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Vegetables go prime time Mondays at 2941 Restaurant

Posted by / Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

2941 Restaurant Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel

Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel (courtesy 2941 Restaurant)

Vegetables are about to get significantly more airtime at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church. Chef Bertrand Chemel launches his “Meatless Monday” eight-course vegetarian tasting menu Oct. 5, just in time for fall’s bounty.

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New chef, new menus at Evening Star Cafe

Posted by / Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Executive Chef Keith Cabot

New Evening Star Cafe executive chef Keith Cabot (courtesy Neighborhood Restaurant Group)

Evening Star Cafe’s new chef is readying to debut fresh menus on Oct. 3. Keith Cabot was appointed to the executive chef position in September, bringing with him a resume that includes Suna, Table, Menu MBK, Denson Liquor Bar and Sotto across the river in Washington, D.C.

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On the Upswing

Posted by / Friday, September 25th, 2015

After a slew of restaurant closures in Shirlington, here’s what owners say about leaving and what new restaurants have planned.

By Emily Cook

Photo courtesy of Dak Chicken

Photo courtesy of Dak Chicken

Shirlington’s Korean void—left by Bonsai Grill’s closure this May—is now filled by DAK Chicken. Drawn to Shirlington Village’s many events and festivals, owner Joohyun Gil wanted to open his first restaurant here, serving chef Jae Kim’s (formerly of Annandale’s Palace Restaurant) twice-fried chicken wings and strips with soy garlic, spicy soy garlic and honey glazed sauces, plus other Korean-fusion items like seafood pancakes, bulgogi over rice and soju cocktails—and, of course, K-pop music videos. / 4040 Campbell Ave., Arlington

Bungalow Sports Grill CLOSED JUNE 2015
“Ultimately we looked at the current location versus other opportunities, and we compared that to what Federal [Realty] wanted for the space, and we just concluded that, with the amount of work that space needed and the amount of competition and the location and the lack of parking, there were better investments. [Our new restaurant] Chop’s: A Craft House should be open this month in Fairfax, and then we’re also working on a potential location in Tysons Corner.” –Win Froelich, owner

Extra Virgin CLOSED MARCH 2013
“I live in Florida half the time, and it’s really hard to run a restaurant as an absentee owner. If I did [open a new restaurant], it would have to be on a smaller scale, and I would have partners that were there.” –Shary Thur, owner


Photo courtesy of Hula Girl Bar and Grill

Photo courtesy of Hula Girl Bar and Grill

Hula Girl Bar & Grill EXPECTED OCTOBER
After five years spent operating a food truck, Oahu native Mikala Brennan will bring her Hawaiian dishes to the former Aladdin’s Eatery space, which closed October 2014.

For the interior, think throwback to the ’60s. “My mom was a Pan-American stewardess, and that’s how she ended up in Hawaii,” says Brennan. “A lot of what I did with the truck and now with the restaurant is based on that time frame in Hawaii when it had just become a state.”

Dishes include poke (a raw fish salad), huli-huli (a rotisserie chicken; the translation means turn-turn) and loco moco (two hamburger patties, two scoops of rice and two fried eggs smothered in gravy and topped with macaroni salad). Desserts include malasadas (housemade Portuguese-inspired donuts) and toasted coconut ice cream dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in macadamia nuts. Mai tais will get an upgrade with housemade macadamia nut syrup. For the opening celebration later this month, expect live music and fire dancers. / 4044 Campbell Ave., Arlington

“We’re working on our Cake in a Jar concept. We’re really positioning to move away from the retail brick-and-mortar stores entirely and toward wholesale. We’ll let other people focus on the retail.” –Warren Brown, owner

The Curious Grape CLOSED MARCH 2015
“The Grape was just a 24/7 kind of a thing as you can imagine. I wound up spending more time managing the restaurant and not enough time doing the wine education. I’d like to teach classes at a winery so that I can get students into the vineyards, into the winery room and actually be able to have people see right on site what we’re talking about.” –Suzanne McGrath, owner

rendering courtesy of Palette 22

Rendering courtesy of Palette 22

“Palette 22 is [the] next generation of our concept called Cafe Tu Tu Tango [based in Orlando],” says David Clapp. Clapp, of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (Virtue Feed & Grain, The Majestic Cafe and Lena’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tap, expected to open this month) creates a space for artists to paint and sculpt during restaurant hours, and every piece is for sale. “We’ve had some great success with artists that have started out with us [and] gone on to national prominence, so it’s kind of cool,” Clapp says.
In the space formerly occupied by Extra Virgin, which has been vacant since March 2013, a seasonally driven menu of international small plates will feature jerk marinated alligator tail with mango and scotch bonnet salsa, harissa-seasoned Colorado lamb and roasted pork belly with a Korean barbecue glaze. / 4053 Campbell Ave., Arlington


IN                                                       OUT                                   OUT

DAK Chicken                                                         Aladdin’s Eatery
Hula Girl Bar & Grill                                                Bonsai Grill
Metropole Brewing Comapany*                                Bungalow Sports Grill
Osteria da Nino Cucina Italiana & Bar                      Cakelove
Palette 22                                                              The Curious Grape
                                                                             Extra Virgin
                                                                             Johnny Rockets



Spice up breakfast: Thai by Thai opens in Merrifield on Oct. 1

Posted by / Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Thai by Thai's Pad Thai

Thai by Thai’s Pad Thai. / Photo courtesy of Thai by Thai.

The chainlet of Thai by Thai restaurants in Northern Virginia gets another location Oct. 1 (2676-A Avenir Place, Vienna) when the doors swing open in Merrifield. It will be the first to offer breakfast, giving diners a window into what chef and co-owner Eed Banchanurat Landon may have eaten in the morning growing up in Bangkok. Dishes will include a hearty rice porridge, coconut pudding, soft bread with Thai custard, roti pancakes and beignet-style doughnuts—all accompanied by hot or iced Thai coffee and tea. It’s a smart move, given the restaurant’s proximity to morning commuters headed to the Dunn Loring Metro Station.

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VA Made: Greenheart Organic

Posted by / Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Photo courtesy of Greenheart Organic

Photo courtesy of Greenheart Organic

GIST:  Organic cold-pressed juices, handmade nut milks and gluten-free granola

WHO:  Potomac Falls native Alicia Swanstrom, 28

STARTED:  After Swanstrom’s fiancé was killed in action in Afghanistan, she quit her public accounting job in pursuit of a career helping others, earning a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University with plans of becoming a war reporter.

INSPIRATION:  While at Northwestern, Swanstrom also enrolled in a health coach training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. “I just really wanted to feel good. I felt so bad emotionally that whatever I could do to feel better I tried,” says Swantsrom. She ended up creating Greenheart Organic. “I really started focusing on self-care, and juice was so accessible.”

DETAILS:  The Greenheart roster includes: cold-pressed juices ranging from the fruity Sassy Sunshine (orange, turmeric, ginger, cayenne) to green-based The Rooster (spinach, kale, cucumber, broccoli); handmade nut milks using almonds and cashews flavored with medjool dates, Ayurveda spices and cacao; and granola with gluten-free oats, macadamia nuts, cranberries and coconut chips.

NEXT:  Currently selling at local farmers markets, Swanstrom hopes for her own space “that creates a sense of community around healing and personal growth with clean foods that go along with that lifestyle.”  Emily Cook


Herndon is hopping: IPA-focused Aslin Beer Company opens

Posted by / Monday, September 21st, 2015

Aslin Beer Company Team

The Aslin Beer Company team (courtesy Aslin Beer Company)

Owners Andrew Kelley and Kai Leszkowicz have more in common than a passion for craft beer. After marrying sisters Georgia and Claudia Aslin, Kelley and Leszkowicz became brothers-in-law and teamed up with Richard Thompson, the brother of their third brother-in-law, to open a craft brewery named for the women who brought them together.

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A Ramen Path

Posted by / Friday, September 18th, 2015

From Cello to Soup Ladle: Marumen’s Paul Lee Takes the Noodle Road.

By Corbo Eng

Photo courtesy of  Rey Lopez

Photo by Rey Lopez

Paul Lee—tall, thin, with a nascent beard—is at his stock pot, where the golden-beige contents glisten at a dull simmer. 

With a quick motion of his wrist, he dips a ladle in and takes the broth—breaching and subduing layers of umami and unctuousness—and fills a bowl with creamy, milky liquid, a paitan broth known for its cloudy look. The broth washes into a dollop of shio tare, a salt seasoning. Four months have passed since opening night. The kitchen hums with routine. “I really like where we’re at now,” Lee says.

But where he is now is also a moment in time. Ramen—the national dish of Japan—has, in the past decade, become a global phenomenon. In the United States, it’s become a fixture within the trendiest food scenes.

Just this year, there’s been a slew of new openings: Kizuna in Tysons Corner, Gaijin in Arlington and Ramen Temple, a stand inside the Whole Foods Market in Fair Lakes. Last month, the New York Times No. 1-ranked ramen, Mu Ramen, ran a pop-up at Burke’s H Pho and is currently looking to open a shop in the region. Yona, a joint project from “Top Chef” local restaurateur Mike Isabella and up-and-comer chef Jonah Kim, is set to open this fall in Ballston.

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Canadian import brings bourbon and fire pits to Tysons Corner Center

Posted by / Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Earls Kitchen + Bar Old Fashioned

Earls Kitchen + Bar Old Fashioned / Photo courtesy Earls Kitchen + Bar

Earls Kitchen + Bar will soon bring swank to the plaza level of the VITA Luxury Tysons Corner Apartments (7902 Tysons One Place, McLean) in the form of globally inspired cuisine, an Old Fashioned menu and an expansive, resort-like patio. When it opens Oct. 14, the Northern Virginia outlet will be the sixth Earls Kitchen + Bar in the United States, with 59 already doing business in our neighbor to the North.

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Tarver King’s hidden talent isn’t in the kitchen

Posted by / Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Chef Tarver King drawing with charcoal.

Chef Tarver King drawing with charcoal. / Photo courtesy of Tarver King

You won’t find the executive chef of The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby buying the materials he needs to carry out his hidden talent of etching impressive charcoal drawings. That’s because—much like in his cooking, which involves a heavy dose of foraging for ingredients—Tarver King eschews the easy way out.

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Shop Around

Posted by / Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Barrel & Bushel delivers mixed meals in Tysons Corner.

Chicken Dinner: Nashville's hot chicken, paired with French toast, is the new chicken and waffles.

Photos Jonathan Timmes / Chicken Dinner: Nashville’s hot chicken, paired with French toast, is the new chicken and waffles.


Is everything great?” the server asks. She smiles wide wearing L.U.V., a matte purple Kat Von D lipstick. I know this detail because when I complimented the shade earlier in the evening, she pulled the studded black tube out of her pocket.

I smiled back at her instead of answering her question. It’s a smile I’ve practiced as a restaurant critic; everyone has one.

The food that night wasn’t good.

That wasn’t the case on other visits to Barrel & Bushel, a new restaurant in the Hyatt Regency connected to the mall in Tysons Corner. (It’s across the roof from Shake Shack.) The open-floor dining room is beautiful—and full most of the time. There’s lots of wood and windows with industrial-chic lighting and no wall between the bar area and the deck. It’s set up for a party.

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