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About genericeric

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    Ashburn, VA

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  1. Having had Solace beers from other locations in the past, I was excited to try their taproom last weekend. Now when I roll into a brewery at 4:30 on a Saturday, I expect it to be busy and to wait in line for a beer. That being said, the line last weekend was back to the door, and we waiting 30+ minutes for a beer meant that our visit was one and done. I do wish I'd been able to try more of their beers because I agree with Dean, I think they have an excellent product. I believe this location has been open for several years now, and the amount of money they must lose in an average weekend because they either can't or haven't added additional tap capacity must be staggering. I'd gladly return on a weekday afternoon though. Solace isn't alone with this issue in Loudoun. Bear Chase has notoriously long lines during the weekends. Meanwhile, Vanish, which is fairly new, has added significant capacity to keep up with their growing crowds. I don't think their beer matches Solace on any level, but it matters less if you can't get the beer in your glass.
  2. It's going to happen at some point. No restaurant can stay as good as EMP was 3-4 years ago, while still being as relevant and timely forever. That being said, Guidara and Humm showed an ability to adapt - starting out more simply, then going too far into the complex, and finding a happy middle ground where it really hit its stride. But then the expansions started - seasonal pop ups in different locations, a fast casual lunch place, and now an ambitious restaurant in London that seems to be the focus of Humm's attention these days. And of course, the split between the two partners themselves. Our first visit for dinner was fabulous. The second was good, but we left thinking it would be best to visit the bar for more casual and affordable experiences in the future - and we've enjoyed those since. But we thought, maybe before we get more than one generation away from Guidara's service and Humm's attention in the kitchen, we'd give it a last go. The service - we were discussing the dinner with friends beforehand and their focus was on the food, but I've always felt the real star of the show here was the service. Where else can I go and have someone ask me if there's anything I don't want, and then deliver a superb meal where everything is very good or better; where the staff has done their research on our previous visits and preferences? Happily all of our interactions with the staff were as pleasant, professional, and comfortable as ever. Without requesting it, we were taken on a "Field Trip" - a tour of the kitchen with a snack made for us, in front of us - it was a nice way of continuing to surprise repeat guests and make the experience unique. The food - I won't go course-by-course but the low point was a poached lobster with razor clam and potato over a lobster and sea urchin bisque. It wasn't bad, but the clams and sea urchin overpowered the lobster. The highs were a roasted mushroom with pine and black truffle, and caviar with savory souffle. The wine - I had never done the wine pairing here before, they offer two options - a classic for $175 and reserve for $335. We stuck to the classic and were not disappointed - it took decision making out of the equation and we were able to just sit back and enjoy, and even at that price point, I didn't feel fleeced given the quality of selection and reasonable pours. In total the meal was $1,051. An absurd price by any measure. But I will say that, so far, this restaurant is almost as good as it ever has been. (Two small nits - the first course is oysters served hot and cold with a smoked oyster broth. I burned my lip on the shell of the hot prep (which sounds like a 'duh' moment but am guessing I wasn't the only one) and since we had an earlier seating, everyone present was getting their oyster broth at more or less the same time. Without any other odors or many people to compete the smell permeating the restaurant was off-putting, but as the place filled up it dissipated)
  3. It will be interesting to see which direction the company goes following the acquisition by Graham Holdings. It seems there has been a notable dip in quality and that 'fun' factor you mention in recent years across many of their properties (though Tom S seems high on Ebbitt right now), while competition is increasing. The Willow Creek location, for example, has seen a dramatic reduction in business (from my occasional observation but also in talking with the staff) as new rivals in the area (primarily Cooper's Hawk) have bumped into a market that Clydes once dominated. But it may not matter. It seems that many restaurant empires are built more on savvy real estate deals than anything else, and Clydes is no different. Laytham secured the land for Tower Oaks AND Willow Creek from the developers - free of charge. He got a long term sweetheart deal for The Hamilton along with financing from the District. These are some of the highest grossing restaurants in the country - unfortunately they don't have to be good. So many people have celebrated so many occasions at 1789, and the Graham's obviously have long ties to the community. Maybe they'll turn it around.
  4. I've had trouble getting a stool at Andy's in the evening a few times recently. The usual bartender (I forget her name, female brunette) has great service skills and is super knowledgeable about beer. I think they would do well to structure the other side more, it isn't a friendly or familiar layout for someone who doesn't go regularly and signage is poor. Yes, I'm suggesting they make it more like a mall food court... but that's sort of what it is.
  5. From my perspective, barrel aging should compliment the existing product, adding depth and complexity. In this year's rum barrel pumpkin, the rum flavor completely overwhelms the pumpkin, and the farmhouse ale is light enough that the body doesn't support it. The result is a strong rum flavor that tastes almost fake, while also having no finish.
  6. I enjoyed the Pumking Nitro, which recently has been available in the singles section of Total Wine
  7. Selling in large format at Costco for ~11$, most other retailers for ~$14, Hardywood has pushed a large volume offering of Rum Barrel Pumpkin this fall. I enjoy Hardywood's Farmhouse Pumpkin, their Cuvee Peach, Virginia Blackberry, etc that are sold in larger sizes at Costco. And I will tell you, it is rare that I meet a beer that I simply cannot drink. But I took three drinks of the rum barrel and couldn't do a fourth. The rum flavor was so strong as to drown out any other taste, the result being it tasted like a watered down rum that wanted to be something else but couldn't quite make it. At 12+% ABV, I was hoping for a richer, smoother pumpkin flavor with an aged rum complexity. Nope.
  8. I put myself on the wait list at Longoven a few weeks ago, and subsequently got a reservation for L'opossum, which I've been trying to get into for years (our trips to Richmond are usually last minute and on busy nights). Of course Saturday afternoon Longoven called, but I chose to stick with L'opossum. Side note - Longoven handled the wait list very professionally, sending me a personalized email confirmation, and then apologizing for the late notice Saturday afternoon (which was unnecessary) - if you can't get in via Resy, try the wait list. Anywho, we weren't disappointed in our choice. I started with a Dark and Stormy Daniels - a strong version of the cocktail that came with a tiny cornichon on the rim. The pickle didn't fit in with the drink, but the restaurant left the meaning of the small member up to the drinker... My wife is sans dairy for awhile, so she started with Vegan Orgy on Texas Beach ($11) which came with large crisps and five different vegan dips. I went with the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras ($18). Her Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($34) with wilted spinach was good, but would have been better with the bernaise that had to be omitted by her request. My Rack of Lamb (was a special, don't remember the price) with blackberry, grilled peaches, and succotash was delicious and cooked as ordered. Shared the Composition of Seasonal Fruit with plums, sake, melon and finger lime for dessert ($9). The wine list here is very approachable. Glasses were in the $7-12 range, and many bottles available for $<50. 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, a shared dessert, a cocktail and quite a few glasses of wine, with tax and tip was ~$200. Sure, next time I'll take the Longoven reservation, but we thoroughly enjoyed L'Opossum.
  9. This week's review of Cherry (not written by Tom S) is oddly timed at best, bordering on a cheap shot at worst. I agree with the written sentiment that restaurants need to provide the same experience whether the head chef is in the kitchen or not. That being said, it seems unnecessary to distribute a full length review of a new restaurant whose head chef is on a temporary medical leave instead of simply waiting a few more weeks for the chef to return. Was this restaurant so hotly anticipated, and the city so short of other review opportunities, that the Post felt compelled to rush? And what value does it provide readers a review of an experience that the publication acknowledges may be quite different in a matter of weeks?
  10. Very similar to DC Prime in Ashburn is Eddie Merlot's, a smallish chain. They have pretty decent promotions from time to time (1/2 priced wine seasonally Sundays and Mondays, All-you-can-eat crab in the spring, etc.) and steaks are nice. If you enjoy carrot cake, bring a few friends and try theirs...
  11. I used to meet a business contact for lunch at Yamazato nearby. I don't think we ever ordered Edamame (if they have it), but is the sort of pan-asian that would have the mix. Sushi wasn't bad if you could accept what it was, which was a little 'fussy'.
  12. I believe Bambu on MacArthur Blvd has all three, the circular sushi plate is throwing me off as I remember always getting a square plate - though I'm not sure I've ever had a sushi order that large here.
  13. Yes. I've spent more time than I'd admit thinking about where this may be. Lots of options that come close, but none that seem to fit.
  14. I've always thought there's a time and place for CF. But then they put the calorie counts on the menu. Now, I always knew they would be astronomical, but something about seeing them in print... I just can't do it. And whoever gave the light menu the name 'Skinnylicious' should be banned from any sort of marketing ever again. I have no idea how they get 1,340 calories into an entree of Miso Salmon, but daaaaaaaamn.
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