A FEW BEEFS: To distinguish itself in a crowded meat market, a steak purveyor has to have a gimmick. Among the details separating the new Old Homestead Steakhouse (7501 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-2006) from the field is its celebration of Kobe beef, revered for its tenderness. Here in a corner of the Chevy Chase Bank building, the designer beef can be sampled in the form of sirloin steak, hamburger, even a hot dog. The last is hilariously long, cradled in a slender toasted bun and flanked with chunky beef chili and a fistful of house-made tater tots. The hot dog's $19 price tag underscores its pedigree -- and suggests that grinding Kobe beef into sausage doesn't show the meat to its best advantage.
An import from New York, the sprawling restaurant does well by its mammoth, thick and succulent rib steak and knowledgeable servers. We also applaud the gratis parking. Side dishes need rethinking, however. "Three cheese" macaroni tastes as if it were made with Velveeta, creamed spinach is gummy, and hash browns resemble nothing more special than mashed potatoes with a browned top. Admittedly, Old Homestead is young. But when dinner costs $100 a head, a diner also should expect red wine that's cool to the touch and a "yodel" (cream-stuffed chocolate cake) that isn't grainy with sugar. Competitors can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now.
Dinner entrees $21-$40.
DON'T WORRY, HE'LL BE BACK: After a 19-year run at Melrose (1201 24th St. NW; 202-419-6755) in the Park Hyatt Hotel, chef Brian McBride plans to hang up his apron this summer. His fans shouldn't fret, however. "The scenario is quite good," says McBride, who explains that the entire hotel is closing for six or so months of renovation. When it reopens next spring, a new dining room, conceived by the esteemed international designer Tony Chi, will serve as McBride's new roost. "You don't often get this opportunity, to stay in one place" for so long and then "re-concept," says the chef, who plans to serve his last meal at Melrose on July 31. Details about what he'll be cooking are few; McBride promises only an emphasis on great ingredients and "something a little more fun."