BAR TO OPEN IN ROCKVILLE AUGUST 15 (PHOTO)

Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar has announced it will open its new White Flint/Rockville location on Thursday, August 15.

The opening will begin at 6:00 PM that evening with a ribbon cutting. A dinner featuring some of Paladar's most-popular dishes will follow. The cost of dinner will be $40 per person, not including gratuity. 100% of the dinner's proceeds will go to the Manna Food Center right here in Montgomery County.

Paladar co-president Andy Himmel says this is just the first example of how the restaurant will actively engage with the local community. "Manna Food Center, committed to providing food, food education and advocacy for residents of Montgomery County, is the right match for Paladar," he says.

The 180-seat restaurant will be located in JBG's North Bethesda Market development on Rockville Pike in White Flint. Free parking will be available after 5 PM weekdays, and all day on weekends, in the restaurant lot off of Woodglen Drive.

Inspired by the cuisines of Cuba and Central and South America, Paladar's menu will feature favorites like Grilled Skirt Steak and Fish Tacos. Its Rum Bar will stock over 50 flavored, spiced, white and gold, dark and aged runs. Best of all, you can order rum flights and tasting size pours.

Appetizers will include a chip platter featuring plantain, yucca, malanga and tortilla chips, and 3 kinds of guacamole for dipping purposes.

There will be 2 patios for outdoor dining.

Paladar's hours will be:

Sunday-Thursday: 11 AM - 11 PM

Friday-Saturday: 11 AM - 1 AM

Brunch Sat./Sun.: 11 AM - 3 PM

Happy Hour: 4-7 PM every day

Late Night Happy Hour Sun.-Thurs.: 9-11 PM

To make reservations for opening night on August 15, call 301-816-1100 weekdays between 9 AM and 6 PM. Hurry!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ROCKVILLE'S QUENCH, WHITE FLINT'S BRIO JOIN BETHESDA RESTAURANT WEEK 2013 (VIDEO)

Bethesda Restaurant Week is here again! Bethesda-Chevy Chase Summer Restaurant Week is Monday, July 29 to Sunday, August 4, 2013. The official website has the full list of participating restaurants.

Yesterday, Lebanese Taverna hosted a restaurant week kickoff event at Bethesda Row. I always say that the patio outside of Lebanese Taverna is the best-smelling corner in downtown Bethesda. The wonderful aromas drifting out of the restaurant certainly entice you to go in, even if you are a tourist not familiar with the local Lebanese Taverna chain.

As you will see (or just saw) in the video, Chef Jeff Heineman of Grapeseed on Cordell Avenue is the chair of this year's BCC Restaurant Week Committee. And that's been a Herculean task, as the entity behind previous years' events has stepped down.

Fortunately, the Restaurant Association of Maryland has stepped in to produce this year's restaurant week. And reliable local sponsors like EagleBank, Grapeseed and Bethesda Magazine have joined Friends of Restaurant Week BCC Chamber of Commerce, Bethesda Urban Partnership, the NIH and NOAA Recreation and Welfare Association, Metromedia Energy and Congressional Seafood Company to ensure a successful event.

2-course lunches will be $12 or $16, and 3-course dinners $33.

Best of all, a portion of the proceeds will go to wounded service members and their families, through the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

Speaking of ribbons, there was a ribbon cutting yesterday to mark the one-week countdown to BCC Restaurant Week. Delegate Bill Frick (D-District 16), a 2014 candidate for Maryland Attorney General, was on hand to assist, as was Ginanne Italiano, president of the BCC Chamber of Commerce.

Participants around Bethesda Row include Assaggi, Jaleo, Lebanese Taverna, Mon Ami Gabi, Nest Cafe (on the EuroMotorcars block of Bethesda Avenue), Newton's Table, Raku, and Redwood.

Further afield additions include the new-and-already-award-winning Quench in the Traville Gateway area of Rockville, and the fabulous Brio Tuscan Grille in White Flint.

Start planning now, as this is a chance to try many top Bethesda restaurants for far less than the usual prices. Stay tuned here and on Twitter at @RockvilleNights, as additional restaurants join the Restaurant Week list.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ROCKSHIRE RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT FUTURE OF KARMA ACADEMY PROPERTY

Quite a few residents of the Rockshire neighborhood of Rockville turned out at Monday night's Mayor and Council Meeting.

They voiced concerns during the Citizens Forum segment of the meeting about the fate of the former Karma Academy property on Watts Branch Parkway.

The property is owned by Montgomery County, and the county has not yet specified what it intends to do with it.  Rockshire residents who spoke at the meeting urged the city to obtain the property, and merge it with the adjacent Wooton's Mill Park, owned by the city.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala said that, realistically, the county will not simply hand over the expensive real estate for little or no money.  Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio suggested it could be a good site for the Rockville Science Center she has long advocated for.

Residents have good reason to be concerned. The county could sell the property to a developer for a massive, dense townhome development. Or it could choose to keep it, building a school, soccer fields, or a shelter/clinic facility, as residents of Twinbrook Forest had to deal with until recently. The county council once tried to build a homeless shelter on property it obtained in an expensive Bethesda neighborhood of single-family homes, until outraged residents raised a ruckus.

Likewise, the county should not underestimate the Rockshire Association, which sued Rockville's Mayor and Council and Planning Commission over a development dispute during the 1970s.

Councilmember Tom Moore lauded the large turnout. He said the Karma Academy was "already on our radar," but that the appearance of so many residents would surely move the issue up on the council's list of priorities.

Monday, July 15, 2013

NEW HOSTESS TWINKIES REVIEW (VIDEO)

Hostess Twinkies returned to the shelves 2 days early at Walmart. Because the Montgomery County Council has blocked Walmart from opening any additional stores in the county, I was forced to drive up to one of my favorite shopping centers, Milestone, in Germantown.

Sure enough, they had Twinkies.

My understanding is that Walmart is not going to carry Twinkies that have been frozen. That means Walmart Twinkies give us the best opportunity to evaluate the true flavor and texture of this new Twinkie.

Here is my review of this first batch of new Twinkies.

If you haven't subscribed to the Robert Dyer Channel on YouTube yet, now is a good time: I have just passed 1000 subscribers on there.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

ROCKVILLE GIANT DEMOLISHED! (PHOTOS)

The classic architecture of Rockville's venerable town center Giant grocery store is gone forever.

A store design familiar to longtime area residents, one could find contemporaries at one time in DC and in Bethesda. The latter was located where Upstairs at Bethesda Row stands today.

It's sad to see it go. Many of the classic postwar Safeway stores are now gone as well. I managed to get the Damascus Safeway on tape for posterity, just before the wrecking ball arrived.

No such luck with this Giant, but here is the aftermath.

The Giant will be replaced by a low-rise retail development, to be delivered by developer JBG early next year.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WENDY'S PRETZEL BACON CHEESEBURGER NOW ON SALE IN ROCKVILLE (VIDEO)

Wendy's has a new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, and I have a review of it!

The pretzel burger contains a 1/4 pound 100% beef patty, American cheese slice, tomato slices, cheese sauce, 2 strips of bacon, and salad greens, rather than lettuce.

Taking center stage, of course, is the bakery-quality soft pretzel bun.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

RUFFLES CRISPY FRIES REVIEW (VIDEO) - ORIGINAL AND CHEESE FLAVORS

I went to CVS, and found single-serving bags of new Ruffles Crispy Fries, in Original and Cheese varieties. Here's my review of both.

These snack "chips" resemble actual fast food french fries, and are made from fresh-cut potatoes, rather than corn (like Hot Fries). One unusual touch: you can actually heat these in the microwave for 30 seconds, if you want.

We're about to find out how successful these are at delivering a true French Fry Experience.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

FOURTH OF JULY BURGER SPECIAL AT HOOTERS OF ROCKVILLE

For those inept at grilling - or just too tired - Hooters is offering an Independence Day burger special:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ROCKVILLE FIREWORKS 2013

The big fireworks show on July 4th in Rockville is at Montgomery College.  You can park in the lots at the corner of Mannakee Street and Route 355, or in the lots on the Montgomery College campus.

A main stage will be set up in Lot 11 at Montgomery College, near Mannakee Street. At 7:00 PM, the Fugitive Brass Quintet will perform. They'll be followed by the Pinneberg Dancers at 7:30, and the
Rockville Concert Band at 8:00.

Then the real show - the fireworks - begins around 9:15 PM.

In the event of inclement weather, call 240-314-5022 to check the status of the fireworks.

Montgomery College is located at 51 Mannakee Street.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

NANTUCKET'S REEF TO OPEN THIS MONTH IN ROCKVILLE (PHOTOS)

Nantucket's Reef, located at 9755 Traville Gateway Drive in Rockville, promises diners "the experience of dining right by the water on Nantucket," when it opens this month.

Dishes will be made Nantucket-style, and served amidst Cape Cod decor and ambiance.

Specialties will include Wicked Mussels, "Half-rack and tail," coconut and almond crusted Mahi, fresh fish, raw oysters and live lobsters.

For landlubbers, Nantucket's Reef will have prime cuts of meat, ribs and pasta.

Stay tuned for the opening date, and get your nautical attire ready, for the grand opening of Nantucket's Reef.

You can follow Nantucket's Reef on Facebook, and Twitter/Instagram (@NantucketsReef).