New Kosher BBQ place in North Bethesda / Rockville, Maryland
Overall verdict: Good food! Soft opening service should smooth out in weeks to come.
Let’s get the service out of the way first: Staff admitted that they were a little backed up in the kitchen at the late lunch that I attempted; it was the first service of their first day of soft opening. If you know anything about the restaurant biz, you should set your expectations for service in the first few weeks so as to give the place a chance to settle into routine before you judge.
You order at the register, then they bring the food out to you. Ambiance was casual dining with cute but muted kitschy-Western themed decor with some jokey material on the walls if you read it carefully. Not over the top tacky like national chain restaurants.
Now the food… the portions were too big for me dining alone to try more than one entree, even without an appetizer. But very tasty! The smoked and grilled meats on my Texas Hold’Em dish were excellent… 6 sliders of 3 meats (2 each of pulled BBQ brisket, sliced beef, and burgers), plus a big pile of sweet potato fries. Complemented by selection of apparently house-made very good BBQ sauces: Traditional sweet/tangy red Kansas City-stye BBQ sauce, plus a gluten-free version, and a yellow/orange sauce that reminded me a bit of mustard and vinegar-based Carolina-style sauce and had a little kick to it.
Sweet potato fries actually had nice crispness to them when hot; most places serve them limp and soft. I wanted to try the iced tea, but they hadn’t made a batch yet, so I settled for a fountain drink.
Many other interesting and classic style dishes that I want to try on future visits. I suggest going in a group, each ordering different dishes, and sharing/tasting. Salad options, too, for those desiring a lighter meal. Looking forward to my next visit.
Hashgacha by the Vaad of Washington, DC
http://bluestarkosher.com/ in the old space that was Siena's kosher pizza
This sounds so yummy- thanks for the review. Now I just have to figure out a reason to drive that far to go and try it. I used to live a quik 30 minute drive from there and often went to Rockville to shop- now I havent been back in years:( BUt this may be the reason to go back and I know exactly where it is located:)
I think it's better than Dougie's in Teaneck/NYC. I didn't always keep kosher, and for a long time, I was an aficionado of the various regional BBQ styles and sauces.
I always thought Dougie's was just OK, but overrated by people who never tasted Corky's in Memphis, or Tom's in the old agricultural era of Boca Raton or the little hole-in the wall places in the Carolinas.
Maybe my expectations are lower now that I keep kosher, but I like Blue Star and hope the rest of the menu turns out to be as good as my first visit.
I called them and I think it is crazy that a kosher restaurant would not have a children's menu!
Their prices overall seem reasonable, but for a family it could really start to add up after getting every kid a $10 hamburger. They should offer kids smaller burgers for for 6 or 7 dollars.
I concur - it was pretty good, and a nice change for the area. I have been twice now, plus bought food for last shabbat. I suspect I'll be back often.
I thought the pulled chicken & beef were pretty good, the whole chicken was great, and the turkey was also terrific. I expected the latter two to be dry, and they weren't. I wasn't as big a fan of the brisket or the Texas beef. The garlic mashed potatoes could have been a lot more garlicky. The wings were fresh fried and well-sauced, and the sauces themselves are excellent. It's wonderful that they offer a gluten-free option.
They are clearly still working things out (green beans were plain & disappointing when I got them, but a friend had them two days later and they had meat in them and she loved them. I had the burger with sausage & egg, and it was very, very good, but a friend had a plain burger 2 days later and it was dry.)
They've only been open a week, so I suspect menu items & service will continue to improve. I have high hopes for it! I'm agree that they should have a childrens' menu, but I was glad to see that they have reasonable shabbat takeout menu options.
Since they order from Breadsmith anyway (I think that's where the buns, etc come from???), it would be lovely if they would also sell challah & breadcrumbs, etc.
UPDATE: been back a few times and as promised, I'm adding more info.
Tried the Round Up platter of 3 meats, plus 2 sides plus cornbread. Excellent, and a lot of food. Shared it with a friend, so we added on a huge BBQ beef rib for $4 extra. Both of us were stuffed by the end of the meal. The meats on the platter BBQ and smoked brisket, and spicy sausage were great. The sausage had a little kick to it but not as blazing as the hottest chorizo that I've had. The beef rib was the best of the type that I've had... very little external fat but still moist, succulent meat, served without cloying BBQ sauce, so you can taste the beef and smoke and add as much or as little of the variety of sauces that you like.
Another visit, I had the Adam's Rib platter, which seemed expensive at $25.95 for 2 big BBQ beef ribs and 2 sides. If the "add-on rib" option for other dishes was $4, then it seems like $26.00 for $8 worth of rib and $18 for two side dishes... that's a little unreasonable. Rumor has it they are upping the price of the "add-on rib" option soon. I hope they also cut the price of the rib platter a bit.
Spoke about service to one of the guys who runs the place... they decided to add a second grille to the kitchen to up the capacity to crank out hot foot more quickly. Owners seem responsive to polite feedback.