J's Page

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


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:

On foursquare:

More on beer and fried pickles

Over at Forks and the Road, my woefully neglected travel blog,By J. Barrineau I yammer on about the Outer Banks Brewing Station, one of my most favorite establishments in the world. (Seriously, I’m not just kissing up.) They’ve got great beer, a nice menu and nicer folks, so if you’re ever in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., you should check them out.

They also have a full entertainment calendar featuring such acts as The Influence, which will be performing Nov. 19-20.

Recommendations: Lemon Wheatgrass Beer or the Olsch.

Where: MP 8.5, 600 South Croatan Highway
Kill Devil Hills, NC
On Google Maps: Here

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

Phone: 252.449.2739 (BREW)

Outer Banks Brewing Station on Facebook: Here

On Yelp: Here

On foursquare: Here

On Gowalla: Here

(Photo by J. Barrineau)


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

Crank it up, Chick-fil-A!

Over on my Tumblr, I’ve started a new series of sorts called “What I’m Googling” because I seem to spend much of my day Googling things that pop into my ADD-rattled brain.

Anyway, today’s post reads like this:

I’m googling this today after a co-worker — who isn’t cranky — mentioned it after hearing about it on television. More info here and here.

Chick-fil-A smells marketing opportunity. From the Ledger-Enquirer story:

The always optimistic folks at Chick-fil-A advise us via Twitter to buy cranky co-workers milkshakes.

If a milkshake doesn’t solve your problems, consult The Emily Post Institute for advice about dealing with crude-talking co-workers.

Sharyn, if you’re reading, I’ll take Cheetos. Or Taco Bell. Lady’s choice.

I LOVE how Chick-fil-A jumped on this “holiday.” Quick thinking!

Passing the ‘Bucks: The magic of Starbucks VIA

Sometime in January, I developed a new addiction: Starbucks’ (NASDAQ: SBUX) VIA Ready-Brew. I must admit I’m not a huge coffee snob, I’ll take my caffeine anyway I can get it, but VIA was really tasty — and the instant-ness of it offered me something I value more than caffeine: no Starbucks experience.VIA: This box doesn't need to know my name.

I know Howard Schultz has built an empire on the Starbucks experience, but frankly, this grouch just wants a quiet cup of Go-Juice to get through the day. And I want it without having to fight D.C.-Metro-area traffic or tolerating the hipster doofus who wants to know my name and will take 10 minutes to pour a cup. For me, VIA isn’t about a caffeine fix or instant gratification; it’s about my time. The older I get, the less time I have. There are not enough hours in the day. (I risked being late for work just to finish this post.) So if I can get a terrific cup of coffee at home within the space of three minutes — as opposed to the 20+ it would take me at my local Starbucks — then I will happily invest $3 (for the 3-pack) or $11 (for the 12-pack) of my discretionary income in the cute little boxes filled with caffeine, the cute little boxes who won’t ask me my name or try to fake a friendship in hopes of selling me a cardboard biscotti.

In addition to expanding VIA’s presence beyond the Starbucks coffeehouses, the coffee giant continues to build the line by releasing the VIA flavored coffees in caramel, mocha, cinnamon, and vanilla. These are medium-bodied coffees, not the punch-in-the-face extra bold Italian Roast I’ve come to love and need in recent weeks. The Starbucks blog suggests pairing the VIA Vanilla Flavored Coffee (their capitalization) with the Petite Vanilla Bean Scone (“to create dreamy vanilla nirvana”), and VIA Mocha Flavored Coffee is supposed to be a “chocolate dream come true” when paired with the Double Fudge Mini Doughnut. To enjoy these expanded dream-state experiences (sugar rushes?), you have to travel to your neighborhood ‘Bucks and suffer through the tedious up-sell. And the chatter. And the lines. Meanwhile, I’ll be at home, “never without great coffee,” having my own Starbucks experience.


Jockey’s Ribs: Great food, no bones about it

I should probably be embarrassed about how many times I’ve mentioned barbecue on this blog — it’s certainly not intentional — it just happened that I went through a barbecue phase a couple of years ago. Every outing was a mission to find good pulled-pork barbecue. I’m happy to report that we didn’t often fail.

A favorite on the Outer Banks is is Jockey’s Ribs in Nags Head at Mile Post 13, near the famed Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The smiling service and cold beer make for a nice treat after a hot day of hiking the dunes, but the menu is most important when I’m tired of seafood and want something else. I will always recommend the barbecue sandwich, Eastern N.C. style, with extra sauce on the side. While you’re at it, also order a side of the house rib sauce. I’m usually not a fan of the really thick sauces because 1) I’m from Eastern North Carolina, not Memphis and 2) the thick sauces often taste too much like ketchup, but this one has a distinct smoky-sweet flavor I loved but couldn’t quite place. (A touch of bourbon, perhaps?) The sauce complements the pork nicely, and because I’m a 7-year-old boy at heart, it’s also good on the fries, the onion rings, the awesome fried dill pickle chips — and whatever else is handy to dip. Ditto for the tartar sauce. (Not that I eat that on my barbecue.)

The tartar sauce was actually served up with the crab cake sandwich during our last visit. Good crab cake sandwiches are everywhere in our area, and although yummy, they’re not terribly distinctive. What sold us on this sandwich was the added fried green tomato. The sandwich didn’t disappoint — it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, and it’s because of the fried green tomato, which was a wonderful substitute for the lemon. I did add a little of the tartar sauce, but not much — the sandwich didn’t need it. The broiled cake itself was nearly all crab, little filler, and not dry at all. The sandwich was a terrific $10 deal.

Traveler’s Advisory: The gumbo is rumored to be fantastic. I cannot confirm this, however.

Where: 3948 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959

Phone: 252.441.1141

Wood Chicks: A pit stop in Chesapeake

A couple of years ago while vacationing down at the Outer Banks, my husband and I ended up stuck in Chesapeake, Va., for an entire day.Wood Chicks BBQ in Chesapeake, Virginia We would say the day was a waste, but we stumbled on Wood Chicks BBQ and are mighty glad we did.

I’m not one for breezy, breathy descriptions of food, so I’ll just say that Wood Chicks served us some of the best pork barbecue I’ve ever had and ever will have.  Lee Ann Whippen — who is featured on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters — cooks up a meat that is juicy, tender, flavorful, and although the sauces are delightful, you don’t need them because the pork is so well-seasoned with the signature dry rub, which you can buy here.

My favorite on the menu: the pulled-pork sandwich and fries.

Where: 1025 N. Battlefield Blvd
Chesapeake, VA 23320

Phone: 757.549.9290