Gut Check

About  |  Writers  |  @NoVADining

Label of love: The story behind five Virginia wines

Posted by / Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Keswick Vineyards Wines

Keswick Vineyards Wines (courtesy Keswick Vineyards)

What’s in a name? Quite a lot when it comes to some Virginia wines. While most wineries take the predictable route of naming wines solely based on the grape varietal, others take the road less traveled and opt to get creative. Here are five wines that took inspiration from everything from a symphony to social media. 

Read the rest of this entry »


Six restaurant openings to be thankful for in Northern Virginia

Posted by / Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Chef Jonah Kim

Chef Jonah Kim (photo by Laura Hayes)

Four buzzed-about restaurants are headed to Northern Virginia in the coming weeks and months, and two others opened yesterday. There’s something for everyone to be thankful for in this class of newcomers, from ramen and barbecue to naan pizza and fresh pasta. Here’s what to expect at Yona, Texas Jack’s, Palette 22, Hank’s Pasta Bar, Spice-6 and Hula Girl Bar & Grill. 

Read the rest of this entry »


Junction Bakery & Bistro replaces Mancini’s Cafe + Bakery in spring 2016

Posted by / Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Nathan Hatfield  and Noe Landini

Nathan Hatfield and Noe Landini (courtesy Junction Bakery & Bistro)

It was a blow to Del Ray when Mancini’s Cafe + Bakery shuttered with the announcement of Barbara Mancini’s retirement. Mancini nurtured the community, providing its residents with decades of hot breakfasts and other meals. Taking over the 1508 Mount Vernon Ave. address is Junction Bakery & Bistro from Noe Landini and Nathan Hatfield. Landini is also behind Landini Brothers, Fish Market and Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Old Town Alexandria.

Read the rest of this entry »


Five chefs spill it on their signature Thanksgiving dish

Posted by / Monday, November 16th, 2015

Chef Tarver King

Chef Tarver King (photo by Laura Hayes)

If you’re saddled with the cooking duties this Thanksgiving, take a cue from the professionals. We asked five chefs to spill it on the dishes that have played on repeat for decades, even becoming tradition. Some were willing to share their recipes. 

Read the rest of this entry »


One Loudoun’s matchbox will have “female-friendly” menu, best bar ever

Posted by / Thursday, November 12th, 2015

matchbox One Loudoun, northern virginia magazine, laura hayes

matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit at One Loudoun (courtesy Ty Neal)

The Nov. 16 opening of matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit in the One Loudoun development doubles as a debut of what matchboxfoodgroup CEO Ty Neal calls matchbox 2.0 because it’s a refresh of the home-grown concept about to become a sizable national chain. “It’s next generation in design, menu and uniforms, and it’s all coming together at One Loudoun,” Neal says. He has been a Loudoun County resident for eight years.

Read the rest of this entry »


Secret Chopsticks serves up five tasting menus in Rosslyn Nov. 17

Posted by / Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Secret Chopsticks Chef/Owner Robin Li

Secret Chopsticks Chef/Owner Robin Li (photo by Laura Hayes)

Robin Li wants you to trust him. So much so that he’s eliminated a la carte menus except for in the lounge area of his restaurant, Secret Chopsticks, opening in Rosslyn on Nov. 17. By taking a seat in Li’s dining room, you’re saying bring it on in the form of five tasting menus showcasing American Chinese cuisine. “Personally, I really like this style because whatever is on the tasting menu is what the chef is really satisfied with,” Li says. “As far as Chinese restaurants and Chinese food, I don’t think anybody is doing this.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Cravings: Tri-tip at Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill

Posted by / Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill Tri Tip

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill tri-tip (photo by Laura Hayes)

Dish: 7-ounce or 10-ounce tri-tip served with two signature sides ($16.95/$18.95)

Where: Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill, 6797 Springfield Mall, Springfield

Taste: When you think of barbecue, the trinity of brisket, pulled pork and ribs come to mind. In California, however, where Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill is headquartered, tri-trip is part of the conversation. After one bite, you’ll see why. The triangular cut of meat from the sirloin is largely considered a California obsession, though states like Texas also serve it.

Read the rest of this entry »


23 beers make their Northern Virginia debut at Rustico’s Novemberfest on Nov. 7

Posted by / Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Novemberfest 2014 crowd

Novemberfest 2014 crowd at Rustico (courtesy Neighborhood Restaurant Group)

When Greg Engert curated the list of brews for the fourth annual Novemberfest, he wasn’t just checking boxes to make sure he nailed the right balance of beer styles or breweries, though that was important to the Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director. “It’s not just a beer from every brewer in Virginia—it’s a few beers from exceptional breweries that show the full spectrum of craft brewing in the state,” Engert says. “People want to drink local, but Virginia beers are far more interesting beyond just being local.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Reserve 2216 closes in Del Ray, new location to bring bigger menu

Posted by / Thursday, October 29th, 2015

General Manager Darrell Bernard and Chef Eric Reid at Reserve 2216

General Manager Darrell Bernard and Chef Eric Reid at Reserve 2216 (photo by Laura Hayes)

Del Ray’s Reserve 2216 closed quietly on Saturday. It was their last night in operation at their current address (2216 Mount Vernon Ave.) above sister restaurant Del Ray Pizza. Regulars will be relieved to know the restaurant focused on Southern-leaning food such as hot chicken and fried green tomatoes will only temporarily shutter as they seek a new location in the same area. “We’re really looking forward to finding a space and signing a lease soon,” says chef Eric Reid.

Read the rest of this entry »


Nostalgia and love bring 1500 Pez collection to life

Posted by / Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

October’s Show and Tell

By Laura Hayes


Photo by Laura Hayes

Photo by Laura Hayes

When parents pass on, it’s natural to hold on to some of their treasured earthly possessions. When Andrew Kim—founder of matchboxfoodgroup, which has 12 restaurants in the Metro-D.C. area including Ted’s Bulletin and Matchbox—lost his mom in 2008, it meant taking home her collection of 1,500 Pez dispensers: “They remind me of something that put a smile on her face,” Kim says.”

It’s fitting that these restaurants, like Kim, have a nostalgic side. The massive Pez collection is now on display at matchboxfoodgroup’s headquarters in the District.

Kim is adding to the collection, but he’s on a specific mission. “I’m just trying to complete sets,” Kim says. Kim’s personal favorite: Star Wars.

Kim’s mother didn’t begin amassing PEZ until the late 1980s, but there are certain dispensers, like Mickey Mouse, that date back to the ’50s or ’60s. As with most collectables, the older the dispenser, the more valuable it is. “The ones without the little feet are antiques and worth quite a bit more,” Kim explains. A quick check on eBay doesn’t show any astronomical asking prices, though—a vintage Pluto dispenser sans feet was available for $5.

Although Kim and his wife, Addie, have two sons, he’s not sure if he will saddle them with the collection. “I don’t know if I want to pass down all that clutter.”


Laura Hayes hails from Philly (but don’t hold it against her). She’s been covering the local dining scene for three years, and her work has been published in the Washington Post, Food Network, Washington City Paper, Arlington Magazine and more. Having lived in Japan for two years, she finds herself in a constant state of craving sushi. Laura always orders her favorite savory dish again for dessert and keeps her gut in check through lots of CrossFit classes. 

 (October 2015)




Page 1 of 26512345...102030...Last »