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General Store in Silver Spring - Report

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Steve Apr 19, 2009 05:22 AM

I've been meaning to post this for several weeks now, but many people already know Gillian Clark has been back for a while now, serving her food in a revamped store/post office called the General Store - Post Office Tavern.

It's the kind of place everybody would love to have in their neck of the woods - casual, counter service, yet great care and thoughtfulness given to each preparation.

I'm not as enamored of the fish tacos as fellow Chowhound and lunch companion Lydia R. I like my tacos wet and savory, but the guacamole topping here is too thick and bland for that. I'd prefer tossed with a crema or a juicy peppery slaw, or both! Shrimp on a baguette was lovely and every bite a treasure. Root Vegetable Cobbler was also delicious, though I wish they'd charge less or give me more.

I'm not sure if there is a way of knowing the next time she'll have catfish sandwich on the menu, but I might travel around the beltway for that.

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    shellymck RE: Steve Apr 19, 2009 07:24 AM

    Thanks for that. Any comments on service or ambiance? I live very close by--I've heard from neighbors that it's not a particularly welcoming place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shellymck
      JeffCraddock RE: shellymck Apr 19, 2009 07:44 AM

      That hasn't been my experience.

      I live nearby and have eaten in and carried out many times. Robin is invariably friendly and I've also had a couple of nice exchanges with Chef when she isn't busy. Chef is mostly back by the stoves, keeping the chicken coming, making sandwiches, etc. I am a huge fan of the buttermilk-brined fried chicken and the collards. I agree with Steve about the fish tacos, but I'm a guacamole-phobe. I'd prefer some kind of lime-based salsa and/or slaw. The lemon chess pie is terrific, as are the cupcakes.

      I am very happy to have them in the neighborhood and am very much looking forward to the waffle brunch that starts in about an hour. Yum....

      1. re: shellymck
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        Steve RE: shellymck Apr 19, 2009 08:33 AM

        It may be a bit presumptuous of me to complain about the service at a self-service restaurant.....
        but I did have the well-known Lydia R. as my guide, so I didn't have the full-on 'average bloke' experience. They could probably do everyone a favor by posting the menu of the day where the customers can see it when they walk in. If they run out of something, they could just cross it off.

        Ambiance is simple, casual, neighborly.

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        Duker52 RE: Steve May 29, 2009 05:41 PM

        We used to be big fans of Gillian Clark's Colorado Kitchen and we went there 2-3 times a month. Tonight we decided to try The General Store. Walked in, could not figure out how to get seated and stood around for 5 minutes without anyone behind the counter giving us any guidance. Finally a customer told us it was order at the counter, wait for your food, and then carry it to a table. And they call this a restaurant? Please, who wants to go to what is essentially a cafeteria when it purports to be a restaurant. No thanks. We walked out without even ordering any food and will not return. What a disappointment.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Duker52
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          Steve RE: Duker52 May 29, 2009 09:22 PM

          It's called counter service as I mentioned in the OP. I heartily welcome the combination of counter service and skillfully prepared food. Sorry that it seems beneath you, but you'll lose out on many great eating experiences if you systematically shun counter service.

          1. re: Duker52
            DanielK RE: Duker52 May 29, 2009 09:23 PM

            Excellent! It's already getting crowded - more room for the rest of us!

            1. re: DanielK
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              rarotonga RE: DanielK May 30, 2009 08:43 AM

              Oh so THIS is what's opened in the space that used to be the old Forest Glen Country Store! I noticed something had finally opened there when I drove past last week but it was closed at the time... thanks for the report, I'm going to run over there right now.

              Don't know why people are miffed that it's counter service -- I've had some of the best food of my life in counter service restaurants. Hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints in rural Texas, etc.

              1. re: rarotonga
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                Steve RE: rarotonga May 30, 2009 08:53 AM

                I believe they offer some kind of "Sunday Dinner" service with a limited family-style menu. Not sure if it is every Sunday evening, but I think it's 'til they run out.'

                1. re: Steve
                  DanielK RE: Steve May 30, 2009 11:44 AM

                  It is every Sunday evening; best way to know what's on the menu is to get on the list. http://www.myspace.com/thebluebuilding

                  1. re: DanielK
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                    rarotonga RE: DanielK Jun 14, 2009 06:21 PM

                    Update - went this evening for the Sunday dinner, which today was wonderful BBQ ribs, corn, and potato salad. I talked to the guy at the counter and he asked how it was that I knew that they were going to have BBQ, and I told him that I saw it on their myspace page, which had been linked from this thread.

                    Turns out that they're having some trouble convincing people of the Sunday night idea - I saw at least 3 different groups come in, find out that they weren't serving the regular menu, and then leave (despite my yelling to at least one of them that the BBQ was great... hope I didn't frighten them away for good).

                    So, everyone talk it up - I worry that they're going to discontinue it if they don't get enough business on Sundays and that would be too sad.

          2. w
            wombat RE: Steve Jun 15, 2009 07:11 PM

            "They could probably do everyone a favor by posting the menu of the day where the customers can see it when they walk in. If they run out of something, they could just cross it off".

            Um, yeah. Isn't that kind of basic? I just don't get the attitude of this place. I live pretty nearby, and have been in a couple of times. I don't mind counter service, but to me, "not welcoming" is exactly what I call a place where you have to work to figure out what to do or what there is to order. And I see from one post on the MySpace page that not only is Sunday dinner different, but they won't do takeout. Really great way to convince people that the Sunday dinner idea is a good one - make it hard for them to get it. "Sunday dinner Nazi" might be funny on TV but it's not what most people are looking for in a restaurant in real life.

            But I still haven't given up - so, has anyone been to Sunday brunch? Are there any secret rules about it that I should know before I go?

            6 Replies
            1. re: wombat
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              stephaniej14 RE: wombat Jun 17, 2009 12:48 PM

              I really wanted to love the General Store as I generally prefer to support local, independent restaurants. As Wombat pointed out, however, the place seems to pride itself on having an attitude. I visited a few months ago about 6PM and waited in line for several minutes only to learn that most of the entree options (including the much praised fried chicken) were sold out. Most places would apologize and maybe suggest something else to order, but not the staff at the General Store. They acted like I was burdening them by taking a moment to figure out a different order. I chose two sides - mac and cheese and collard greens w/ a drink for $13. The food was fine, but not worth the price or the hassle.

              1. re: stephaniej14
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                gelato98 RE: stephaniej14 Jun 26, 2009 02:41 PM

                I too really want to LOVE the place! I live very nearby the General Store -- pass by it almost daily. I was so happy someone wanted to make over the place after so many years being vacant. So, recently I finally stopped by to check the place and the food out for myself. I am completely fine with the idea of ordering at the counter and either eating in or carrying out. I ordered fried chicken with mac & cheese & cornbread plus a slice of lemon chess pie for dessert. Sadly, I have to say I was not blown away by the flavor or quality of the meal. The chicken was tasty but not the best I have ever had. It was also barely warm. The mac & cheese was dry & bland --- and a paltry little portion to boot. The cornbread I did enjoy. The filling on the lemon cheese pie was SUBLIME! Very delicious. But, the crust was tough, chewy and really not worth eating --- maybe it was an off day for pie crusts? Biggest disappoint was that the slice of pie was $5.30 in price! I will go back and try other things --- like the fish tacos, the sloppy joe and the waffle brunch. I am also intrigued by the idea of the Sunday dinners and think those worth a try. I'll go a few more times before commenting on the "attitude" of the place, but my early feeling is its not all that warm. I am also wondering why there is no signage outside the buliding indicating the name of the establishment or even that its an eating establishment. The paper signs on the door and window indicating the hours and whether the place is open or closed cannot be seen from the road.

                1. re: gelato98
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                  gelato98 RE: gelato98 Oct 8, 2009 08:43 AM

                  Made another visit --- this time had tuna casserole and another slice of lemon chess pie.

                  The casserole itself was tasty enough -- but again, portion size was absurd. For $6, you get a carryout soup container of tuna noodle casserole with a bit of potato chips crushed on top. No side dishes, no nothing.

                  The lemon chess pie was very good -- pie crust much better than my last meal. But, still way to expensive.

                  Attitude of the counter help is definitely not warm and friendly.

                  One last trip there -- probably to try the fish tacos that do look nice. But, I am afraid I am going to end up writing this off as a place I never go. Too bad -- i live so close by.

                  Beware --- the restaurant sits next to the railroad tracks. Recently, some yellow barriers were installed in the center of the street before and after the train crossing. There is now only ONE WAY to get in to the General Store's all ready paltry parking area.

                  1. re: gelato98
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                    Steve RE: gelato98 Oct 8, 2009 10:42 AM

                    If you are going to give this place one last shot, then I recommend timing your visit when she has fried catfish sandwich or platter.

                    1. re: gelato98
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                      repete RE: gelato98 Oct 9, 2009 07:24 AM

                      Actually, it appears to have parking behind as well.

                      1. re: repete
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                        iatethesandbox RE: repete Nov 18, 2009 05:40 AM

                        Had a wonderful dinner here last night. Fried chicken, mac and cheese, chopped salad and turkey gruyere turnovers. The salad was just a justification for the other things I ate. The fried chicken was juicy, well-seasoned (maybe a tad salty), but the best I've had in this area. Had very good service, didn't feel like I was being shunned in any way. The parking is fine. There's a stone wall enclosed lot as well as a small lot in the back of the house.

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