Editors' pick

Roof Bethesda

Patio/Rooftop, Bar

Editorial Review

The focus of this classy venue is al fresco drinking and dining, and the name is your hint as to where it takes place. During a recent visit, however, the eponymous attraction was closed. (The rooftop officially opened March 20, three months after the dining room, though bad weather may still force it to close.)

Roof occupies the second floor and rooftop of a corner building, so you access the restaurant via stairs (which feel more like the entrance to a parking garage) or elevator. It’s a lovely, albeit slightly cramped modern space, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a fantastic panorama of Norfolk and Cordell avenues. If you’re not eating, try to get a seat at the narrow drink rail along the wall — the view is much more interesting than the flat-screen televisions you see from the stone-topped bar.

New Zealander Josiah Alexander is behind the short-but-sweet cocktail menu. The Zen is everything the title promises: Hangar 1 Buddha’s Hand Citron vodka is shaken with freshly squeezed Satsuma mandarin juice and thai basil, then mixed with a house-made lemongrass lemonade. The mix of orange, lemongrass and scent of Thai basil is a great flavor combination, accented here by hints of citrus from the vodka. Equally summery is the Refresh, with watermelon and lime juices, agave nectar and floral Hendrick’s Gin. Not bad for $10 per drink.

This is a bar for the wired: Each stool is next to an outlet (meant for charging your phone) and Roof offers free WiFi. My companion wondered whether everyone would spend the night with their eyes fixed on a tiny screen, but the crowd seemed more interested in chatting than staring at their phones or the TVs showing basketball.

-- Fritz Hahn (March 27, 2014)