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  1. My four year-old daughter and I made a stop at Windy City Red Hots for a tasty lunch on a wonderful day. As we walked out of the restaurant I noticed a bakery across the street so we headed over for dessert. We entered and I looked around for the usual displays of baked goods one would normally find in a bakery. After asking a waitress for some direction, she said "we're not really a bakery". I got the impression she regularly dealt with this confusion. My sweet little girl did not take this very well, but with promises of apple cider doughnuts at Great Country Farms in nearby Bluemont, I carried her out before she went postal. FYI, Al
  2. Four of us had dinner at The Green Tree on King Street in Leesburg Saturday night. We were intrigued by the restaurant's description as serving authentic recipes from the 18th century. According to the blurb in the Entertainment book, the original owner researched colonial recipes in the Library of Congress, and adapted them to more modern practices. Since one of our group is a docent at Mount Vernon who happens to be an expert on the cuisine during the time that George Washington lived there, we figured it would be an interesting exercise. Our visit on Saturday found a place that was somewhat better than some of the more dire reviews that appeared online. The dining room was once lit only by candles, for example, but since that was written some electric lamps have been added, and that means that those of us of a certain age can still read the menus. We arrived at 7:00PM to find only one other table occupied. By the time we left, a couple more tables had filled. This place is not overly busy, and I have to wonder if it's trying to rebound from declining fortunes and rising costs. The menu includes an appetizer course, a soup course, entrees and dessert. Not on the menu, but served before the entree is a salad course. The entrees range from some long term items such as the cheese pie (kind of like a quiche) to mushroom canapes to a crab and cream casserole, which is what I had. The appetizers can run large, so for some like the cheese pie, you might want to share. We avoided the soup course considering the weather, although I'm told that the cabbage soup is a favorite. The entrees are supposed to be items that were served in the late 18th century, and our period expert says that they appear to be very similar to items that appear in contemporary diaries from the time. A couple of the items claim to have been taken directly from records of meals hosted by Thomas Jefferson, including his favorite liver dish. I was a little surprised to find an Indian curry on the menu, but I haven't had curry for a long time so I tried it. There was also a crab-stuffed flounder, a lamb kabob, a perch poached in dill cream, and some specials that didn't seem at all colonial. A couple of things make me think that this restaurant is trying to overcome bad times. The curry I had, for example, was described as having a collection of side condiments, as it typical of an Indian curry, but the condiments were presented already on the curry, and the sides were eliminated. Other things that make me wonder are the butter that's served, which is the same California Dairy packet that you get at Costco. There's nothing wrong with the butter other than its presentation, but it doesn't really fit the image of fine dining. Service was quite good, although the staff was pretty thin. The head waiter is a retired gentleman who is clearly a colonial food scholar who can quote from Jefferson's diaries during his time in France and at Monticello, He's assisted by a runner, and things are delivered promptly, the orders are correct, and the result is well paced if leisurely. We finished with the bread pudding, which was quite good. The restaurant makes its own desserts for the most part, and apparently is known for its pies, but I really like bread pudding, so I went with that and wasn't disappointed. The wine list is short, but reasonably priced. The house white is a California pinot grigio. We ended up spending about $40 per person. I thought it was a little steep, but I was outvoted by the rest of the table. Maybe I'm a cheapskate. A couple of other thoughts. This restaurant is part of a group that lines that side of King Street in Leesburg, and includes The Leesburg Colonial Inn, Bella Luna and the Georgetown Cafe. The Green Tree seemed to be the busiest of the bunch on the night we were there. Also, the chef is clearly producing specials for more than one restaurant. As much as I love escargot, for example, I don't think it qualifies as an 18th century American dish. I also have my doubts about the crab-stuffed flounder, which I'm told was quite good, but our captive docent didn't think she'd ever seen in any of her studies. Overall, I think The Green Tree is worth a visit, although I'd think of it as more of an exercise in culinary anthropology than as the latest in fine dining. I halfway expected to see Deb Duchon show up around a corner at some point. The restaurant doesn't have a Web site of its own (I'm told they're working on it) but the group can be found at http://www.theleesburgcolonialinn.com. Wayne Rash
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