Bar Charley introduces new menu and chef

December 18, 2013

A diner can still find good, cheap cocktails at Bar Charley. But its chef and wide-ranging menu of small plates have been replaced after less than four months, says co-owner Jackie Greenbaum.

Out: LaMont Mitchell, who came to the project from Redwood in Bethesda. In: Adam Harvey, the head chef at Greenbaum’s modern American Jackie’s in Silver Spring.


Bar Charley's new chef hails from Jackie's in Silver Spring. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg / For The Washington Post)

“We decided to make a change in direction,” the restaurateur announced Tuesday, hours before rolling out a new script that follows a traditional appetizer/main course/dessert format. Nothing from the original menu, which hopscotched from papri chat to shrimp dumplings to chicken with dirty rice, remains.

Harvey’s fresh ideas include roasted dates with curry mascarpone, grilled rainbow trout with gribiche, a daily-changing vegetarian entree and a liquid riff on Buffalo wings. The twist? The first course is served as a soup based around celery root, chicken, hot sauce and blue cheese. “The only thing missing are the carrot sticks,” jokes Greenbaum. “Adam is a creative guy.” Entrees are priced between $13 and $20.

One thing that prompted the changes at Bar Charley: “When Gordon (Banks, her co-owner) and I sat down and ate the small plates together, they didn’t marry well” as a meal. The shift is intended to give the neighborhood watering hole a bistro bent.

The kitchen at Bar Charley is a tiny one. So some of its more complicated recipes, including corned beef, will be prepared at Jackie’s and brought down.

Harvey is expected to split his week between the two restaurants, “a temporary burden on him,” says Greenbaum. “He’s a machine.”

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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