This Tuesday, three of us split a parade of tuna tartare, arepas, patatas bravas, sauteed scallops, and shrimp in tequila sauce. Each one was exquisite -- a subtle spice to the tuna, a delicious sauce to the shrimp. The perfect fried potatoes -- crisp on the outside, almost pillowy in the center.
It's a beautiful space. Modern decor. It is a city restaurant experience, far more like Harbor East or Penn Quarter than Columbia Mall. It's a dress-up dinner, but not a stuffy place. (Except for the offer to rent a liquor locker to people who buy $1,000 in wine.) Jeans are fine. The bar is friendly with a happy hour and strong sangria. Jazz musicians play Tuesday nights.
But don't go to fill up. Ranazul has a 301 area code, and it has Bethesda prices that make each plate a touch more expensive that I'd expect. Bread is a $1. Completely forgettable olives are $3. You don't want to order the shrimp if you mind cutting the two shrimp into pieces for multiple people. The draw is that everything is thoughtful and fun. End the meal with sopapias, fried triangles dusted with cinnamon, drizzled with honey, and topped with a generous scoop of ice cream.
(Update: The owner of Ranazul is aiming to open a steakhouse at the former Oz Chophouse in late 2009.)
8171 Maple Lawn Boulevard #170
Fulton, MD 20759
NEAR: In the Maple Lawn commercial area just north of Rte 216. Maple Lawn is just west of Rte 29. The oz Chop House and Trapeze are on the same intersection. This is one exit north of the Montgomery County line in southern HoCo.