After an afternoon of heat-driven thunderstorms, the sun came out for a glorious few hours before tucking in for the night, and the temperature had dropped about ten degrees – it was a perfect time for an early dinner on the patio of Bistro LaZeez.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at 6-ish, every table on the patio had been taken, and so I walked into a completely empty restaurant and took a table in the back corner. (During the course of my meal, several other parties came in, and they all sat right next to the window which is a quasi-patio since the storefront is almost entirely glass.)
It’s often the case when a restaurant’s wine list is so bad that I’m driven to drinking beer; this was the opposite. The beer list at Bistro LaZeez is awful, but I did manage to find a quaffable glass ofÂ 2009 Louis Latour Chardonnay d’ArdÃ¨che ($8.45), and as it turns out, this table wine was to pair up perfectly with the buried treasure that I found here (read on).
An order of Hummus ($4.99) was attractively presented, but ultimately nothing special. Bistro LaZeez goes out of its way to say that its entrees are “served with GRILLED pita bread” (caps are theirs), and I assumed it would be homemade; not so. With the hummus, I got a basket of purchased, paper-thin cardboard-like pita bread (think: Amoo’s Kabob or Shamshiry) that works well in a pinch (no pun intended), but is also disappointing. So, unless you’re really, really in the mood for hummus, I would try something else on this menu.
The entree came with a house salad that was mostly disappointing: a small plate of decent greens in a balsamic vinaigrette (why?!) – at this point in the meal, between the bulk wine, the ordinary hummus, and the Americanized salad, I was looking through that glass storefront and longing to be on the other side of it.
And then, the meal did a 180.
Chicken Medley ($11.99), grilled, marinated, skinless chicken thigh, drumstick, and a wing, with a tub of “zesty signature BLZ sauce,” is served with a choice of either basmati rice with roasted almonds, or Mediterranean potatoes (and of course GRILLED pita bread, which is one slice of that same bread, grilled to a golden brown and crispy). Do yourself a favor and get the potatoes. Here’s why: during this course, I had one of my relatively rare moments of Diner Pause – when I pause, look down at what I’m eating, and everything else in the world goes away. Â These three pieces of chicken were fantastic, both in terms of their marinade and their execution on the grill. That BLZ sauce (that I was somewhat worried about) was a gripping, lemony narcotic that took both the chicken and the delicious, ample mound of simple-but-perfect potatoes, and made this blue-collar, blue-plate dish into something special. And that mass-produced Chardonnay? With this combination of flavors, it started drinking like a Puligny-Montrachet, both food and wine hitting a synergy, and I found myself shaking my head at how good this was. You simply do not find homestyle cooking this good for $11.99, certainly not smack dab in the middle of Bethesda. It is incredibly gratifying when, as a diner who writes about his meals, I stumble across something like this and can share it with everyone. Get this exact combination – Chicken Medley with potatoes, and a glass of the Latour Chardonnay – and you, too, will find yourself pouring that little tub of BLZ narcotic over the chicken and potatoes and reveling in the moment.