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A Mother’s Day Tea Party

Posted by / Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Instead of fighting the bustle of a restaurant’s packed-dining room where screaming to hear each other over the next table’s conversation is necessary, celebrate with your mom in a relaxing, elegant and more intimate setting this year. Tea rooms are the perfect place.

While you taste delicate, flavorful teas, enjoy artfully-crafted tea sandwiches, scones with jams, fresh fruit and other pastries that are paired perfectly to your beverage selection.

Here are some NoVA tea rooms with great Mother’s Day deals, each with a flair of its own:

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The Columbia Pike Resurgence Continues: Taqueria Poblano Planning On Next Week Opening

Posted by / Thursday, April 26th, 2012

It’ s all because of Metro. When WMATA decided to place stops in North Arlington it created a fertile area for residential and commercial real estate. And what happened to South Arlington? Almost nothing. 

Until now.

With efforts to bring street cars to Columbia Pike, restaurants are now setting up in South Arlington. The progress so far includes William Jeffrey’s, a spot for both refined fare (shrimp tapa) and lusty indulgences (burger with fried egg and pimento cheese), which we reviewed for April’s magazine. 

 And now Del Ray favorite Taqueria Poblano is hoping to open next week, says

Photo:  Kate Bohler

[tips for the food desk / follow @gansie]


Neighborhood Restaurant Group Exploring Rotating Pop-Up in Del Ray

Posted by / Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

In the fall of 2009, Mike Isabella was still wise-cracking his way through season 6 of “Top Chef.” He still cooked under the José Andrés empire. And he still hadn’t exploited the pop-up concept to promote his countless—one, two, three, four (?), five (?), twenty-five (?)—new restaurants in Washington, D.C. Pop-ups are the new cupcake: once a trend, now a staple. 

But in this region, pop-ups were still underground three years ago. So underground, that when Michael Babin, owner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Vermilion, Evening Star Cafe, Rustico) used the patio adjacent to Planet Wine for Red Apron Butchery charcuterie, salami and paninis, he didn’t even know how to categorize the Canteen. “I’m not sure we knew that we were supposed to call it a pop-up back then,” says Babin of his short-lived patio party.

The weekend-only pop-up lasted for a month and a half, which was just as soon as the landlord caught on.  When he started demanding rent for the unoccupied space, Babin closed it down, “If we’re paying the rent he wants, then we’d only be doing this to benefit him, so we stopped.”

But now that Babin bought the property six months ago, he’s thinking about resurrecting the concept with month-long pop-ups staring NRG chefs. Babin’s vision would include building a utility kitchen in a small building in the back of the patio, filling the 50-by 40-feet space to the right of Planet Wine with picnic tables and topping it with a retractable awning.    

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‘Tis the Season: Farmers Markets

Posted by / Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Farmers Market season is just around the corner and I am stoked.

Last week, while dining with a few friends, we debated about how crazy and demanding we Americans can be: we always want what we want, when we want it. We complain that tomatoes are flavorless when we choose to eat them during off-season or instead decide it’s worth exponentially increasing our carbon footprints by relying on the global market to produce these cravings by flying produce across the country. 

We often don’t opt for a more seasonal solution. I’m definitely guilty.

‘Tis the start of a new season.

This realization is why I will buy more and enjoy local food this summer with a huge grin on my face. Here is a list of a just a few (we’ll pull together a full list for July’s print issue) of NoVA’s most popular farmers markets where you can soon find deliciously grown and cared-for produce, taking part in the local food movement within your community.

Arlington Farmers Market (Summer Season Begins: end of April)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the Arlington County Courthouse Parking Lot, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.

Falls Church Farmers Market (Summer Season Begin: end of April)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the City Hall Parking Lot, 300 Park Avenue, Falls Church.

Old Town Farmers Market  (Summer Season Begins: end of April)
Saturdays from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Market Square, 301 King St., Alexandria.

Vienna Farmers Market (Summer Season Begin: May 5)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon on Church St. between Mill and Dominion Streets NE, Vienna.

Reston Farmers Market (Summer Season Begin: May 5)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at Lake Anne Village Center, Reston.

Photo: Sally Traynham

[tips for the food desk]


Food for Thanks: Administrative Professionals Day

Posted by / Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Food is clearly the best thank you.

With the 60th anniversary of Administrative Professionals Day tomorrow, show some appreciation for the hardworking admins and take advantage of these deals.

Here are some NoVA admin-honoring grub steals:

Cassatt’s Cafe, Arlington
Honor administrative professionals and Cassatt’s will honor 10% off your lunch tab. (Wednesday only)

Hooked, Sterling
Treat admins to lunch and Hooked will give them a $20 gift card for dinner. (all week)

Melting Pot, Fredericksburg
Pick two (double fondue!) for $11.95 per person to celebrate Administration Day. (Wednesday-Friday)

Red Hot & Blue, Multiple NoVA locations
For food for the whole office, get 10% off all take-out order of $100 or more with this coupon. (Wednesday only)

Photo: Vadim Georgiev/Shutterstock

[tips for the food desk]


We Got It For Free, But Should You Pay: Navitas Naturals Blueberry Hemp Superfood Power Snack

Posted by / Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

An occasional series where NoVA Mag staffers taste test samples floating around the Food Desk and let you know whether they’d buy it after a complimentary bite.

@bekahlowe (bekah/new media specialist)
It tastes like the ground. And it kind of looks like you’re eating compacted trash. 

@lnorusis (lynn/managing editor)
Don’t smell it. It doesn’t really have that much flavor and the texture is not fantastic, but if it’s that good for you, I’d snack on one once a day.

@sallyltee (sally/food desk)
It doesn’t taste like anything and it’s just a weird texture.

@letstakesomee (elisa/art director)
It kind of reminds me of the inside of a fig newton. I like that it’s kind of nutty.

Post jump: more comments, plus the final verdict

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Curry Mantra Team Hunts Arlington Real Estate for New Concept

Posted by / Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Only a couple weeks ago Asad Sheikh completed a two-month expansion of his Fairfax restaurant Curry Mantra. Expanding from 65 to 125 seats, however, is not the only idea Sheikh has for this year.

Sheikh is looking for spaces in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and hopes to open two new storefronts with the same concept: Curry Mantra Express.  “I don’t think there is a good version of Indian carryout,” says Sheikh of his decision to move to a more casual menu for the lunch crowd in Arlington. Curry Mantra Express will offer about 20 menu items, including a lunch box special: rice, bread and two curries (one vegetarian, one non-vegetarian) for $9.45.

The original Curry Mantra earned a spot on Northern Virginia Magazine’s 2011 Best Restaurant list and is known for its geographically diverse dishes, highlighting cuisine throughout the subcontinent. 

Sheikh expects to open both carry-out locations by the end of 2012. 

Photo: Jonathan Timmes


Palates Behind the Plate: Tobias Padovano of Evo Bistro

Posted by / Monday, April 23rd, 2012


A series dedicated to the palates behind NVM’s 2011 Fifty Best Restaurants. We know what they serve, but what do they eat?

Restaurant: Evo Bistro
2011 Rank: #46
Executive Chef: Tobias Padovano

NoVA’s best dish:
A dish that I really enjoy when I go out to eat is sushi.  My daughter and I go out to for sushi once a week.  We go to different places but one that we really like is Ariake Restaurant in Reston.  I’m a huge fan of the dragon roll, it’s fantastic.

Never would I ever eat:
I try everything but I have to say I’m not a fan of okra- it’s just not for my palate.

After work grub:
Onething I love to snack on is our soft shell crabs that we get in.  You don’t get them very often in the year so when we get them I snack on those.

At home cooking:
If I’m not working I like to spend time with my kid and cook with her.  Last week we cooked fettuccine with mushroom and a garlic cream sauce. 

Burger, burrito or bánh mì:
I haven’t had a banh mi, so I would go for that.

Photo courtesy of Beth Walkos

[tips for the food desk / follow @JoeyHndz]


Where’s the Buffalo: My First Time With BonChon

Posted by / Friday, April 20th, 2012

“It’s like rock candy,” Jolleen finally blurted out. She’d been struggling to explain exactly what makes BonChon such a winner. Why it’s so much different than other chicken wings. Why we should happily wait almost 45 minutes for one order. She smiled and tossed her long hair behind her shoulder and laughed. We sat at the bar and waited. 

Jolleen, Lorin and I passed the time gawking at other customers’ orders, discussing whether or not we should have ordered French fries and how exactly I can stimulate hair growth. I’m getting married this year and girl needs some long bridal locks.Our stomachs were fairly satisfied though from our first dinner: large bowls of soup from Lighthouse Tofu, dense with clouds of tofu and meaty mushrooms.   

The wings arrived, a mix of hot and soy garlic, wings and drumsticks. A a little bowl of pickled, cubed radishes, crunchy, a little sweet, a little salty and perfectly necessary between bites of a hot, hot wing. 

My teeth snapped through the thick crust before tearing through the soft meat. I liked the idea of my wings battered like an onion ring. Plus, it made for a not particularly saucy or messy affair, as wing eating normally promises. I stopped after two wings though. Something was missing.

BonChon is a novelty. It builds expectations with delayed gratification. It fulfills its promise as a different kind of wing. It’s good. It’s really good.

But I’d still rather leave with my face painted in Buffalo sauce. 

Photo: Stefanie Gans


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