When I heard the news that Mike Isabella was opening a restaurant in Bethesda I knew I would have to check it out right away. When I saw that it was opening this week for lunch, I put out the call to see who would like to join me. I met a friend for lunch there yesterday and sampled several items that I have to say were amazing. But let me start at the beginning.
Although there are doors right on the corner of Woodmont and Hampden, they are not the entrance to the restaurant. The entrance is south on Woodmont. I hate to mention this first, but it is the first experience you have with restaurant – walking toward where the Kapnos Kouzina signage is located and realizing that you have to go away from the signage to find the entrance. While eating lunch at least 50 people tried to enter the locked doors on the corner, would walk along Hampden and then turn back toward the corner and walk down Woodmont to the actual entrance. I think they should put a sign on the door until everyone learns where they’d like us to enter.
Once inside, I followed the hostess to a table that required us to squeeze between a railing and a seated guest, wait for a server to get out of the way, wait for a water pourer to get out of the way, slide carefully by them without knocking into the tables on each side of us and maneuver into a very tight space to sit at the table. Sitting was very good for my posture because I had to sit upright in order to avoid bumping into the person behind me. This tight fitting area of six two-person tables seemed to be a problem for the wait staff as well who were getting frustrated by the constant bumping into each other.
Our charming server was able to recommend a few of his favorites in each category. We wanted to get a good sampling of dishes. We decided on 4 items which were all incredible. I’ll go through them in detail in the order they arrived.
First was the Roasted Cauliflower, and what a way to begin. It is listed as having roasted green olive relish, whipped feta and za’atar. When I saw the cauliflower sitting on top of a creamy sauce I made sure to scoop some of the sauce with each serving. So much flavor and texture and a wonderful hint of lemon.
Next came the Melitzanosalata which is listed as smoked eggplant, roasted peppers, walnuts and feta. When asked how smoky it would taste, our server said medium smoky and a little spicy. He said this was his favorite spread and we know why. It came with flat bread was simply delicious. Every bite brought new flavors. The smokiness, the feta, the mint. Loved every bite. The flat bread itself was worth ordering again and again. We could have actually stopped eating at this point and been very satisfied.
The Tuna Tartare and the Wild Mushroom Couscous came out together. We instantly realized that the portions were more generous than we expected, but we wouldn’t let our server take anything away. The cubed tuna was presented as a layer on top of the harissa and grilled avocado. Each bite was packed with a little kick.
The Wild Mushroom Couscous listed with butternut squash, spinach and walnuts completed our selections. It was an oddly amazing combination of flavors and texture for a couscous dish. I really couldn’t decide which dish I wanted to be my last flavor. They were all so enticing and different. If we hadn’t ordered the Tuna Tartare, we could have had a completely vegetarian meal.
Eating at Kapnos Kouzina, I’m almost embarrassed by the greek food I’ve been eating lately. What a wonderful addition Mike Isabella has brought to Downtown Bethesda. I can Kapnos Kouzina quickly becoming a popular lunch and happy hour location. It is affordable, filling and absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to go back.
Kapnos Kouzina can be found at 4900 Hampden Lane in Bethesda, Maryland. It is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro. They open for Dinner on March 11th and Brunch on March 12th.
If you are looking to buy a home near this great restaurant in Downtown Bethesda, give me a call to Get Started.
Interested in reading some other local food reviews by Dana Hollish Hill? Here are some of her latest reviews:
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