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Houstons in Rockville Closing!!!

maypo Nov 21, 2009 11:47 AM

Turns out that the landlord cannot come to terms with the restaurant on a new lease. Last day open is sometime in mid-December. A big loss for traditional American foodies in MoCo. Great place overall.

  1. f
    FoiGras Nov 21, 2009 03:44 PM

    OMG!!!--Despite the fact that I haven't eaten at Houston's in over 10 years!!! (I wasn't living in this area), but I really enjoyed THAT RESTAURANT, back in the 1990's. I would drive from Parkville, Md to the restaurant several times a month.

    Naturally, it didn't qualify as a truly standard "Chowhound" type of cuisine restaurant, but for a chain, it was really a fun place to visit. Inexpensive, basic food--just like Cheesecake Factory, Houlihan's , Ruby Tuesdays', etc. A fun place to grab a bite to eat during the week.

    I had always hoped that Houston's would open a venue in
    Baltimore. Well, it doesn't seem to be an eventuality. If they are closing in Rockville, well, it doesn't seem as though there would be any promise of a relocation to Baltimore or the immediate suburbs. TooBad. FoiGras

    2 Replies
    1. re: FoiGras
      meatheadchef Dec 3, 2009 10:10 AM

      Didn't Houstons get bought out as a chain? Heard Woodmont Grill the old Houstons in Bethesda just changed names. Maybe thats whats going on Houstons out and Woodmont will re-open. I always liked the opineapple marinated rib eye steak at Houstons when I'm in the area I've been going to Golden Bull off Delemar St. in Gathersburg their an old school steakhouse and family owned.

      1. re: FoiGras
        jbonbright Feb 25, 2010 09:08 AM

        Houston's was nothing like RT's, CCF, TGIF, or any other crappy chain restaurants. Everything I ever had on their menu was wonderful - salads, burgers, ribs, whatever. Seems silly to talk about such a basic menu item, but their chicken tenders were the juiciest, most tender I ever had, with the most fantastic (light) breading ever - I'd have died for that breading recipe. It's a real shame it closed. BTW, as a matter of disclosure, I bartended there back in the 80's. Great memories and great food, at very reasonable prices.

      2. w
        wysguymd Nov 21, 2009 04:05 PM

        I see this more as an inconvenience...there's another one a few miles away in Bethesda.

        1. m
          mdfoodlover Nov 21, 2009 07:08 PM

          I'm sorry to read this news. I really like Houstons, & have for many many years. The option of Bethesda is not a good one for me, just that much farther on the dreaded 355.

          I don't suppose there's a chance they may re-open at another site in Rockville?

          I don't agree with Foigras's lumping of Houstons together with CC Factory, Ruby's, etc. I've always had consistent good quality food, and very good service, at the Rockville Houstons. I've seldom had that at CCF, and never at RT's.

          I'll be sad to see them go.
          Where else in Rockville or G'burg is a comparable spot?

          8 Replies
          1. re: mdfoodlover
            wysguymd Nov 22, 2009 05:41 AM

            Clydes Tower Oaks is probably most comparable. Possibly even Red Rock at Rio.

            1. re: wysguymd
              jac0077 Nov 23, 2009 05:22 AM

              The Chowhounders are good. This news just broke. You guys are as quick as Matt Drudge. The fact is, Houston's is one of the best continental American restaurant chains in the country. With this economy, it's hard to believe that a landlord wouldn't come to terms with an organization like this that has 40 or so stores in multiple states and has deep pockets. You don't kick out a long-standing tenant who can pay their bills in favor of an empty spot. No real estate firm that knows what they're doing would let this deal go south. The downturn has hurt them a little, but mostly, they're still pretty busy. The Bethesda location (now Woodmont Grill for some reason) was packed the other day at lunch and I had to wait 20 minutes to be seated. Something else is going on here. Investigative Chowhounders, get out there and beat the pavement and bring us the real reason for this great restaurant closing at this location.

              1. re: jac0077
                dinwiddie Nov 23, 2009 05:33 AM

                Actually I'm suprised it lasted as long as it did considering how difficult it is to get in and out of the parking lot there. I always thought that was a lousy location for a restaurant.

                1. re: dinwiddie
                  Pappy Nov 30, 2009 05:49 AM

                  I always thought the parking lot was packed because the restaurant was packed.

                  1. re: Pappy
                    Steve Nov 30, 2009 08:41 AM

                    Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded.

                    1. re: Steve
                      mdfoodlover Nov 30, 2009 10:17 AM

                      Good One!
                      It really is a shame they are closing. Rockville just doesn't have anywhere comparable, for my taste anyway. My wife recalls rumors of them closing several years ago. It sadly seems those rumors are now coming true.

                      1. re: mdfoodlover
                        dinwiddie Nov 30, 2009 12:24 PM

                        I've never been a fan of theirs, they are OK, but nothing special. I can think of plenty of places in Rockville I'd eat before going to Houston's. However, most of them are ethnic places. If you want chain American food, admittedly pretty good for a chain, then Houston's might be just what you want.

            2. re: mdfoodlover
              keithlb1 Dec 4, 2009 03:29 AM

              I think Houstons is a step above in quality and service than those other chains just mentioned also not that cheap though. But I would always take Houston's over Cheesecake Factory any day.

            3. c
              crabtreeacres Nov 23, 2009 06:06 AM

              houston's rockville had some lease issues with their landlord a few years ago as well, and gave me and the hubs quite a scare, as we ate there once a week at that time. just before the plug was to be pulled, they reached an agreement. i hope they can do so this time, b/c waiting times for tables at the (twin) sister restaurant, the "woodmont grill", have practically tripled already. used to go there and be seated immediately or w/in 5 minutes or so. this will make the wait there even worse. great food but no delusions of grandeur. the landlord won't be able to duplicate houston's success in that location.

              1. j
                jac0077 Nov 30, 2009 05:46 AM

                Just went there last night. Our server told us that no last minute negotiation is expected, the decision to close was due to conflict on both sides and their last day of service is Dec. 21st. No indication at this point whether a different location will be chosen in the area. Woodmont Grill, owned by Houston's and formerly named Houston's, will remain open and unchanged. Many favorite Houston's items are avail. on their menu.

                12 Replies
                1. re: jac0077
                  bobovespa Dec 2, 2009 08:16 PM

                  Tragedy! I worked in restaurants for more than 10 years and I pay attention to details. I have long been in awe of Houston's: it is amazing in its high-quality consistency from unit to unit. No other chain comes close to that level of food and service quality. The burgers have gotten expensive over the years but they are often even better than Rays Hell Burger. I live 45 minutes away but still I will really miss them.

                  1. re: bobovespa
                    jac0077 Dec 3, 2009 04:44 AM

                    Bob gets it.

                    Attention to detail is vital but most restaurants, especially at Houston's price point, don't understand this. One other issue on their closing is that Mont. Co., which is Big Brother and anti-everything, is such a headache to deal with that Houston's is almost glad in a way.

                    1. re: jac0077
                      mdfoodlover Dec 3, 2009 09:32 AM

                      I think it would be great if they opened a branch in Howard Co. I know Maple Lawn has had several unsuccessful American Food ventures, none of which could hold a candle to Houston's.
                      Is Howard Co more or less business friendly?

                      1. re: mdfoodlover
                        dining with doc Dec 5, 2009 06:59 AM

                        victoria gastropub in HC is a great restaurant and is what I would call in the Houstons type just with much better and current food

                        1. re: dining with doc
                          mdfoodlover Dec 5, 2009 09:51 AM

                          I've never been there. Is it somewhere near the Harris Teeter off Guilford?
                          I should give it a try, as I've seen it mentioned a number of times. Thanks.

                          1. re: mdfoodlover
                            OneSonTwoCats Dec 21, 2009 04:06 PM

                            It's at the end of Snowden River Parkway that runs into Route 100. Former Bennigan's location right there on the corner.

                          2. re: dining with doc
                            FoiGras Dec 5, 2009 03:51 PM

                            Since I haven't dined at Houstons in nearly 8 years, I can't really compare to Victoria Gastro Pub. BUT--I do agree with "dining with doc," in that the Pub has much more "current" cuisine and many interesting offerings which are quite nicely executed. I have no issue with "older" - type food though.

                            It's unfortunate that Houston's is now closing along with so many other favorites-i.e., Brass Elephant, Ixia, etc. Maybe with the so-called upturn in the economy we will see many more individual establishments holding their own and staying in business. I realize that Houston's is part of a chain, so it is quite surprising that they are closing down. FoiGras

                          3. re: mdfoodlover
                            sydshad Dec 5, 2009 06:58 PM

                            What were the several American Food ventures in Maple Lawn that were unsuccessful?

                            1. re: sydshad
                              mdfoodlover Dec 6, 2009 02:55 AM

                              Oz Steakhouse and Ranazul.
                              My personal experience in both places.
                              Fairly decent food, served by inept staff with an attitude. Overpriced. Pretentious.
                              Oz was the worst.

                              1. re: mdfoodlover
                                sydshad Dec 6, 2009 03:22 PM

                                I've had good experiences at Ranazul and since it's open and a Tapas restaurant I would have a hard time classifying it as an unsuccessful American Food venture in Maple Lawn. I agree with your opinion on OZ Steakhouse and that could also apply to the failed seafood restaurant, Trapeze but I wouldn't classify them as American Food ventures like Houston's.

                                1. re: sydshad
                                  mdfoodlover Dec 7, 2009 01:53 AM

                                  My mistake. I should have typed Trapeze, not Ranazul. I've never been to Ranazul, only the other two failed places.
                                  Sorry for the mind slip

                                  1. re: mdfoodlover
                                    yam Dec 25, 2009 09:24 AM

                                    What a shame! What a loss!
                                    And I would never compare Victoria's Gastro Pub to Houston's.

                    2. s
                      Steve Dec 3, 2009 06:05 AM

                      How does the food at Woodmont Grill compare with Houston's? Is it exactly the same?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Steve
                        jac0077 Dec 3, 2009 06:10 AM

                        Yep. Same owner, same deal on food and service. They changed the name in anticipation of the legislation that will soon be voted on in Mont. Co, which requires chain restaurants with more than one outlet in the county to publish every ingredient and nutritional info on their menus. Houston's doesn't want to deal with that you know why?
                        Because they grind their meat daily for burgers and make every single menu item in their store from scratch daily. Putting exact ingredients is not possible because they don't make cookie cutter food and that's a good thing. Just one more crazy hoop restaurants in Mont. Co. have to tragically jump through.

                        1. re: jac0077
                          elegantelliot Dec 3, 2009 08:57 AM

                          even if the make their food from scratch they can list the ingredients. that doesnt make any sense. the reason they dont want to list the information is because of the calories and fat and they dont want people to see how bad a lot of their food actually is for you.

                          1. re: elegantelliot
                            jac0077 Dec 3, 2009 10:06 AM

                            Houston's has many items that are healthy including daily fresh catch, delicious salads and fresh steamed veggies every day. That's not the reason for its name change. My post above is the reason. Not opinion. That comes directly from their GM.

                            1. re: jac0077
                              elegantelliot Dec 3, 2009 10:39 AM

                              it may come from the GM but that doesnt make it so. do you work there? do you think that the GM would tell you its because the food isnt very good for you? i enjoy houstons very much, but not listing the ingredients and calories because everything is made from scractch each day makes absolutely no sense at all.

                            2. re: elegantelliot
                              tpogue Dec 27, 2009 09:16 AM

                              Houston's has had lots of heart healthy items on their menu such as the seared tuna. That can't be the reason.

                              1. re: tpogue
                                mdfoodlover Dec 28, 2009 04:06 PM

                                I used to love getting a loaded baked potato & prime rib for dinner. I usually started with a chicken tender appetizer. Oftentimes I'd follow it all up with a hot fudge sundae. These were my favorites for many years.

                                A heart attack in 2007 changed my ways.
                                Since then, trips to Houstons always started with Peel n eat shrimp (superb), a nice salad, and then usually the fresh grilled fish of the day. This more healthy grouping always tasted excellent, and left me feeling no guilt.

                                If you choose your meal, it is very easy (or, it was) to eat healthy at Houstons.

                        2. k
                          KayK Dec 11, 2009 07:54 AM

                          Despite being a chain, I have always enjoyed this restaraunt. Especially the bar staff whom I have gotten to know over the years as a loyal patron. It is sad to me to see a thriving, succesful restaraunt go. It is a financial loss to the landlord and clearly some other personal or petty motive at work. It is consistantly packed, making money hand over fist. It seems like a lot to just let go. It is a loss for the area- and I am losing one of my fav go to places!

                          1. p
                            pikeserver Dec 21, 2009 09:11 AM

                            I have heard rumors that they are relocating to Rio, in Gaithersburg...

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: pikeserver
                              dining with doc Dec 21, 2009 02:48 PM

                              would love to see Houstons come to olney to the old Cuckoos nest location. would be perfect

                              1. re: dining with doc
                                elegantelliot Dec 22, 2009 06:33 AM

                                they should move a block up the road to the old bennigans

                                1. re: elegantelliot
                                  nickdanger Dec 22, 2009 09:24 AM

                                  Could always try the ill fated location of PGA Grill (and Shelly's Wood Roast before that). I heard that the local majority owner wanted to own his own building, and not deal with landlords. Also heard that the strip where it is now will eventually be replaced by a high rise.

                                  1. re: nickdanger
                                    mdfoodlover Dec 22, 2009 01:33 PM

                                    That spot was, IIRC, originally a Hot Shoppes with drive in service & the "Mighty Moe" burger serviced by girls on roller skates. When Shelly's took over the building & gave it a facelift, I thought t was a good thing. Too bad it didn't last ( for multiple reasons I'm sure.

                                    I'm with dining with doc, please come to Olney, Houstons

                                    1. re: mdfoodlover
                                      con carne Dec 25, 2009 03:00 PM

                                      Wasn't that location also a That's Amore for one brief shining moment? One of the other boards reports that Matchbox will be opening a new location there some time in 2010.

                                      1. re: mdfoodlover
                                        pgreen Dec 31, 2009 06:33 AM

                                        Can't argue with that. With the loss of Pumpernickel’s and Blue Ox (and the incursion of Green Turtle), Olney is losing its culinary distinctiveness. My fear is that it becomes another--gasp--Rockville, foodwise.

                                        1. re: pgreen
                                          DanielK Dec 31, 2009 06:56 AM

                                          If only Olney WERE like Rockville.

                                          Then, it might have places like, just to name a few:

                                          Amici Miei
                                          Amina Thai
                                          Bobby's Crabcakes
                                          Bob's Noodle
                                          Caribbean Feast
                                          China Bistro
                                          China Canteen
                                          Il Pizzico
                                          Joe's Noodle House
                                          La Limena
                                          Michael's Noodles
                                          Niwano Hana
                                          Oro Pomodoro
                                          Pita Hut
                                          Seven Seas
                                          Sol de Espana
                                          Spice Xing
                                          Yekta Kabobi
                                          York Castle

                                          1. re: DanielK
                                            pgreen Dec 31, 2009 07:10 AM

                                            OK, you got me. My real complaint about Rockville is how hard it is to find the wheat among the (chain) chaff, unless you know exactly what you are looking for. What I always liked about Olney (when I first moved nearby) was how many distinctive, non-chain restaurants there were and how few chains. That was a stark contrast to Gaithersburg in particular.

                                            1. re: pgreen
                                              DanielK Dec 31, 2009 08:49 AM

                                              Fair enough. Olney doesn't have a "Rockville Pike" where all the big box stores and chains sit. The flip side is those huge crowds make the smaller more interesting places possible.

                                          2. re: pgreen
                                            ciaoda Jan 6, 2010 07:11 AM

                                            I would hardly classify Pumpernickel's closing as a foodie loss. ....

                                            1. re: ciaoda
                                              DanielK Jan 6, 2010 07:27 AM

                                              Pumpernickel's in recent years has not been great, but for a time, if you stuck with the deli/NY Jewish specialties, it was arguably the best of it's breed in the DC area.

                                              1. re: DanielK
                                                ciaoda Jan 6, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                Ive lived in Olney for 15 years and during that time, they've always been mediocre deli, filthy, and Barry and his schtick got old...... If you ask anyone today, their only positive response will be that they liked the pickel bar....

                                                1. re: ciaoda
                                                  DanielK Jan 6, 2010 10:28 AM

                                                  Each to their own. I've had some very good corned beef, pastrami, and tongue sandwiches over the years there, and their chicken-in-a-pot was also very good.

                                                  And I liked the pickle bar. :-)

                                                  1. re: DanielK
                                                    ciaoda Jan 6, 2010 12:19 PM

                                                    They got their deli meat from Saval I believe, which you can pretty much get at any supermarket (minus the filth). :(

                                                    1. re: ciaoda
                                                      DanielK Jan 6, 2010 01:45 PM

                                                      Maybe they did at the end, but they definitely used to make their own corned beef and pastrami at one point.

                                                  2. re: ciaoda
                                                    mdfoodlover Jan 6, 2010 01:33 PM

                                                    I always liked looking at those mile high cakes in the upright display case. I never did try one, as my wife was watching my diet long before I was.
                                                    The pickles were indeed the highlight of the place.
                                                    Yeh, the filth was (is) quite nasty.

                                          3. re: nickdanger
                                            dining with doc Mar 17, 2010 03:02 PM

                                            shellys/pga is going to be Matchbox. Excellent addition and in my opinion a better version of Houstons

                                    2. DanielK Dec 28, 2009 05:06 PM

                                      If half the people in this thread who are bemoaning the loss actually ate there regularly, they probably wouldn't be closing...

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: DanielK
                                        reiflame Dec 28, 2009 05:25 PM

                                        Did you miss the reason they're closing? They lost their lease, not lack of business.

                                        1. re: reiflame
                                          DanielK Dec 28, 2009 06:40 PM

                                          "landlord cannot come to terms with the restaurant on a new lease" usually means either: landlord wants to raise rent to market value, and restaurant can't make it work in their business model; or restaurant not doing great, looking for decrease in rent, so landlord looks for a new tenant.

                                          Either one points back to a need for more revenue.

                                          I don't know their particular situation, obviously, but I do know the business.

                                          1. re: DanielK
                                            reiflame Dec 28, 2009 07:17 PM

                                            Either way, it's a bad economy and a common story in DC - landlord raises rent, restaurant closes/moves, even with a good client base. I wouldn't rush to blame diners for not eating there particularly when you don't know the situation (as you say).

                                            1. re: DanielK
                                              Ootek1 Dec 28, 2009 07:49 PM

                                              The landlord is the Lerners, and they've apparently tried to force Houston's out for years. Houston's is the only tenant that brigs business into that strip mall, and they've done great business there for years. It really boils down to the Lerners being my-way-or-the-highway with everyone they deal with, and the rumor is they want to tear down the strip mall and put up a high rise anyway. So, no, it really has nothing to do with how well Houston's did.

                                              1. re: DanielK
                                                Bob Slade Jan 6, 2010 05:12 AM

                                                Daniel - you DON'T know the business. Houston's has done EXTREMELY WELL there for over 20 years. They tried to leave 5 years ago, but Lerner enticed them to stay.

                                                1. re: Bob Slade
                                                  DanielK Jan 6, 2010 06:06 AM

                                                  As I said, I don't know *their particular situation* - I was generalizing.

                                                  If their business model is so brilliant, why aren't they reopening elsewhere?

                                                  1. re: DanielK
                                                    Bob Slade Jan 6, 2010 06:45 AM

                                                    They are . . . .

                                                    1. re: DanielK
                                                      reiflame Jan 6, 2010 06:47 AM

                                                      They haven't said that they're not.

                                                      1. re: DanielK
                                                        cocoagirl Jan 7, 2010 05:45 AM

                                                        they also closed in Georgetown and the business there was phenominal - but they would not deal with the heavy handidness of the LL- they know what they are doing- but it may not fit the average business model

                                                        1. re: cocoagirl
                                                          deangold Jan 7, 2010 06:19 AM

                                                          From what I heard, the increase on the rent was somewhere in the neighborhood of $38k to 55k. Hard to see how you can grow business in this economy to justify that much scratch. I htink there are currently 4 or 5 big box restaurant spaces on the pike all in shopping centers or buildings with a lot of visibility and parking.

                                              2. Mister Big Jan 1, 2010 05:34 AM

                                                I was in Houston's Bethesda Woodmont Grille on Tuesday night, and they were packed to the rafters. I'm assuming the crowd was larger than normal because of the closing of the Rockville branch.

                                                1. r
                                                  reiflame Mar 17, 2010 08:30 AM

                                                  Againn is opening in the old Houston's spot, according to WaPo. June 1 is the proposed opening.

                                                  1. s
                                                    steval Apr 18, 2010 09:23 PM

                                                    So here is the rest of the story, as I understand it....this property is a LERNER property and, presumably, they are not interested in "negotiating". The GOOD NEWS issss...the current BUZZ is that Houston's IS planning on going back into that location as both sides work to come to a agreement. IF this is so...all I can say is RIDICULOUS that it could not have been reached prior to vacating the space!!! Same source has confirmed that Matchbox IS def going in to the former PGA Grill spot.

                                                    Additionally...I absolutely agree with the person who stated prior, that Red Rock Canyon Grill, now renamed Copper Canyon in Rio Shop. Ctr. is a close runner up to Houstons. LOVE it!! Great food, great servic, call ahead seating AND an outdoor dining area lakeside. They run the restaurant and trained the staff in accordance with the training and philosophy that defined Houstons. Check it out.

                                                    One last bit of Info....SLADES, which closed in the area, has been reborn under the name of NORTONS in Tysons Corner Mall. Former mgr opened it...same menu, etc!! Worth the drive. ttfn...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: steval
                                                      Mister Big Apr 19, 2010 04:51 AM

                                                      It's already been reported that AGAINN will open its second location in the old Houston's Rockville spot.

                                                      1099 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                    2. r
                                                      reiflame Aug 18, 2010 10:22 AM

                                                      Did you guys read WaPo's article?


                                                      Here are some choice quotes:

                                                      ""Cooking to the suburbs," as the founder of the restaurant developer Whisk Group calls it, means putting more sandwiches and steaks on the menu."

                                                      "Still, I sympathize with executive chef Wes Morton, whose new audience can be a tough sell. "What are bangers and mash?" I overhear a diner in the next booth ask his waiter. "

                                                      How insulting.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: reiflame
                                                        Pappy Aug 19, 2010 09:50 AM

                                                        I read that too with equal consternation and infuriation. Thus, I have begun my one-man boycott of all Wes Morton establishments until he sees fit to serve MoCo at least as well as he does those in DC.

                                                        If anyone happens to know Mr. Morton, please inform him personally of this growing ground-swell against his suburban discrimination.

                                                        1. re: reiflame
                                                          Raids Aug 20, 2010 01:49 PM

                                                          I believe the article mentioned that more of the DC location dishes would be added to the menu as they transition over from Houston's. Apparently they felt Houston's was liked enough that there should be a soft transition (and seeing this thread I can see where they got that idea...).

                                                          Also, that last comment is from the WP reviewer, Tom Sietsema, not from the owner (Weiss?), who made the "cooking to the suburbs" comment. Wes Morton isn't quoted in the article as saying anything anti-suburban or otherwise, so I can't imagine why you would boycott him for something he didn't say and had nothing to do with.

                                                          But carry on, more for me that way.

                                                          1. re: Raids
                                                            reiflame Aug 21, 2010 05:55 PM

                                                            Sietsema also panned it, so if you want it all to yourself I suppose you can.

                                                            1. re: reiflame
                                                              Raids Aug 22, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                              He did not pan it! To quote him from his chat last week directly: "Whoa there! I didn't trash the place, and I like parts of it (that shepherd's pie, for instance). I also appreciate the fact it's *not* part of a big chain."

                                                              He also said that he feels for them and that he thinks the old Houston's crowd seems like an awfully tough sell. I can only agree.

                                                              Seeing as people in the District can't stop talking about the place, I'm sure the Rockville location will do just fine.

                                                            2. re: Raids
                                                              Indy 67 Aug 23, 2010 04:16 AM

                                                              Have you tracked down the original exchange on Sietsema's chat? I also thought someone from the restaurant -- not Sietsema -- made the swipe at suburban tastes. Unfortunately, I can't locate the chat that included the original exchange to check this out.

                                                              1. re: Indy 67
                                                                fudizgud Aug 23, 2010 05:04 AM

                                                                From the Chat...

                                                                "Cooking to the suburbs..."
                                                                I've been to the Aggain downtown, but not the one in Rockville, ... There are plenty of restaurants that "cook to the suburbs" and many of them are chains (e.g. Houstons). I choose to spend my money on something special.

                                                                * –
                                                                August 18, 2010 9:25 AM

                                                                Tom Sietsema writes:

                                                                Frankly, I think the owners would have been better off calling it something other than Againn (Tavern) and not even bothering to offer anything British. Still, I admire their attempt to bring a taste of Againn to Rockville. In the end, of course, you want people to buy into what you're selling. Sounds to me like the old Houston's crowd is a tough audience.

                                                                Cooking for the Burbs?
                                                                I have to say I'm a little horrified by Mark Weiss's comment that he's cooking for the burbs and therefore needs to tone things down.....

                                                                Tom Sietsema writes:

                                                                Gotcha. Having spent a considerable amount of time eating in Silver Spring, Wheaton and Rockville recently, I totally agree with you. However, I should point out that those comments by Weiss (and chef Wes Morton) were based on feedback from customers in the tavern's first few months.
                                                                – August 18, 2010 11:10 AM

                                                                Tom Sietsema writes:

                                                                Whoa there! I didn't trash the place, and I like parts of it (that shepherd's pie, for instance). I also appreciate the fact it's *not* part of a big chain.

                                                                But when four people spend almost a hundred bucks a head on a place, as my party did at AT, I expect more finesse from the staff, steak to be cooked as we ask for it, drinks to show up before we've eaten our apetizers, etc.
                                                                – August 18, 2010 11:20 AM

                                                                1. re: Indy 67
                                                                  Raids Aug 23, 2010 08:11 AM

                                                                  The original "cooking to the suburbs" comment was printed in the First Bite review of Againn Tavern, and was made by the owner, Weiss, not the chef, Morton.

                                                                  Another comment about suburban diners not knowing what bangers and mash were was made by the reviewer, Sietsema, in the article.

                                                                  These comments were discussed at length in last week's chat - significant portions pasted below.

                                                                  Both the First Bite column and the chat can be found here: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/st...

                                                                  I think the chat is the third one from the top.

                                                                  In context in the article, I think what the comment meant is that based on the feedback, the old Houston's crowd was responsive to a traditional suburban pub menu, and not that all people living in the suburbs have simple tastes, although it was certainly poorly phrased.

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