J's Page

Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.

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:

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

Blame Cupid: My stab at love stories

UPDATE 4-15-2011: Since this post, I have changed the name of this blog from Forks & the Road (which I never really liked) to Nowhere from Here because I never travel anymore. (Work doesn’t allow for effective trip planning.) From this point forward, this blog will reflect my comings and going around here, in Northern Virginia, as well as whatever else I’m up to. The following post is about my most recent flash fiction that was published in February. ~J

I really need to change the focus and name of this blog because it seems as if I never travel (I don’t these days), and my dining options are limited to a) my desk and b) around Northern Virginia.  So this post really has nothing to do with food or travel; it’s about my fiction writing. One story does mention supper, and two are set in Portland, Ore., so could that count as travel and food? Yes? Please?

I’m happy to report my short “Flip Side of Paradise” won first place in the Doorknobs contest at Doorknobs & BodyPaint, and two companion pieces — “Sub Rosa” and “To: Harpocrates” — won second place in the Dorsal competition.

The stories had to be about being madly in love — in honor of the month of February. For Issue 61, the Doorknobs contest had the following restraints, er, guidelines:

  1. Maximum length: 250 words.
  2. The sub-theme is: irritated.
  3. The year is: 1921.
  4. Within the story, this text must be used: wildly excited.

You can check out “Flip Side of Paradise” here. I based it on the premise that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were coming to dinner, and what a pain in the ass that would be. I crafted my protagonist by drawing on Scott’s circle of former Princeton classmates, colleagues and peers. I was going to have her be a wife, but she wasn’t yet married to Scott’s friend, John Peale Bishop, a poet and editor at Vanity Fair. Yes, he was a real guy, and he and his wife did end up living in France for some years. This was a fun story to write, and I was surprised how much I liked it in the end. I felt like there was some real emotional truth in it, even if it was irritation.

My Dorsal pieces — “Sub Rosa” and To: Harpocrates — spun out a submission I sent to the very cool Paragraph Planet, where I’ve had several pieces featured. This initial 75-word piece was based on the idea that Cupid is a really lazy bastard and that’s why there are so many lonely people in the world. (Think Will Ferrell drunk, eating Cheetos and in a diaper. That’s my vision of Cupid.) To: Harpocrates was originally written and submitted for the Hayward Fault Line contest, which used these guidelines:

  1. Maximum length: 450 words.
  2. The sub-theme is: wraithful.
  3. The setting is: Portland, Ore.
  4. Within the story, you must use this bit of text: gale swept across

After I finished the piece, I decided to have a go at the Dorsal contest — using the same story but with a different point of view. The Dorsal guidelines included a 450-word limit and using external and internal dialogue to reveal the narrator’s hidden feelings about a friend, lover or spouse.

In the end, the editors decided to put both pieces in the Dorsal contest, which is kinda cool because they do belong together, like the characters. I’ve since been told by Mom and my best e-mail friend (Amy, the BEF) that I need to write a sequel. I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure I will do more with the idea of a Will Ferrell-type as Lazy Cupid, but I’m not sure I’ll return to the florist and hacky-sack guy. Who knows, maybe I will. I hadn’t planned on writing anything when I sat down that day, but at the end of the night, I had three pieces that were fun to write — and had surprised even me, the writer.

That, friends, was a good writing day.

A very tweet love story

I wanted to do something a little different for Valentine’s Day this year, so I tweeted the story of me and my husband. Check out the full story here on my Twitter feed.

Deals on @foursquare

In light of foursquare’s recent announcement detailing their 3400% growth in 2010 (also known as the Year of Suckage), I’ve decided to record the deals I see as I check in.

This is mostly to satisfy my intellectual curiosity as a marketing student, so stoppers-by might be bored. Googlers, if you’re looking for information about MAC’s Wonder Woman cosmetic line, here it is.

Among this weekend’s deals spotted on foursquare:

  • Buy one scoop, get one scoop free at Ben & Jerry’s.
  • 15% off next purchase at Aerie, American Eagle’s panty and bra shop.
  • Valentine’s Day Sale at Express: suit separates for her, BOGO 50% off; shirts and ties, BOGO $19.90. PLUS 30% off sweaters for him.
  • Get $10 off jeans $39.95 and up at H&M. Offer valid Feb. 10-21. Discount taken at register.
  • First-time check-ins can get $5 off any $25 purchase at Payless ShoeSource.

I’ll update the list as I see more offers.

ED’S NOTE: This URL has been SEO’d to death.

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