Featured on the Forest Hill Connection - March 2013
Forest Hills Eats: Terasol Ooh-la-la!
by Mary Beth Ray
It’s a cold and rainy winter night, the cupboard is bare and I’m longing for the warmth and charm of a French bistro just a short walk from home. Voila!
Terasol is here, and it is not to be missed!
My husband and I dined at Terasol last week for the third time — and each time it only gets better. This French bistro and artisan gallery at 5010 Connecticut Avenue, just across the street from Politics and Prose, has recently completed a kitchen renovation and hired a new chef.
The menu is decidedly French, and offers something for every taste. Owners Alan Moin and Sabrina Ousmaal welcome patrons like old friends. The service is impeccable. Waiters are friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. The local art ranges from colorful paintings and ceramics, to whimsical watches and earrings. The warm yellow walls and tin ceiling add a cozy ambiance that takes the chill off the worst winter night.
The wine list is pleasant and reasonably priced, and we have especially enjoyed the Domaine des Rochers Pouilly-Fuisse ($12/glass and $39/bottle). Meals begin with some of the best French bread I’ve had in Washington. The bread is made in Silver Spring, baked Chez Terasol, and served warm with butter. It could practically be a meal on its own for this New Orleans girl! The French onion soup ($7) will delight — it is classically prepared and served in a crock, with a rich beef broth, mellow onions, flavorful garlic croutons, perfectly melted Gruyere cheese and a fresh sprinkle of parsley. The Caesar salad ($7) has a good flavor and consistency, but tomatoes and cucumbers added an unwelcome intrusion for purists.
Main courses range from meat and fish to pasta and quiche. Our favorites so far are the divine Risotto aux Champignons ($18) and the Bouillabaisse ($23). Each dish captures the fresh ingredients and flavor that send one to a French restaurant in the first place. The classic roasted chicken with herbes de Provence and turned potatoes ($20) was crisp, juicy and flavorful. Presentation is attractive and appetizing, but it does not detract from the main attraction: simply delicious French food. Serving portions feel just right — we clean our plates and we’re too full for dessert!
Terasol has done our neighborhood proud on many levels. Not only are they serving fabulous French food in a beautiful atmosphere with friendly service, they also provide outdoor seating and music on weekends. Jazz singer Rachel Sberro and guitarist Alex Martin both hail from France, and they add a perfect je ne sais quoi to weekend evenings from 6:30 to 9:30. Terasol is now open for lunch and dinner, so tout de suite, book your table now and be prepared for a quick excursion to Paris!
Best bread in town. I celebrated my 65th there with friends - wonderful food, great music and a lovely atmosphere.
Featured on Table Talk By Carole Sugarman - October 2012
Even before Terasol hired a new chef and expanded its kitchen and menu offerings, I was a big fan of the ultra-charming French bistro and artisans’ shop on Connecticut Avenue. But when I read in the Washington Post last week that owners Alan Moin and Sabrina Ousmaal had signed on Hector Guerra, who previously worked at the Caucus Room, the original Galileo, and under Yannick Cam at the long-ago Le Pavillon, I had to check it out.
Sticking with what has worked, the accessible menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches and entrees has not changed dramatically—although Guerra has added paninis, a few more main courses and specials. And now with a new deep fryer, he can serve up homemade chips and fries.
At my dinner Saturday night—from the asparagus soup to the beet salad, steak frites and bouillabaisse—the food had a downtown-sophistication, and was as lovely to look at as the pottery and other artisan items sold in the front of the restaurant. The place was always a gem; now it just has a little more sparkle.
Featured on ScoutMob
Just around the quiet ‘quartiers’ of Chevy Chase, you’ll find the only Parisian café/art gallery for miles. In fact, Terasol, which is Latin-speak for ‘Earth’ and ‘Sun,’ might be one of the only mash-ups of its kind anywhere. The lovechild of Alan Moin and Sabrina Ousmaal, Terasol is a café situated in a veritable art gallery. Of course, once your food comes out, you might have some trouble differentiating between the art on the walls and that which was just set down on your table. See, the Parisian classics served up here, such as Niçoise Salad, Boeuf Bourguignon and Quiche Lorraine, look like works of art. And the taste? Even better. I sampled the Croque Monsieur sandwich and became an instant fan. And while now I have my lunch game on lock, I'm pumped to return to Terasol after dark on the weekends when this gallery café transforms into a romantic jazz club. As if the Croque Monsieur wasn't enough of an aphrodisiac...
Featured on Urban Daddy
PARIS FIRST CLASS
Terasol Debuts Its Sidewalk Café You’ll be on the giant Airbus A380 to Paris in no time. Until then, tide yourself over with French 75s and boeuf bourguignon on the new sidewalk tables at this café-cum-art gallery. Don’t forget to tip your beret when the mademoiselles walk by.
Featured in Bethesda Magazine
July-August 2011 issue
Table Talk by Carole Sugarman
Featured by American University
ALUMNI SUCCESS STORYAlumna Opens French-inspired Café and Gallery By Carlita M. Pitts
Interested in a quick trip to Paris or a European experience without leaving the district? Well, thanks to Sabrina Ousmaal, SOC/BA '90, you can. Ousmaal used her international experience, work for CAS as a European Delegate, and degree from SOC to realize her dream of opening a French café and artisan gallery in D.C.Ousmaal's business, Terasol, first opened in 2008 in the Chevy Chase Arcade. It was a place where local artisans could display and sell their creations to the community. The concept was well-received, and soon Ousmaal decided to incorporate a French café. She envisioned a place providing unique flavors, reminiscent of places she remembers from her childhood in France.Ousmaal credits her success in part to her education and experiences at AU. In addition to co-owning a restaurant, she works full-time as associate publisher of a daily energy trade publication. "Studying journalism and political science, AU provided me not only with the fundamentals, but with hands-on experiences like no other. I went to live newsrooms and attended Congressional briefings. Not many schools offer this access. I decided to take a leap into leadership and became the president of the International Student Association, the European Delegate as well as the CAS Representative to the Board. To this day, I believe that these initiatives were essential to form my business skills," she says.
Ousmaal, a potter herself, adds that her love of the art began 12 years ago. During this time, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. "As I always enjoyed creating, this was a way to help me focus on something other than cancer. I fell in love with the craft and the great people I shared [this time] with every Sunday. Pottery was liberating, offering a great way to recuperate from hard work." In 2005, Ousmaal was diagnosed with a rare cancer, and she was able to use pottery as a therapeutic medium while she conquered her personal battle with cancer.While Ousmaal is elated that she has achieved many goals, she admits that being an entrepreneur isn't easy. She says, "You need to accept that things will fall and fail but that nothing can or should be discouraging you. You need to encourage and motivate your team, embrace and cherish your customers, and never lose track of the passion that ignited it all."When asked which item is a must have at Terasol, Ousmaal says, "Terasol is not about one thing, as it is a different experience to many. Its essence is its conviviality, where lunches and dinners lend themselves to conversations and great memories, where you come for a simple honest, homemade dinner and wander through a gallery holding a glass of nice Chateauneuf du Pape, discovering intricate glazes, while being serenaded by a musician, all the way through your last bite of the dark chocolate mousse. That is Terasol."
As featured in the Washington FlyerMarch-April 2011 issue
Looking for more than your average cup o’ joe? Find local musicians and artist demos at the reopened Terasol Cafe(5010 Connecticut Ave., NW). After noshing on French pastries and cheese plates (ask for extra bread), browse the cafe’s entrance for extra treats to take home—think jewelry, pottery, landscape paintings and photography by D.C. artisans (including the owner).
Featured in The Georgetowner, January 2011
As featured in THE NORTHWEST CURRENT
WEDNESDAY, Dec 15, 2010
ON THE STREET
By REBECCA ROTHFELD
Long search pays off for French bistro Terasol
Terasol, a newly opened French bistro at 5010 Connecticut Ave. NW, is a crafty blend of fine food and fine art.A 400-square-foot gallery houses the pottery, jewelry and other creations of 19 local artisans, and an accompanying 1,350-square foot restaurant serves authentic French food to as many as 45.
Owner Sabrina Ousmaal says her goal is to “offer artisans shelving to be seen and a market to prosper.” Translating this dream into reality hasn’t been easy. Ousmaal and her husband, co-owner Alan Moin, first opened their cafe in 2008 in the Chevy Chase Arcade, but were dismayed by the brevity of their six-month sublease. Their disappointment was mirrored by their local customers, some of whom offered to petition the owner for a lease extension. Residents of nearby neighborhoods were supportive, too. When Ousmaal and Moin considered moving to a site in Cleveland Park, “the ANC commissioner and the Cleveland Park Citizens Association even wrote to the owner in support,” Ousmaal reported. Still, the space went to another business. The search for a new location was a two-year struggle. BecauseTerasol was “just a little shop with a six-month history, no leasing company gave us the time of day,” Ousmaal said.
The couple and their supporters were overjoyed when their pursuit finally yielded results. After four months of renovations, Terasol opened in a former yoga studio on Nov. 12. The Connecticut Avenue site is controlled not by a leasing company, but by an individual who was receptive to the concept and willing to look at more than numbers, Ousmaal said.
Terasol is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 3p.m. Sunday. It offers French dishes priced at no more than $20 and artworks ranging from $1 to $150.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2008
ON THE STREET
By STEPHANIE M. KANOWITZ
Pottery gallery opens in Chevy Chase Arcade
Not even Tropical Storm Hanna could dampen Sabrina Ousmaal’s spirits on Saturday, the day she hosted the grand opening of her new pottery gallery, Terasol. “Everything’s going to be perfect,” she told a doubter. And it was, she said. “The community came together regardless of the weather. That’s pretty powerful, wouldn’t you say?” she said. “In a world that fails the local small business and craft, days like today bring back the hope that we do value small local businesses and ideas. One pot at a time, I hope, is all it will take.”
Terasol is a 500- square-foot space in the Chevy Chase Arcade. Nine artists— friends with whom Ousmaal has made pottery every Sunday for 10 years at an Adams Morgan studio— pay her a monthly fee to display their work, and they also provide her with a commission on their
sales. “Some people go to church on Sunday, we go to pottery,” said Ousmaal, who moved to D.C. from Paris in 1987 and manages trade newsletters when she’s not throwing pots. “All of us have very demanding day jobs and very interesting lives, and this is where we can just be. We come in, there’s no dress code, there’s no makeup, there’s nothing. It’s just you in your purest form, full of clay, full of mud. We just have lovely chats.”
At the beginning of the summer, Ousmaal’s chats with the other potters — including professional artists, an architect, a filmmaker and a Washington Post reporter — turned to opening a gallery.
“Terasol is not only a dream of mine; it’s a dream of many local artisans that do not have the option to have their pieces displayed, let alone sold,” she said. Terasol sells bowls, platters, mugs and vases — “anything that we can make out of clay,” Ousmaal said. The prices for functional pieces run from $5 to $250 for a full tea set. Clay sculptures and paintings cost up to $350.
“We want [our pieces] to be taken into people’s homes. We want them to be enjoyed, used — not just put on display but actually used and cherished just as they are in our own homes,” she said. “The goal is not to make money, that’s for sure. The goal is just to pass on what has brought us so much joy and share it with others.”
Ousmaal took up pottery 10 years ago as a way to cope with her father’s losing battle against cancer. “It helped me feel alive. It’s a very physical and very freeing craft,” she said. In July 2005, when she was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare cancer, pottery again became a coping mechanism. She measured her recovery by how often she could attend her weekly appointments at Hinckley Pottery and whether she was able to make a pot. “Now it’s three years to the day since the end of treatment, and it just seems to be the right time, the right moment, the right option,” she said, to fulfill her dream and open up a gallery.
Read also our two postings on Apartment Therapy.
Links of places we like....