Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Original Burger at the Original Burger Bach

Ah, burgers at Burger Bach. Such deliciousness The Original features awesome New Zealand grass-fed beef (I suggest you order it pink) with uncured bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, NZ  cheddar, dill pickle, and "original" sauce. Yum! The Bach also features a whole host of draft beers and some decent wines from the lands down under.

The Original Burger
The Original from Burger Bach
I can even watch Arsenal lose on the telly.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Tale of Two Alexandria Restaurants

Both made lovely cocktails. Both were a bit loud and very busy on the weekend. Both attracted a tourist crowd. Both featured interesting architectural details. One made us very happy. The other reminded us of how bad touristy service can be.

The good place was The Majestic. The Majestic has been around since the 1930's and has a cool iconic neon sign. The place was packed on a Friday. Since we did not have reservations and we like bar action, we opted for the bar. Two bartenders were busy crafting a variety of cocktails. They were cool under pressure and handled a few difficult customers with a practiced diplomacy. We had tasty food and were never treated like a tourist. A warm, friendly atmosphere.

Happiness is a Well-stocked Bar
I appreciate a well-stocked bar
Guacamole - slightly hot
Red's She-Crab Soup
She-Crab Soup - very tasty
Virginia Skirt Steak with Fries
Virginia skirt steak with chimichurri sauce

The Columbia Firehouse is indeed an old firehouse converted into a restaurant with a huge Victorian era bar and exposed brick on the dining side. Wonderful space. Unfortunately, our waiter seemed to be someone who knew he was waiting on tourists and that he could get away with nonchalant behavior. I wanted a wedge salad, but did not want blue cheese dressing (hubby gets violently ill just smelling the stuff). I asked about a creamy substitute. No options. Hubby decided to get onion rings that came with a buttermilk goat cheese dip. When we got the app, we realized that the dip would have been perfect for the salad. The onion rings however used the very outer skin for some of the rings - not a good practice since these were tough and inedible. The dinner menu featured fried chicken, but as we discovered after we placed our order, the sparkling wine we wanted was not available (other options were way too expensive). Extreme disappointment and a lesson re-emphasized for me: Order the wine first and then order the meal once the wine choice has been confirmed. The rest of the meal descended into a desultory downward spiral. Plates set down with inaudible explanations on sauces or features; asking about dessert before the meal ended; long wait time for the check. In the end we realized this place was nothing but a tourist trap.

Empty Table
How Columbia Firehouse left us feeling - empty

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Early Bird Biscuit Company Pictorial

A couple of Saturdays ago we headed for the Early Bird Biscuit Co. to try out the newest sensation in town. The biscuit gods favored us since there wasn't a line out the door when we arrived. The place is teeny-tiny and we now understand the line. Biscuits are made from scratch and specialty biscuits vary daily. We had traditional ham biscuits. I liked the crunchy top; hubby liked the soft middle. The ham was decent, but tough to chew. I would opt for the buttered version with a bit of jam next time. Upon exiting with our precious cargo, a line had formed. The only change I would make is to have these guys do enough business to open on Sunday.

Enjoy a few photos.

Early Bird Biscuit Company
Early Bird Entrance
The Early Bird...
Cute Vintage Touch
Makin' Biscuits
Making Biscuits - Notice the square design
Ealry Bird Ham Biscuit
Ham Biscuit - Crunchy on top soft in the middle
Early Bird Cards
Early Bird Opens at 7 AM Tues - Sat

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lunch at The Continental Westhampton

I dare you to leave The Continental Westhampton still hungry. Portions are always generous.

The Continental Westhamption
A few Sundays ago we wanted a late lunch with a TV to see how badly the Washington Redskins would be playing on that day. The Continental Westhampton fit the bill. We were escorted to a booth in the back and hubby and I shared a bench to watch the game and become depressed.

I ordered the roasted turkey sandwich with house-made cranberry sauce and Swiss. Satisfying comfort food for me. I like that the offering does not come dressed with the typical lettuce, tomato, and mayo. For the side option I chose the house-made chips. Not bad, but I got tired of the hard crunch after a while.

Roasted Turkey Sandwich
Roasted Turkey Sandwich - Comfort Central
Hubby got his grub on and selected the Cuba Libra Burger - a burger with pork, ham, pickles, mustard, and Swiss. It was supposed to be pressed. Maybe it was, but the thing was so big it needed a second pressing. Tasty and filling. Hubby could not eat all of it.

Cuba Libre Burger
Big-assed meaty burger
For this hearty meal we sipped a Matchbook Tinto Rey.

Matchbook Tinto Rey
A little red wine to help with digestion
After our huge lunch, the waiter had the nerve to ask us about dessert. Sadly, dessert was not an option. Eventually, I will need to visit and just order the Baked Alaska. The last time I had this dessert was in a Home Ec class. Definitely a less-than-stellar experience way back then.

So, if you are up for a game, The Continental Westhamption's got you covered.

Up For A Game?
Condiments at Play

Sunday, September 07, 2014

A Visit to Tazza Kitchen

While it's been around for a while and it's garnered lovely reviews, we had never been out to Tazza Kitchen. Quite frankly, we just don't get out to the Short Pump area very often. And when we do, we almost always regret the traffic and the hassle and the mind-boggling layout of some of the parking lots. We don't need the stress.

Well, last week we were both there and we decided to give TK a try. We went early since we had no reservations. A good thing, too. The place filled up as the evening progressed. It seemed to attract hen parties. There were three in our seating area alone. Later on we saw some cock parties strutting in as well.

Tazza Kitchen has a decent layout. In the front there are small casual tables and a fire place when it's chilly. The bar offers a view of the wood-fired oven and a glimpse into the kitchen. The outdoor patio is extensive with another small bar thrown into the mix. Appealing to both hens and cocks alike.

Tazza Kitchen
Next time we want to enjoy the patio
We ordered a Barbera to enjoy with dinner. The wine list is an eclectic mix, but everyone should find something to satisfy.

Bricco del Conte Barbera
A very nice Italian red
To eat we shared the Meatballs - pork, beef, and veal served with Parmesan, tomato sauce, and "brick oven bread." Neither one of us liked the dish. The tomato sauce had a charred, almost burnt taste. It wasn't that it was bad; it was not to our taste.  I did like the bread, soft and kissed by the wood-fired oven then drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Here is where our waiter excelled. He asked us about our meal. We told him it did not suit our taste and let him know why after he probed a bit. He apologized and offered us something else. We said we didn't need another starter; we were going to order entrees, and we were fine.

While the meatballs were not to our liking, the service was stellar
We both ordered the Steak and Peppercorn Potatoes - a grilled flat-iron steak with smashed fingerlings, salsa verde, and a sunny-side up egg. This was a very tasty dish. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the egg paired very well. The salsa verde added a little twist, but did not take away from the main attractions.

Steak and Peppercorn Potatoes
A wonderful entree cooked and seasoned perfectly
While we were eating a manager came over to ask about our meal and the meatballs. We repeated our experience with the meatballs and expressed high praise for the steak dish. Kudos to both the waiter and the manager since they took the meatballs off of our tab.

If we are in the Short Pump area, we would definitely consider eating at Tazza Kitchen again. Let's hope the weather cooperates with some mild air so we can experience the patio and sample the pizzas at a future date.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

South of the James Market

Time for another round of South of the James Market photos.


Romano Beans
Romano Beans
Red Pepper
Beautiful Red Pepper
Market Bouquet
Colorful Flowers
Zucchini Blossoms
Squash Blossoms
Eat a Peach
Banh Mi Sandwich
Banh Mi Sandwich from The Hungry Turtle food truck
Market Regulars
Two Market Regulars

Looking forward to seeing you at the market!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Brunch at Pomegranate

I now do a bit of volunteer work on Sundays for the VMFA. Whereas I once praised brunch boites for opening before 11 AM, I now seek out places that remain open after 2 PM. Pomegranate is open until 3 PM. Well done! And most brunch goers had cleared out by the time we arrived.

The first order of business, a '36 Picador cocktail with Espolon tequila, Solerno, and lime juice. A bit more lime than I needed since it hid the taste of the tequila, but probably what most brumchers would want.

'36 Picador

For the eats portion I ordered the Quail and Pancakes. The quail purported to be quail confit and then buttermilk fried. I've had duck confit many times and the quail did not seem to have gone through this process; however, I have never had quail confit. It was nicely fried. And the ricotta pancakes with the maple syrup really hit the spot. A perfect pancake to syrup ratio. Not too dry; not drowning.

Quail and Pancakes

Hubby took the eclectic path with the Goat Ravioli with ricotta and spinach and a sage butter. When it first arrived he was disappointed in the size. Too small. After the first bite he realized why. The ravioli was so rich that it would have been difficult to eat any more.

Goat Ravioli with Spinach

We indulged in an irresistible side: a duck fat biscuit. Yummy, although I was surprised that the biscuit did not come with some kind of condiment - jam, jelly, butter, etc.

Duck Fat Biscuit

Brunch was enjoyable. I would consider going again, but I prefer the dinner menu.

Monday, September 01, 2014

New Restaurants Need to Step Up Their Game

Yesterday we decided to grab a late lunch/brunch at the Southerly. We were efficiently seated. At least half a dozen folks on the wait staff passed by us. We waited. Another couple was seated at the next table. We waited. A waiter came by to take the other couple's order. We waited. We waited another couple of minutes and then left. The dining room was not that busy. Very poor impression for a new restaurant whose theme is Southern hospitality.

By that time it was getting late so we decided to try Travinia Italian Kitchen in Willow Lawn. If they stopped serving lunch, we could at least find something else in the area.

We were efficiently greeted and our waitress promptly took our drink order. Yeah! After our disappointment at the Southerly we rewarded ourselves with a Sidecar. Sugared rim and a tart taste. Yes, an adult SweeTart with a cute lemon curl.

Lemon Curl
Sidecar with a Cute Lemon Curl
For lunch I ordered a Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwich (no tomatoes) with Garlic Parmesan Fries. The sandwich was good (decent pesto), but it did come with tomatoes. The kitchen needs a little work. The fries were fries. The garlic was extremely mild. While I could see it, I couldn't really taste it.

Pesto Chicken Sandwich
Chicken Pesto Sandwich After the Removal of the Tomatoes
My hubby ordered Uncle Tony's Pizza. The pizza was supposed to come with pepperoni, Italian sausage, roasted garlic, and onions. There was no sausage in evidence. But there was an extra ingredient, two pieces of blue plastic. The kitchen definitely needs some work. While we did let the waitress know, no one from management addressed the issue. Hubby also said that the crust reminded him of the boxed Chef Boyardee pizzas from the '70's.

Uncle Tony's Favorite Pizza
Is this really Uncle Tony's favorite? No Italian sausage and a couple of blue surprises.
While the service was better than the Southerly, the kitchen requires much more training and supervision.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger at Camden's Dogtown Market

Feast your eyes on this baby of a burger from Camden's Dogtown Market. Beef, cooked medium - medium-rare; Swiss cheese; house-cured bacon; lovely bun.

Bacon Cheeseburger

Wine is our choice from what the market offers (add $10 corkage fee except on Tuesdays). The Nebbiolo D'Alba was a friendly pairing.

Lodali Nebbiolo D'Alba

And don't forget the house-made pickles!

Housemade Pickles


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

South of the James Market

The South of the James Market is in full swing with all manner of veggies, posies, doggies, etc. It's still my favorite market and I'm still a huge fan. I have a few photos to prove it!

Turnips and Tatsoi

Silver Creek Peaches

Posey Basket

Squash and Company

Market Darling

So get out and meet your neighbors on Saturday morning at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Heavenly Brunches at The Viceroy

The Viceroy knows how to wow the palate during brunch. In the past few months we went twice. Once for Easter and again on Father's Day. Both times the food was excellent. I also appreciate that The Viceroy opens at 10:30 AM for brunch. I prefer going a bit earlier and skipping the after-church crowd. And I have no qualms over ordering a cocktail (yes, think of a Manhattan-esque beverage) that early in the morning.

The other cool thing about brunch is pricing. I can enjoy all of Ryan Baldwin's exquisite dishes at reasonable prices. Brunch offerings range in price from $9 - $14 and features imaginative dishes that match the dinner menu.

Here is what we enjoyed (in no particular order) between the two visits.

A split of pink bubbly

A Splash of Pink Bubbly

Champagne Butter Poached Lobster and Avocado Omelet

Champangne Butter Poached Lobster with Avocado Omelet
The Lobster Omelet was perfect for Easter brunch
Torched Handmade Mozzarella Wrapped in Prosciutto with Fig Balsamic Sauce

Torched Handmade Mozzarella Wrapped in Prosciutto
This dish is always a favorite
Crab Sandwich with Fries

Crabmeat Sandwich and Fries

Duck Breast with Fried Egg and Hash Browns

Duck Breat with Egg and Hash Browns
Awesome special for the day
Smoked Pork Shoulder with Grits and Eggs

Smoked Pork Shoulder with Grits and Eggs
The pork could be pulled apart with a fork and the flavor was delightful
Plungerhead Zin

Plungerhead Zin
Great choice with the pork and duck

Oh so good! And there were other items on the menu that we also wanted to get. The only solution is to go back!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Crab and Filet Special at Tastebuds

Tastebuds American Bistro features awesome specials on Friday and Saturday nights. Check out this one...

Crab-Topped Filet with Potatoes and Asparagus

Yummy! We enjoyed this special at the beginning of June.