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Holy Smoke: Pictures from Arlington’s Epic Smokehouse, To Open Monday

Posted by / Thursday, September 6th, 2012

General Manager of Epic Smokehouse, Joon Yang humbly made his first mark in the restaurant industry as a bartender years ago, where he met Wayne Halleran, now Executive Chef at Epic Smokehouse. Though Halleran was technically his boss at the time, oddly enough, Yang says “the tables kind of turned and (Yang) became (Halleran)’s manager” shortly after.

Since then these two NoVA natives decided to chase their dream of starting their own restaurant together. “There’s definitely a void when it comes to smoked foods in an upscale environment” Yang says. When we think of good old fashioned barbecue, Yang says “typically… [we] think of red and white checkered table cloths.” But Yang and Halleran dreamed of having a restaurant that would serve their smokehouse favorites in a classier environment. An environment where smoked ribs and brisket can be paired with wine, or enjoyed while sitting back on a cracked leather chair. 

Photo by Jennie Tai

“We’re trying to be an urban upscale smokehouse, serving everything from smoked ribs, pork shoulder, brisket as well as smoked prime rib and smoked salmon” Yang explains.

The brisket is paired with pancetta mac and cheese for $17, and the horseradish-crusted prime rib comes with a side of grilled leek potato mash, with sizes starting from 12 ounces and 16 ounces to a whopping 20 ounce cut. But the menu is expansive, and they’re not just smoking the usual chicken, beef and pork, a trend playing across the county in Los Angeles as well

On the dinner menu, you’ll see a few seafood options like smoked garlic ginger teriyaki shrimp with coconut jasmine rice ($18), chipotle sea bass with butter poached portabellos in a miso broth ($23), and smoked salmon with bacon sprouts ($19).

“We’re also working on a short rib recipe that comes from my own family traditions” says Yang. His Korean background shines through the slow-cooked soy glazed short ribs, which come with carrots, Asian radish, sweet potato and a side of wasabi cream sauce for $22. With a wine selection of over 60 globally-sourced bottles, Yang believes that “barbecue can be paired with wine too”. They also plan to shake up traditional cocktails with things like bacon-infused bourbon, fresh lavender and egg white foam.

Photo by Jennie Tai

However, shaking up old traditions doesn’t end there. Seating up to 84 diners inside, and 30 on the patio, Epic Smokehouse is furnised with dark brown, cracked leather-topped chairs, and velvet bronze-colored paisley that cover the walls. You would never think their menu would be packed with smoked meats when you first walk in, but the upscale vibe also has a rustic smokehouse element along the edges, where reclaimed wood from an old barn was used to cover the bar, and to create their greeting sign by the entrance.

Photo by Jennie Tai

With hopes of attracting both the barbecue fanatics and fine diners of Arlington, both Yang and Halleran are happy with their location in Pentagon City and can’t wait to start smoking. Until then, we’ll be counting down the days.

Epic Smokehouse is set to open 11 a.m. on Monday, September 10th in Pentagon City.

1330 S Fern St, Arlington; 571-283-4582.


New Kid From the Bronx: NY-Style Pizza in Clarendon

Posted by / Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Photo by Jennie Tai

After a few weeks of anticipation, Bronx Pizza & Subs is now open in Clarendon, serving NY-Style pizza for $2.95 a slice, and $17.95 per pie. Open 11am to 3am every day, Bronx won’t just be serving pies and sandwiches. They’ll also be serving a few Italian favorites like calzones, pastas and fresh-cut Coney-Island style fries that co-owner, Jeff Smith says are “not the typical fries you’d see at McDonald’s.”  

Photo by Jennie Tai

Smith’s personal favorites include the Tremont Ave Chicken Carbonara (with roasted chicken breast and carbonara sauce) and the Ultimate Club which he says is overstuffed with “every piece of meat (they’ve) got in the fridge”. Other pizzas include the Whitestone Bridge (alfredo sauce, ham, broccoli, imported Parmesan and mozarella cheese), Hunt Point The Meat (their version of meat lovers) and the Grand Concourse Veggie (a veggie lover’s go-to). 

Photo by Jennie Tai


Hungry for Linkage: Organic Cred in Question; Drink Like a President; Early Word on TNT

Posted by / Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Photo by Stefanie Gans

Organic foods may not have more health benefits. [NYT]

Peek at the restaurants in the soon-to-open Mosaic District. [WBJ]

The White House Honey Porter recipe is released! [ObFo]

How to tell a bad restaurant, without even eating there. [WCP]

Not Justin Timberlake’s meat in a box. [Express]

Chantilly resident to open restaurant in Alexandria. Bummer for Chantilly, huh? [Patch]

What folks are thinking about TNT. [Eater]

“A real, honest-to-goodness Mexican tacqueria in Fairfax! With a real Mexican crowd.” [Tyler Cowen]

100 ways to cook with coconut. [Endless Simmer]

Arlington Food Assistance Center honors September as the nation’s Hunger Action Month. [ARLnow]

Is coconut jam really that much more delicious than salty butter for morning toast? [Amateur Gourmet]


Fire Up The Grill: What To Serve At Your Labor Day Barbecue

Posted by / Friday, August 31st, 2012

Photo by Jennie Tai

Kick off the Labor Day weekend with a final summer cookout. First up, relax with a glass of white wine & peach sangria, and shake up your usual potato salad by tossing in some bacon and garlic aioli. Fire up the grill for some buttery Mexican cornsticky lime-grilled chicken wings and smoky steak skewers with scallion dipping sauce. For dessert try these tangy pink lemonade bars or cool off with an oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich.

Don’t feel like cooking? Order up a pre-made meal from restaurants that will cook it for you instead. Society Fair is offering two BBQ packages including the American Backyard with baby back ribs, smoked Berkshire pork shoulder, North Carolina chili vinegar BBQ sauce, organic potato salad, Alabama summer slaw, honey cornbread and peach cobbler for $100; and the Summer BBQ Bash with everything included in the American Backyard, plus spicy cajun sausage, bacon baked beans, and a lemon iced box cake for $175. Add a wine pack of four for only $40. With 48 hours notice, order your pack by calling 703-683-3247. For seafood platters or a bushel of steamed blue crabs, call Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn. Pick your favorites from their New England style seafood menu that includes Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder by the quart, steamed shrimp, Alaskan snow crabs, Maryland blue crabs, lobster claws, grilled corn and some of their delicious cornbread muffins.


Beat the Heat: Blackberry Gin Syllabub

Posted by / Thursday, August 30th, 2012

NVM Note: Even though August is essentially over, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of hot weather. Local food writer Francoise Villeneuve sent in a recipe just right for the culmination of the end-of-summer, and the end-of-berry season.

Photo by Francoise Villeneuve

I’m taking some juicy, ripe blackberries from Crystal City farmers’ market and doing what any self-respecting cook would do to stave off the heat…spiking them! Oh, and turning them into a syllabub. But that’s almost incidental. This is a Virginian twist on the syllabub, a dessert from my home country of England.

Blackberry Gin Syllabub
The syllabub is a whipped cream-based dessert from England. There’s a reason it’s been popular since the 16th century—it’s quick to prepare and you can adapt it to whatever fruit is in season. Gooseberry and elderflower is a very traditional flavor in England, but this time of year, the blackberries in Northern Virginia are so juicy and ripe, that I end up buying them in massive quantities and using them for everything from syllabubs to popsicles. The deep purple of the blackberry purée makes for a summery, girly presentation when marbled with the whipped cream in this recipe. The herbaceous notes of the gin really showcase the sweet berries. Show off the prettiest of the blackberry crop by saving them whole for the garnish.


Virginia Craft Brewers Fest Crowns Best Commonwealth Beers

Posted by / Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


Port City Beer

Courtesy of Port City

Twenty-four Virginia craft breweries participated in the inaugural Virginia Craft Brewers Fest this past weekend, competing  in 5 categories, including best all around beer. Northern Virginia-based brew houses Capitol City Brewing Company, Port City Brewing Company and Lost Rhino Brewing Company all placed, but Devils Backbone Brewing Company out of Roseland, won Best of Show. 

Here is the full list.

“Best of Show” Winner of the 2012 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup
Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Schwartz Bier

Pale Ale Category:
Gold: Port City Brewing Company – Monumental IPA
Silver: Starr Hill Brewery -Double Platinum
Bronze: Mad Fox Brewing Company – English Summer Ale

Dark Category:
Gold: Capitol City Brewing Company – Oatmeal Stout
Silver: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Gingerbread Stout
Bronze: Port City Brewing Company – Porter

Belgian Category:
Gold: Wild Wolf Brewing Company – Blonde Hunny
Silver: Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Azrael
Bronze: Port City Brewing Company – Optimal Wit

Lager Category:
Gold: Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Schwartz Bier
Silver: Lost Rhino Brewing Company – Rhinofest
Bronze: Starr Hill Brewery – Festie

Specialty Category:
Gold: The River Company Restaurant & Brewery – Farmhouse Heffeweizen
Silver: Lost Rhino Brewing Company – Rye Wit
Bronze: Wild Wolf Brewing Company – Ginger Lager


The Bread Basket Lives: How Do You Like Your Buns?

Posted by / Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Photo by Stefanie Gans

Yes. The answer is always yes. Do I want a bread basket? Of course I do. Do I want butter? Softened? Obviously.

 A server at Vermilion asked me and my fiancé, “Would it be okay if I brought you some bread?”

She was sweet and sincere and I appreciated the question. We said yes. Obviously. But I thought it was an interesting ask. Usually we’re not asked, just given. 

It is a rare occasion that I finish my bread basket. There are usually four or five buns or slices and I try to save my stomach for the actual meal. I feel bad wasting all of that uneaten bread, which is why I like the approach of butlered bread service. 

Patowmack Farm passes out a roll to start and then another one later in the meal. I like the pacing, the lack of waste, the personalized service. 

How do you prefer your bread basket?


Hungry for Linkage: Earl’s Sandwiches Expands; Drink at TNT; Drink Like Obama

Posted by / Monday, August 27th, 2012

Earl’s Sandwiches—know for its 2012 Cheap Eats award winning Turkey and Sweet Potato Fries Sandwich—will open a second location in Ballston. []

It’s almost time for RGIII. Start practicing your football snacks: baked queso dip. [Macheesmo]

You are the cheese to my macaroni….You are the bacon to my eggs…You are the jelly to my peanut butter. [Mostly Cabbages]

The deplorable act of ketchup on hot dogs. (See video above.) [Chow]

Former NVM intern Maddy started her semester in Spain. Watch her eat a Spanish omelette with tomato-rubbed bread. [Broads Abroad]

Sparkling peach sangria. [Table for Two]

TNT. Where to drink now. [WCP]

The new potluck staple: Mexican noodle casserole. [Saveur]

In awesome name news: House of Steep, a tea joint, enters Arlington. [Patch]

Wanna brew beer like Obama? []

Good Stuff Eatery presents: James Carville v. Mary Matalin burgers. [Eater]



Queen Bee Approved: Macarons Storm NoVA

Posted by / Friday, August 24th, 2012

Photo by Jennie Tai

Gossip Girl‘s” Queen Bee of the Upper East Side, Blair Waldorf received a box of these dainty pastries from her star-crossed lover, Chuck Bass in the second season—and girls across the country have been smitten ever since.

French macarons (not to be confused with the American macaroon) are two delicate waffer-like cookies that have a thin crust, but a chewy interior. Sandwiched between the two shells is a sweet filling (normally ganache, cream or jam). Macarons serve as a cleaner (and more lady-like) alternative to stuffing your face with a massive cupcake and skidding your cheeks with rogue dollops of frosting.

They’re a challenging dessert for even the most seasoned pastry chef to perfect, and have made their way across the Atlantic from Paris to New York City, sweeping the nation in just a few years. After popping up in major cities like San Francisco, Chicago and even New Orleans – it’s about time they made their appearance in NoVA’s patisseries.

At Silva’s Patisserie in Vienna, you’ll find flavors like pistachio, chocolate, and passion fruit for $1.89 each; and at the Pastry Xspo in Merrifield, you’ll find a dozen of basic flavors that are a tad bit smaller, priced at $1.50 each. A former pastry chef of Ladurée (the home of French macarons in Paris), Michel Giaon (now residing in NoVA) bakes exotic flavored macarons (pictured left) like pandan leaf, cassis, and lychee for pick up orders (at ACKC and The Wine Cabinet) and delivery for Michel Patisserie.


Just Add Bacon: 5 Places With Amazing Bacon Desserts

Posted by / Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Photo by Jennie Tai

Is America on bacon overload? Yea, probably. Here’s five more places to get your bacon fix – for dessert. 

Maple Bacon Doughnut
Where to get it: Home Farm Store
If you didn’t think doughnuts could get any better – just add bacon. While I was taking a few photos along the streets of Middleburg, my boyfriend came running out of the Home Farm Store in a frenzy with what he’d discovered – ribbons of fried bacon piled on top of a maple glazed donut. 
1 E Washington St, Middleburg; 540-687-8882.

Apple Bacon Cupcake
Where to get it: Fluffy Thoughts Cakes
At Fluffy Thoughts Cakes, you’ll find a “bacon-cooked apple cake, with a maple cream cheese frosting topped with bacon crumbles” for $3 each.
1320 Old Chain Bridge Rd, McLean; 703-942-5538.

Bacon Ice Cream Root Beer Float
Where to get it: Brookeville Restaurant 
That’s right. A cup of cold root beer, topped with scoops of bacon ice cream. 
225 W Main St, Charlottesville; 434-202-2791.

Bacon Waffle Sundae 
Where to find it: Chef Geoff’s Tysons
In their “Bacon Bar” menu, you’ll notice many other bacon-inspired dishes like  Bacon Spring Rolls and Asian Pork Tacos. For dessert, you’ll find their Bacon Waffle Sundae – a bacon waffle topped with hot fudge and chocolate ice cream for $8.95.
8045 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; 571-282-6003.

Caramel Bacon Popcorn
Where to find it: American Tap Room 
Split a bowl of sweet Caramel Bacon Popcorn for $6, or enjoy some warm Bavarian Pretzels with Peanut Butter Bourbon Bacon dipping sauce for $8.
 3101 Wilson Blvd, Arlington; 703-312-9080.


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