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Even better at Eventide

We recently celebrated a birthday at Eventide in Arlington, Va., a popular fine dining restaurant in the Clarendon area that is known for its fabulous rooftop experience. It was a bit cold for April, so this time we dined in the main dining room, which has to be one of the best designed in Northern Virginia. And I’m not just talking about decor: Our party of four was comfortably seated at a table that was not a mere 4 inches from another table. The impossibly crowded dining rooms that seem characteristic of Northern Virginia’s better restaurants have long been a complaint of mine, so it’s nice to dine with my chosen company and not complete strangers.

Our meal was good, no complaints — I had the forest mushroom and ricotta tortellini with green lentils and black truffle butter sauce — but I think I’ve more enjoyed our meals in the bar. I can’t tell you why exactly; maybe it’s because my palate is only slightly more sophisticated than a 7-year-old’s. Though perhaps it’s because I enjoy small bites of a lot of flavors, and the lounge menu certainly offers that. The truffle French fries and soft pretzels are our favorites, and the pulled-bison barbecue sliders are must-tastes.

For the more serious diners, the main menu is changed seasonally. Most recently, the features included the aforementioned tortellini, Scottish salmon with fiddlehead ferns and sweet peas, and a beef tenderloin with carmelized fingerling potatoes, asparagus and a sherry brown butter emulsion.

On the Web: eventiderestaurant.com

Where in the World: 3165 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-4420

Phone: 703.276.3165

Diners Advisory: Reservations are not accepted for the roof.

Hours (Bar): Tuesday-Saturday: Opens at 5 p.m.
Hours (Main Dining Room): Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Eventide on Yelp

Eventide on foursquare

Eventide on Gowalla

Eventide on Twitter

On Google Maps:
 


Bon Chon: Also finger-lickin’ good

ED’S NOTE: A guest post from my better half. Originally posted at A Few Things Considered.

By Trey Barrineau

I’ve had a long love affair with fried chicken (I am a Southern boy, after all), and I’ve savored it at places that are considered legendary (Price’s Chicken Coop in Charlotte, among many others). But I may have discovered a place that puts them to shame: Bon Chon Chicken in Fairfax City.

This might — might — be the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted. Bon Chon is a popular South Korean restaurant chain that specializes in KFC — Korean fried chicken. The Korean style of frying up yardbird is a two-step process, according to this article from The New York Times. The result is sublimely crunchy. In fact, it’s the most perfect crunch I’ve ever experienced from fried chicken. The only downside to this process: be prepared to wait a while for your food.

Bon Chon Chicken in Fairfax

On Yelp

On foursquare

On Gowalla

The chicken comes with two sauces — soy garlic or spicy soy garlic. I opted for the spicy, which had a wonderful kick, but was not overpowering. And unlike a lot of American wing places, the sauce is applied gently and is not messy. The side dishes and appetizers looked interesting, but I didn’t try any on my first visit.

If you live in Fairfax, you’ve got to try this place. Now.

On the Web: Bonchon.com

Where in the World: 3242 Old Pickett Road
Fairfax, VA 22031
(See website for other locations)

Phone: 703.865.5688 703.865.5689

Hours: Sunday, Monday: 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.


Coyote Grille & Cantina: Got chips?

This will be the first post I do that has negative comments about the restaurant I’m going to review. After a couple of not-so-great visits, I had been postponing a review of Coyote Grille and Cantina until I could figure out if I had anything good to say about it, and if I did, what was it?

It’s not as if I don’t like this place. I do. I would go so far as to say that we patronize this place a lot. And in view of this, I believe that as a regular customer who has spent her hard-earned discretionary income at an establishment, I’m allowed to write honestly about a business that hasn’t fully met my expectations as a consumer.

So I’ll start with the bad news.

Service has been inconsistent over the past year: One server seemed to completely forget us, bringing our food late and forgetting our drinks — all of which led to us missing a movie. Another time we arrived well before closing and were told the kitchen was closed. (If you’re closed, lock the door.) On a happier note, during a more recent visit, we received excellent service from a young woman who seemed to be waiting on ALL the tables. She made great customer service look effortless, and I could tell the diners appreciated her hard work.

Scrolling through the reviews on Yelp, I see I’m not alone in some of my observations. Like several reviewers, I believe the drinks are terrific. I highly recommend the Lime and the Coconut margarita or the Blue Moon margarita. One reviewer suggested it as a drinks-and-apps place, and I’ll agree with that. As far as the food goes, I don’t find their Tex-Mex to be all that innovative, but it is nice and they do have some affordable lunch deals. If you take advantage of those popular lunch deals, be ready to get up close and personal with the other patrons. Like many Northern Virginia restaurants, the interior is a bit cramped, and it’s baffling to me why large groups (8+ parties) seem to think such a small restaurant would be a great gathering spot. The outdoor patio is better for bigger parties, but in an effort to keep it open year round, they’ve installed heat lamps that can roast you.

As I said, I do like this place, so we’ll return to Coyote Grille again and again. I just hope at some point there’s an internal push for improved customer service.

Where: 10266 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703.591.0060

Hours: 11 a.m.(Close not listed)
Sunday brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

On Google Maps:

 

 

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here


A regional gem: Hard Times Cafe

Affordable food. Friendly service. And cold beer.

What’s not to love?

We’ve enjoyed Hard Times Cafe since 2001: When we worked in Rosslyn, we used to stop at the one in Clarendon after work, then years later the Fairfax store opened around the corner from our then-new neighborhood, and that made for a nice welcome.

Often after a busy Saturday of errands and yard work, we’ll stop in for wings and chili. Our faves: the chili lime boneless wings and the Terlingua Red chili. Also not to be missed: the vegetarian chili, which is truly masterful. (Have a nut allergy? Take a pass on this chili. It has peanuts.)

Don’t live in Arlington? Not in Fairfax? Don’t worry, Hard Times Cafe has 16 locations in the D.C. metro area. You can find them here.

In Fairfax
Where: 4069 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703.267.9520

E-mail: fairfax@hardtimes.com

Hours: 11 a.m. until 1 a.m.
Sports Cue closes at 2 a.m.

On Google Maps:

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here


Minerva: A favorite taste of India

Another review of my work on this blog again shows me that I continue to promote a diet of fried food and beer — and flash fiction.And although those pursuits are not without their merits, I do have other interests and I do avail myself of Northern Virginia’s wonderful ethnic cuisines.

A longtime favorite in the Fairfax area is Minerva, where we’ve enjoyed their authentic Indian offerings for the past nine years. Among our favorites: the spinach pakora appetizer, the chicken vindaloo (for those who love a very spicy treat), and from the vegetarian menu, the navaratan korma. If you’re feeling hungry, get the dinner; if you’re looking for something not as filling, get the entrees a la cart and order a side of their fabulous naan or rice.

Where: 10364 Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030
Also locations in Chantilly, Herndon and Gaithersburg, Md.

Phone: 703.383.9200

On Google Maps:

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here


From the Bad Idea Files: Airports offer more booze

USA TODAY reports airports are boosting booze sales in an effort to pump up revenue, while airlines are marketing meals and one-day passes to their plushest travel lounges.

From the story:

“What’s happening is airlines are becoming better retailers of products,” says Jay Sorensen, a consultant, who says the cocktail push by U.S. airlines began during the last year. “They’re doing things to highlight the fact that, ‘Yes, indeed, we do sell alcohol on the airplane.’ They’re trying to mimic what occurs on the ground in terms of consumer promotions.”

In light of public discontent over the new TSA policies, it seems to me the last thing a responsible marketer would want to do is sell cocktails to angry people who have just been herded through airport security like so many sheep, virtually strip-searched, and possibly groped by a federal employee.


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EatBar holiday season starts early

Spotted on EatBar‘s Facebook page:By J. Barrineau

We know you’re cutting out of work early, so come join us tonight for Happy Hour!

$4 Draft Beers and 1/2 -price wine glasses! Get the holiday season started right!

That sounds so good to me. I wish I could go.

For more of my thoughts on this fabulous place, read my previous post.

On Google Maps:


Videos: John Pistole on TSA pat-downs and policy

Video shows John Pistole at the Monitor Breakfast. He’s eating breakfast, folks. Not crow.

Holy Victoria’s Secret! Here’s where Pistole talks about the many bra bombers that TSA thwarts each year.

In an update, CBS reports that the TSA is responding to the video that features a so-called strip search of a boy.


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Back home at EatBar

Now that I’ve covered some of my favorite places on the Outer Banks, it’s time for me to come home, so to speak. I’ll begin my Northern Virginia recommendations with EatBar in Arlington. It’s one of my all-time favorite restaurants, and I’m sad to say that I don’t get there nearly enough.By J. Barrineau The small-plate menu is always interesting, so much so that if you’re on a first date, you can relax — the menu can easily inspire conversation.

Years ago, we went for the mini-corndogs, which are not featured on this year’s fall menu, but that’s OK. We had plenty of other tasty treats to sample. On our most recent visit, we had the OG burger slider — a must — and the Sloppy Joey pulled-pork sliders (with pickle!!!), which were simply divine. And because my husband and I are 7 years old at heart, we ordered the both the frites and the onion rings because we saw no point in having to choose between the two. We also tried the Dirty Risotto fritters, which weren’t what I had expected, but they were fun to taste.

On tap was the lovely Allagash White, a food-friendly Belgian wheat, and Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, a seasonal favorite.

Of note: Sunday nights are Movie Night. Current line-up is here.

Where: 2761 Washington Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201

Phone: 703.778.9951

Reservations: No. (Go anyway.)

Hours: 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Monday-Thursday, and Sunday
4 p.m. – 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday

On Google Maps:

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla:
Here

On foursquare:
Here


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Beer does a body good: Outer Banks Brewing Station

Continuing this blog’s inadvertent-but-grand tradition of reporting on mostly fried food and beer, my next recommendation comes just in time for the 5th Annual Outer Banks Marathon.By J. Barrineau I have several friends running in the 2010 race – friends who are far superior athletes than I – and although I wish I could be there, and I certainly wish them well, I don’t envy them.

After my friends run 26.2 miles, they should head to the Outer Banks Brewing Station at MP 8.5 in Kill Devil Hills. What better way to recover than throwing back a pint or three of expertly handcrafted beer at the nation’s first wind-powered brewpub?

Vintner-turned-brew master Scott Meyers, formerly of Berkeley, Calif., delivers some truly exquisite brews. My personal favorites are the Olsch and the Lemongrass Wheat Ale, which certainly speaks to the beers’ wonderfully complex flavors because I tend to favor darker beers. However, when we visit the Outer Banks Brewing Station, it’s usually after a hot day out and about, so it makes sense to quench a thirst with these food-friendly brews.

And although the beers are the stars of the show, the food cannot be missed. The menu is much more sophisticated than the usual bar fare: I’ve had the petite filet, which was tender, flavorful and cooked perfectly. The Veggie Chipotle Burger – a black bean burger – is much better than most veggie burgers, and according to my husband, the Cuban sandwich is a must-taste. If you’re just looking for a beer and something fried to take your mind off your aching feet, calves, thighs and hips, try the onion rings or fried okra. Or check out the new Jalapeño Bottle Caps, which I’ve never had, but I’d bet they’re nearly perfect. (Editor’s note: In my book, the only fried food more perfect than a fried dill pickle is a fried jalapeño.)

So if you’re in KDH the weekend of Nov. 13-14 – or ever – be sure to stop by to one of the coolest dining establishments on the Banks. In addition to the beer and fine foods, the OBB Station also has a full entertainment calendar featuring such acts as The Influence, which will be performing Nov. 19-20.

Where: MP 8.5, 600 South Croatan Highway
Kill Devil Hills, NC

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m., seven days a week

Phone: 252.449.2739 (BREW)

On Google Maps:

Outer Banks Brewing Station on Facebook: Here

On Yelp: Here

On foursquare: Here

On Gowalla: Here