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For a while there, Jeff and Barbara Black had a revolving door in the kitchen of their flagship operation in Bethesda. During one 15-month stretch, Black’s Bar and Kitchen had four different chefs leading the back of the house. The chaos officially ended last summer, when Jeff promoted Quanta Robinson, a veteran Black Restaurant Group cook, into the head chef position at Black’s. Over the past year, Robinson has stabilized the kitchen and grounded it again in the solid, seafood-heavy American cuisine that has made this cozy restaurant one of my favorite neighborhood haunts, not just in Bethesda but anywhere in the metro area. Fewer things make me happier than sitting at the bar here, slurping down premium bivalves from Black’s superb oyster program, a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc at the ready. If dipping into Robinson’s large bowl of chicken and seafood gumbo, at once smoky and sweet, is a mixed blessing these days, well, it’s not her fault. Those Gulf shrimp buried within her dark stew just make me think of less palatable things.
7750 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda (301) 652-5525