genericeric

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About genericeric

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    Ashburn, VA
  1. 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'.
  2. 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.
  3. (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...
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. Yes - I apologize if my post appeared to be directed at you, it was intended to be about the article posted.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. E&C had a hard road to walk for me from the beginning. Due to no fault of its own, the 19th St location is where my then-g/f (now wife, thankyouverymuch) and I would meet on neutral ground when we needed to have 'a talk.' But then, it happened. I try not to publicly post things that could malign a business due to the actions of one bad apple. But this was that freaking bad. Sitting at the bar one Friday for lunch, I saw the bartender pour 3/4 of a draft beer, then pickup the plastic overflow tray and remove the cover, and proceed to pour in the contents to top off the pint. After mentioning to the manager without even giving time for a response, I left and have not been back to an E&C since. I don't see that changing.
  10. Per Se kept all three, eh? Would be interesting for Mr. Wells to return. As much as he seems to enjoy a good takedown, his reviews also seem fair (Senor Frogs being among my favorites). We're his issues isolated? Or did PS tighten the ship THAT much after his review? If so, bravo...
  11. I've wandered over to that Applebee's a few times when the Sunday madness at BWW gets to be too much. It is actually a perfectly fine place to sit and have a beer. The food is what you'd expect, though the table service has been sub par at times. I would imagine their daily business is tied somewhat heavily to the occupancy rates at the nearby Westin and Holiday Inn - I've noticed its rare to find an Applebee's more than a few hundred yards from a hotel these days.
  12. Along the happy hour theme, be up front with what is and is not on happy hour. I'm not sure why so many happy hour menus have gotten so complicated (chains seem to be the main culprit here), but if a guest has expressed interest in happy hour, and you then see them fall pray to the fine print, a friendly heads up is appreciated. For ex. - the 16oz beer is on special but the 20oz is not - it can save hard feelings later to flag that. While not expected, bonus points for something along the lines of "That is a nice IPA, though this other IPA is also nice and is on happy hour for $4 right now". Typically the beer costs me the same price, it just depends on whether you get the difference in tip, or the restaurant does in sales.
  13. I find myself at Devil's Backbone a lot. My mother-in-law lives at Wintergreen, so one could call this place my home-away-from-my-home-away-from-my-home (wow that made me sound like an ass). My wife and I headed up to the house for a getaway on our first anniversary of dating, too many years ago. It was late, I was grumpy/tired/hungry/thirsty. We turned the corner from 151 and I saw the giant copper tanks and my mood changed in a hurry. I'm a mug club guy. What I'm saying is I like the place. While I don't know Steve Crandall, I've gotten to know some of the bartenders over the years - all good people from what I can tell. Now, Devil's Backbone is no longer a craft brewer. There are clear definitions of craft brewery, and they no longer meet those definitions. But good God, the reaction... from customers. From the craft brewers association and some of their member breweries. From some in the media. Whenever someone mentions A/B you can see the staff visibly withdraw - having been the subject of so much verbal abuse over the last few months based on a decision they had nothing to do with. All of this against a company that did a great deal of good for their industry. The Backbone always participated in collaboration projects with other breweries - often times breweries that were far less successful and needed DB more than DB needed them. Hosting events at their facility, participating as board members, etc. Even after all that happened this year, someone mentioned that Crandall still hosted the brewers dinner the night before the event. A/B didn't buy them because they liked Nelson County, or because they liked the venue. They bought them because DB brews several specific, quality beers that fit well into A/B's portfolio of offerings. They didn't buy Wild Wolf or Blue Mountain. Devil's Backbone's beer is better (again, in my opinion, but sales and production seem to back this up). So let's take A/B out of the picture for a moment. Two weeks ago I was there on a random Saturday afternoon. I stopped by for an early lunch, then again on my way back up the mountain before dinner. There were easily 500+ people there at any given time throughout the day. There is zero chance they had less than $100,000 in sales that day, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was three times that. They had an offsite production facility brewing large quantities of product for regional distribution. They had moved beyond the days of having supply chain and distribution challenges already. So what has changed? When the truck pulls up to their Lexington production facility, the side of it says Budweiser. They are still brewing a lot of small batch, experimental beers - almost all of which are quite good. They are still employing hundreds of people in an area of the state that needs more jobs. I don't like the fact that they sold to A/B. But local company makes it big, puts out good product, employs a lot of good people, gets bought out, and still offers solid, innovative beers... Would the people at the CBA have turned down the check? It smells a little of sour hops to me (sorry, I couldn't resist). P.s. They are opening a distillery on site at the Basecamp, appears to be branded as Devil's Backbone. I would love to see the contractual gymnastics that had to be performed for A/B to sign off on allowing a distillery into their portfolio, with the same branding as one of their beers P.s.s. The ironic thing is I actually find the Vienna to be one of their least solid offerings. P.s.s.s. If you haven't visited the 151 trail, its beautiful this time of year. Find a chair next to the fire pit at the Basecamp and breathe - craft beer isn't dying, more will come along.
  14. I don't love Chipotle, but my wife does (even after the aforementioned raw chicken incident up thread), and sometimes it's easier to just shove it in rather than go two places. So I stop in a few weeks back and think 'Huh. Chorizo. Maybe this is my Chipotle jam.' I threw the burrito away. I have never been one to salt food at the table, but as I eat out a majority of my meals, my salt tolerance is not low. But whoa, this was a sodium bomb that I just couldn't get down - and couldn't believe this passed what I'm sure is extensive market testing by a company of this size before launching a new offering. Back to my standard kids meal - they aren't bad and are perfectly sized for lunch.
  15. I do like the tempura green beans here - makes me feel more virtuous than my typical side order of fries though they're probably just as bad. I like the concept of the grilled tuna, but in the 4-5 times I've ordered it at the Ashburn location, it is consistently cooked below the requested temp. A decent sear is fine, but I find the completely (or nearly so) raw doesn't work as well on the sandwich.