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About genericeric

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    Ashburn, VA
  1. You can tell when someone isn't happy to see you - the look on her face made it pretty obvious she was not thrilled I was there, followed by the menu tossed in my general direction, rushed order, complete lack of pleasantries, etc. kept up throughout the visit. Everyone who sat down seemed subject to the same. I've had that happen before at other bars shortly before closing (happened a few weeks ago at Maple in NYC despite a one drink promise from me to the bartender) before, but this was a. out of charcter for her and b. not near closing
  2. Stopped by the bar in a local restaurant last night for food and a drink - I knew the bartender in so far as I eat there 2-3 times a month and we recognize each other - she has always been friendly and conversant. It's a relatively well-admired restaurant within the DR community and in my local community. But for reasons I don't understand, the annoyance at the fact that I sat down at her bar last night was beyond clear. I have come across my fair share of rude bartenders. And bad bartenders. Bartenders who were too busy to talk, didn't want to take my order, were too drunk to make me a drink (true story) - things happen. But to be made to feel truly unwelcome at the bar is just not a good feeling, and it's one I've experienced a few times recently (maybe its me? I tend to tip decently well and try not to be rude or get drunk in public). Bartending is a job, I get it. You have good days, bad days, great customers and ones that drive you insane. And of course I can tell if the ones I'm familiar with are having a bad day, but my advice is to make sure you don't leave the customer feeling like the bad day is because of them. I guess this could apply to many jobs, but there is something about the bartender rejection that tends to stick with you...
  3. Tough crowd... Occasionally restaurants run out of ingredients. Depending on how you interpret the punctuation on their menu (placement of the comma leaves the question open), it seems they may advertise using organic romaine. Perhaps the Giant was out of organic? They also stress local farms and advertise which farms their produce comes from. Sure, they could have put up a notice. Or, Bob the manager is the only one entitled at the local branch level to spend money, and Bob was out that day. Jim had called Bob's boss to get authorization to go over to Giant to buy the non-organic, non-local romaine lettuce, but that takes some time. If they'd been out of romaine for a week, none of these really apply. But if the romaine ran out that morning, perhaps they thought customers would be ok getting a salad with one of the four other greens options available...
  4. Yep! The staircase framed the entire 'set' (such as it was) and thus was pretty central to the show. If your wife didn't like the first, I'm afraid this one is headed in the wrong direction for her
  5. I'm not sure how much Glenn Close is getting paid to star in this revival of Sunset Boulevard 26 years after the original, but she is worth every cent - even considering an imperfect vocal performance. This production was called 'partially staged' in London - when it moved to New York they must have fleshed out the staging a bit, but it is still much lighter than the original. After all, you need the space to hold the 40-piece orchestra on the stage which provides rich sound without being distracting behind the actors. The actor playing Joe Gillis (male lead) was fine, but gave a very by-the-book performance with very by-the-book vocals. The night we saw the performance, the woman playing his young love interest (Betty) was an understudy - she was also fine but gave a very by-the-book performance with somewhat thin vocals. This all leads to the production being a bit of a bore until Close takes the stage - it is hard to imagine anyone else in this role (though I'm sure the other actresses involved in the 1991 casting drama feel differently). Even with her breaking BOTH of the two most dramatic notes of the production (With One Look in the 1st act, and the final note of the show in the second), her overall performance carries the show. At the curtain call, Close's behavior was somewhat... eccentric - her small dog coming on stage for a back-and-forth dialogue to raise money for the theatre fund left several patrons wondering how far off Close really was from her character, Norma Desmond. This production is on stage through early June - if you're in the city before then, it is worth the ticket to see this performance.
  6. Visited Craftbar for the final time last night. For whatever reason, restaurants like this seem hard to find in Manhattan - comfortable, somewhat reasonably priced, well lit, tables not on top of each other, etc. For those reasons, its been a central part of many of our New York special occasions over the years - birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, etc. That being said, as I've posted above, I haven't felt that the food has held up over the years. Last night there was a Duck Country Pate that was oddly textured and tasted strongly of Christmas (spices, cherries, etc). A chicory salad that badly needed a bright, acidic dressing but instead had bacon, peppercorn dressing and feta - it was a salt bomb. Pork that was faintly fishy and a very thin pecorino fonduta. This is a VERY heavy, winter menu. The banana tart and foie gras torchon were both quite good. The service was excellent and friendly, the bar still well-stocked, the seats full. It certainly didn't feel like a restaurant marching toward a set closing date, but we were there for the nostalgia, no longer the food.
  7. A few months back, EMP changed their reservation system to be all online - a MUCH better customer experience that the previous exercise of redial at 10am exactly xx days in advance. They also introduced a 5-course menu option at their bar tables for $145. What wasn't clear was whether you could still show up at 5:30 and grab two stools at the bar - happily, you can. There is a bit of a rush for the bar right when they open at 5:30 but the staff handled it well. Bar guests were seated in a side area until the dinner guests were seated in the dining room, making room. Staff kept track of who came in and in what order and ushered patrons to the bar stools in the appropriate order. I could sit at this bar all night and watch them make cocktails. EMP's cocktail list is inventive and the staff was engaging and more than happy to talk through what they were doing. Our wonderful bartender mentioned they were working on developing a full beverage pairing of mocktails (and noted they were happy to booze them up as requested). We were heading for dinner a farewell dinner to Craftbar down the street, so stuck to cocktails and caviar. The caviar course is currently the benedict, which has changed over the years. Honestly I preferred the more straightforward presentation of caviar over creme fraiche we had last summer - the ham in the benedict in addition to the caviar made the dish a little too one-note with salt. That being said, it was still a very good dish (served with tiny english muffins). The caviar is currently the first course on the 5-course bar seat tasting menu (which is also available at the bar stools, not just the tables) - at $69 it almost makes the $145 option seem like a bargain. The menu is changing to EMP 'classics' in a week until the restaurant closes in early June for a 3 month renovation (the staff was pretty excited for their summer gig at the pop-up in the Hamptons) - will be interesting to see how the menu and format changes when they re-open in the fall. Side note - gratuity IS included in bar prices, which was a nice surprise at the end. Other options are also available at the stools a la carte - appetizers generally ran in the 25-35 range with entrees in the 45-60 range. The bar stool option provides a much more approachable way to experience EMP if you can't get a reservation in the dining room, don't have $800 to spend, or 3+ hours to have dinner. And if you ask nicely, you can still snag a jar of that granola on the way out.
  8. Having been a member of a similar club until more recently, Cosmos isn't alone on the age front. These clubs are in a constant battle for youth and new blood while trying desperately to avoid offending and losing their established members. This plays out in every way imaginable, from menu choices to programming options and how you are treated by other club members. Cost of entry is also a barrier to people less established in their careers (younger) even if they HAVE done 'meritorious, original work' as is required by Cosmos. Funny that the crab soup is mentioned above - it was also excellent at 'the other' club. Must be 'a thing'.
  9. Welcome to the area! Even more than most places, I feel like whether you like Ashburn is all in the neighborhood. If you have great neighbors you'll love it, if not you may find it a bit 'detached' out here. Just in case you're still looking at houses... For food... Opa! Mezze Grill is good greek food, I second Bob Wells' rec of Ford's Fish Shack. At One Loudoun there is an interesting Thai place called Streets of Siam that has a solid cocktail program. Parallel Wine Bistro is a place I can love and hate at the same time, but the patio is a nice place to hang out on a warm evening. Next to Parallel is Johnny's Italian - other Johnny's have received raves for their cheesesteaks in other threads on this site, but I find its the best pizza in the area. It's been awhile since I've been to the Wine Kitchen in Leesburg since the no-res policy doesn't work well with little ones, but the last brunch I had there was solid. Magnolia's and WK Hearth in Purcellville (15 min) are good, and then you have Potowmack Farm up in Lovettsville. We eat most often at Clydes Willow Creek and Coopers Hawk but I'm afraid that is more due to convenience (and their bars) than them being really solid choices. Sadly I've not found too many of the small, non-chain places at the 'centers' to be worth a second visit, but Mali Thai is decent enough and Sakura is ok for hibachi/sushi. I tend to shop at the Whole Foods at Belmont Chase... honestly the options out here are somewhat limited in that area unless you love Harris Teeter or have the mental toughness for Wegmans on a weekend.
  10. (I will preface this post by saying there were several different forums this could be listed in, so Don please feel free to re-categorize as you see fit.) I've never loved Richmond, and I've tried. My wife is from there and desperately wants to move back. I've done countless weekends, drive-bys, neighborhood tours, etc and I just haven't gotten there, so its fair to say that a weekend in Richmond is an uphill climb for me. That being said, my wife had to spend last weekend there for work, so I figured this was a fine time to see if, perhaps, I could learn to like it via my favorite method - a beer tour. Mostly, a solo beer tour (I'm very efficient). Note- this was spread over three days. Sparing further details and heading straight for the goods - Capital Ale House - I started low. A regional mini-chain, this downtown beer bar has a bit of something for many. Live music at times, a pool hall, a main floor dining room, etc. Their claim to fame in my mind used to be the chilled metallic strip in the middle of the main bar to keep your beer cold - unfortunately that was recently torn out, something about ice and wood not playing well together. I would stay away from the food menu unless its late in your day and you need to soak up some suds. The beer menu here is both long and disappointingly limited - its also frustrating to see a beer you want but is only available at the other bar. We stopped in here on an unseasonably warm Friday before a meeting with a financial advisor - I needed a drink, but was looking for something on the light side. Bells two hearted was the 'lightest' option available, though if I'd wanted a stout I would have been set. The bottle list also lacks some creativity, but this is a very pleasant bar if you are in the business district. Legend Brewing Company - This brewpup 'across the rivah' must surely be among the older Richmond breweries, it was not new when I first visited about 6 years ago. The main attraction here is the popular patio overlooking a riverfront that is practically screaming 'develop me'. I stuck to the Year Round page, and finally found the pilsner I had been looking for. The Brown Ale - reportedly their most popular - was pleasant enough, but the addition of bourbon barrel on the Taproom series that I sampled didn't do this Brown any favors. The Beer Cheese with pretzel bites was worth whatever it cost. Mekong - A Vietnamese restaurant on the west side of town, Mekong seems to have achieved a cult following for their beer selection (it certainly isn't for their food). Their beer list was much more creative than Capital Ale House, but I also found it a little narrowly focused to darker, heavier brews, which didn't appeal to me with spicy vietnamese food. That being said, the list was locally focused, esoteric, and had some rare finds. Because of the aforementioned pairing concern, I wound up with a Hardywood Pils x2. Day 1... meh. But then... Strange ways Brewing - Strange Ways Brewing's tasting room is... fun. In addition to beer flights, they offer snack flights with your choice from 6 different snack offerings. Their flights also come with gratis peanuts, and a fridge of various snack foods is available. The day I was there, empanadas were also an option, and that night they were holding a 'Casino Night' fundraiser. SWB's 'nucleus' (core) offerings trended toward uber IBU hop bombs, but they had a decent belgian and solid Berliner Weisse. Once you got away from the Nucleus taps, they had a wide variety of other styles, many of which were off the beaten path. I tried a grape ale that was similar to Abita Purple Haze but with a more nuanced grape flavor that was actually very good, particularly when the clock is still reading in the AM (SWB opens at 11). Stone Brewing - for being such a 'big deal', Stone Brewing is not easy to find. No sign to speak of and the parking lot entrance is not on the main road, but is behind the building where you then cross a foot bridge. While I was there for a short time, three separate people had three separate conversations, all containing the sentence 'This is such a big deal for Richmond.' Most were relieved that it wasn't a large multinational. The facility itself was beautiful - it was clear this wasn't a start up in a warehouse district, but a substantial production facility with a pleasant, but modestly sized, tasting room and outdoor patio. Stone's main offerings largely speak for themselves, but they had a carrot beer on tap that was fascinating. I can't think of a way to describe it other than carrot cake without the frosting, but smooth and not overly sweet/spiced. I would have bought some to-go if they sold it by the bottle. For what its worth, Stone is the only facility I visited twice - not because I loved it, but because I wanted to show my wife, since it was such 'a big deal for Richmond'. There was a food truck but I'm not sure if they offered any food for sale on-site beyond basic snacks. Hardywood Park - as the name suggests, this was a fairly large facility, with several bars open between the production facility and more of an office entryway. The pils and raspberry stout are easy to find (the raspberry wasn't my jam [couldn't resist], the cream ale available by the can was pleasant enough but I wouldn't have classified it as a cream ale if not on the can. Very limited food was available for purchase, and food trucks were there. Live music was being set up for the evening. Perhaps there was an event there and I was unaware, but this was, by far, the frattiest environment I've been in since I was an undergrad, and I was honestly a little uncomfortable through no fault of the brewery's. Saturday > Friday. And honorable mention to Bottom's Up Pizza, which has a pretty solid beer list themselves. Ardent Craft Ales is where I began Sunday. Located in the Scott's Addition neighborhood, this is a good area if you want to walk from brewery to brewery. Ardent has its own parking lot and a nice outdoor patio, in addition to the bright and clean tasting room. This place also had my favorite beers of the weekend. If you are looking for an IPA, you may find better elsewhere, but the Honey Ginger Ale was malty and smooth - not at all cloying sweet. But the best beer of the weekend award goes to the Earl Grey Brown Ale. At 20 IBU and 6.5 ABV, this was an incredibly smooth brown that had strong but not overpowering flavors of tea. Snacks were available for purchase and a food truck was outside. Three Notch'd - seriously folks, get a better sign. After driving around the block three times and trying a marked entrance that was locked, I found my way in! I'd been excited to try this more than the others, as it seems to be gaining fast popularity in the area. Unfortunately the bartender completely botched my flight, giving me every beer I hadn't wanted and none that I had (inverted the list - I can see how it happened). My fault for not correcting, but I hate to waste good beer... The espresso stout had too strong of an espresso flavor for my taste, and I found the grapefruit witbier to be unpleasantly bitter. I did try to order a tasting of the Stately Neighbors IPA, but was told they don't sell individual tasters (I believe the only brewery all weekend with that policy). If food was sold, it was snacks only with no food truck. All-in-all, I found the beer in Richmond to be really solid. Often when I go to tastings out in Loudoun, I find one or two solid choices, with most being forgettable and a couple that I can't finish - I'd say the ratio over my weekend in Richmond was reversed. I need to go back to see if they sell that Earl Grey in six packs...
  11. Clarendon has changed a lot in the last decade. Look at how many mediocre/poor restaurants there are now that attract the bar crawl crowd on weekends. I have a feeling HN1 found they could make more money by selling super mugs of beer to a packed crowd at 10pm than good chinese to a moderate crowd at 6pm. And I will admit, I smiled a little when I saw this thread get bumped up. And I've never eaten an entree at HN1 (and am now in my mid-30s, so its been that way for awhile)
  12. We stumbled across Stone Tower Winery a year or two ago after receiving a promo coupon from Belfort (Huber family owns both). Well, who am I kidding, no one 'stumbles' across Stone Tower which is accessible via a gravel road in need of some TLC a few miles south of Leesburg. Side note - most of the people driving on this road don't seem to have a good sense of how to drive on gravel... or maybe they've had too much wine. Stone Tower has two main areas - the Harvest Barn for those of us with dogs and kids, and what I can only refer to as the grown up section, as I've never had a chance to get over there. In between is a hillside with lovely views of the Virginia countryside and cutthroat competition for seats on weekends (bring a lawn chair - problem solved). They also have some of the nicer restrooms in an outbuilding I've come across - even better that they remain relatively clean after a busy Saturday. It does get quite busy but the property is also large - it doesn't often feel as swamped as some other nearby options. Bottom line is, it is a nice place to spend an afternoon. Stone Tower has two labels - the estate label from fruit grown on-site, and the Wild Boar label using fruit shipped in while they continue to expand the growing output of the vineyard. If I have quibbles with the wine (which I do), it is because I tend to view their product in a higher tier than many other NoVA wineries. They produce two very serviceable Bordeaux blends (left and right) and a nice blend. Their Cabernet is pleasant - Pinot in general isn't my jam but friends have enjoyed it. The Malbec was the real star of the previous release, but I feel they did themselves a disservice by including the latest Malbec in the wine club too early - it is definitely too young. And while I'm not normally a big sparkling rose fan, their Rose Cuvee has a nice balance of not being too sweet and a little complex, while still being a good drinker on a warm day. Their club is quite flexible - you're charged by the discounted bottle price that quarter, and can swap in and out as you want with the price difference charged or refunded. Edit: They ran out of the Rose Cuvee last Saturday, so going to be a few months before available. They do seem consistently behind in production, but so far I haven't seen them double clubs, reduce the count for tastings, etc.
  13. Yes - I apologize if my post appeared to be directed at you, it was intended to be about the article posted.
  14. This is one of those posts that bugs me, but I give it a few hours before I comment in case I'll regret it. It's been a few hours... This wasn't a campaign rally, it was an opportunity to meet with the President in his capacity to set policy, where it sounds like the gentleman advocated for the very positions that most of the people now boycotting him would have supported. The unfortunate part is that any blow back will hurt those 300 'family members' just as much as the owner. As a person who opposes Trump as much as the next guy, this seemed more policy than politics.
  15. If this movie hadn't been nominated, I probably would have really enjoyed it. If this movie had a different literal take away toward the end, I may have even loved it. But it was, and it didn't. Not to sound cliche, but they don't make movies like this anymore. I felt it had the right amount of whimsy and fantasy, along with a story line that was engaging and kept moving. Interestingly, my wife felt like Ryan Gosling was a star while Emma Stone was lacking - I thought the exact opposite. But these filmmakers aren't dumb, I will give them that. Take the nostalgia from a well done example of a dying genre, combined with the blatant love note to Hollywood, and you wind up with a best picture nominee in a year when options were light.