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Range in Chevy Chase - Report

s
Steve Mar 14, 2013 10:29 PM

Six Chowhounds tried out the new Range in Chevy Chase.

Although the menu is only one page, it is deceptive. In it’s small typeface there are 26 main courses, 12 side dishes, pizzas, raw bar, charcuterie (with a separate selection of five hams), salads, cheese, and seven different breads and spreads. Even though we were six, it could take us many visits to put a considerable dent into the menu.

We ordered a formidable charcuterie tasting board for $48 that we couldn’t finish. There were about ten items, all of them at least fine and pleasant. My favorite was some thinly sliced ham that was outrageously good, though I can’t be sure which of the five hams on offer were included with the tasting. I think it was the Benton’s ham, which would make sense as it richly deserves the accolades it receives.

We also ordered a baker’s basket of all the breads and spreads for $10. Again, not a clunker in the bunch and a lot of food to consider. The bacon marmalade was my favorite spread.

Three vegetables followed for us: fried brussels sprouts, cauliflower with raisins, and sunchokes with lemon. There are several really great places to get brussels sprouts in the area, but this might be the best of the best.

I was already feeling the effects of filling up, and we ordered three main courses and two pastas. Plenty of success here, but the standout was the merguez stuffed lamb breast. It is a served in a cocotte, and a big portion at that. This could work as a main dish shared for two. Fantastic deep flavor of the lamb, plenty of rich crunch to the pan roasted crust, and the spicy merguez added a terrific zing. A very hearty dish. Other main courses sampled were a striped bass filet with bbq hazelnuts, pork cheeks, goat cheese ravioli, and a lobster mac n’ cheese. Aside from the lamb, I enjoyed but was not thrilled with the other dishes.

We finished off the meal with a single dessert: a three part tropical selection involving a tart and dense pie, an ice cream and a sorbet.

Food critics will love this place as they can recommend everything across the board.

A Chowhound looking for a quick, beautifully prepared meal without dropping a lot of money can turn their attention to the copious side dishes: the skillet cornbread with bacon marmalade, a starch, and an exquisitely prepared vegetable will set you back about $15. That’s some mighty fine vittles!

They seem to have quite a lot of counter seating for the solo diner, so although reservations could be hard to acquire, an individual or couple may be able to snag counter seats before a show or movie without much advanced preparation

  1. m
    mookleknuck Mar 15, 2013 03:27 AM

    Ham, cornbread, bacon spread, fried brussels sprouts, and lamb - you took some of the best words from the dictionary of evocative food words and put them all in one post. Sounds very nice. Was the lamb served by itself en cocotte?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mookleknuck
      s
      Steve Mar 15, 2013 05:05 AM

      The stuffed lamb was served with a wedge of cabbage, but that remained crunchy so I imagine it was cooked separately.

    2. law_doc89 Mar 15, 2013 04:35 AM

      "Three vegetables followed for us: fried brussels sprouts, cauliflower with raisins, and sunchokes with lemon. There are several really great places to get brussels sprouts in the area, but this might be the best of the best."

      What was good about them, can you describe?

      1 Reply
      1. re: law_doc89
        s
        Steve Mar 15, 2013 05:03 AM

        Thanks for asking.

        The brussels sprouts were served sliced and fried to a toasty brown with some onion. A dry, crispy preparation, so no sauce or even oily coating. The vegetables were served in a larger portion than what you might find at a tapas place.

      2. v
        VaPaula Mar 15, 2013 08:02 AM

        Thanks for the review, Steve. Menus so broad like that scare me, but it sounds like they're doing a good job with it. Adding Range to the list.

        2 Replies
        1. re: VaPaula
          DanielK Mar 15, 2013 04:34 PM

          I think the reason they can pull off such a broad menu is that they really have a *chef* for each station, not just a line cook.

          The chef de cuisine was with Voltaggio at Charlie Palmer Steak. Edan MacQuaid is one of the best pizzaiolo's in the area, and he's manning the oven. Julien Shapiro is running the charcuterie program, fresh from his trip as a finalist in the world pate croute contest. They have TWO master sommeliers.

          1. re: DanielK
            tommyskitchen Mar 17, 2013 08:55 AM

            Julien did wonderful things at Society Fair in Alexandria, I can't wait to check out his work at Range...

        2. j
          Jeserf Mar 18, 2013 05:48 AM

          thanks for the report - heading there Saturday for anniversary/birthday dinner. Hopefully the veggie options are plentiful - the menu gives that impression.

          We were VERY happy with Family Meal.

          We have a big Volt gift card and will likely never get there, so I might see if the Volt card will work at Range...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jeserf
            s
            Steve Mar 18, 2013 07:47 AM

            There are six 'vegetable' options. Four items listed under starch and grains might be purely vegetarian, one is not. These are not tiny portions. In addition, two of the salads do not have meat or egg as a listed ingredient. Only one of the pastas may be meatless, depending on which kind of 'lamb's tongue' the menu refers to. There are also cheeses and breads, but two or three of the spreads are not vegetarian.

            Some of the vegetable dishes may not truly vegetarian, though, so if that kind of thing worries you, definitely ask.

            1. re: Steve
              j
              Jeserf Mar 19, 2013 09:22 AM

              yep, we'll ask. There's also pizza and my husband eats some fish

          2. j
            Jeserf Mar 25, 2013 05:24 AM

            I'm reporting back from our anniversary dinner at Range this past saturday.

            The bottom line - we had a tasty meal, but the service we received was so bad, I can't see us going back. and I'm going to contact the manager about it.

            longer story - We had a 6:15 reservation, the woman asks if we want counter seating or a table. I figured it'd be fun to watch the chefs in action, so we sat near the pizza/protein area and it was fun to see the chefs work. However, 20 minutes went by with no waiter. Finally, a young man shows up and says, "your waiter is busy, I'll be taking care of you this evening". No sorry for the wait, no introduction, no do you have questions about the menu. Granted, we had had the menu for 20 minutes so knew what we wanted.

            I ordered the beet salad, which was delicious but a little on the small side. Husband ordered some blue cheese that same with accompanying apple chutney of sorts and another mustardy fruit compote. We also got the biscuits with pepper jelly, which were luscious.

            During that time, the runners/bussers were very good - one runner even wished us a happy anniversary (our waiter did not). And also during our appetizer round, the waiter was no where to be seen.

            Our mains came out - two different pizzas...very good. Definitely a good pre-movie meal. We couldn't finish them, they were so large. We also had the Brussels sprouts which were - like Steve said - some of the best I've ever had. they were delicious.

            No waiter asking us how everything was. However, I eventually showed up to take our dessert order. He did NOT offer us the dessert cart, which I really wanted to experience. I ordered coffee, which never showed up (but wasn't on our check, so he clearly wasn't paying attention to us). My husband got the blood orange sorbet and I got the apple crisp - which were fine, but sometimes you just want apple crisp - not deconstructed apple crisp. I ended up going to the candy counter to get stuff to take home since our waiter had no interest in helping with that aspect. He did, however, quickly drop off the check, WAITED as my husband pulled the credit card out, and then quickly ran it. He didn't ask if there'd be anything else, you know...normal stuff.

            I was SO livid about the service, on our way out I looked for the manager we had seen running around, but he was nowhere. I also wanted to sleep on it, to see if I was still angry about the service. I was. I plan on calling them today to ask for an email contact for a manager. The only reason I can see the waiter acting this way - like we were an inconvenience - is because we didn't order alcohol, so our bill wouldn't be as high and therefore we weren't worth the trouble. The couple next to us ordered a bottle of wine and the same waiter was very attentive.

            All in all, our meal (with the chocolates we took home) was almost $100. Nothing to sneeze at. I was really, really angry about spending that much money when we would have had much better service next door at the Cheesecake Factory!

            The food was very good, worth returning for...but the service? I'll take my money elsewhere. Oh, and they do not validate parking which is a minor annoyance.

            one last thing - it felt like Range doesn't know what it is - is it a fancy restaurant (there were people in dresses and suits) or is it a casual family restaurant (people in jeans/tshirts with kids....not a place I'd take a kid, but whatever). In DC, you can get away with jeans and a nice sweater and almost every restaurant. But there were people who were dressed like it was McDonalds mixed with people dressed as though they were headed to the theater afterwards - it was very odd.

            Family Meal in Frederick is by far a better restaurant than Range in my opinion, even though Range produces good food - there's little focus and it's trying to make a concept work by force in my opinion. We have a large gift card to Volt we need to use (only had it for 2 years, but Frederick is a pain to get to) so I can't yet compare.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Jeserf
              v
              VaPaula Mar 25, 2013 06:28 AM

              Thanks for the review, Jeserf. I hate when stuff like that happens, especially on special occasions. I'll be curious to see how they respond.

              And happy belated anniversary!

              1. re: VaPaula
                j
                Jeserf Mar 25, 2013 07:16 AM

                I posted my review on yelp, too (with a few edits) and it seems like I am far from the only one with service complaints.

                and thanks!

                1. re: VaPaula
                  j
                  Jeserf Mar 27, 2013 01:57 PM

                  I emailed the manager on Monday and have not heard back. At this point, I am not expecting to.

              2. s
                Steve Jun 7, 2013 08:26 AM

                Went back to Range try some side dishes with mixed results. Bonus points that they seated me after 10pm on a Thursday.

                Grits polenta was a bowl of stiff, creamy starch. When I tried just a spoonful, the entire bowl came with it. Very rich, could be shared by five or six. Maybe I was hoping for polenta in cake form with something interesting done to it, but I prefer my grits not creamy.

                The creamed field greens were highly unusual. A bitter, leafy green served on the stalk: You either need to cut the leaves off the stalk or deal with the chewy, bitter stalks. Either way, a little goes a long way. Too long.

                The hit was the sweet corn. Corn served on-the-cob, split in two, wrapped in bacon (!) with some thin slices of jalapeño as well. Totally genius, but the serving means it's for no more than two to share.

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