Monday, March 30, 2015

Summer House review at Pike & Rose (Photos)

You've been invited to a dinner party at a millionaire's oceanfront summer home - although you'll be paying for your meal at the end of the evening. That's perhaps the best way to sum up dining at the hotspot Summer House Santa Monica. Located in Federal Realty's rapidly-expanding Pike & Rose development in Montgomery County's newly-dubbed Pike District, the restaurant is jam-packed. Is it North Bethesda? Is it Rockville? It doesn't matter, because once inside the revolving front door, you are in Santa Monica or the Hamptons.

View of the bar from the
dining room
Catch all the action in
the open kitchen

But as the tenacious winter gives way to spring, Summer House is planning to get more summery. Work is scheduled to begin today on the two outdoor dining areas, one on Grand Park Avenue, and one alongside the restaurant. The sidewalk cafe section will be similar to that of Lettuce Entertain You's sister restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi at Bethesda Row, while the second patio will be larger. Parts of the side walls, and garage doors on the front, will open during warmer temperatures, bringing more of the summer weather into Summer House, and the restaurant's hip atmosphere out to the streetscape.

I stopped by to check out Summer House for myself yesterday. The first thing you will notice when entering is the bakery, chock full of fresh-baked bread, cookies and brownies - and Mint Oreo Rice Krispies treats. Man cannot live on bread alone. You'll most likely be stopping there again before you leave.

Right now you need a refreshing beverage. There are quite a few summer-appropriate cocktails, and a good selection of wines - including one of my favorites, a Malbec by Alto las Hormigas. But I decided to go to the beer list, noticing that - alongside my standby Pabst Blue Ribbon - they had another classic American brew less often found on beer lists around here: Anchor Steam. I liked this California Common-style beer, which dates back to 1896 San Francisco. I'm giving it 4 stars out of 5 under my beer rating system.

Anchor Steam pours
with a massive head of foam
Next, I tried the Guacamole and Corn Tortilla Chips platter, which also includes some charred tomato salsa. The chips were fresh with good corn flavor, and well-paired with the two above-average dips. You'll be satisfied, as they deliver exactly what you expect.
Tortilla chips with
guacamole and charred
tomato salsa
My favorite appetizer was the Baked-to-Order Biscuits, which are just that - baked when you order them. Slightly sweeter than the Southern-style baking powder biscuit, they are heavenly with the included roasted poblano honey and soft herb butter. I recommend putting extra of both on as I did, as the melting butter on the fresh, hot biscuit made this a 5-star winner.
Baked-to-Order Biscuits
are a must-try
Then it was on to the main event.
Decisions, decisions
The Roasted Half Chicken provided a large portion of white meat chicken, some carved, and some still on the bone - including a drumstick. I found it not overly salted, with a crisp snap to the outer skin. The salsa verde gave it more of a summer flavor. A massive heap of french fries that provide what everyone loves in McDonald's-style fries (crisp outside, soft and warm inside, but with some skin on in this case) was next to the chicken. A side dish of Country Stuffing boasted massive, soft croutons and cherry tomatoes, the latter keeping the theme from sliding from summer to Thanksgiving. This is a classic dish, basic and perfectly-executed.
Roasted Half Chicken with
french fries, salsa verde and

Country Stuffing
Some other highlights - a well-cooked burger with more of those great fries, a Georges Bank swordfish, and a grass-fed Prime Skirt Steak with Point Reyes blue cheese were also winners.
Georges Bank Swordfish

Prime Skirt Steak

Classic Wood-grilled
Now when it comes to dessert, you have a selection of menu items - or, you can head out and pick your dessert from the bakery case (I told you you'd be back!).

The Trifecta Fudge Cake seems to be a popular choice, and with good reason. A dense fudge cake topped with a massive dollop of fancy whipped cream, its fudge filling and fudge sauce are rich enough to be a match for the cube of peanut butter fudge that joins it on the plate. Peanut butter sealed the deal for me, and again works with the summer theme, as the fudge reminds one of that sold on the boardwalk at Ocean City.
Trifecta Fudge Cake

Then again, you could go for the bacon-topped chocolate chip cookie. It is a real thing, and it's scrumptious.
Bacon-topped Chocolate
Chip Cookie
Overall, the service was outstanding. I'm looking forward to going back during the summer to check out the patio, and see what the summer menu and beer list will have to offer.

Summer House Santa Monica
11825 Grand Park Avenue

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