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Greek-Inspired Cuisine in the DC Suburbs – La Gourmandista

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Greek-Inspired Cuisine in the DC Suburbs

It was Friday evening, and we hadn't seen each other for a couple of years now. It was back in Paris and for a brief moment. Now, we had all moved transcontinentally. We agreed to meet at a nearby place they already knew, for we were the new kids on this block. The company was awesome and I was pleased with what we were served.

A couple of months later we visited the place once more. This time we took some of our most beloved family members. We wanted to share some of what we had discovered in our new home. Again, we liked it very much.

Lastly, a few weeks ago everyone was talking about a culinary event in the city. We decided that Washington's Winter Restaurant Week was a good excuse to visit the place again. We didn't have a reservation, since it was all a last minute plan, so as walk-ins they offered to sit us at the kitchen counter. I immediately thought:  Chef's Table! What a treat!

As you can see, it now takes me some time to decide if I really like a place, for it has happened that I go somewhere and I have a good experience, and when I visit once more the food is not consistent. And you know what? This place IS consistent, and they work every day to achieve it.

Now, I am not an expert in food, however, the flavors I have been served here did remind me of Hellenic territory. We have tried a little of bit everything the menu has to offer, like hummus and taramasalata as appetizers, the tuna tartar, the falafel, and the grilled octopus -perfectly cooked, I must add. Evidently, I cannot leave out the bifteki, or the lamb shoulder. And yes, I did enjoy the baklava with a nice espresso at the end of the meal, as well as the tasteful honey panna cotta.

True may be that when a big name signs the restaurant, people quote the big name at all times, however, I recently read in The New York Times, that the success of Mike Isabella, a name with a certain reputation in the Washington, D.C. area and runner-up of the worldwide famous Top-Chef TV reality competition, relies on the responsibility and trust he has in his team. Therefore, I wanted to know who was truly responsible of the food I was being served at Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda, MD.

Katarina Famoso, the young Chef de Cuisine in charge of Kapnos Kouzina, the third Greek concept of Chef Isabella, focuses on creating home-style Greek cuisine emphasizing on the rustic flavors and family-style plates one sees if one were eating locally in Santorini or Mykonos, but plated in a modern and tasteful way.

Kat, as everyone calls her, has worked her way up from to line cook to Chef de Cuisine and more recently to Executive Sous Chef after having studied and worked at the very reputable Culinary Institute of America as well as in other restaurants of the Isabella restaurant empire.

As I had the chance to chat with Kat, I was able to see how she is and always has been very passionate about food. Part of her ancestors are Filipino, and therefore her culture is pretty much food-driven and life in her home happened very often in the kitchen, hence owing a lot of her touch and seasoning surely to the teachings of her mom, whom she describes as an amazing chef and pastry chef. Nonetheless, she knows and appreciates everything she learned at her alma mater since she started learning the foundations of the there. Now, she works to transmit all of this discipline and good practices to her team.

People in the restaurant from my view seem to like her and admire her; marvelous for a restaurant Chef. Thus, one can see how this is evident in what they put on the plate for the guests to enjoy. She knows she is the one responsible for it, however, she is a very hands-on team member who is never shy to pull up her sleeves and actively help out her brigade, when in need.

Definitely, one of the places that have little by little found their place in my list of local places to go to and where I won't go broke.

Address: 4900 Hapmden Lane, Bethesda, MD, 20814, United States

Subway Station: Bethesda

Phone: +1 (301) 986-8500

Note: This restaurant has permanently closed.

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