Before he owned K Town Bistro, Gonzalo Barba busied himself with feeding presidents and politicians at the Watergate Hotel. This experience, along with the rest of his 40 years in the restaurant industry, bred a respect for the careful balance of upscale cuisine and familiar atmosphere that characterizes many prestigious eateries. Gonzalo preserves this relationship today, serving K Town Bistro's European-inspired dishes in a warm, friendly setting marked by coral-colored walls and lace curtains.
The bistro's chefs pull from American, French, and English traditions when arranging their entrees. Beef wellington—filet mignon surrounded by a mushroom-liver mousse—is a crowd favorite, though it vies for the spotlight with seared salmon and lamb shanks. Lunchtime heralds crab-cake sandwiches and the omelet of the day, all of which are in the running to become the omelet of the eon. Guests can also pick their courses from a prix fixe menu and pair them with wines from Spain, France, Chile, and the United States.
Perch on high-backed chairs to peruse the exhaustive menu of Latin-American flavors and start with a beefy app such as the taquitos ($8.95) or the Mexican pizza with melted cheese, guacamole, and shredded beef and chicken ($8.95). Vegetarians can advance directly to platanos con crema y frijoles ($6.95), an order of deep-fried sliced plantains sided with sour cream and beans for dipping. For heartier appetites, try an order of fajitas for two. The combo platter includes marinated steak, shrimp, chicken, and pork ribs, served with grilled veggies (tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers) and south-of-the-border toppers (guacamole and ranchera sauce), all for $31.95. For an authentic mouthful of El Salvador, stick your fork into a few pupusas ($1.75 each), cheese-stuffed corn tortillas with a choice of six fillings, served with pickled cabbage and carrots. Diners will also find a variety of burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, and egg-centric entrees.
At the The Royal Mile Pub, servers and regulars alike greet guests with a hearty "Cead mile failte!" It's Gaelic for "a hundred thousand welcomes," and the sentiment permeates every brew, stew, and show. Juxtaposing the local with the far-flung, Royal Mile cultivates a communal mood while maintaining a Scottish identity. To wit, the menu spotlights haggis, Orkney Scotch eggs, and traditional British-style breakfasts.
Spotlighting Scotland is a trend that also permeates the eatery's decor. Colorful tartans hang from the rafters, some of which match the kilts of live performers. The pub even takes its name from the region: Between Scotland's Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyroodhouse, there's a 1-mile series of streets traditionally traveled by Scottish royalty. The Royal Mile Pub is named for this thoroughfare, and its staff has welcomed its guests as it would kings and queens since it opened in 1981.
The dark wood façade of Mezeh’s Mediterranean Grill creates a stylish, modern presence in the food court at Annapolis Mall. Patrons walk along the eatery’s glass case, first selecting a base for their meal—salad, rice, tortilla, or fresh-baked pita—to complement one of five fillings, including crisp rounds of falafel and morsels of chicken shawarma. Their dishes can be topped with tahini or spicy harissa sauce, along with vegetable blends such as red cabbage slaw or pickled turnips. All items on the menu are crafted without trans fats or preservatives, making them a healthy alternative to making ham sandwiches out of other ham sandwiches.
Elevation Burger’s grillmasters build environmentally conscious burgers that anchor buns with 100% organic, grass-fed, free-range beef rich with nutritious omega-three acids. A blanket of cheddar cheese and strips of bacon sheath each juicy patty, which comes packed with meat ground onsite and free from the touch of antibiotics, pesticides, and radioactive butchers. Fresh toppings such as caramelized onions and tomatoes customize each meaty handheld, and a bouquet of french fries sizzled in healthful olive oil accessorizes meals. To further bolster its Earth-friendly philosophies, Elevation Burger uses locally sourced ingredients when possible and strives to achieve LEED certifications for all its locations.
While cake isn't always a health food, it can be under the guidance of the bakers at Caked Up. They gather their ingredients from local sources to ensure a dessert's freshness as they create classic indulgences such as cakes, cupcakes, and bite-size lolli cakes. But their fresh ingredients are only half the equation. When something a little healthier is desired, they can swap out traditional flour for gluten-free grain or remove all traces of eggs, milk, and butter from the batter to cook up completely vegan desserts.
No matter what ingredients they use, the bakers always ensure that desserts bear beautiful designs. They can make easy swirls and flowers in frosting, or create custom designs that utilize fondant, cake shaping, and piped frosting. This allows every dessert, no matter if it's a tray of cupcakes or a tiered cake, to be the perfect centerpiece for a party or slapstick open-mic night.