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Jessica Strelitz

AhSo, Modern American in Brambleton Plaza in Brambleton - Chef Jason Maddens Comes from Clarity Bistro

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On 2/9/2017 at 2:06 PM, DonRocks said:

I have it on good word that Jason Maddens is no longer at Clarity.

On 2/28/2017 at 10:19 AM, jpbloom said:

This would appear to be the case.  He is doing a pop-up this week at Stone Tower Winery and is apparently planning a restaurant in Leesburg to be called Ah-So (as in the two-pronged cork puller).

On 2/28/2017 at 10:19 AM, jpbloom said:

This would appear to be the case.  He is doing a pop-up this week at Stone Tower Winery and is apparently planning a restaurant in Leesburg to be called Ah-So (as in the two-pronged cork puller).

Really hope he rethinks that name. 

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27 minutes ago, Jessica Strelitz said:

Really hope he rethinks that name. 

This is an interesting perspective - coming to all this from a wine background, I didn't think twice about it (I use an ah-so cork puller probably once a week), but you may be right.

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I didn't think twice about the name either (I have several Ah-Sos), but I can now see it being an issue if he's trying to appeal to a non-wine crowd.  Even some of my wine drinking friends are not really familiar with the Ah-So, for that matter. 

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I never heard of an Ah-So in the wine context, and the name sounds offensive to me. Why is the wine opener called an Ah-So?

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46 minutes ago, dracisk said:

I never heard of an Ah-So in the wine context, and the name sounds offensive to me. Why is the wine opener called an Ah-So?

I never knew (or even thought about) the etymology before now, but here it is - the etymology is not offensive (in fact, it's German):

Jan 22, 2008 - "Ah So What the Heck Is That?" on anythingwine.wordpress.com

I also never knew there was another name for it: "The Butler's Friend," which is pretty funny.

Off-topic, but with The Durand Corkscrew (which uses both a corkscrew and an ah-so *at the same time*), and costs $125, I have never lost a single cork - it is, by far, the greatest corkscrew I have ever used (and I'm not particularly skilled at opening wines, given that I supposedly have some degree of expertise).

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I just received an email this morning advising that Ah-So has begun taking reservations for slots starting on December 15.  I expect there will be a week's worth of soft opening activity ahead of that.  Just a heads-up to get a topic started on this place.  (I didn't see one, but if there is, please merge).

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My wife and I made our first visit last night - the restaurant has only been open a week, so please keep that context in mind...  Also note that the prices listed include gratuity.

Starting with the good - we really enjoyed our food.  My wife started with the Butternut Squash Frite with pumpkin seed, sage ricotta, baby carrot and parsnip, and pickled cranberry ($13).  The frites themselves were fine if somewhat unremarkable, but all the components taken together were really nicely balanced and reminded me of a deconstructed squash blossom, with the cranberry then cutting through the ricotta.  I had the Foie Gras Duck Trio (I think this was $21 but isn't the same as the online version) which came with a lobe of foie, sliced duck, and a cured duck egg on brioche, all over apple butter.  The flavor of the dish was great, though the foie was sort of warm, the egg was room temperature, and the sliced duck was sort of cold, which didn't work well for me (lukewarm happened a few times throughout the evening). 

My main was the "Spaghetti and Meatballs" - three lentil "meatballs" on top of spaghetti squash, surrounded by a moat of tomato soup ($19).  Inventive vegetarian dish with the lentil balls that were substantial but not overly dense.  Wife had the Spring House Farms Chicken ($23) with apple chicken sausage and some roasted winter squash and mushrooms (online menu description doesn't match so details are vague).  The chicken sausage had a great flavor and the chicken itself was moist and flavorful (I would guess poached and then finished on grill?) - I'm not sure both proteins were needed but they were both good.

Dessert was a Scotch Poached Pear with earl grey creme anglaise, shortbread, honey ($9).  The scotch imparted a bit of the smoked mossy flavor (in a good way)  without being overpowering.

Our server, Oscar, was very good.  Pleasant and attentive without being overbearing.

The biggest not-so-good point may have been what felt like a restaurant with an identity problem - the whole evening was a tug-of-war between fine dining and a pop up in the Brambleton Town Center.  The prices of the food, especially given that service is included, were very reasonable.  Comparatively, the prices of the wines by the glass felt high to me.  Our waiter was wonderful, but while the hostess was very friendly she was also very casual - as I'm getting older that 'hey guys' thing with mixed company sticks out to me. The space itself is pushing barren industrial a bit far.  But again, this restaurant is only a week old.  Maybe it will find its groove.

I also hope the bar was just having an off night.  I enjoy drinks that have a bit of spice in them, but the martini with orange and habanero simple syrup was way out of balance in favor of the syrup, half the size it should have been, and was served with large chunks of ice from the shaker.  Glasses of wine ordered with courses were delivered well after.  Again, kinks that may be worked out with time.

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3 hours ago, genericeric said:

My wife and I made our first visit last night - the restaurant has only been open a week, so please keep that context in mind...  Also note that the prices listed include gratuity.

Great review, genericeric. A couple things about AhSo:

* The hyphen has been removed from the name, which softens it. Also, AhSo has a website with a FAQScreenshot 2017-12-24 at 10.57.34.png

* AhSo appears to be vegetarian-friendly, and will have a 20-seat patio in the Spring - they also have a dining counter.

* Yes, Brambleton is a census-designated place in Virginia (!)

* Jason and I were once on a panel of judges who judged a graduating class' "Boys vs. Girls" cook-off at L'Academie de Cuisine. (The boys won by one point, but my ballot had the girls slightly ahead. Gut-wrenching, I docked the girls 1 point at the last moment, when a dish arrived cold - Aargh, had I only known, I wouldn't have done it!)

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Ah geez, I hope AhSo makes a go of it. For a booming area that's the backbone of what is now known as the "richest county in the US," SE Loudoun is a devil of a time getting and keeping better restaurants. The Avonlea development on 50 is completely stalled due to the lack of tenants beyond the Cinepolis movie theatre. (Although we are hearing rumors of enough tenants signing leases to allow the project to move forward soon)

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According to TheBurn.com, Bar Ahso is coming to the new Chefscape Food Hall/Incubator/Commercial Kitchen/Event space at the Village at Leesburg.  I really want Ahso to be successful, and want Bar Ahso to be as well, which is significantly closer to where I live.  That being said, this development seems to be a tough place to thrive in, and this mixed concept doesn't inspire too much confidence.

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On 10/15/2018 at 3:29 PM, genericeric said:

According to TheBurn.com, Bar Ahso is coming to the new Chefscape Food Hall/Incubator/Commercial Kitchen/Event space at the Village at Leesburg.  I really want Ahso to be successful, and want Bar Ahso to be as well, which is significantly closer to where I live.  That being said, this development seems to be a tough place to thrive in, and this mixed concept doesn't inspire too much confidence.

We live less than two miles from AhSo, so we typically eat there once a week. It's great to have such a high quality, creative restaurant near-by.  Their business appears to be on a positive glide slope, and that's great to see.

I've chatted with people at AhSo who confirmed the new bar venture. I'm not in the business, but it seems to be a careful way to test the waters. Their lead bartender recently won a local bartending contest, so the expansion seems like a natural move.

I'm glad AhSo is moving closer to you!

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Don, I hope you don't mind me sharing this, but I think this is worthwhile.

Yesterday, I learned Phil Duong, AhSo's lead bartender, had been hospitalized following an incident this weekend. Details are scarce, but I understand he was severely injured while he was at a local restaurant. (Not AhSo).

His injuries necessitated a medevac, and he is currently in an induced coma. 

I'm not a close friend or part of the family, but if you've met Phil, he's an extremely likable guy.

If you would like to help with his medical expenses, Jason Maddens set up a Gofundme page .

Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers. 

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11 minutes ago, reedm said:

Don, I hope you don't mind me sharing this, but I think this is worthwhile.

Yesterday, I learned Phil Duong, AhSo's lead bartender, had been hospitalized following an incident this weekend. Details are scarce, but I understand he was severely injured while he was at a local restaurant. (Not AhSo).

His injuries necessitated a medevac, and he is currently in an induced coma. 

I'm not a close friend or part of the family, but if you've met Phil, he's an extremely likable guy.

If you would like to help with his medical expenses, Jason Maddens set up a Gofundme page .

Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers. 

Whoa, I'm pretty sure Phil made our drinks just a couple of weeks ago. :(

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On 11/12/2018 at 7:03 PM, DonRocks said:

Whoa, I'm pretty sure Phil made our drinks just a couple of weeks ago. :(

Phil is doing much better, and he was released a few days ago. That said, he has some significant events ahead of him.

AhSo offers Phil's Black Manhattan, and part of the proceeds go towards his recovery fund.

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Not to take anything away from Phil's fundraising, but if you live in the Ashburn area, I highly recommend AhSo. The food and drink menu continues to evolve, and I don't know of another place that others such a diverse menu.

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43 minutes ago, reedm said:

Phil is doing much better, and he was released a few days ago. That said, he has some significant events ahead of him.

AhSo offers Phil's Black Manhattan, and part of the proceeds go towards his recovery fund.

42 minutes ago, reedm said:

Not to take anything away from Phil's fundraising, but if you live in the Ashburn area, I highly recommend AhSo. The food and drink menu continues to evolve, and I don't know of another place that others such a diverse menu.

I'm so glad to hear about Phil, and your second post does nothing to detract from your first.

Also, Phil's situation is very real - please look at the GoFundMe pictures: I'm glad to see they've almost reached their goal, although if he's uninsured, their medical expenses will be multiples of $35,000.

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