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Artie's, Great American Restaurant Group's Nautical-Themed Sweetwater Tavern, With a Beautiful Square Bar, at Fairfax Circle


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Artie's in Fairfax is not too far (5-10 minute drive from the Patriot Center). It is part of the Great American Restaurant's franchise. See Sweetwater Tavern discussion here:

Sweetwater Tavern

About 5 minutes from the Patriot Center in Fairfax is Buffalo Wing University (yes, that is the name) for the obvious.

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There was a boy eating at the bar at Artie's tonight in a baseball uniform, couldn't have been more than ten. We can go into the issues of a parent seating their child at an adult-filled bar, with replays of LeBron James slamming home windmill dunks, and cigarette smoke wafting from neighboring diners, but that's for another thread.

The bar was crowded, and the bartenders were busy.

"So, did you win your game?" one of the bartenders took the time to say to the child, who was caught off-guard that someone might do this.

"Oh, well, it was called off after the third inning - they were long innings," I heard him say.

"I remember when I was playing little league - now it's just softball for me. I really miss those days," the bartender replied.

Well, anyway, this kid's face lit up because the bartender took an interest in him. A total of ten seconds of conversation resulted in more goodwill for the restaurant than any loaded baked potato or short-smoked salmon salad with goat cheese could ever do.

And so, Andrew D, Server #139, 8:20 PM on Saturday evening, June 2nd, 2007, I hope your employers notice that you took the negligible amount of time needed to engage and enthrall a child with your small act of human kindness - and I can pretty much guarantee you that they will. And servers, you never know when you're going to pique the interest of a kid who went one-for-two, with a single, an RBI groundout, and a run scored. Great game, Matt!

Cheers,

Rocks.

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What a sweet story, Don. Whatever you think of the food, the GAR franchise pays close attention to service and it shows. My youngest brother took his very first important date to Artie's a few years back, and the servers treated two teenagers ordering salads and iced teas just like royalty. He wrote them a letter thanking them, and has been a fan ever since.

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My wife and I had dinner at Artie's on Saturday evening. We got there around 6:00 PM and got seated immediately. The reservation-taker said we just beat the rush; indeed we had, judging by the crowd when we left and hour later.

We really liked the cozy decor of the place, with the knotty-pine walls, the ship models, and the amber chandeliers. We were waited on almost immediately, and given a basket with delicious breads, especially the rolls. I started with a martini and had the seared tuna. My wife had the filet mignon and crabcake combo. Both entrees were delicious, and reasonably priced, but I'll go for the filet on our next visit. For dessert we shared the flourless chocolate cake with homemade ice cream -- super yummy.

In summary, we loved Artie's decor, food, and service. We'll definitely return the next time we're in Fairfax.

One caution about Artie's: There is lots of cigarette smoke wafting from the bar. If this bothers you, as it does me, ask for a seat far from the front door.

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My wife and I had dinner at Artie's on Saturday evening. We got there around 6:00 PM and got seated immediately. The reservation-taker said we just beat the rush; indeed we had, judging by the crowd when we left and hour later.

We really liked the cozy decor of the place, with the knotty-pine walls, the ship models, and the amber chandeliers. We were waited on almost immediately, and given a basket with delicious breads, especially the rolls. I started with a martini and had the seared tuna. My wife had the filet mignon and crabcake combo. Both entrees were delicious, and reasonably priced, but I'll go for the filet on our next visit. For dessert we shared the flourless chocolate cake with homemade ice cream -- super yummy.

In summary, we loved Artie's decor, food, and service. We'll definitely return the next time we're in Fairfax.

One caution about Artie's: There is lots of cigarette smoke wafting from the bar. If this bothers you, as it does me, ask for a seat far from the front door.

This reminds me of one of my pet peeves, which is that the GAR restaurants no only don't ban smoking, but have designed their restaurants so that the smoke flows to the tables as well (Coastal Flats in FFX is horrible about this also). It is odd for such a customer friendly place. Oh well, won't matter after July 1 I guess.

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I don't like the GAR chain. It's either the smoke from the bar, the ear-shattering noise, or a menu with darned few options that I find appealing.

As Tom Sietsema pointed out with Jackson's recently, everything came out of the kitchen too sweet. I noticed too much salt on many occasions, including the Drunken Ribeye at Coastal Flats and the Grilled Pork Chops at Mike's. I'm very tired of the short-smoked salmon on every menu -- do they truck these around from a central kitchen? Same with the basil redskin mashed potatoes? -- and who the heck thought that sun-dried cranberries in just about every salad was a good idea?

More and more, I'm finding myself avoiding the GAR chain. I haven't quite gotten there with Clyde's yet, but I have a feeling that's coming.

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I don't like the GAR chain. It's either the smoke from the bar, the ear-shattering noise, or a menu with darned few options that I find appealing.

As Tom Sietsema pointed out with Jackson's recently, everything came out of the kitchen too sweet. I noticed too much salt on many occasions, including the Drunken Ribeye at Coastal Flats and the Grilled Pork Chops at Mike's. I'm very tired of the short-smoked salmon on every menu -- do they truck these around from a central kitchen? Same with the basil redskin mashed potatoes? -- and who the heck thought that sun-dried cranberries in just about every salad was a good idea?

More and more, I'm finding myself avoiding the GAR chain. I haven't quite gotten there with Clyde's yet, but I have a feeling that's coming.

Dropped in the other night, attempting to break out of our Asian food rut. The savory donuts in the bread basket are still deadly, but so is the amount of salt apparently used in the dishes. I like tasty food, but yowza! Salt lick in the "eggrolls" and pasta. Also, the bisque was basically a bowl of cream. I used to really like the food at the GAR chain, but this and my last visit at Coastal Flats has me longing for a time when the main food groups - fat, salt, and sugar - were more subtly featured.

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Was at Artie's for dinner last night. Hubby requested somewhere near Vienna so we could go to an event we were invited to after, so it was geographically well placed. Ordered roast pork tenderloin with parmesan potatoes. The pork was way salty, I don't know if the chipotle glaze was too salty or they over seasoned it, but it was way salty. I ate bites with the side of asparagus I got to temper it out a bit. The potatoes were shredded potatoes with not just parmesan, but other cheese/cream, almost au gratin style with less potato. I was thinking they would be like nice roasted potatoes with just a bit of parmesan (like how I make parmesan potatoes). Oh well saved me lots of calories.

Normally these places are fine, and they are great for the unadventurous type, you know people in town or etc. But my dish last night was so salty. And had I not ordered asparagus, then the pud of corn salsa would have been the only veg, at least the asparagus was good. And the service was very slow, I think our server just had too many tables, but it took forever to get our wine and have an order placed, after that the service got better though.

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I was at Jackson's Friday for lunch and was really pleased.

The flounder special was lightly breaded and crispy without being too salty, greasy or otherwise. The califlower mash was a nice compliment. My only gripe was that only 2 asparagus sticks (sprigs?) seemed kinda chintzy - especially when they were cooked just right. The sauce on the plate had a bit of tang and a few capers but was generally pretty mild.

The plate was simple and executed well - it was tame but not boring. The whole experience, despite the crushing crowd, was a pleasant surprise.

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I happen to enjoy Artie's quite a bit. Their filets (at least in my opinion and experience) have been more consistent than anything I've ever eaten at either Morton's or Ruth's Chris, and not being a salad person, I always annihilate their chopped salad, it's just that decent. I will agree that they oversalt stuff, but in regards to the shoestring fries (probably one of the worst offenders) I simply ask for no seasoning, and *voila*, it is done.

Do I wish they added some new stuff to their menu? Sure. But I remedy the monotony by not indulging in going very often as a five course meal there for two costs well north of a hundred bucks before the tip. I haven't tried Ozzie's yet at Fairfax Corner, mostly because I know there are far better and more established Italian places around here. GAR seems to answer "nothing's ever new" by simply opening a different restaurant and daring their customers to patronize them.

Also, does anyone happen to know where they get the lobster ginger sauce they use on their calamari? I could drink that stuff from a *bottle*.

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Also, does anyone happen to know where they get the lobster ginger sauce they use on their calamari? I could drink that stuff from a *bottle*.

Assuming it's the same as what I got at Sweetwater, while I'll admit it was tasty, it was dangerously salty. Maybe it's a ploy to sell more beer, but it really turned me off to the whole dish. I don't think I can ever order it again. Certainly could've been a one-off issue.

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I had dinner at Artie's last night, and here was their beer list:

In bottle: Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken, Corona, Amstel Light, Guinness

On tap: Miller Lite, Stella Artois, Blue Moon

And also on tap: "Artie's Lager" and "Artie's IPA," both brewed by ... guess who?

Not Sweetwater Tavern, but ... Old Dominion.

That's it. Those are the beers you can get at Artie's.

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wow there are Applebee's with a better beer menu. Most of them in fact, at least where I live.

Surprised they're not all over this, given their Sweetwater "concept"; somebody at GAR must have some sort of interest in craft beer. I would think even simple per-cover margin maximization, ticket average optimization etc would incent (I'm making myself sick) them to increased beverage diversification, to dip (further) into a hospitality industry (god i hate that phrase) vernacular in which they might be conversant.

Some poor intern over there is surely tasked with (once you start talking this way it's hard to stop) reading National Restaurant News every feckin day, for crissakes, & synopsizing it & posting it to all the GMs.

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Generally my menu of choice when I hit Arties is the following:

Bread: Extra "Ozzie" Rolls (fun fact: during their brunch, these are given a butter and sugar treatment)

Appetizer: Crispy Fried Calamari with Onion Straws (extra lobster ginger sauce requested, "sopped up" with the Ozzies)

Salad: Chopped Salad w/Buttermilk Herb dressing

Cheap Entree: Chicken Tenders (done in a tempura-like batter, they're better than they sound but by no means are finger-friendly) with Lobster Ginger subbed for the Honey Mustard

Expensive Entree: Filet Mignon (generally the 5oz, with the bearnaise on the side, otherwise they have a tendency to drench one side almost entirely with it) w/Shoestring Fries as the side (no seasoning - keeps me from eating too much starch)

Dessert: Tossup between the Chocolate Waffle (tastewise it's identical to Morton's Hot Chocolate Cake) or if they have it available, the White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

I rarely have room for dessert, regardless of which entree choice I make.

Also, the Prime Rib (only Thurs-Sat) they serve at this place is served bone-in and comes out looking like a gag prop from a Flintstone's movie. You could bludgeon someone to death with it, and the bone has always looked large enough to be dog-friendly.

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I had dinner at Artie's last night...

Why...?

wow there are Applebee's with a better beer menu. Most of them in fact, at least where I live.

There are Applebees with a better food menu too....!

Generally my menu of choice when I hit Arties is the following:

You're lucky to get a choice....I mostly get sun-dried cranberries, short-smoked (huh?) salmon, garlic mashed potatoes with everything, and enough salt to stock a pretzel bakery....

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(I have no dog in this fight at all, but Jesus Kibbee Nayee, could you give it a rest? We get it that you hate this particular chain. Maybe channel that rage into a worthy endeavor?)

Don, sadly I suspect that they stock what sells. I'd be willing to bet that the average consumer thinks that Blue Moon is a craft beer.

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The past few times I've been here, the quality of the food has begun to slip.  It's still decent, but preparation standards have fallen and portion sizes have noticeably shrunk.  I used to be able to order a filet medium and get it medium, spot on.  Now, I'm lucky to get Medium Well, and the steak I had tonight was edible yet markedly overcooked.

The service is still top-notch, though.  The Musketeer-like "all for one, one for all" approach to their wait staff (like most GAR restaurants) ensures you always get prompt refills and get checked on routinely, but I think I'm done ordering filets here, and although I love the tempura batter on the chicken fingers, I still always feel silly ordering them.

Oh, I should also mention that it was ~5pm, it was my father's birthday yesterday, and the parking lot and restaurant were the emptiest I'd ever seen them on an early Sunday evening.  Not a good sign.  For 130 dollars for a party of three, I expect more, even though I'm not the type to send something back unless it's going to make me sick to eat it, or if it's flat out the wrong thing. =/

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Before a long trip to Baltimore, my young dining companion and I had a Saturday brunch at Artie's.

Not having had any caffeine injections that morning, I started with my Diet Coke ($3, cheerfully refilled), while he wisely stuck with his usual ice water. The bread basket, previously generous, has now been reduced to four items: two tiny slices of jalapeí±o-cheese bread, and two donut holes which this time around, were as good as ever.

Wanting something to split for an appetizer, we got the Blue Crab Fritters ($9) with grilled corn salsa, and lobster ginger butter - a plate of three round troughs, each holding a deep-fried fritter sitting atop its own dipping sauce, and each about the size of a golf ball - these were very generously sized fritters, filled mostly with leg meat, and a good use of the whole crab if that's the restaurant's strategy. They weren't cheap, but by no means were they "cheaply made" either - despite not having much (any?) lump, they carried their weight well. I saw Matt was starving, so I demurred, and let him enjoy the third since I knew there was a lot of food coming afterwards.

For entrees, we'd both ordered the same thing for once: Pecan Crusted Trout ($16), two large pieces of trout - a lot of food for the money - battered with ground pecans in the crust and pan-fried (I assume), and served with "the original" chardonnay citrus sauce and basil redskin mashed potatoes. If I remember correctly, these also came with something green on the plate to round out the meal. This was a wonderful dish, especially for $16, and the only thing I'd change would be to remove the whole, candied pecans that gratuitously strewn atop the presentation - they didn't really go with the cuisine, and just weren't necessary (in general, I tend not to like sweet or spiced nuts thrown onto a savory dish), but it was easy enough just to push them away. The trout was served in such large portions that I didn't finish mine (I could have, but would have been stuffed), and the citrus sauce was tart enough so everything retained its flavor interest, even towards the end of the meal when things were getting colder. For sixteen dollars, you could sure do a lot worse than this.

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Yeah, during their brunch the "Ozzie Rolls" are served sugared and are more 'doughnuty.'  If you ask beforehand, be it brunch, lunch, or dinner, they'll give you more bread than they normally would, and you can ask for all one type of a particular bread.

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