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  • Writer's pictureCraig Stoltz

Charley Prime Foods: Crazy-good

Has the Charley of Charley Prime Foods in Gaithersburg, Maryland had a mental health assessment? I ask because things seem to teeter on the edge of madness.

Bavette steak on the happy hour menu: Crazy

If you haven't had the pleasure, Bavette is known as the "chef's cut," since that's what the smart set knows to order. It's adjacent to the flank steak on the cow, but deeper inside the belly and therefore more tender.

Charley's is spectacular, beefy and soft, served with a load of slender frites crisped light brown. $18 at happy hour.

A truly wacky dessert

Or take this "everything" sundae, as big as a football and encircled by small offerings of Heath Bar, Oreo, sprinkles, sugar-dusted nuts, and a bunch of other whack treats, including gummies (presumably cannabis-free, but like I mentioned about Charley...).

The ice cream itself has a lovely salty edge, the whipped topping sturdy and not overly sweet.

Wild: Sixteen cocktails on tap, all mixologist-quality

With 16 cocktails on tap, there is both a lot to choose from and plenty to fear. Batched drinks are often sweet, commodity-level mixtures designed to serve many people very quickly.

I ordered the Mai Tai to test the bar's handiwork. It's a drink often done horribly, sweet as a gummy bear. Charley nailed it, with real orgeat (a kind of almond cream essential to the authentic recipe), two rums, and juice from fresh limes.

They also have prosecco on tap. My lovely wife found it bubbly and sharply dry.

The decor's a little madcap too, a hash of bad floral wallpaper, contemporary upmarket bistroware, and randomly placed artwork. Jackie Greenbaum, the co-owner, painted them.

Final crazy: The restaurant is located at Rio in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which is paved with middling chains and whelmed over by movie-goers and families with naggy kids. Charley could thrive downtown. It's been open a month, and crowds so far have been good.

Whether it'll make it in deep-middle suburbia is anybody's guess.

Anyhow, my whole point is, you'd crazy not to pay Charley a visit.

Charley Prime Foods, Rio Shopping Center, Gaithersburg, Maryland.


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