Gillian Clark's The General Store
Anyone been to Gillian Clark's new restaurant in Silver Spring, The General Store? It was to have opened this past weekend based on an email alert she sent out for take-out only. What is the menu? Any word on when her other restaurant in Takoma Park is opening? Thanks!
I went on Sunday and Chef has not missed a beat despite CK being closed for a few months. We had the fish tacos and beef stew along with a side of collard greens. Everything was fantastic. The fish was perfectly fried and the stew was perfect. The greens had big pieces of bacon and had a great vinegary kick.
They also had fried chicken and a couple of sandwiches on the menu, including a vegetarian friendly one.
It's take out only for now until they work out some parking issues with the county. We had a nice little picnic in the car.
I went on Sunday late afternoon and had the fried chicken with collards and cornbread and split pea soup. I liked the idea of the place, and have been waiting years for something to open up there, and had heard so much about her original restaurant and ... it was kind of disappointing. It was OK but nothing to write home about. I live pretty close so I will definitely go back and try the other items on the menu, but that's more based on the reputation and on stubbornly wanting it to be good, than on my actual experience so far.
FINALLY went today after about 18 months of wanting and trying to go. I tried to keep expectations down since they can kill an otherwise good experience. On the whole it came out - good.
I was going to be a late luncher and I wondered about time to cook (had to get the chicken - knew it from the start). Found it - love the location, love the spot especially, though did not appreciate the side doors being locked - would prefer they unlock them, put signs up, or best of all change them out and open up even more seating.
Did not see the back room seating until I was done and went to the bathroom. So, halfway through my meal I switched to a small table from the second booth (I usually don't take up extra space, but I had just dropped the money I'm about to talk about, it's 2pm, and I'm figuring no one else is straggling in - especially with a family which is what happened. Glad to move though for those with children especially).
ANYWAY - the service all the way through was excellent, though Gillian herself seemed a little peeved/distant, but it was after lunch and something else may have been going on.
I saw the prices and was a little shocked. Went ahead and got the Chk with Mac n' Cheese. It came amazingly quick - reheated or kept hot.
For the food: Excellent. Wondering if the Chk is brined and then treated to the wonderful batter. The Mac N' Cheese was excellent. I don't really eat corn bread, so I didn't have a bite.
Anyway - I paid about $10 more than I wanted to for lunch (which was $10 - had thought about a falafel plate at Max's). I stacked it up this way:
- The meal ~ $8
- Ambience ~ $2
- Service (including tip) ~ $4-5
- Crossing something off my list ~ $5
So, to cross something that was so big on my list was worth it. Would I go again?
If I lived nearby or ended up nearby at the right time (non-peak) and was okay in a small splurge, then yes.
I understand the model, but they have at least 3 very talented people serving a small space in a hard-to-find location for what is generally considered pedestrian/common fare. I think it'll work (and heck, it has for 18 months), but mainly for the location and affluency of local population. I just think it's a big bet for them.
Next time for me: Max's or El Pulgarcito.
El Pulgarcito Restaurant
11333 Elkin St, Silver Spring, MD 20902
re: Dennis S
I have heard complaints about the service here, but I thought it was fine and friendly. I wasn't too impressed with the actual food. I had the fried chicken and collard greens. It was ok, but nothing impressive. The skin was lacking seasoning. Honestly, KFC does fried chicken better for much less. They are also far inferior to soul food takeouts like the Blue and the White in Alexandria, which has the absolute best fried chicken and collard greens. The only good thing about it is you can have a glass a wine and it has a nice atmosphere which those other places don't.
I don't think I've every heard of the Blue and White - please tell more.
I did think the seasoning was good at General Store. For one, I think they are getting tired of their star (?) from a sign on the front door, but I will have to plug Flavors. I thought of them while I ate at GS. Two different styles. Only my maternal grandmother could cook both ways. The GS way was a nice fond memory, but generally I probably prefer Flavors. The difference comes down to crunchiness vs. seasoning. (with my experiences being GS had seasoning and while Flavors does too, the crunchiness comes forward the most).
I'm in agreement with Glinda. We have returned from a first visit where I went in expecting bad service and good food based on reviews here and elsewhere. The service--what there was of it--was friendly enough--but if I'm spending $50 on dinner I don't want to stand in line to order or to ask for anything else. And we did have to stand in line since there was only one counter person and she seemed pretty swamped and the place wasn't that full. Of the dishes we tried we really only liked the spinach and the cornbread. The fish tacos were dry, the sangria tasted like juice, the chicken was very salty and the mac and cheese was bland. And we were disconcerted to find that they have removed all of the straps from their high chairs because, I was told, the straps get food on them. I would rather have my kid get a little dirty than have him fall out of a high chair. I don't get how a supposed neighborhood place would make it difficult to seat children. This is a law suit waiting to happen.
re: Dennis S