Chef Geoff's Opens in Rockville, MD
Less than half an hour’s drive outside the city proper, Chef Geoff’s new location in Rockville, MD has been open for less than two weeks. Judging from our recent visit, it’s already an area favorite. This is surely in part because Geoff Tracy and his architects did a near-amazing job transforming the dark and cramped space (formerly Houston’s, and then Againn) into a bright, modern and airy restaurant. The difference is almost startling — it’s hard to believe it’s the same place.
The massive round bar that was a staple in both previous restaurants is no longer there. But it’s not gone either. Recognizing the bar as a beautiful and valuable piece, Tracy had it cut into pieces and re-fit to make up the 50-foot bar that now runs the length of the restaurant. It’s the largest of all the bars in any of the five Chef Geoff’s restaurants, and like the others, it stays comfortably crowded.
We sat down with the chef and his bar manager, Nick Goldman (formerly at Lia’s) to talk beer wine and cocktails. Goldman created the cocktail list, which is tiki-bar-themed, sans the syrupy kitsch (no paper umbrellas in drinks here). Over a dozen fresh juices and syrups are made daily from fruit and herbs that change seasonally.
The Stop Making Sense blends Myers dark rum and Crazan light rum with grapefruit and lime juices and almond and passion fruit syrups over a glass a full of crushed ice. It tastes like a Caribbean holiday. It’s not overly sweet, which we appreciate. Goldman’s favorite is the Tiki Fashioned (Bulleit bourbon, date-syrup, grapefruit juice, Angostura bitters). The date syrup is key — it leads to a unique and delicious version of the traditional Old Fashioned. Other signature cocktails are also tropical twists on classics — heavy on the citrus and other fruits but never too sweet, and made with plenty of booze.
The bar boasts over 30 beers on tap, including all the usual favorites along with some harder to find options. Goldman is working towards becoming a sommelier, and created a new world oriented wine list that’s easy to navigate and has something for everyone, with over 80 different bottles in the cellar. Happy Hour specials are available every day from 3–7 PM, and all day Monday and Tuesday. Monday is also half price wine bottle night.
To accompany the sips, Tracy created the menu by choosing his favorite and the most popular dishes from a history of two years worth of menus from all other Chef Geoff restaurants. Some of our favorites were the chorizo pigs in a blanket with red grape relish (just the right amount of spicy and sweet) and the Maryland-appropriate crab cakes with Waldorf salad. Bar snacks start at $6, burgers, sandwiches and pizzas hover around $14, and entrees range from $16–$30.
12256 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD; 240-621-3090
Bottom two photos by Vanessa Carbajal
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