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Posted at 11:22 AM ET, 08/25/2005

Silver's Ceviche

By Erin

I headed up to Silver Spring last night to check out Ceviche, the newest venture from Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld, the man behind Gua-Rapo, Chi-Cha Lounge, Agua Ardiente and Matte. In line with its sister restaurants, Ceviche hovers between a restaurant and lounge. The swank newcomer is hidden in the second-story corner of a strip mall next to Pho Hiep Hoa, a Vietnamese restaurant. Even with the address in hand, it was difficult to find.

The space is very open with dark red walls and large open windows that look out onto the street scene below. The lounge has some nice leather seats and a long communal table for solo eaters. For picky eaters or those who shy from spice, Ceviche may be too exotic; but the food is well prepared and the cocktails are fun. The budget-conscious drink menu -- everything costs $7 -- offers a Peruvian Pisco Sour, a signature martini with key lime and a tartly sweet daiquiri Floridita, a grapefruit rum drink in the style of Hemingway.

As the name suggests, there are a variety of ceviche preparations prepared with fish, shrimp, mixed seafood or, for vegetarians, none of the above. (I recommend the spiced-up Natural preparation.) Fish is the specialty, but the menu has some Latin favorites scattered throughout. The aperitivos include steamed mussels, grilled sardines and chicken cilantro fritters. The highlight of my dinner was the Campesina salad, a simple tomato salad with slices of queso fresco and fresh avocado with cilantro in a light, jalapeno-spicy dressing. The vegetarian entree, Locro Ecuatoriano, was a heavy dish of potatoes, avocado and hard-boiled eggs in a cream sauce, but it fit the bill for somebody seeking comfort food. I enjoyed a halibut in spicy coconut milk. Each of the large plates comes with an accompaniment. My sautéed vegetables were doused in fresh garlic. Read: Do NOT eat these on a date or before kissing, talking to or breathing near anyone of interest. In that event, stick with the simple arroz blanco.

One big problem with the restaurant is that it seems unsure of its target demographic. In the heart of family-friendly Silver Spring, its customers will inevitably include more families with small children, moviegoers and touristy types than the hipsters Ceviche seems eager to attract. A sign on the door states that athletic attire is prohibited and business casual is recommended; but these restrictions seem out of place for a restaurant sharing an address with Romano's Macaroni Grill and Potbelly Sandwich Works. The restaurant should probably ease its restrictions and welcome everyone. That said, my jalapeno-infused Amor Prohibido cocktail did seem less spicy when sipped next to a Gameboy-toting 10-year-old. Also, with appetizers and ceviche costing $6 to $9 and $9.50, respectively, and entrees ranging from $12 to $21, the menu is more expensive than neighboring eateries. Ceviche is a great bet for people seeking out a fun dinner before a show at AFI, Roundhouse or the Majestic, but the kitchen closes at 10 p.m., so it won't cater to those with the post-movie munchies.

Open only two weeks, there are still huge issues for the kitchen to work through. In a restaurant that was nearly empty, we waited 20 minutes for our entrees once our appetizers had been cleared. That said, with some tweaking it will be a great destination for nice family dinners, post-shopping weekday lunch and, coming in the next few weeks, happy hour.

-- Erin

By Erin  | August 25, 2005; 11:22 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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List a specific address and reveal it early on in the article.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2005 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I am excited about Ceviche coming to Silver Spring! I love Latin food, drinks, dancing, and the culture in general, and it is GREAT to have somewhere I can access without going to downtown DC. I just hope they get the DJ's going and some good happy hour specials soon.

Posted by: Christy | August 26, 2005 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The address (921-J Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910) won't do much for you, seeing as the place is upstairs on an essentially pedestrian street. Follow directions listed at http://www.downtownsilverspring.com/
park, then walk around until you find it - there's signs. I'm sure the gurus appreciate your editorial advice, though.

Posted by: Chaz | August 26, 2005 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Not to mention that you can very easily find the address by clicking on the restaurant's name, which is in the first sentence fer chrissakes.

Posted by: duh | August 26, 2005 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I understand the comment about the dissonance between the stylish, expensive Ceviche and some nearby restaurants, but can't that be found in most neighborhoods? The 18th St Lounge near CA pizza kitchen? Also, keep in mind that lots of artists, videographers (think Discovery), musicians, and others live in Silver Spring, so the comment that "hipsters" aren't in "family-friendly" Silver Spring is a bit ignorant. More to the point, is the horrible design of the new downtown Silver Spring a la the new "urbanism" that appeals to a strip-mall architectural sensibility, but that doesn't mean that the people who live, work, and eat in the area aren't "hipsters" just because the developers and architects have no sense of style. Because of this, and not the lack of hipsters, I think they should have located Ceviche in the older section of Silver Spring where there is a bit more architectural flair.

Posted by: Fred | August 26, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I think I am the only hipster in Silver Spring - but I hurry back to the comfortable confines of DC asap after work. I can't imagine SS being any sort of lounge destination...

Posted by: ss hipster by day | August 26, 2005 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Not to be an annoying proofer, but I was confused at first about whether the new restaurant is called Cerviche or Ceviche, since both names appear several times in this review. Thankfully it's called Ceviche, like one of my favorite Latin dishes.

I agree with the person who said that just because the architects and designers wanted to make the downtown SSP area look strip-mall-ish doesn't mean there aren't hipsters in SSP. The fact that families with kids seem to dominate the area is probably because (1) up until now, the restaurant offerings have been almost exclusively kid-friendly places like Macaroni Grill and Potbelly, and (2) because the fountain in the center of the area seems to serve as sort of an unofficial community pool. Kind of annoying but they haven't done anything to prevent its usage in this manner.

Posted by: Kelly | August 26, 2005 5:10 PM | Report abuse

My boyfriend and I went to Ceviche last night as we continue to explore restaurants in our area and were a bit dissappointed. Although we were glad to see a fun new hip place come to Silver Spring the service and wait time were less than desireable.

After waiting 20 min. for a table when they said they didn't have any (at least 10 were available)we ordered. It took nearly 25 min. to receive our first course, a salad. The next course was incorrect and the last came during the second. Poor timing.

Overall food was pretty good, good flavor and concept but portions were skimpy and the lack of attentive service was annoying. Don't plan on going back anytime soon and would advice anyone who is thinking of going to give themselves plenty of time.

Posted by: TK PK Girl | October 13, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Gee, I finally made it to Ceviche and was wowed by it! My friend and I ate at the bar and had no problems with service or food. The ceviche was exceptional! (I really would like to go back and try them all!). The bartender was very helpful in selecting a wine to accompany the appetizer and the dinner (shrimp). We finished off the evening with a Peruvian Pisco Sour. WOW!

Posted by: CCrowe | February 6, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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