On the same day in mid-September that Newton’s Noodles—Chef Dennis Friedman’s new fast casual concept—opens downtown, Newton’s Table, Friedman’s stylish Bethesda eatery, will offer something new, too. During lunch, the exact same menu of create-your-own noodle dishes available at the 20th St. NW counter-service operation will be served in Bethesda.
In other words, we’re also getting a Newton’s Noodles, only with white tablecloths and waiters. And only for lunch.
At dinner time, the restaurant will convert back to Newton’s Table.
Friedman said that while Newton’s Table is getting “slammed at dinner,” the restaurant is not filled at lunch, so a more relaxed, casual and inexpensive menu might do the trick.
“People still have the perception that we’re expensive,” he said. “People don’t think they can get in and out quick enough. We could survive with dinner [service] only. But if we’re here, we might as well be open for lunch.”
The idea for Newton’s Noodles grew out of Friedman’s popular signature dish, Fuzu, a comforting mélange of rice noodles, vegetables, chicken, shrimp, scallops and sweet-and-spicy soy sauce that is similar (but better) than most pad Thai. The new eatery will follow the modus operandi of Chipotle, Cava Mezze Grill and other have-it-your-way restaurants; in the case of Newton’s Noodles, patrons will choose among five protein items, five vegetables, two types of noodles, two sauces, and whether they want it spicy or not. And get this—the customized concoction will be served with a plastic “chork”—a cross between a fork and chopsticks.
Meanwhile, in other big Newton’s Table news, Peter Smith, the former chef-owner of the shuttered PS 7, who has also cooked at Vidalia and the Occidental Grill, has been “secretly” serving as co-executive chef of the Bethesda restaurant for the past six weeks.
The kitchen partnership will obviously give Friedman more leeway and time to attend to Newton’s Noodles, which he hopes to franchise and expand quickly. But the two chefs will also be working together to bring new ideas and dishes to Newton’s Table. A new menu will be phased in slowly over the next several weeks.
“We’re very similar in terms of our palates and in the way we think about food,” said Smith.
Or, as Friedman put it, “together, we have awesome synergy.”
Newton’s Table, 4917 Elm St., 301-718-0550, www.newtonstable.com