Saturday, November 22, 2014


The legendary Lobsicle is finally here in Bethesda, and that warranted a trip to Westfield Montgomery Mall for the Grand Opening of Lobster ME yesterday. With free food being given away during the lunch hour, I found myself in a line stretching around the future Chipotle space in the new Dining Terrace.

We've probably all seen a lobster roll before, but the Lobsicle is something entirely different - a battered and fried lobster tail, with melted butter on the side for dipping purposes. How does it taste? Is it worth the hype? What is the quality of the lobster?

Watch my review, and those questions and more will be answered!


ArcLight Cinemas' famous lobby wall of screens is now touting the new Hunger Games sequel, Mockingjay - Part I, on a grand scale. Check it out yourself at Westfield Montgomery Mall.


The biggest event in Bethesda today is the Grand Opening of the new Microsoft Store at Westfield Montgomery Mall. If you are one of the first 200 people in line this morning at 10:30, you will get to meet Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals later in the afternoon.
The white coverings will
come off today and open
out into the mall corridors
Microsoft's formal arrival at Westfield Montgomery (the company had a pop-up shop during the holidays a couple of years back) reflect's the tech giant's current strategy of "going to the top malls," Microsoft Store Communications Strategy GM Jonathan Adashek told me when we sat down for a recent interview in Bethesda. The mall has undergone a massive expansion and transformation recently, as Westfield has invested a tremendous sum in bringing the property up to top flight standards.

Adashek said Westfield Montgomery has been an "amazing partner," and that the parent company's long-term reinvestment in the retail center was just one of many factors that led Microsoft to choose it for a store location. He said his company isn't intimidated by the mall's existing Apple Store - packed midday yesterday. "We're not going to be looking over our shoulder, and wait for someone to trip us up," he said. Adashek believes that the form factor of the company's latest products, the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the store, and the fact that all of Microsoft's devices - including desktop PCs - emphasize touchscreen capability are what will distinguish it from Apple. Catching up to Apple will require building individual relationships with today's tech customer, he argued. To that end, Adashek stressed that Microsoft Stores are prioritizing "choice, value and service. That's what people are looking for when they make tech buying decisions."
Microsoft's entry into the
wearable tech category,
The Bethesda Microsoft Store's manager, Tiffany Traynum, was also emphasizing what distinguishes Microsoft products from the competition Friday, as the store's team prepared for today's opening. Microsoft Office products that work across all platforms using the cloud, a People app that helps organize mail and online activities of your friends and family on Windows Phones, and the Cortana voice feature on Microsoft's wearable Band device are all exclusive to Microsoft. You can still use Band with your iPhone or Android, but only a Windows Phone will give you Cortana's ability to send texts via your voice, or give a voice command to set an alarm.

While larger than a Microsoft specialty store, the 1273 SF Bethesda store is smaller than the Tysons location. It doesn't have the home theater space or side video walls of Tysons, but does have a massive video wall along the back. That will primarily showcase Microsoft's popular Xbox One, Traynum said, but can also be put into use for other purposes as needed. Outside the store, a Microsoft Lounge has been set up with Xbox One running on a flatscreen, a spectacle that attracted shoppers to stop and take part in impromptu dance-a-thons with a Microsoft Store employee yesterday.

There'll be a lot more going on today besides the Nationals' ace playing Xbox. A ribbon cutting with Microsoft's VP of Government Affairs, Fred Humphries, will kick things off at 10:30 AM. The first 500 people in line will get Microsoft gift cards randomly worth anywhere from $10-1000. You will also be able to purchase a Toshiba Encore 2 tablet, Xbox 360, or HP Stream 7 Signature Edition tablet for only $99 today. The latter tablet will include a free year of Microsoft Office 365 Personal, that allows you to use Office across multiple devices.
The top Windows Phones

Surface Pro 3
The Microsoft Store will also be making several technology grants to local non-profits. They include downtown Bethesda's own Imagination Stage ($100,000) and Wounded Warriors ($50,000), as well as nearby National 4-H Council, MdBio, YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and STEMaction. In total, there will be $625,000 in grants today.

Thirty-three people will be employed at this location. The Microsoft Store is located on the upper level, across from Starbucks outside of Macy's.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Taco Bell has reinvented the taco - in a new rolled form, wrapped around marinated, shredded chicken, and served with your choice of 5 dipping sauces. Also known as "dipping tacos" since they were announced last week, the new Rolled Chicken Tacos rolled into Taco Bells nationwide yesterday. I stopped by the Rockville Taco Bell to test them out. As you can see above, they come 2 to a paper sleeve, with a clear window on the side of the sleeve.

I found out you could only get 1 or 2 of the sauces (2 in my case, since I bought the 4-piece Rolled Chicken Tacos). I chose Spicy Ranch and melted Nacho Cheese. How did they taste? Watch my YouTube World Premiere review to find out.


Downtown Bethesda residents had the chance to browse more than 100 fine art pieces in the Sky Lounge at the Gallery Bethesda luxury apartment tower yesterday. Wentworth Gallery, located in Westfield Montgomery Mall, hauled over a large part of their collection, and invited residents and the public to view paintings by Peter Max, Michael Cartellone, Elena Bond, and more. If you missed the show, you can stop by Wentworth Gallery at the mall, and still get the sale prices currently offered. They are located on the upper level, outside of Nordstrom.
This was one of my favorites,
"New York Nights," by
Elena Bond - $4150

Remember Michael Cartellone's
4-piece "David" from the
Wentworth exhibit earlier
this year?


Roof, the rooftop restaurant and bar at the corner of Cordell and Norfolk Avenues in downtown Bethesdsa, has added new signage in its second floor windows. It may help to compensate for the nondescript Roof logo signs that have previously been the only signage, and may not have been enough to make clear to passersby just what exactly was up there. The new signage refers to "Roof Kitchen + Bar." Roof has a late night happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays, from 9:00 PM to midnight.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


The Willett Branch Stream and I go way back - back to my very first day in Bethesda, just days after I was born. If you're new to Bethesda, or just want to learn more about some of the natural resources hidden away around here, you can join the Little Falls Watershed Alliance for a stream walk this Saturday, from 10:00 AM to noon, along the Willett Branch.

While the waters of this stream once flowed in a wider, natural path - and helped to power a mill in the vicinity of today's Little Falls Parkway - Willett Branch is mostly a channelized storm sewer today, running through concrete. A potential daylighting of tunneled sections, and a naturalization of the stream to its original state, are two potential outcomes of the Westbard Sector Plan rewrite currently underway.

See how it is currently this Saturday, in a walk alongside the creek's path starting at the Westwood Center II parking lot, at 5110 Ridgefield Road. The truly adventurous can make a return trip through the stream itself, although you'll want waterproof boots for that. Bring a flashlight, as well, for the return trip. While the entire tour will be on pavement, there is a steep grade to enter and exit the concrete creek bed. A round trip will be less than a mile.

The LFWA is hosting the walk to raise more awareness of the stream's fragile and contaminated state, and to advocate for improvements and a linear Willett Branch Park to be part of the Westbard Sector Plan recommendations. I'd like to see the beleaguered Willett Branch get the same protection in any future redevelopment in the Westbard area as Ten Mile Creek received in Clarksburg earlier this year.


MET Bethesda, Westfield Montgomery's first true venture into upscale, fine dining, plans to open sometime next week across from the mall's new cineplex, ArcLight Cinemas.

The 120-seat space will feature a prominent 40-seat full bar at center stage, with the area's first on-tap Martini Bar. Flavors served up by the latter will include Lychee Ginger, White Peach, Coconut, Caramelized Pineapple and Prickly Pear. In keeping with the fine dining theme, it's fitting that the restaurant's General Manager will be Patrick Desotelle, a veteran of Le Diplomate in the District.

Signature menu items will include Spaghettini Carbonara with blue crab, chilies, lemon and fried egg; the Pounded Veal Chop on the Bone with watercress, escarole, endive, Taleggio, red onion, dates, walnuts and parmesan vinaigrette; and the Green Guru salad with kale, baby spinach, avocado, broccoli, shaved carrot, spiced pumpkin seeds, haricot verts, cilantro, mint and green goddess dressing.

A wood-fired grill will produce Whole Branzino with lemon grass, garlic-kale and sambal asum, Baby Back Ribs with grilled pineapple and jalapeƱo French fry salad, and Prime Bone-in Ribeye for Two. And the Char Bar will serve up American Yakitori: marinated, skewered and grilled beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables cooked over an open fire, designed for sharing.

MET Bethesda will be open Monday-Thursday from 11:30AM to 10:00PM (bar until 11:00PM), Friday & Saturday from 11:30AM to 11:00PM (bar until 12:00AM), and Sunday from 11:30AM to 9:00PM.