City Grill at Hampstead

By on 8 September, 2016 in Food, Kate and Stephen, Restaurant Reviews with 0 Comments

IMG_2750 Summer in Montgomery can be hard and unrelenting. The insects come in waves: bees, junebugs, cicadas. The humidity is like wearing a wet scarf, one that has been soaked in boiling water. You walk outside and it feels like someone has parked a cement truck on your chest. You think it’s never going to end. You wonder if you’ll make it to football season. The heat can make you forget the things you love, if you let it. And then someone you love may suggest that you have a nice meal out together. In which case, may we recommend the City Grill?

Yes, it’s not exactly in Midtown – occupying a prime corner of real estate in Hampstead – but it’s worth the drive way out east, especially now that their latest menu is so fresh and full of promise. We’d been to City Grill a few times before, but generally found their menu a little difficult for the part of our team that doesn’t eat fish (or other meat).

This time was different. The menu of salads was vegetarian-friendly and a little slice of paradise. There was a classic watermelon and feta salad, with red onions and good olives to add a little bite and salt. It’s such a great summer dish; we’ll dearly miss watermelon season when it’s over. Also, we ordered the grilled halloumi salad. The cheese was squeaky and salty, complemented by chickpeas and a surprisingly good chutney dressing for the greens. It had a perfect charcoal sear from the grill. We also tried the fried eggplant, pronouncing it absolutely exquisite. It’s just the right size for an appetizer, with butter and not too much crab meat to overwhelm the taste of the eggplant. You bite into a crunchy exterior, but the eggplant is soft and hot on the inside. Plus it looked quite lovely on the plate.

Also – you know how sometimes restaurant bread can feel a little mailed-in or stale? Not here. It might have been some kind of sourdough, but the baker got the crust-to-chew ratio just right.

We know, we know. You don’t want to hear about the delicious complimentary bread. You want to know about the salmon. The pescatarian among us ordered the grilled salmon, which was cooked just right and served with some nice potatoes and Brussels sprouts. The salmon was a well-prepared piece of unsurprising salmon, but the Brussels were savory and firm enough to spark a conversation about the proper amount of time to soften a vegetable. The City Grill chef figured out how to make them delicious without boiling them into mush.

We don’t usually order dessert, but we’re absolute suckers for anything with limoncello, so we got the limoncello tiramisu, served with lemon whipped cream. It was fresh, with some candied lemon zest, sweet without being overwhelming. A great way to end a lovely meal.

The place has a nice vibe, and the service is excellent without being overbearing. We had a couple of reasonably priced glasses of wine, enjoying each other’s company. Although the dining room is pretty big, and was pretty full the night we were there (reservations probably recommended), our table still felt quiet and intimate, which was nice.

We’re so glad that City Grill has become more vegetarian friendly, and we’ll definitely be back, as we’ll be curious to see how their menu changes with the seasons.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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