By Stefanie Gans / Photography by Rey Lopez & Jonathan Timmes
Maple Ave Restaurant
Modern American / $$ / 147 Maple Ave. W., Vienna
Earlier this year Tim Ma sold Maple Ave Restaurant to his former employees Juste Zidelyte, now the executive chef, and Ricardo Teves, server-turned-GM. Ma, still an investor, relinquished culinary control, though fans of the 30-seat Vienna restaurant can still find many of the signature dishes: creme fraiche wings, shrimp and grits with blueberry sausage and scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream. Zidelyte will keep the modern American, globally influenced menu as she taps ingredients from her native Lithuania (currants, beets, mushrooms) and offers Argentine empanadas as a nod to Teves’ homeland.
Duck leg confit is juicy, salty meat, and caramelized little chips of Brussels sprouts remind me why this cabbage became popular in the first place. At lunch, braised beef cheeks are so tender they disintegrate like cotton candy and are piled within a glistening broiche bun with crispy onions, bits of crunchy lettuce and a creamy garlic aioli. The side of fries is not an afterthought: beer-battered and seasoned like a French roast chicken, complete with lots of salt, pepper and herbs. Ma might not be there anymore, but Maple Ave is still beating.
Want to know the secret behind our creme fraiche wings? Check out the article that Bonnie Benwick wrote in the Washington Post Food Section.
Photograph by Renee Comet for The Washington Post
MAY 2, 2014
These wings have become a signature dish at Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna. The no-cook sauce relies on the smooth blending of creme fraiche, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and the sour tang of sudachi juice, a Japanese citrus.
It’s preferable to have an instant-read thermometer for monitoring the oil as well as the doneness of the wings.
Make Ahead: Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Where to Buy: Sudachi juice is available at Japanese grocers such as Hana Market in the District. Gojuchang is available at Asian markets and at some Whole Foods Markets.
1/2 to 3/4 cup gojuchang (Korean red pepper paste; see headnote)
3 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
3 tablespoons sudachi juice (see headnote; may substitute yuzu juice or fresh lime juice)
Pinch kosher salt, plus more as needed
Pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 pound chicken wings and drumettes
Finely chopped chives or scallions thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
Heat the canola oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat, so the oil reaches 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels, then place a wire rack over them.
Combine the creme fraiche, oyster sauce, fish sauce, 1/2 cup of the gojuchang, tamari, sudachi juice and the pinches of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk to form a smooth, well incorporated sauce. Taste; if you like spicy heat, add some or all of the remaining 1/4 cup of gojuchang.
Working in two or three batches, fry the chicken wings and drumettes to an internal temperature (taken away from the bone) of 200 degrees; this should take 7 or 8 minutes. They will be lightly golden brown. Immediately transfer to the wire rack to drain; season lightly with salt and pepper.
While the wings are still warm, transfer them to the bowl. Use your clean hands to toss and coat them evenly. Stack or arrange on a plate; garnish with the chives or scallions.
Thank you WaPo Express for including Chef Tim Ma in October’s article “The Tastemakers”
Secret Ingredient: Perseverance
Maple Avenue Restaurant (147 Maple Ave., Vienna) was days away from bankruptcy when Tim Ma figured he might as well start cooking whatever he wanted at the nine-table eatery he opened in 2009 with a credit card. “There’s a brunch dish we serve with eggs and kimchee that I literally make for myself every morning,” Ma says. “I was like, ‘Screw it, let’s just put it on the menu.’ ” Following some positive local press, diners flocked in droves. Now the reservation-recommended restaurant is busy slinging plates of eclectic American cuisine influenced by Ma’s classic French training. The little restaurant that could is doing so well, in fact, Ma is opening a second outlet in Arlington, named Water & Wall, on Nov. 1. “It’s going to be an expansion of Maple Avenue, with the addition of a tasting menu.”
Excited to share that Tim was nominated for RAMMY under the category Rising CulinaryStar of the Year!The nominee is an “up and coming” chef who demonstrates exemplary talent, shows leadership and promise for the future. The nominee must have been based in the Metropolitan Washington area for a minimum of two years. Winner will be announced at the RAMMY Awards Ceremony on June 23rd.
Hundreds of the Washington, DC metropolitan area’s restaurant industry players gathered tonight at The Hamilton as the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) announced the nominees for its 31st Annual RAMMY Awards, which honors the exceptional ability and accomplishments of the DC area restaurant industry. The nominations party is a highly anticipated yearly event, second only to the restaurant awards gala, The RAMMYS, where winners are announced which will be held on June 23, 2013 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
“We’re pleased to be able to honor the individuals who work hard to provide area residentsand visitors with exceptional, world-class hospitality,” said Kathy Hollinger, RAMW’s new President. “Their dedication to the world and work of food and beverage adds an incredible vitality to the entire Washington Metropolitan Area. This year’s theme – ‘Restaurants in Bloom’ – acknowledges their creative contributions to the region’s burgeoning restaurant scene, and credits their talent which has earned DC recognition as a dining destination.”
The RAMMY Awards recognize excellence in 16 categories, including “Casual Dining”, “Chef of the Year”, “New Restaurant of the Year” and “Beverage/ Mixology Program of the Year”. Selecting the RAMMY nominees, and ultimately the winners, involves two separate panels of judges, the voting public and, for just one award – the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year – the RAMW Executive Committee. Any RAMW member is eligible for nomination as long as they meet the qualifications of any given category. The nominees are then reviewed by the appropriate anonymous panel of judges comprised of food/restaurant writers, educators and HR professionals who ultimately select the five finalists in each of the categories announced tonight.
The MAR crew is excited to share with you that Maple Ave was included in the 2013 Washingtonian’s Top 100 Very Best Restaurants. Also, thrilled to be included in this years Top 10 HOT LIST. This is what they said:
Who wouldn’t be skeptical of a suburban restaurant that charges upward of $20 for entrées and looks to be housed in a ’60s-era doughnut shop? And the menu’s crazy quilt of influences—Korean, Thai, Americana, Mediterranean, and Moroccan—doesn’t do much to convince you to chance it. But you should. Chef/owner Tim Ma doesn’t take shortcuts and puts his heart into everything he sends out. His rendition of shrimp and grits could persuade a Louisianan that the chef grew up in Bayou Country. A bowl of mussels in a saffron-coconut broth bests the work of most Thai kitchens. And pork-fried rice tastes like what a Chinese or Korean chef whips up when he’s off his shift. Don’t miss:Crème fraîche chicken wings with Korean chili paste; scallops with coconut-scallion risotto; braised beef cheek; whole branzino; beer-battered fries; chocolate dumplings; yuzu-lime pie; mochi.
“For the Perfectionist: Maple Ave. Vienna is packed with great, local restaurants, one of which serves some serious mac. Maple Ave‘s baked mac comes with Gruyere, Vermont cheddar mornay, fusili, and herbs de Provence panko crust. Though the pasta, in writing, looks very similar to Cheesetique’s mac and cheese, the al dente noodles are larger and the dish—noodles, cheeses, crust—are thrown together and then baked. It’s glorious. /147 Maple Ave., Vienna.” Lindsey Jenkins, Northern Virginia Magazine
“This is one of Chef Ma’s latest creations. I have my brunch go-to’s at Maple Ave, but Maple Ave is one of the few restaurants in NoVA with rotating dishes you won’t regret taking a chance on. The basil ice cream melts into the creamy risotto when the dish arrives, creating a rich, gold-colored sauce that bonds the sweetness of coconut to the saltiness of the seared scallops, and creates the image of an oozing egg yolk on a sunny-side up egg.” Jennie Tai, The Hungry Muse
9 Things To Love About Maple Ave by The Hungry Muse
1) Indian In The Cupboard At the Maple Ave Market, you’ll find boxes of fresh produce, shelves of local honey and peanut butter, refrigerated glass cases of cheese and meat; and much more. Around the corner, by the freezer of Trickling Springs ice cream–you’ll find an old cabinet full of various hand-crafted spices made by scientist-turned entreprenuer, Deepa Patke, owner of Aromatic Spice Blends in Vienna. Inside the cabinet, you’ll find packs of garam masala (one of the basic spices for Indian butter chicken), dhansaak, and vindaloo.2) Sous Vide Magic
“It’s kind of like our third baby,” Joey–Chef Ma’s wife–says of Chef Ma’s beloved sous vide machine, “If there’s one thing that gets ‘babied’ in the kitchen, it’s this!”After taking his first bite of the short rib (mentioned in #7), my boyfriend looked over at me and asked me what it was, how Chef cooked it, and told me to take notes. Unfortunately, I don’t own a sous-vide machine, so it wouldn’t matter anyway–but the point is, Chef Ma didn’t braise short rib (like the rest of the world would) and made it even more delicious.
3) Words of Wisdom
Maple Ave Market makes it easy for shoppers who want to pick up groceries from local producers at a one stop shop that’s open seven days a week–not just on Saturday mornings!
4) Daily Farmer’s Market
As mentioned in #3, Maple Ave Market brings together all of those favorite things you wake up to grab from your local Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning in one little shop in Vienna. They even allow you to pre-order different meats ahead of time (like organic turkeys for Thanksgiving).
5) Naked & Delicious
Sometimes, a simple salad of incredibly fresh ingredients is worth savoring slowly, like a bowl of lobster bisque. Chef Ma claims he lightly dressed the salad in a simple vinaigrette, pepper and salt–but fellow diners and I couldn’t believe it. Sliced carrot, radish, spinach and pomegrante seeds never had us wanting a salad to never end before.
6) Farm To Table
I know, I know… I’ve mentioned the term several times now–but farm-to-table doesn’t just mean eating dishes with farmed ingredients. Sometimes it also means being able to share a connection with someone else who values the same things you do when it comes to delicious, responsibly sourced food from growers you can actually chat with. At Maple Ave’s ‘Meet The Farmer, Meet The Chef’ dinner, it meant being able to eat food cooked by someone who could talk to you about how it was prepared, and someone who could tell you where each ingredient came from.
7) Short Rib Double-Take
As mentioned in #2, Chef Ma didn’t braise short rib like most people would, and instead cooked it in a vacuum packed sous-vide machine that sealed in all of its flavor as it cooked slowly over time. As a result–the sliced short rib was soft, flavorful and unforgettable… just ask this guy.
8) Four Squash Soup
And none of the four were butternut! The four squash soup was made of peanut, seminole, and acorn squash with a savory spoonful of chopped spaghetti squash at the center to pair with the sweetness of the soup. No fancy pomegranate seeds or popcorn toppings here–just simple, delicious flavors from the market’s selection of squash that day.
9) Praline + Persimmon
Candy, crack and cream, actually. The peanut-brittle like praline crackers were so addictive, I would have stole my neighbor’s piece if he hadn’t gobbled it up so quickly. The salty praline brittle, slices of mildly sweet persimmon and mellow vanilla ice cream was perfect for a salt tooth like me. It was another dish of the meal I really didn’t want to end.
The doctrine of today’s urban kitchens managed to zip around the Beltway, 30 miles out and around and into a humble space on Vienna’s main strip.
The menu can stay grounded in classics, like a baked mac and cheese, but finesses the outcome with nutty (Gruyere) and sharp (cheddar) cheeses with longer, funkier, twisting noodles and salty panko crumbs that tear into the creaminess below.
Firey, little wings (this is what a chicken wing looks like without growth hormones, by the way) bathe in creme fraiche and chili paste for a bar snack that belongs nowhere near unappreciative drunkards.
Larger plates can offer delicately spiced scallops with an overlay of barely wilted peashoots or a leg of lamb, inspired by Morocco, that arrives deboned for eating ease.
A tangy yuzu (Asian citrus) key lime pie-in-a-round delights with singed housemade mini-marshmallows.
The room is tight—with an even more snug parking lot around back—and provides little atmosphere, but Vienna is better for the arrival of this scrappy mom-and-pop shop with an eye toward honesty and ingenuity.
“If your idea of brunch is a hopscotch among stations to load up on waffles, omelets, and steamship roast beef, you might look askance at Chef Tim Ma’s menu, which at times seems to turn breakfast into dinner. Fortunately, his eclectic and playful sensibility is backed up with attention to detail, whether a soulful plate of shrimp ‘n’ grits or scrambled eggs with kimchee and sticky rice. Desserts are virtuosic and fun: fried dumplings, oozing chocolate, a tangy-sweet lime-yuzu tart, and a marvelous sampler of delicate mochi.”
We are honored to be included in the “Tops for Food” of the 50 best restaurants for brunch recently published in WASHINGTONIAN (Oct 2012). We serve our brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm. After 3pm our dinner menu is served. Thank you all for the love and continued support!