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About genericeric

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    Ashburn, VA

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  1. Thursday afternoon at 5:30 and the only portions of this that were open were the self service bar, the ice cream counter, and Graffiato. That is a massive amount of square footage to be closed within their posted hours of operation. This was 7/5, so maybe they were expecting it to be slow so they reduced capacity, but it didn't seem to bode well for long term prospects. Normally after I get my hair did at the Grooming Lounge, I head next door to Wildfire for a Manhattan. Consistency lately has been an issue, but more irking, they charge $17.00 for a cocktail that is served in what feels like a plastic martini glass. So the wife and I head to the 'self serve' section of Graffiato - order at the bar, someone brings you the food. Don't expect to get napkins, silverware, or a clean table. Two drinks were ok and the happy hour prices were decent. Two apps - french fries and meatballs - were oddly flavorless. Even my wife, who typically enjoys a bland meal, wondered how you could have a marinara with so little flavor. I can't imagine Isabella's press is helping, but he's not doing himself any favors with the bland food and shuttered concepts.
  2. This place seemed doomed from the start (Aggio, not Family Meal). The last meal I had at Family Meal was depressing, and the canvas sign/banner hung on the exterior saying Aggio while the building itself still said Family Meal didn't leave me confident. I'm amazed it stayed open this long as I never saw anyone in there. While I think the location became a problem as the developer shifted parking from lots to garages and further away from the restaurant, there is a sad blueprint for successful restaurants at OL - Uncle Julio's, Matchbox, Eddie Merlot's - all larger chains. I'm amazed at how busy Uncle Julio's is considering the prices they charge for sub-par food and bad margaritas.
  3. If you're like me, and find that fitting your 6'3" frame into a standard airline seat is challenging, it sounds like AA is no longer going to be an option, reducing their seat pitch and removing all IFE. At some point, you may as well be on Spirit. Dec 2, 2017 - "American Airlines Just Reduced the Amount of Legroom on Its Newest Planes (Yes, in First Class Too)" by Chris Matyszczyk on inc.com Nov 30, 2017 - "No, American Airlines' 30-Inch Pitch and Bring-Your-Own Entertainment Isn't All Passengers Need" by Gary Leff on viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com
  4. The swath America West's legacy has cut through the airline industry is quite remarkable. US Airways was never leading the pack in terms of customer service and satisfaction, but it wasn't a bad airline to fly on pre-merger. Then came the years of charging customers for a glass of soda on board their aircraft, and the much more serious charges of under-fueling aircraft to save weight and pushing pilots to fly in weather some considered unsafe. 15 years ago, American Airlines came through 9/11 in better shape than many - acquiring TWA in the process and was generally held in decent regard - particularly as Delta and Northwest experienced the pains of their merger. But, economics caught up, and the corporate culture that started at American West and eventually gutted US Air moved in - not surprising given that CEO Doug Parker has been at the helm of the shifting company since the America West days, and now leads AA's parent holding company. My wife was bumped from an American flight last week. I'll spare the details, but it was a situation caused by human mismanagement, and she is clearly entitled to compensation according to current DOT rules. Having said that, it was a minimal inconvenience and she wasn't inclined to make a big deal out of it. But there was no apology. No attempt by the airline to make amends. Only a manager rudely telling the gate agent to give no vouchers or compensation, and then walking away without ever acknowledging the 20 or so jilted passengers stuck at the airport. American's response is to say that she (and I guess the 20 other passengers?) were denied boarding because they were late to the gate. She was not, nor were the others - the company simply fabricated an excuse that is difficult to disprove to get out of paying the DOT mandated money. So now an appeal is filed with the DOT. Even if the appeal is denied, it would have been a lot cheaper for a low level manager to say "I'm Sorry" at the gate.
  5. genericeric

    Suggestions for a Long, Hamiltonian Weekend in NYC

    Midtown is tough, but two restaurants in NoMad that were good last month - NoMad restaurant in the NoMad hotel, and La Pecora Bianca at 26th and Broadway. There's another thread on NoMad - La Pecora Bianca was a solid, straightforward italian restaurant. Excellent pastas, relatively accessible. Not anything revelatory, but a really solid meal. Both are semi casual and both, I believe, take reservations, though we were able to walk into LPB and grab a bar seat without issue.
  6. genericeric

    Richmond, VA

    The service at Mekong has never been its selling point. But man, had an experience on Saturday night that may bump this favorite of mine off the list. Posted hours until midnight. 9pm, the place is still busy but handwritten sign on door on a piece of torn notebook paper that said "Closed". Seeing as the place is still busy, I thought maybe, just maybe, its an old sign, etc. Hostess screamed at me and asked if I didn't read the sign. The wife, knowing how badly I wanted some Mekong (this may have been toward the end of a long day of Richmond breweries), and being more persistent yet also more polite than I am, called to see if maybe the dining room was closed for a private event, but we could still get takeout. She was also screamed at before the hostess hung up the phone. It was the most bizarre, infuriating "service" experience I can remember. I get that places close sometimes, that's ok, but whoa attitude. Looking at some recent online postings, I'm not alone. These days Richmond has a lot of really good beer options, and a lot of really solid food options. No need for this.
  7. You're really lucky to have gotten it - its typically saved for "special" guests as it's so highly prized
  8. I'm afraid I'm starting to sound like a shill in this thread, but to keep things current... Snagged a reservation for lunch in the main dining room this past Sunday. Our first reservation since the remodel - the space has been freshened, but not dramatically redesigned. The bar area has undergone a change - there are now more seats available for the more approachable bar reservations, however there are fewer bar stools that are for walk ins. If you show up at noon on a Sunday, you still seem to be able to get your pick of seats sitting at the now-smaller bar. Service remains impeccable. Approachable, almost casual but always extremely professional. Not at all stuffy, but exceedingly capable stewards throughout the meal. I won't go dish by dish, as many dishes remain stalwart from previous posts. The highs: From the simple but great book - the cheese course. A single disk of cheese, grilled and served atop a thin plate of celery root (I could have sworn it was potato but the menu corrected me at the end), served with a simple green salad in a truffle vinaigrette. A winter green salad on top of rye toast. A thin tart shell topped with black truffle puree and sprinkled with clothbound cheddar, served with a truffle-stuffed mushroom and grilled portobella. The lows: A butter poached lobster with a lobster broth, sweet potato, wilted greens and chestnut. The chestnut texture didn't work, and was a smoke bomb that threw the dish off balance. My dessert of a spiced cake with roasted pumpkin and creme fraiche ice cream - I also didn't care for the texture of the pumpkin. My wife and I agreed that we've enjoyed our food more on previous occasions. It isn't that it wasn't well executed, but we preferred the dishes offered on the summer menu. I was a bit surprised to be seeing so many winter flavors on the menu on April 1st. That being said, it was still a wonderful and fun experience, and I have no doubt we'll be back - though maybe next time to grab a bar stool.
  9. The NoMad Restaurant, operated by the Make it Nice group is the more casual, approachable cousin of Eleven Madison Park, located in the NoMad hotel. The maze of rooms makes this large restaurant intimate and comfortable, with excellent service to match. Stopped in on Saturday evening for a drink and a snack, ordering a few cocktails and the Crudite ($16). From Las Vegas to Denver to New York in the last week, I've eaten a lot of places - including the aforementioned Eleven Madison Park (for another thread), but the single best dish I had was this plate of raw vegetables and dip. Radishes, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots and chive cream. All quasi-seasonal, all fresh, crisp, and delicious. A wonderful example of perfectly executing something so simple and having the results be amazing.
  10. genericeric

    Richmond, VA

    We have terrible luck when we go to Richmond. Part of this is our fault. We a. don't get out much these days and b. tend to prefer sitting at the bar, sampling things rather than sitting down for dinner. We also tend to be somewhat last minute travelers - making reservations weeks in advance often isn't possible. This means we'll often try to get drinks and an appetizer at two or three places in an evening. I think its time to finally accept that this dining scene isn't conducive to that style of eating. This past week, after trying to go to East Coast Provisions for 6 months, we finally got smart and went for lunch. Sushi was excellent, the wife's salmon was good but in desperate need of an acid on the plate. I ordered badly - Avocado BLT. Order a BLT in February and I don't feel like you have a right to complain, so I will leave it at that. Note to anyone in Carytown - the RVA Draft Room across from ECP - 50 beers on tap machines, sample as little or much as you want. This wouldn't be a place I'd go every week, but is a nice option to have. I tried to get us out of the hotel early to get a bar seat at L'Oppossum, and failed. Walking in at 6:30, there was one bar stool remaining, so asked my wife to have a seat while we figured out our next move. What appeared to be a manager/bartender came over, holding an iphone up to his ear, and said they would 'prefer' I not stand. They do have a couch in the dining room and the hostess offered us a cocktail, but with a babysitter and an estimated 30-45 minute wait, we couldn't stay. On paper the restaurant handled this correctly, and I was not surprised at being asked to move. But something about the way it was said and the phone left me feeling chided and slightly embarrassed. Having said that, this was FAR better than how we were treated at Stella's last visit, but that is for another thread. Time to regroup, we headed to Grandstaff and Stein for a cocktail. Remember to look up the password on Facebook in advance, and this has some of the better cocktails in Richmond, I just wouldn't recommend staying for dinner. After liquid fortification, we were close to the Roosevelt so drove up and parked around the back side of the restaurant. Same situation - one bar stool. Restaurant was much more accommodating but the space was small and we were losing steam. I'll not go into details here, but on the way back to the car I'm 99.9% we were about to get mugged when a police car came down the street at JUST the right moment. We'd looked seriously at buying a house on Church Hill last year - this experience made me glad we did not. There was a police car watching the restaurant when we arrived, which made me wonder if this wasn't the first. So the night ended up where it almost always does. An AleSmith My Bloody Valentine Amber at Mekong while waiting for above average vietnamese takeout, and a 6-pack of Inbev's finest from the Sheetz.
  11. genericeric

    Bell's Beers

    Randomly stumbled upon Hopslam twice this year - once at a random Giant in Leesburg - cans for $20. Again at the Whole Foods in Ashburn on draft. These were weeks apart so take the reaction with a grain of salt, but I preferred the cans. The beer was well balanced - the honey flavor that shone through at the finish may have been just a bit too much for some, but I really enjoyed it. The draft tasted like any other IPA - granted, a good IPA, but nothing noteworthy.
  12. I'm not sure how you could go wrong with menu descriptions like "awesome sauce" and "jersey sauce" - somewhere Guy Fieri is smiling. Having said that, I hope this place is decent. A few recent bad experiences at the Bonefish in Ashburn and not loving Ford's these days, another option would be nice.
  13. Often overlooked is their above average happy hour food menu. Nothing mind blowing, but many seem to think of this as a 'special occasion' restaurant, and not in a good way (think Grandma's birthday, etc). Those honey ham biscuits ($5) are addictive.
  14. Completely agree, and I, too, read the wikipedia article. After wasting a few hours of my life watching the film, I had to google to see what was actually going on.