7 S. King St.
Leesburg, VA 20175
CUISINE International, Wine Bar, Modern American
PRICE Under $12
HOURS Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
NVM AWARDS Best New Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO None
SPECIAL FEATURESAccepts Credit Cards
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.4 Ambiance: 7.4 Service: 7.4
Wine Kitchen co-founder Jason Miller confirms that opening chef Chris Carey parted company with their group earlier this summer in order to attend to some personal issues.
Lucky for us, Carey left the restaurant in the more-than-capable hands of his successor, newly minted executive chef Matt Hess—a seasoned pro who has quickly put his own stamp on the playful menu.
One quirky addendum is the new taco night, a hump day celebration featuring grilled, homemade corn tortillas stuffed with braised short ribs, heirloom tomatoes, crumbled cotija cheese, creamy avocado sauce and French-fried onions (ole!).
Modified pho trades the traditional noodles, meats and bean sprouts for robust seafood broth—anchored by pepper-rubbed tilefish and tiny crayfish—vegetables (fresh basil, minced jalapenos and diced scallions) and basmati rice.
Fudgy chocolate cake balls are enveloped in sea salt-studded dark chocolate and drizzled with warm caramel (outstanding).(November 2009)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.3 Ambiance: 6.7 Service: 7.2
Tracking down the ladies in Leesburg is quite simple. Just stick your head into the kitchen—The Wine Kitchen, that is.
The wildly successful wine bar is routinely packed with groups of bottle-draining women (colorful flights, fizzy flutes and tinkling glasses are their weapons of choice), along with multigenerational couples (well-to-do youths treating the ‘rents to show how grown up they are) and grape-savvy sippers galore.
Co-owner Mike Mercer dispenses introductory swallows of wine and oenological insight to first-timers and old friends alike. Meanwhile, the kitchen theme permeates every fiber of the restaurant’s being (from the dish towels as napkins to the reclaimed milk bottles from whence filtered water is poured).
Chef Chris Carey cooks down a pork shank, paints on barbecue sauce and wraps it all in Swiss chard for homemade roulade (honey-vinegar glaze takes care of business).
Tandoori escolar glides atop a lake of sweet-tart mango coulis and zesty chutney.
Fried quail (encased in a deep brown crust that smacks of sugar and lingering fire) and herb-laced waffles drizzled in bacon-caramel sauce (so sweet) make for can’t-miss breakfast fare.(May 2009)
By Warren Rojas
After years of bouncing around the Virginia countryside (Ashby Inn, Goodstone Inn), executive chef Christopher Carey seems content to let his hair down at Leesburg’s fledgling Wine Kitchen.
“It’s obviously much more laid-back and relaxed,” Carey says, suggesting that country inns are much more about decorum and tradition. “Here, I get to play a little bit.”
The shoebox-sized spot (less than a dozen tables) conveys a come-as-you-are vibe embraced by locals (think: ladies in workout gear and chunky designer watches) and curious outlet shoppers alike.
The fully approachable wine list is split into far-reaching flights (A Riesling to Be, The Hills of Italy, The Plains of Spain), including a static nod to regional superstars (Local Flavors).
The menu changes bi-monthly, but Carey expects to retain customer favorites (Parisian gnocchi, uber-Gruyere croque monsieur) in one capacity or another.
Pray he keeps the pork belly Caesar as well, otherwise you’ll miss grandiose slices of peppered pork belly—the core is buttery soft, while the outer rim sports a ruddy crust—draped atop stiff romaine ribs. A sauteed mushroom-and-poached egg pairing dazzles the salt receptors, while vinaigrette soaked-frissee cuts through the yolky richness, and fried polenta adds crunch.