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Open Road, Americana-Themed Chain from The Owners of Circa


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On 8/30/2013 at 11:11 PM, DrXmus said:

Open Road has a soft opening tonight (Friday) and tomorrow. They officially open on the 3rd. I haven't seen anything about opening times for the Italian Market or Trio.

Will the Italian Market be to Italian markets like Red Apron Butchery is to yesteryear's butcheries? I'd love to have a stinky, food-odor Italian market near my house, but I have a feeling it'll be subs and prepared salads.

(I just know this is going to become its own post) [ :) DR]

I ate at Open Road tonight.  I had the burger (quelle surprise) while my friend had the hanger steak salad.  In retrospect, both the pizzas and the fish wrap looked rather good, and might be the go-to if/when I give this place it's second shot.

The burger was cooked rather well - the first time in quite some time I've ordered a burger medium and actually *gotten* it medium.  The downside was that it didn't have a tremendous amount of taste or seasoning to go with the overabundance of juiciness - the "scallion mayo" and even the addition of bacon didn't help.  Next time I might ask for more of the mayo and sprinkle some pepper on there.  It's also served on a brioche bun - and unfortunately...meat juices and brioche do not make a harmonious pair.  The hanger steak salad looked rather basic - not very vibrant in color - just steak sitting on a bed of mixed field greens with a minimum of garnish (she swore they forgot the potatoes), but the steak was cooked beautifully and had a good taste.  My friend remarked to the server that they seriously need to make an entree based on the hanger steak, a la Jackson's, since it outshines the salad considerably.

The menu itself reads like an exercise in "making simple sound needlessly complex."  The place seems rather targeted at three relatively nearby establishments - the aging Grevey's near INOVA Fairfax and its open-air bar, Glory Days Grill in Fairfax, and Blackfinn Pub.  They even have half-price burgers on Monday to compete directly with GD.  I wish them luck with that, as Blackfinn is in the middle of a residential complex with covered indoor parking and a short walk from the Metro and a Doubletree, and Glory Days has more parking than ever would be necessary.  I also question the logic of a nine dollar hot dog, regardless of whether it's made with Boar's Head.  We skipped dessert, as aside from the "Seasonal Crisp," there's nothing available you couldn't get much cheaper elsewhere.  Also, the inclusion of the "Old School" treat/snack menu had us wondering just how many Oreos or Twinkies you get per dollar spent.

This place is going to make a fortune on booze alone, though...as Happy Hour lasts until 7pm...that is, if you can find a spot.  The parking lot was jam-packed yesterday evening ~5:30pm, but the interior had ample seating - most of the customers were sitting/standing in the outdoor bar area (the place has two bars, and the interior one is well-stocked).  Once the Italian Deli and the "TRIO Grill" opens up, I really don't know what they're going to do - there's not enough parking by far, and if they're not careful, they're going to cause accidents on Route 29 since there's only one entry and exit for traffic despite a feed-in lane.  You could take your chances parking in the adjacent Sunoco station, but seeing as they generally have tow trucks sitting around, I wouldn't advise it.  The location is also just far enough from the Dunn Loring metro station that a 'leisurely walk' becomes more of a "burn off dinner" affair.

The Italian Market between Open Road and TRIO looks to be just a glorified deli (sorry DrX) based on the modicum of time I spent looking in the windows at the 'menu boards' on the back wall behind the deli counter.  There are two rather large beverage coolers on either side of the space, and I'm looking forward to getting a look at what's inside them, since I'm always curious about new sodas, beers, and drinks.

Brass tacks:

Did I feel adequately fed?  Yes.

Was the wait staff attentive?  Incredibly - almost to the point of fastidiously obsessive.  They even collected the straw I didn't use for my iced tea.

Was the food good?  Decent enough, but I honestly think Blackfinn has the better burger unless they burn the hell out of it like they did on my second visit there.

Would I return?  Yes, but I'm not exactly in a hurry to do so.

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This place is going to make a fortune on booze alone, though...as Happy Hour lasts until 7pm...that is, if you can find a spot.  The parking lot was jam-packed yesterday evening ~5:30pm, but the interior had ample seating - most of the customers were sitting/standing in the outdoor bar area (the place has two bars, and the interior one is well-stocked).  Once the Italian Deli and the "TRIO Grill" opens up, I really don't know what they're going to do - there's not enough parking by far, and if they're not careful, they're going to cause accidents on Route 29 since there's only one entry and exit for traffic despite a feed-in lane.  You could take your chances parking in the adjacent Sunoco station, but seeing as they generally have tow trucks sitting around, I wouldn't advise it.  The location is also just far enough from the Dunn Loring metro station that a 'leisurely walk' becomes more of a "burn off dinner" affair.

The Italian Market between Open Road and TRIO looks to be just a glorified deli (sorry DrX) based on the modicum of time I spent looking in the windows at the 'menu boards' on the back wall behind the deli counter.  There are two rather large beverage coolers on either side of the space, and I'm looking forward to getting a look at what's inside them, since I'm always curious about new sodas, beers, and drinks.

I'm kicking myself for not posting sooner, but Destruya's post jogged my feeble memory. Our first visit was a Wednesday night about 2 weeks after they opened. I was surprised to see the parking lot 95% full and a valet stand outside the restaurant. I have no idea where the cars are taken, but I can see the necessity of it, especially when Trio and the Italian Market are open in the future. On our first visit, there were employees in Trio and "In Training" signs on the door, so I'm guessing some of the vehicles in the lot were theirs. I agree with Destruya, though, when all three places are hopping, parking will be at a premium. They have a confusing happy hour special called a "rotator". The idea I get is that it's a changing beer, but then they also have "rotators" of Lost Rhino and Lagunitas, so I guess those are rotating styles of those breweries only. Despite my need to understand all things, we ordered a "rotator" which turned out to be a Uinta IPA (score!) for $3 (hat trick!!!). Oh, and we were asked if we wanted a 16 or 20 oz glass and were told they were the same price!! How is this possible? I don't care, I'll have another (and we did). I had a chicken sandwich which turned out to be sliced, tender chicken on toasted bread with lettuce, cheese (maybe) and a little jam of some sort to lend some unnecessary sweetness. Mrs. DrX had a shrimp roll which was lobster roll-ish but it was only 5 shrimp on overly toasted bread, but it was well-received by my lovely bride. Fries were soggy and tasted of old oil, but not inedible.

We ended up going with friends 4 days later after the 1 o'clock football games so it was around 5:30 or so when we got there. There was plenty of parking and the inside tables were 20% occupied but the patio was hopping and only had a couple of tables free. We asked to sit outside and the hostess told us to go out and she said something about hightops. We went out and sat at a regular table but apparently caused a bit of a shitstorm because a hostess hadn't put us there and info had to get back to her. It was a weird start to a less-than-perfect meal. Our server wasn't attentive, we couldn't get waters, it took forever to get beers, etc. At one point we were brought a dish we didn't order, we sent it away and then it was brought back because "it was ordered for this table" and it was comped for us. We had finished eating so it was taken home for someone who didn't join us. I ended up ordering the same chicken sandwich but it came with a bowl of slaw rather than the fries. When I reminded the server I had asked for fries, she said the sandwich comes with slaw automatically. When asked, she said the menu had been changed. I was brought fries and the slaw was removed. The fries were completely different but were much better. The 2.0 version was shoestring and better seasoned than the 1.0. The pizza was not a hit at our table. The "rotator" Lagunitas beer was A Little Sumpin' Sumpin', so I was very happy with that, at least.

The Italian Market is definitely a glorified lunch place. I remember seeing De Cecco pasta boxes and industrial sized cans of tomatoes. I think the tomatoes are there for decoration. I don't really see these being purchased here for people to simmer a sauce all day. The beverage coolers contained sodas, juices and beers that I saw, but there were areas I couldn't see so there may be something more exciting than that.

A few days ago, Trio announced on Facebook that they're still serving friends and family during their soft opening but will announce an opening date soon.

My take on Open Road, it's worth eating there, but don't expect a great meal. It's much more worthwhile if you drink beer and can take advantage of the deals.

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Yesterday I stopped by Open Road Roslyn which OPENED Tuesday, 12/17.  It is located at Ground Zero in Rosslyn, across from the Metro in the building at 1201 Wilson, on the Plaza, where there is a Farmer's Market one day a week in the summer.  It includes a "Speak Easy, Salt on a lower level and opening onto N. Lynn Street.  Between bar and Salt, it is certainly alcohol oriented.  At around 2:30-3ish it was post Lunch Pre Happy Hour, but its bar was not exactly empty.  Open Road is part of the Metropolitan Hospitality Group of restaurants which includes Circa, Trio, and something else.  I'm favorably disposed to Circa.  Yes it is a LOCAL chain.  I think they do a good job with a wide variety of dishes, and service is generally quite good.  I am aware they put a lot of effort into training FOH staff.   From what I understand Open Road has been pretty successful and popular in Merrifield.  It is a popular bar there.

Yesterday I sampled wings and a cocktail.  That is too small a variety to make judgements in general.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, the cocktail was quite good, and the wings were pretty large, although the sauce wasn't too evident.

I'll be back.

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