Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hail to Helen's in Rockville, MD(9-21-16)

For over two decades we have used the same amazing caterer in our home and every event that Helen Wasserman has done was and always is perfect.
Many years ago she had a restaurant here in DC, but recently decided to go that route again in Rockville across from the ruins of White Flint Mall at 11120 Rockville Pike(
We were not sure where this was and were surprised to find an adorable house with a huge outdoor seating section that is a covered patio hiding just off the Pike.
The interior is bright and cherry a clean crisp feel of light grays with white tables and some gorgeous artwork, including a painting of the boss herself.
She has surrounded herself with some of her longtime staff, such as Kevin, her manager and some new folks as well, such as Oscar, our server, who was always there for every request and need
and never lost his charming smile. As soon as we sat down he brought out a delicious bowl of Cauliflower Hummus with crisp toasted Pita points. We ordered a bottle of Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc from California which I had not had in years and we gobbled up the warm pita and begged for more.  Speaking of wine I have to say that it seems to me the wine is barely marked up, maybe $10/bottle, making some of these wines great deals.
Samuel ordered the Guacamole which was fresh and had little crunchy onions in it as well as the tasty herbed pita, but he only let me have a teeny taste. I adored my Salmon Spring Rolls with thin crispy (and not greasy) rolls stuffed with salmon, veggies and a superb Apricot dipping sauce. Will went for the Lobster Dumpling, also a good choice, but heavier for sure, with tasty lobster mixed with some ground chicken, spinach and jicama with a white wine, ginger and saffron sauce.
Over the many years we have used Helen the only (and it's positive not really a complaint) complaint we have had is that sometimes there is way too much left over and we have to freeze it (and often forget about it). We just pulled some of the mini-burgers from the freezer last week which had been rescued after Samuel's huge Bar Mitzvah party in June! The main courses show her generosity again, so it is wise to choose between a starter or dessert and maybe even share those.
Samuel had the huge Sirloin Burger with fries and spicy sauce, our friends chose the Delmonico Steak with chevre toast points, merlot sauce and caramelized sweet onions, corn souffle and mango cole slaw as well as the Grilled Chicken Scallopine which was a huge bowl of chicken with haricots verts and shallots and an entire second bowl of linguini with local tomato sauce; way too much for one person.
Will had the Crab Linguine with tomato, tarragon and parmesan which again was quite large and my Shrimp & Grits could have fed two with Helen's homemade BBQ sauce and a huge plate of tasty cheese infused grits with what had to me than 1/2 a dozen large shrimp! The dish was complemented with grilled onion, asparagus and a ton of tasty heirloom tomatoes.
We asked Kevin about the red wine and he suggested the Cigar Box Pinot Noir 2915 Old Vine which the menu lists as from Argentina, but is from Central Valley of Chile and while Pinot and smooth has a smokey aftertaste that we all loved.
The one dessert our friends split was the warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream that disappeared fast.
Next time I want to try the Chocolate Beignets with Decadent Chocolate Sauce if I can make room.
What is great about Helen's is that ist is a quiet place for couples or even for families as we had a 2-year old in tow and nobody seemed to mind as he only yelped out once when I took a photo of him!
The appetizers run from $10 to a maximum of $13 and the mains start at $21 (burger is $16) for my awesome shrimp and don't top $27!
Its not too far from Dc and took us under 30 minutes in rush hour from our home! Well worth the mini-trek!