Thursday, July 10, 2008

First Look: Takoma Park

If you showed a picture of Takoma Park to ten people, and asked them to identify where in the country that picture was taken, none of them would say within the Beltway.

Northampton, Massachusetts? Yes. Ptown? Yes. New Hope, PA? Yes. But right next to our buttoned up little town? Never.

Going to Takoma Park is like jumping through a wormhole and ending up in some San Francisco suburb, all while never leaving the Red Line - and frankly, after spending the afternoon here, we didn't want to cross back over to the other side.

From its lively Sunday farmers market to its lovely antique shops, there's a certain charm and sense of zen about this place.

We stopped in Mark's Kitchen, the one restaurant in the area I've heard of, for lunch, and immediately fell for it. Busy and friendly, with a waitress right out of the movies (the kind that calls you sweetie and hon, and knows everything about everyone who walks through those doors), the menu is diverse with a definate focus on Asian cuisine.

Apples and I split an order of man doo, wonderful little fried Korean dumplings with a nice hint of spice to them, and then we each got cold noodle dish - sesame noodles for me and cold soba for her.

Both of these really just hit the proverbial spot. The vegetables were fresh and had a great crunch to them, and the serving size was just perfect for lunch.

The real draw seems to be their brunch, which they serve until 1pm on weekends, but that'll be a post for another time.

After Mark's we decided to venture out for some dessert, and didn't have to venture far - just across the street. Summer Delights is a throw back. "You just went back in time forty years" says Greg Moorin, the shop's owner as we walk in. Greg is everything you'd want an ice cream shop owner to be; friendly, knowledgeable, funny, and a guy who takes his craft seriously.

Greg makes all of his own ice cream, pies, and other goodies, and his pride in his work comes through while talking to him. Scoops of this high-fat, no-excuses goodness come in a cup - not an ice cream cup, but just a regular paper cup. No frills here, if you want ice cream, you're going to get the real thing, and you'll think twice about going anywhere else after.

The vanilla is strong enough to stand out on its own, while being subtle enough to compliment other flavors, and the brown sugar cinnamin I had was probably one of, if not the best scoop of ice cream I've ever had - ranking very close to a scoop of cinnamin I had at a co-op in Vermont a year or two back.

Apples got a scoop of chocolate on a brownie, that Greg insisted he heat up. If perfection could be put on a plate and eaten with a spoon, it's probably made here.

Takoma Park is dangerous, and I want to move there and spend my days eating cold noodles for dinner, pancakes for brunch and eating ice cream in between. Even though that probably won't happen, this gem will always be right around the corner, a quick wormhole ride away.


Unknown said...

And they just banned foie gras production!

Unknown said...

The Middle Eastern place next to Mark's is also one of the better I've experienced, if not holding a candle to Lebnan Zeman in Tyson's Corners.

Just keep in mind that there isn't much else immediately accessible. But once you get your Jamaican, South American, and Silver Spring map down the area starts to open.

And let me know if you ever have another cold noodle craving; the housemates are pretty cold themselves about Mark's Kitchen, so it is hard for me to find a group.