I never thought the day would come that my mother would gush to all her friends that her daughter was a certified Bitch. Here I am, 23 years old, and she is as proud as can be to tell all of her friends just that.
In fact, my calendar is filled for the next month with brunches so my mother can parade my fine palette and food snobbery in front of her friends. This past weekend I trekked to Chevy Chase, Maryland, with my mother and her friend in tow to dine at Lia’s, one of Chef Geoff’s many restaurants.
Traveling the 35 minutes from my house in Alexandria to the eatery was like traveling with two kindergartners. “Are we there yet?” they whined in unison. “I’m hungry,” they complained in tandem. By the time we got there we were all starving, and I was in desperate need of a cocktail.
We entered the restaurant and were immediately greeted with a musty mothball smell. The fragrance was so apparent throughout our meal I had to stop the waitress and ask her if the restaurant always smells this way. Perhaps the smell came from the decorative plywood walls or all the fish dishes lingering about? Regardless, it was distracting and not the most welcoming smell.
We reasoned that the best way to beat the smell was with a cocktail to dull our senses. Our plan of attack for the drink menu was to divide and conquer. My mother claimed the one cocktail we all had our eye on, the Cesare’s Compari Punch. I went with the Rockville Swizzle as my alternate, and Tracy chose Cortez the Killer.
The first sip of the Compari Punch was refreshing but immediately left an odd taste in our mouths. My cocktail was incredibly strong and packed a tart punch. Tracy’s cocktail resembled a traditional margarita and was by far the best drink on the table.
When it came time to order our main dishes it became increasingly obvious we were starving and feeling a bit over eager to get food on the table. To start we ordered the ricotta doughnuts (you Bitches should know by now that I’ve got a helluva sweet tooth and can’t deny fried balls of dough wrapped in sugar). We ordered four entrees, including the oyster po’boy, brie stuffed French toast, Lia’s crespelle, and the big shrimp and very Gouda grits. Did I mention there were only three of us in attendance and none of them were Takeru Kobayashi?
The doughnuts arrived first, and were accompanied by a complimentary basket of cheddar drop biscuits and three kinds of dips, including apple butter, cream cheese, and pepper jelly. The doughnuts were phenomenal. They were light, fluffy, and the perfect of sweet. It is honestly a miracle the other two even got to try them. The biscuits were a little cold upon arrival, but with one of the dips smeared on, that became a minor detail.
Mere moments later the main dishes arrived and were far larger than expected. The brie stuffed French toast was two large slices of Texas toast covered in berry compote and joined by two maple sausage links, instead of two thin slices of bread as I was expecting. The bread was a little too thick, but otherwise it was an incredibly tasty dish. The savory taste of the cheese mixed with the sweetness of the berry compote was refreshing and delicious.
The Crespelle came with scrambled eggs, Fontina cheese, prosciutto, tomato, and arugula sandwiched in between two crepes. The dish sounded amazing on the menu, but in actuality it was bland and nothing to write home about.
The oyster po’boy was better, but also wasn’t anything particularly special. The oysters were fried perfectly, but the Andouille remoulade could have been spicier and more flavorful. The flavor of the yucca hash that tagged along with the sandwich was right on point, but unfortunately they were merely luke warm.
Last but not least, let’s assess the shrimp and grits. Unlike Cori Sue’s experience at Firefly, these grits were absolute perfection. The shrimp were large and plentiful, and were swimming amid peppers and broth. The dish had me returning back bite after bite even until I was bursting at the seams. If I had to rewind my experience and do it all over again, I would order four of the shrimp and grits instead of four different dishes, it was that good.
Satisfied, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, back to my car, and right into nap time.
The Bitches say: B for an above average brunch with excellent service, a few key dishes, and those unbelievable doughnuts. The grade would have been higher but the musty smell was completely off putting and some dishes were utterly bland.
Last but not least: The coolest part about Lia’s isn’t the modern décor, but the fact that the eatery as well as its sister restaurants are participating in the March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction on November 12, 2013. The event features 30 of the areas most celebrated chefs, bartenders, and vintners. Guests can also participate in auctions with unique dining, entertainment, travel and leisure packages. The event helps raise funds for the March of Dimes mission to help more babies be born healthy and happy. If the food, fun, and fabulous isn’t alluring to you then do it for the children! Get tickets and more information about the event here.
4435 Willard Ave.
Chevy Chase, MD
Lia’s serves brunch on Sundays.