FOOD CHAT

Warren

Dining isn’t just a biological necessity in this area. It’s almost a sport. Luckily, the rules of the game are clearly defined: Dine. Dissect. Disseminate. Defend.

Contribute to the collective dining experience by joining us each Thursday at 11 a.m. for our Grill Warren chat, your chance to quiz food writer Warren Rojas about anything and everything to do with the ever-evolving Northern Virginia restaurant scene. We’ll cover it all—from glitzy gourmet strongholds to homey ethnic hideaways—as we explore the wealth of dining diversity our area has to offer. Who knows? Rojas may even share a few delicious morsels of restaurant gossip from time to time …

So unleash those burning questions. Share your best fine dining anecdote. Just remember to bring an open mind, plenty of good humor and an appetite for lively discussion.

Due to former food editor Warren Rojas' recent departure from Northern Virginia Magazine, the weekly food chats are currently on hold. Stay tuned for updates on future food chats!



Arlington
David & Rebecca, I've heard shark is pretty amazing. Have you ever tried/served it?

:
we have not served it here but it is a delicious meaty fish. it tends to have a strong smell when raw but this is counteracted by soaking the fillet in milk. it is a lowfat fish and if you ever want to try it, give us a day or two notice and we will order it for you. for the record, we do not recommend ordering sharkfin soup or anything else that is made just from the fin because there have been issues with unethical fishermen taking only the fin and throwing the shark back. this is both cruel and is causing depopulation.


Burke
How did you come up with the sandwiches at Mike's Deli? The Brooklyn Bridge is awesome...

:
we had the arduous task of tasting hundreds of combinations of meat, cheese, bread and condiments. it was a difficult job but all it cost was a couple inches on the waist and a whole mess of napkins! we look forward to further experimentation!


Fairfax
How long can I keep my fish in the fridge?

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usually not more than three days with perfect conditions but you should inspect it when you buy it (smell, texture) and again before you use it to make sure it has not changed.


Manassas
What's Warren like in person?

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we are still waiting to find out but we imagine him something of a cross between homer simpson and brad pitt with a dash anthony bourdain.


Falls Church
Your fish tacos are really really good.

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thank you so much! which do you prefer blackened or grilled?


Falls Church
How did you get started? Did you always love cooking? Why seafood?

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well, david started scrubbing dishes in gainesville, florida when he was 14. that began a love affair with both restaurants and florida cuisine. we are self taught cooks and business owners, both of which are ever evolving enterprises. and, the most important part...we love to eat.


Alexandria, VA
My friend told me that it's not a good idea to eat fish (or any type of seafood) on Monday since it's probably not fresh. What do you think of that?

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sunday is the day we don't get our deliveries but we have not encountered any problems with freshness or flavor by the end of sunday dinner service. we have also heard that bit of eating out wisdom but from our first hand experience we wouldn't worry about it too much.


Alexandria
Where are fried clams available in No. Va.

:
one of our regulars, jim, requested clams a couple of months ago so we brought in some full belly ipswich as a special. they were so popular we have had them regularly since then. they are available as an appetizer or a basket with french fries and cole slaw. we have them right now and will have them through the weekend!


Del Ray
Does C&D's do any party packages/take-out specials (lobster pots, complete clam bakes)?

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we do not currently have a lobster pot or clam bake menu but we do get delicious seafood 6 days a week and could always special order for you! please feel free to contact us for market pricing.


Fairfax, VA
Best steak in town is at _______.

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i toiled over this for what seems like minutes. the answer is obvious but michael didn't mention us in his chat. i figure honesty is the best policy so...it's ray's the steaks! i will be there monday at eight so get us your best table please, michael!


Fairfax, VA
What's the most popular item on your menu?

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our standard answer is that we have a cult following for our blackened grouper and our crabcakes (which is true) but fish tacos are taking over the top dog spot!


Falls Church
In your professional opinion, what's the best ice cream flavor? Any out there that are under-appreciated?

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this is rebecca and my favorite flavor peppermint, hands down. it has a really creamy consistency and is very refreshing. david is more open to new flavors and ideas and his favorite right now is honey baklava. underappreciated? traditional ice cream parlor treats like malted shakes. the kids today don't even know what they are!


Falls Church
For some reason seafood is intimidating to prepare (at least for me). Can you share a recipe even a fool couldn't mess up?

:
shrimp is very user friendly. do you have a grill? if so, let's stoke it up and get started! go buy some nice shrimp (i suggest the 21-25 size, they cook quickly and are still quite juicy) prepare a bowl of some melted butter, the juice of a couple lemons, and salt and pepper to taste. peel and skewer the shrimp and put them on the grill. while they are cooking baste them a couple times on each side with your prepared lemon butter. it shouldn't take more than about six minutes or so to cook, depending on how hot your grill is. they are done when the flesh is white and a nice pinky coral. that's it! you can also build on this recipe with any flavors that appeal to you. for example, try adding a little garlic or simply replace the lemon butter with teryaki or barbeque!


Falls Church, VA
Would you consider doing fresh, hand-cut French fries? I think they'd go so well with your awesome fried seafood offerings.

:
than you for your suggestion but we are married to our french fries. we have a very strong taste and texture memory of eating crinkle cut french fries with squeezey ketchup beachside in fort lauderdale with our grandmother many many years ago.


Fairfax
How do you two feel about the fiscally-gentrified Clarendon? I don't even recognize that place any more.

:
last time i answered this question for marc fisher in the washington post i ruffled a lot of feathers! suffice it to say we are really happy in our new home, falls church city. we have a great customer base (including a lot of old friends who make the trek from arlington) and a very supportive local government.


Vienna
Hey David and Rebecca, Got any more restaurant concepts waiting in the wings?

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i am pining away for a western themed cowboy bar serving up delicious vittles (david) and i am satisfied with mikes @lazy and the shack (rebecca)...for now! maybe the difference is that my kids are grown and have no use for me (david) and mine still need their bottoms wiped (rebecca)


Falls Church
David and Rebecca, So glad Clare & Don's landed in our area. Just curious, where do you eat around town?

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well, when we aren't eating at home or clare and don's, which isn't very often, we like to make the trek all the way to argia's (our neighbor) or to another falls church local favorite, sweet rice. we don't get out too often because of our hectic schedules but i can tell you one thing for certain we will make time to give any mom and pop (or brother/sister) restaurant a try.


alexandria, va
What goes well with grilled salmon steak? Any salad or sides that come to your mind?

:
while we don't really specialize in any cold water fishes at the restaurant we certainly eat salmon at home. one of our favorite dishes that our aunt makes is a lemony broiled salmon with dill mashed potatoes and a simple salad with a citrusy vinaigrette.


Falls Church, VA
Hi Rebecca and David, I live in Falls Church and pass by Clare & Don's almost everyday but have never been. I always wanted to sit outside on your patio on a nice day. What do you recommend that I get? What's popular?

:
you should definitely start with some spicy peel and eat shrimp and a frozen margarita. from there, for your first visit, go with the fish tacos, for a healthy option or shrimp and grits if you feel like splurging!


washington dc
how do i keep my fish from sticking to the grill?

:
first,pat the fish dry with a clean towel (or paper towel). pour a little flour onto a plate big enough to accommodate your piece of fish. pat the fish into the flour and then pick it up and shake off any excess. you can add salt, pepper or any other spices to this dredge, also. this will prevent your fish from sticking!


McLean, VA
I had my first gator tail at Clare & Don's when you guys were still in Clarendon. I'm wondering, do any local grocery stores carry gator? And, how hard is it to cook?

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we don't think you can find in your local grocery store. we bring ours in from louisiana. the key to delicious gator is to beat it into submission with some heavy handed tenderizing and then marinate the heck out of it. it is a pretty labor intensive process. we suggest you eat it here.


Falls Church
I heart Lazy Sundae!!!! Any plans for multiple locations?

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no plans for another right now but we certainly appreciate your support! we are accessible by both bicycle and car for anyone who doesn't already know, so please come by as often as possible.


washington dc
i heard you have a great vegetarian menu. do you do vegan food also?

:
yes and yes! thank you. we have a separate vegetarian menu that showcases which vegetarians items are, or can be made, vegan. our servers are very knowledgeable about our vegetarian offerings so don't be afraid to ask questions. also, we make some kickin' vegan desserts if you can give us 24 hours notice.


arlington va
i come to care and don's pretty often and used to go to the old location, too. i see the same staff all the time. how do you do it?

:
we like to think of ourselves as a family. we have great customers so that helps to keep the staff happy. we are in clare and don's and lazy sundae everyday and we stress to our staff that they are working with us, not for us. the real key for us is to lead by example!


falls church
How long have you guys been married?

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david has been married for 19 years and rebecca for 5. we are brother and sister. does that clear things up?


falls church
I saw one of your waitress' featured on NOVA mag, is she single?

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Shlomit is not single she has a live in boyfriend who is the sous chef at Bourbon Steak. Needless to say she eats well!


Falls Church, VA
I love our local mom and pop restaurants. There are so many unique restaurants in Falls Church. It's sad to see some of theses restaurants close down due to lack of business. How's the economy effecting your business?

:
because we are relatively seasonal we don't know yet how the economy will affect us. hopefully when the weather breaks we will get the good news that our customers still have us budgeted in!


Chris, Falls Church
Do you have any times that are best for families? Do you have a kid's menu?

:
we love kids and do our best to cater to the needs of families. we have a kids menu that offers some standard fair(homemade chicken fingers) and well as some healthy alternatives( fresh vegetables, grilled chicken) we always welcome families and our entire restaurant is non smoking until 9.

guess our time is up. this was really fun and hope to see you out and about. if anybody has any further questions we are always around the shack.
sign up for our email list on our website clareanddons.com to keep apprised of our upcoming events.
thanks warren!!


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