Mad Fox Brewpub (Falls Church)

We finally had the chance to catch up with the SIL and her new husband for the first time since their wedding, this past weekend. They just recently moved into a place just around the corner from East Falls Church metro and I’m pretty pleased to have a new  neighborhood to explore with them. I’m also pleased to have the SIL so close! She has lived in Raleigh for the past several years.

When they said they were free on Sunday, the lady immediately suggested we go to Mad Fox. We’ve been before, but only for snacks and beer (Lots of beer. They’re not messing around with those flights!), not a whole meal. Last time we were there we started with the pretzel twist and split a burger. It was fantastic. We knew that it would be a place worth returning to. And the lady knew it would be perfect for the SIL and husband.

We started with a round of beers. I had the Lindy’s Weiss, a wheat beer. The lady had a saison and the BIL had the English summer ale. My beer was a little more flat in flavor than I had hoped, but the lady’s was a little more complex. They just didn’t compare to all the sweeter barleywine  and wee heavys we had last time. I didn’t try the BIL’s, but he seemed to enjoy it.

For food, I decided on the arugula salad with chicken. Turns out when you take on eating and drinking as a serious hobby, your clothes will eventually start to get a little tight. I’m trying to lighten up a little, so you may start seeing a different pattern from my menu selections. ANYWAY!

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I expected the dressing to have a bit more acidity than it did, but the salad was excellent. It was a nice light option for a hot day.

The lady had the Fig and Balsamic Blues pizza. I was pretty jealous of her, but at least I got to sneak a couple of bites. It was really good! I love the combination of sweet and savory things on pizza.

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Both the SIL and husband ordered burgers. 

I can tell from experience, those burgers are damn good. And they definitely enjoyed them as well. I suppose it behooves a brewery to have good burgers. And pizza! Classic combinations.

I have a feeling since we now have family in the neighborhood, we’ll be making a few more trips to Mad Fox. It would be nice to keep a finger on their rotating seasonal beers since I was surprisingly impressed with their winter selection. Yeah beer!

  • Favorite thing I had: My salad was pretty good. But that pretzel on our last visit was fantastic.
  • Favorite thing she had: The pizza. It was pretty great, I kept stealing bites of it.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The grilled veg sandwich sounded really good. I’d also like to give the pizza a try myself. Other beers!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We actually have some vague plans to head back with some of the lady’s high school friends sometime in the next month. Last time we were there was in the spring. So, seasonally!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): I honestly don’t really know yet! There are a lot of things along that strip of street, and I’ve been to Dogwood Tavern before, but haven’t learned enough to direct others.

Columbia Firehouse (Old Town)

When my college BFF, J, told me she was coming to town, I knew I wanted to take her to brunch. My first choice was honestly Evening Star Cafe, but I couldn’t get a reservation for the 3 of us. We could have gone without reservations, but I don’t like taking chances when I don’t have to. So, I explored other NRG options in Old Town. My next thought was Rustico, but one look over their menu revealed that they did not have the Eggs Benedict that J had already told me she wanted. My next thought was Columbia Firehouse. They had 3 different options for Eggs Benny, so I made the reservation.

We got up on Saturday and walked into Old Town from my apartment so I could show J this adorable tiny city that I live in. Like I wrote about in Monday’s post, we hit the Old Town farmer’s market and Waterfront Market to kill time before our reservations.

We walked into a mostly empty restaurant a few minutes to 11, but I’d much always rather be safe than sorry with reservations. Especially when hosting an out-of-town guest. You can’t look like you didn’t plan well!

They seated us in the dining room to the left of the barroom. This was the first time I had been there during the day, so this was the first time I noticed that this dining room was mostly windows on the ceiling! It was nice and bright. I’m glad I wasn’t hungover or anything, I may have needed sunglasses during my meal!

For drinks, J and I started with a bloody marys and, the lady had a mimosa. Both were equally delightful.

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We had worked up quite the appetite after all the walking, so we started with the Rosemary Garlic Fries with 3 dipping sauces: Smoked garlic mayo, buttermilk goat cheese, and ketchup.

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Holy cats were these some delicious damn french fries. We shoveled them in. I think everyone decided that the buttermilk goat cheese dip was the best. Yum.

For entrees, J decided on the Southern Eggs Benny. Fried green tomatoes, poached eggs, hollandaise, on a muffin. It said it came with jalapeños, but J requested it without. It was also served with fried potatoes. She said it was really tasty. I will need to go back and try it for myself. I love some fried green tomatoes!

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The lady had the Croque Monsieur.

 

She said it was pretty good, but about 4x the size it needed to be and was a wee bit dry. After eating the fries, she was only able to eat about half of it.

After much deliberation, I decided on the chicken and waffles.

 

It wasn’t much to look at, but it sure was delicious. It did come with a bird jus drizzled over the waffle, and that made it a little soggy. I don’t think it was totally necessary with the side honey served as a drizzle for the chicken, and butter and syrup for the waffle. All’s well that ends well, it was still delicious. I liked the honey for the chicken.

J and I also decided to go for a second round of drinks. I was sold on the Pineapple Mint Mojito, which had sparkling wine instead of club soda and chunks of pineapple.

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I was expecting it to be more pineappley than it was, but it’s just a good excuse for me to replicate it at home, but maybe with spiced rum and a splash of actual pineapple juice. Sort of a Mai Tai/Mojito hybrid.

J went with the Cucumber Fix Martini. Gin, Cucumber, Jalapeño, St. Germain. It was good, you could definitely taste the cucumber, with a little kick from the jalapeño, and lots of gin taste. It was definitely a slow-sipping drink, and despite being a martini lady, I don’t think she finished it.

 

Overall, I was really happy with my decision for introducing J to all that is Neighborhood Restaurant Group and having a really great brunch. We left feeling satisfied and a little bit tipsy. Now I just have to convince her to come back before the moves to Finland so I can show her a few more of my faves!

  • Favorite thing I had: The fries were really, really damn good for french fries. The buttermilk goat cheese dipping sauce was yummy. The chicken and waffle was also really good, minus the bird jus that soggified the waffle a bit.
  • Favorite thing she had:  She liked her mimosa and the fries as well.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The mussels, the oyster po’boy, the whole dinner cocktail menu
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We’ll probably try to get down there for drinks sometime soon. We’ve been there for drinks, for dinner, and brunch over the period of about 3 years. Time to start the rotation again!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Old Town is your oyster here. You can go shopping or go down to the water and hang out. We did the Farmer’s Market and Waterfront Market before brunch.

BFF in Town Weekend Round Up

Every weekend this summer has been jammed-packed full of friends and good food and drink. This weekend was no different. One of my best friends from college, J, was visiting this weekend. It was so nice to get to spend some time catching up and showing her around our neighborhood a little bit.

Friday afternoon, co-worker C and I took a short break from work to enjoy Cafe La Ruche one last time before it closes.  I had packed my lunch, but I still had room for an appetizer. We sat out on the patio and split an order of escargot. It was pretty sad to know that they’re closing after so long, but I’m curious to see what Chez Billy Sud will bring.

Since J was coming to town later in the evening, that lady and I picked up some Momo Sushi for dinner and spent the evening cleaning the house. I scooped J up from the airport and our weekend adventures began.

We got up early on Saturday and walked the mile and a half to the Old Town Farmer’s market to pick up ingredients for dinner. It was actually only the second time I had been to the farmer’s market. We got all kinds of fresh produce and I was able to pick up some beautiful flowers for the lady. It’s definitely going to be a more regular stop for me. We finished up our shopping but still had some time to kill before brunch plans, so we wandered down to the Waterfront Market. We ordered coffee and chatted for a bit. I’m looking forward to stopping there for breakfast after weekend morning bike rides.

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I decided that I wanted to take J to a Neighborhood Restaurant Group restaurant. She said she like eggs benedict, so I made reservations at Columbia Firehouse since they had a few different options. That was the perfect choice. It was delicious. That post will be up later this week. As a bonus, we even ran into another friend who lives in the neighborhood who we keep meaning to get together with. I gotta get on that!

After brunch, the lady and I had plans to head out to Ashburn for her high school best friend’s daughter’s 4th birthday party. It was a pool party, so we spent a couple of hours splashing around with preschoolers and eating ice cream cake. It’s nice to occasionally trek out to the suburbs and borrow some kids for a while. It’s like “Well, this could be our life… good to know! Let’s head back to Alexandria and party with our friends.”

We came back and J fixed us an amazing dinner. Afterward, we weighed the options of getting all dressed up and heading into the city for fancy cocktails or sticking close to home and making our own. We decided on the lower key night, made some drinks, laid out a blanket in the courtyard, and enjoyed the evening with neighbors.

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J had family plans in the city Sunday morning, so we got up, said our goodbyes, got her on her way. The lady and I decided to make it an NRG weekend have brunch just a few blocks from home at Rustico. We’ve been there dozens of times, but this was the best meal we’ve ever had there. I will definitely be writing about that this week.

After brunch, we ran the last of our errands, and spent the rest of the afternoon just sitting still, for the first time in a very long time. It has been an amazing summer so far, but wow. I need a nap! Looking forward to a short work week this week!

 

 

Pork Barrel BBQ (Del Ray)

I decided to take last Friday off from work after having a couple of really long work weeks. I had all sorts of grand plans to take a bike ride and do things outdoors, but the weather gods had other plans and decided this would be perfect timing for a nice huge spring storm. It did clear up later in the day, but at that point, I realized that the lady had accidentally taken the key for the storage unit with her to work. That’s ok, I found plenty of other things to do to occupy my time.

At some point in the day, I started getting a ridiculous hankering for BBQ (chicken and potato salad in particular). I’ll blame it on all the summery thoughts brought on by visiting Nicecream Factory earlier in the day. I did some internet research and laid out all the BBQ options in the metro area. Since I was off from work, I was already in Alexandria, so Pork Barrel BBQ came up the obvious answer. When the lady got home from work we headed over to Del Ray.

When we walked into the restaurant, I was surprised at how… nice? it was. I’m not sure why, but I think I just assumed since it was a fast casual place, the finishings wouldn’t be so nice. Lots of stone and wood. There was also a full sized bar that ran the full length of one side of the restaurant. We decided to saddle up at the bar and take advantage of their happy hour specials.

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We started with a couple of $2 “Old School Cans.” They had a selection of about 6 different beers. Craft cans were $4. You really can’t beat that. We went with cheap beer because I was craving a Miller Lite (sometimes that just happens), but they have a pretty decent beer selection.

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Since they were also on special, we decided we’d start with an appetizer of nachos.

 

The cheese sauce on the nachos was a little strange. It sort of tasted like it had been mixed from a powder. But everything else about them was delicious! And whoever came up with the idea to put slaw on BBQ nachos is a genius.

Since the nachos were pretty sizable, we decided just to share on entree. We went with the Build A Platter Combo with beef brisket, ribs, potato salad, and baked beans. It also came with a piece of cornbread.

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It was actually a pretty absurd amount of food. And despite how delicious it all was, we could only finish about half of it between the two of us. The brisket was super tender and the ribs really flavorful, and huge! The potato salad hit the spot and added a nice cool element to the meal. The baked beans were delicious, nice and sweet. The other bonus was the 3 types of BBQ sauce on the bar in front of us. They had a NC vinegar style, a memphis vinegar style, and a classic sweeter BBQ. I like being able to choose, and take different bites with different sauces.

The food was great, the atmosphere really nice, and the server/ bartender was pretty fantastic. I can’t believe it took us so long to eat there. I’m pretty excited to go back.

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything was good, and it was exactly what I wanted. My fave was probably the baked beans. And the NC and Memphis-styled BBQ sauces.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The potato salad
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pulled pork! Well, we had it on the nachoes, but next time I’m craving a pulled pork sandwich, that’s it. the sausage also sounded good
  • What makes this place stand out: I wasn’t expecting such a nice, huge, fully stocked bar in a fast casual setting. This could double as a neighborhood bar! All that was missing was a cocktail menu. OH! I almost forgot! Since they’re connected, you can also order from Holy Cow’s menu from the bar there. Burgers or BBQ, take your pick!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably monthly in the lunch/ dinner rotation. It’s a good, affordable option.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Dairy Godmother would be our usual destination.

Nicecream Factory (Clarendon)

I heard  buzzing about Nicecream Factory on Twitter. Ice cream made while you wait, liquid nitrogen style? Awesome! Then I read the article on Best Bites Blog and knew that I had to check it out on my Friday off from work. I e-mailed the owners and told them about the blog and that I wanted to come in, check it out, and write it up. Sandra, one of the two co-owners wrote back and was as friendly as could be. Sold.

So, I headed over to Clarendon, had some lunch at Pete’s Apizza, and headed just a block south to Nicecream Factory. Sandra wasn’t there, but her business partner, Gil, was. I introduced myself to him and we chatted. He told me about how he and Sandra heard about making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and played around with it at home. When they looked into how to make ice cream, apparently it often starts with a paste. So they ordered the paste and were grossed out. Instead they opted to go all natural, with local cream and other local ingredients. They started selling at Farmer’s Markets about a year ago and then decided to take it brick and mortar.

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I had a hard time deciding which flavor I wanted, but I decided on Chocolate Sea Salt.  Gil told me about how Sandra is the sweets person and that he is a more savory guy, so they have plenty of sweet and savory flavors in their rotation. Besides Chocolate Sea Salt, they also have caramel pretzel and chocolate bacon. (Can’t wait to try those!) He walked me through the process while he made my ice cream. They make the favors with only fresh ingredients. The ice cream is made instantly before they hand it to you, so there’s no need to add preservatives. They throw the flavor and cream (and a little bit of milk) into the mixer bowl and mix until just combined.

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And then the fun part! They add the liquid nitrogen and let it go about about 60 seconds until it’s ice cream. This is awesome to watch. As soon as the liquid nitrogen is poured in, there’s a giant cold cloud of steam? that floats out. Like a witch’s cauldron.

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Since there’s minimal churning between liquid stage and ice cream stage, there’s not a lot of air in the ice cream, so like gelato, it’s very dense and rich.

 

Gil handed me the ice cream and since there was no one else in the shop, he sat down with me to chat some more. The ice cream was decadent, almost like fudge. With just a tiny hint of salt to cut the sweetness. It was perfect. I asked him about their soft opening week and what kind of turnout they had been having. It sounded like they had been getting good foot traffic and lots of exposure from the recent articles. He told me about how when they were just doing pop-ups, they’d order 20 gallons of cream for a weekend but for their Grand Opening, they ordered 101. I have a feeling with that location and the upcoming summer, they’re going to be needing way more than that.

I let Gil get back to work prepping for their Grand Opening and told him I’d be back later in the weekend with the lady so she could give it a try as well. I had planned to pop in for the Grand Opening, but instead, the lady and I went back for dessert that same evening.  She ordered the pistachio- which is made with pistachio butter(!).

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Yum! I feel sort of bad because I ate about half of the lady’s ice cream. I just couldn’t help myself! It was SO GOOD. We’ll definitely be back to try more.

Beyond just enjoying putting tasty things into my face, and loving supporting local business, I’m discovering that I also really like supporting places run by friendly people. It’s fun to connect with the people who are coming up with and executing such awesome ideas and learning more about the businesses. That’s definitely been one unexpected perk of writing this blog.

  • Favorite flavor I had: The chocolate sea salt was decadent and almost like fudge, but I think her pistachio was a little better.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The strawberry basil sounded excellent. It also sounds like they’re going to have some nice sweet/savory flavors in their rotation.
  • What makes this place stand out: As far as I know, it’s the first liquid nitrogen ice cream place in the area! And I’m pretty sure that it’s going to become the next froyo/cupcake/donut.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)I have a feeling we’re going to end up there on the regular. I might use that as an excuse to start exploring Clarendon for the blog.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Anywhere in Clarendon. You could hit dinner at Pete’s Apizza, Cava Mezze, or Fuego, and then get ice cream for dessert!

Bob and Edith’s (Arlington)

This past Sunday, we helped one of our college friends’ and her husband move into their NEW HOUSE! in the city. We decided that a day of moving boxes and carrying furniture called for a good hearty breakfast beforehand. Another college friend, M, asked to catch a ride with us from the Columbia Pike area of Arlington. I used this as the perfect excuse for us to FINALLY check out Bob and Edith’s. The lady and I had tried to head there once before, but were dissuaded by the lack of parking in the tiny lot. This time, we were armed with that knowledge, the suggestion to park on a side street and not even fool with the lot, and were accompanied by a B&E veteran. Seriously, M has been going to Bob and Edith’s since she was a kid, to have pie with her dad. I knew that with her expertise, this was going to be an awesome experience.

We arrived around 10:30am. We though that because it was Mother’s Day, it might be a little more calm than usual. I don’t know what usual is, but we only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table to open up. It is pretty amazing how many seats they can fit in the tiny space and how quickly they turn over. We sat down and studied the menu. There is every kind of breakfast food you can possibly imagine. And then’s there’s a board on the wall with weekend specials. M was telling me about how she usually orders the corned beef hash, but always considers the banana walnut pancakes. She ultimately decided on her usual, so I went for the waffle! The lady also went for a waffle, but hers with pecans. The waffles came with bacon.

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I figured mine would be easiest to eat if I smooshed the bananas down into the waffle squares. So I did, smothered it in syrup, and went to town. the waffle was cooked perfect, just the way I like. Crunchy outside, soft inside. The bananas were an awesome choice. And the bacon, as bacon is, delightful. I tried M’s potatoes and they were really tasty as well. The lady enjoyed her waffle. As soon as the food got there, we were all basically silent, so I think that’s telling to how delicious it was.

Since there were people waiting for tables, we didn’t linger. We paid our surprisingly cheap check ($33 for 3 people, I think?) and ventured out to help our friends move into their awesome new house. (Where I fully expect to spend my Sundays, cooking out in the summer and watching football in the fall.)

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything I had. That waffle was so good. And with the smooshed bananas. Perfect.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pie!  The biscuits and gravy!! I felt a little glutenous from the night before, so I went waffle (Which is silly, I know. It had fruit! Rather than sausage?) rather than biscuits this particular visit.
  • What makes this place stand out: It’s TINY! It’s just a little diner with a tiny parking lot. First come, first served. You wait until there’s a table and you swoop in and take it.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)It won’t be too long. I’m thinking maybe we’ll go in next time we want breakfast for dinner but I don’t feel like cooking it myself.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby)This area is growing up like crazy. You could walk across the street to Society Fair for some coffee or wine. Other than that, it’s mostly food. Which you will not need more of after you’re finished here. Maybe a show at Arlington Cinema and Draft House?

Pupatella (Ballston)

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I’m pretty sure I could sustain this blog on pizza places in the DMV alone. As much as I love pizza, I wouldn’t hate that! This day, we headed over to Ballston to check out Pupatella. It’s on Wilson Blvd. just past Ballston Mall. I actually had no idea it existed until a couple of weeks ago when reading some “Best Pizza in the DMV” lists. It’s not an area in which  I’ve spent much time, but there’s more and more stuff over there all the time, so I imagine that may change.

 

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My life’s motto?

 We chose to head over there on a Saturday at lunch time. So, we walked into to the place about half-full with tons of families with kids buzzing about. Like Il Canale, it is a DOC Napoletana restaurant. They also have their big brick oven just inside the door. We grabbed menus and pretty quickly settled on what we wanted and marched up to the register to order. We went for a Sausage, Red Onion, and smoked mozzarella pizza and Salad 3 (Arugula, Parmesan, and grapefruit with a citrus dressing).  Since it was lunch, we just opted for water, but they had a pretty decent beer and wine selection.

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The salad came first and we dug in. It was a really great combination of flavors. I don’t know if I’ve ever had grapefruit on a salad, but I’d do it again!

The pizza was only a couple of minutes behind the salad. I actually hadn’t noticed that the cheese was smoked when I order the pizza, but as soon as I took a bite, I could tell. It was delicious. The sausage was nice and flavorful too. And the crust, which I think is the most important part, was perfect. Crisp but still chewy.  Since we only ordered one pizza to split between the two of us, it disappeared pretty quickly. I think I would have liked to have another half of a slice. Maybe next time we’ll order 2 and have leftovers! Leftover pizza is never a problem.

  • Favorite thing I had: The crust on the pizza, as to be expected, was excellent.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Any of the other pizzas. It would be nice to enjoy a little bit slower-paced meal with pizza and wine.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space is kind of interesting. You could tell it had been updated within the past few years, but not fully, just superficially. It’s sort of hole-in-the-wall in the best way possible.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): The next time I’m craving Napoletana pizza but don’t feel like going into the city. I think this might be the kind of place I’d take my parents.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): You’re a little off the beaten path (just a couple of blocks) from Ballston. I think Westover Market/ Beer Garden might be nearby, so had this been an evening meal, I may have headed there to have some beer. But alas, we had to be off to the grocery store.