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From City Bartender to Country Farmer, Gary Hall Opens Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe

Posted by / Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Photo by Stefanie Gans

Photo by Stefanie Gans

By Susannah Black

For the last eight years, Gary Hall worked at various establishments in various positions: bartending and cooking at Local 16 in D.C., bartending at Rocket Bar in Chinatown, and bartending and managing at Chi-Cha Lounge on U Street. While Hall’s work history gave him experience within the industry, he says he eventually became “interested in growing ingredients locally.”

Last year, Hall’s desire in “providing fresh, healthy, seasonal food in an accessible way” inspired him to temporarily move from D.C. to Loudoun County in order to open Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Café. “I decided to give it a shot,” says Hall. 

Opened last month in Aldie, Brassicas is both a restaurant, market and farm. The locally sourced ingredients on the menu are as close by as the restaurant’s backyard, where a large garden provides much of the menu’s produce and the chickens living on the land provide the eggs. Other products are sourced from Quarter Branch Farm, with cheeses from Oak Spring Farm and George’s Mill Farm and smoked bacon from Spring House Farm, all in Lovettsville

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Hungry For Linkage: Oyster Season + Apple and Honey Pairings + President Obama’s Coffee

Posted by / Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

NoVA Wine Fest

39th Annual Virginia Wine Festival / Photo by Nicole Bayne

By Nicole Bayne

Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks are back, duh. But getting your hands on the coveted pumpkin spice syrup is more difficult, and more expensive, than you might think. [GrubStreet]

Learn the proper techniques of oyster shucking while it’s still in season. [Forbes]

Broken down by region, find the Virginia wineries known for views, tastings, food and fun. [WaPo]

The origin of where President Barack Obama gets his coffee has become so secretive that the difficulty is making headlines. [BostonGlobe]

Apple and honey pairings for the Jewish New Year. [WaPo]




After a Year of Renovations, Leesburg Restaurant Turns into Leesburg Diner; Expect Milkshakes, Peanut Soup and Peacock Omelets

Posted by / Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Photo by Susannah Black

Leesburg Restaurant-turned-Leesburg Diner / Photo by Susannah Black

 By Susannah Black

Late last summer, a downtown, comfort-food-serving restaurant closed its doors. The Leesburg Restaurant operated for about a decade until owner Michael O’Connor decided to renovate. A little more than a year since its temporary shutter, the restaurant will reopen next month with the new name: Leesburg Diner.

“We are in the final evaluation with the county,” says O’Connor, who says the name change “felt appropriate … it is a diner.”

For about five months after O’Connor closed Leesburg Restaurant, he served its combination breakfast-lunch menu out of Palio of Leesburg, his Italian restaurant around the corner.  “I didn’t want to see Leesburg Restaurant’s employees cut loose,” says O’Connor, who will now rehire several of his previous employees for the diner.

Included in the renovations are a revamp of the kitchen and the addition of a new ice cream machine, keeping O’Connor’s promise that “we will always have the best milkshakes in Virginia.”  

The menu will be similar to that of Leesburg Restaurant—including the famed peanut soup—and O’Connor is thinking about featuring an Irish-themed breakfast on Sunday mornings. O’Connor is especially excited to feature the occasional peacock egg omelet on the menu, courtesy of the 20-plus peacocks he raises on his Mt. Gilead farm, Stoney Lonesome. Patrons can expect this omelet, which O’Connor describes as rich and gamey, about twice a year when the peacocks lay eggs. Unlike most greasy spoons, O’Connor will source some products locally: all beef will come from his farm and Great Country FarmsQuarter Branch and Fields of Athenry will provide some produce.

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September’s By the Numbers

Posted by / Tuesday, September 16th, 2014


Tres Hermanas restaurant in Alexandria

Photo courtesy of Mike Anderson.

The amount of money Mike Anderson spends on 300 tropical plants, including palm trees and banana trees, for Tres Hermanas, the restaurant that replaced Mango Mike’s in July.

Costs also include shipping (renting a tractor trailer from Florida), supplies (full-size backhoe, mulch, white sand) and labor (Anderson, plus a team of five). Catch the 14th annual display of the tropics in Alexandria until December, when the frost destroys the flora. —Stefanie Gans

(September 2014)


Hungry for Linkage: Hell-Burger is Back + Oktoberfest at Trummers + Industry Night at BRABO

Posted by / Monday, September 15th, 2014

Photograph by James Kim

Hell-Burger / Photograph by James Kim

By Stefanie Gans

Hey hey DJ McClure. BRABO Tasting Room launches industry night beginning at 10 p.m. with food specials ($5 tarts; $10 pots of mussels; $5 housemade punches; $5 glasses of house wine; $3 Virginia canned beer) and old-school house music, spun by BRABO’S Chef Harper McClure.

Oktoberfest starts at Trummer’s on Main today. Menu items include spätzle, schnitzel and housemade sausages. 

Olive Garden recieves a lashing from a hedge fund that holds stock in the company. Complaints include serving too many bread sticks and not salting the pasta water. [Quartz]

Hell-Burger is back. [Eater]

Taco Bamba celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month with Mexican specials, including gorditas stuffed with tamarind braised beef and topped with pickled watermelon rind and Fresno chilis ($7.50).


Pizzarella’s opens in Leesburg‘s Exeter neighborhood. [Leesburg Today]


Move Over Wings: Try These 7 Bar Food Snacks During Football Season

Posted by / Friday, September 12th, 2014

Bacon Shrimp

Bacon-wrapped shrimp from Rhodeside Grill / Photo courtesy of Paul Taylor

By Nicole Bayne

NFLseason is more than just football. It’s also more than just wings. Try these alternative fun, mostly fried,  snacks at NoVA bars. And, yes, all places listed here carry the essential NFL Sunday Ticket.

Dingle Dots
From: O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub
More than dots, these breaded and deep-fried balls contain corned beef, cabbage and potato, dressed up with O’Sullivan’s spicy honey mustard. “You can always get wings at bars, but these are hard to find,” says bartender Enda Browne.
NFL-dedicated TVs:  7
NFL Specials: Buckets of Bud Light, $5 Guinness pints, and an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sundays. / 754 Elden St., Herndon

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
From: Rhodeside Grill 
These aren’t your average shrimp. “In the middle is a julienne-cut jalapeno pepper glazed in housemade sauce so you get sweet, spicy and savory notes that pair well with drinking beer and watching the game,” says manager Paul Taylor.
NFL-dedicated TVs: 38
NFL Specials: The weekly specials depend on which teams play on Thursday. For example, “when the New York Giants play the Washington Redskins we will have a Coney Island pretzel dog versus half smoke with mambo chutney,” says Taylor. / 1863 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

District Pork Shanks Wild Wings
From: Clyde’s at Mark Center 
From the lower part of the pig comes deep fried “extra meaty” goodness, says executive chef Robert McGowan. “Our mumbo sauce gives it a spicy-sweet flavor.”
NFL-dedicated TVs: 8
NFL Specials: Wings, burgers, bratwursts and knockwursts for $7 and $2.50 PBRs. / 700 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria

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Hungry For Linkage: Apple Cider, Apple Tasting, Apple Ranking + History of Whiskey + 39th Annual Virginia Wine Festival

Posted by / Friday, September 12th, 2014

Naughty Girls Donut Shop's Sunny Delight.

Photo courtesy of Naughty Girls Donut Shop

By Susannah Black

Beginning this weekend, Great Country Farms of Loudoun County hosts the Annual Cider Festival: pick apples, taste freshly pressed cider and experience an apple wine tasting, courtesy of Corcoran Winery. [Visit Loudoun]

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company hosts the Spirited History: A Tasting of History and Whiskey at Aldie Mill event this Saturday, featuring five whiskeys, a five course tasting menu prepared by Great Blue Heron Catering, along with commentary by local historian Rich Gillespie. [Catoctin Creek]

From Pink Lady to Red Delicious… Apples, Ranked. [Domesticity]

The 39th Annual Virginia Wine Festival is in The Plains this weekend where there will be over 30 participating wineries and live music performances. [Virginia Wine Fest]

Jewish Food Experience is hosting Apple & Honey tastings in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. The next one is at the Vienna Whole Foods on Sunday. [Jewish Food Experience]

After opening in June, mother-daughter run Naughty Girls Donut Shop of Front Royal faces harsh criticism when “members of the community” claim the shop’s name and “the business promotes promiscuous behavior.” [NVDaily, Demeria]


Technically, It’s Still Summer: 7 Session Beers To Cool You Down Without Lighting You Up

Posted by / Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Session Brews

BadWolf Responsibly / Photo courtesy of Claire Ainsworth of Bad Wold Brewing Company.

By Nicole Bayne 

The juxtaposition of hot weather and football season makes a lighter, low alcohol beer the solution to long days of imbibing in the sultriness of September. While higher ABVs will keep you warm as the temperature drops, session beers let the sipping continue for longer. Old Bust Head Brewery specializes in session beers, or what the industry describes as beer with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of under 5 percent.

“Good beer is about balancing many good flavors and enjoying these flavors with alcohol [being] one small component,” says Charles King, brewmaster, managing partner and part owner of Old Bust Head. Ease your transition into fall with these low alcohol brews. 

Here are seven session beers brewed in Northern Virginia. 

BadWolf Brewing Company Responsibly, 3.8% 
Manager Claire Ainsworth says this “lightly hopped saison” will help you stay refreshed for the remaining hot summer days. / 9776 Center St., Manassas

Blue & Gray Brewing Company Kirkland’s Kolsch, 5%
“Smooth like a lager, fruity like an ale,” says owner Jeffery Fitzpatrick. This authentic German summer beer is fermented at 58 degrees and only available until the end of September. / 3300 Dill Smith Drive, Fredericksburg

Capitol City Brewing Company The Solid Session IPA, 4.4%
“Flaked oats gives it a creamier feel,” says manager Claudia Gutierrez. This IPA is certainly mild, but you can still find the hops.  / 4001 Campbell Ave., Arlington

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Cravings: The Schnitzel Sandwich at Deutschland Downtown

Posted by / Wednesday, September 10th, 2014



The Schnitzel Sandwich from Deutschland Downtown / Photo by Nicole Bayne

By Nicole Bayne

Dish: The Schnitzel Sandwich

Where: Deutschland Downtown, 411 William St., Fredericksburg

Taste: Schnitzel is a large slab of boneless meat thinned with a meat tenderizer before being breaded and fried. At Deutschland Downtown, the meat is pork and during lunch the schnitzel is a sandwich. The pork is juicy, but not at all greasy even though it’s been fried, with the sweet and spicy red curry ketchup giving it a kick. Served on a sourdough-like dinner roll called brotchen, it holds the pork, lettuce and tomato in place. Sides include red-potato salad with pickles and vinegar and potato chips, the only item listed here not made in-house. Pair with a draft of Warsteiner Pilsner and order a side of the sauerkraut, made with apples and white wine.

MORE | Cravings


Hungry for Linkage: VA Chefs Descend on Famed James Beard House + The Return of Restaurant Eve’s Birthday Cake + Foraging Backlash

Posted by / Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Chef Tim Ma, Chef Bertrand Chemel, Pastry Chef Caitlin Dysart at the James Beard House

Chef Tim Ma, Chef Bertrand Chemel, Pastry Chef Caitlin Dysart at the James Beard House / Photo Courtesy of  Kyle Schmitz/KONNECTED Media

By Nicole Bayne

Northern Virginia chefs from 2941, Ashby Inn, FABLE Hospitality, Maple Ave Restaurant, Rappahannock Restaurant, Trummer’s on Main, and Water & Wall cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York last night

After a bombardment of outrage from guests, Meshelle Armstrong, co-owner of Restaurant Eve, restored the popular mini pink birthday cake to the restaurant’s menu and discusses what it’s like having customers become so attached to menu items. [Zagat]

Foraging backlash: “Going out into the fields to pick ingredients you either don’t need or don’t know how to use doesn’t make you a better chef.” [Gaurdian]

New chef in at Mad Fox Brewing Company, promises “epic burgers.” [Burger Days]

Food advertising in magazines and billboards was as fake as Photoshop. These days though, experts focus more on an all-natural look in a process called “making food behave”. [FastCo]


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