Mix Bar and Grill to replace Bezu in Potomac

No matter what he did at Bezu in Potomac, owner Eddie Benaim says he couldn’t shake the restaurant’s reputation as an expensive place to eat.  Slashing the prices of the veal chop and filet mignon didn’t work, nor did adding less costly seafood pasta or lamb shanks.  So late last month, he shuttered the struggling  business with the intention of turning it into a contemporary American bistro with a Mediterranean lilt.

The 60-seat Mix Bar and Grill is expected to open late August or early September.

“We decided to go more casual,” says Benaim, who has partnered with Ramiro Paez, owner of the late Peroli Parioli in Bethesda, on the rebranded concept. Their forthcoming restaurant will include a bar that will be triple the size of Bezu’s, a long white leather banquette, “a mix of fabrics” and a brick oven for making flatbreads, says Benaim.  (The man has been busy; in February,  he rolled out an Aroma Espresso Bar in Montgomery Mall, the first of an expected 10 such coffee/ sandwich/pastry outlets in the area.)

Benaim says he’s discussing a consulting role at Mix Bar and Grill for his former chef, Francis Layrle, who enjoyed an impressive run at the French Embassy in Washington before joining Bezu in 2010. “I love him,” says the restaurateur. “He’s very talented. We want him to be a part” of the (dare I?) mix.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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Tim Carman | July 11, 2013