Maison Cheryl in Clarendon looks to future, despite Covid concerns and wait for permits

The past several months haven’t exactly gone as expected, but Maison Cheryl in Clarendon is very much looking forward to the future, chef and co-owner Robert Maher tells ARLnow.

The bistro officially opened in early September in the former Heritage Brewing space at 2900 Wilson Blvd, looking to appeal to “older millennials.”

The business has been growing and already has a number of regulars, Maher says, but a combination of continued COVID-19 concerns and not securing an outdoor seating permit has dampened expectations a bit.

“We’re still trying to get our outdoor seating, which is amazing how it’s been like five months and we still don’t have it,” he says. “But we should be getting that next week.”

Though, mid-January isn’t exactly the ideal time to eat outside.

Nonetheless, Maher is encouraged by the experiences he’s had so far in Arlington. He and his wife moved from New York City to Bethesda during the pandemic to be closer to family. He initially looked at opening a restaurant there and in D.C., but was attracted to Clarendon’s growing population.

“It looked like such a growing area. Not only with people that have been here for decades and live in the houses, but younger [people] who are working in D.C.,” he says. “I think it’s one of the best places to open a restaurant.”

Another thing that Maher is learning is the amount of work it takes to be both the head chef and co-owner of a restaurant.

“There’s a lot on the plate,” he says. “There’s so much that has to be done besides cooking, food ordering, costs…that’s been the most eye-opening experience. I take a lot of work home with me.”

Maher is a trained French cook and the menu is inspired by “French-New American” cuisine. Best sellers are the Maison Wagyu burger and seared duck breast, but his personal favorite is the bucatini and fried burrata in a zucchini sauce.

Maison Cheryl changes the menu seasonally and next week it will shift to winter. Most of the favorites will still be on it, but Maher is adding several new dishes including mussels mariniere, a honey lavender duck breast, and bouillabaisse with muscles, clams, shrimp and Chilean sea bass.

“Bouillabaisse is one of the first dishes I perfected so I love coming back to it especially during the cold winter months,” he says.

He’s enjoying his time growing Maison Cheryl and becoming part of the Clarendon community.

“I’m hoping to see the same faces over and over again,” Maher says. “One day, I might think of [opening] another one, but right now just trying to become a staple in the community. I’m having the time of my life doing that.”

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