Jump to content

Clare and Don's Beach Shack, Owners David and Rebecca Tax's Casual Dining in Downtown Falls Church


Recommended Posts

A quick intro to a great new neighbor of mine--Clare and Don's Beach Shack. This is exactly the kind of place I was searching for when I rushed over to Hank's on its opening day--cheap, fun, laid-back, quirky and for the most part really good (don't get fried clams until colder weather comes).

Crab Cake Sandwich, Fried Oyster Po' Boy, Fish and Chips are all first rate, and they have a whole section of vegetarian/vegan options.

No raw bar, but they do have desserts (a really good key lime pie).

They are right up the street by the Clarendon Metro. Maybe it's not worth a trip all the way across town, but if you're in the area it's definitely worth it, especially after a day at the pool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I ate there yesterday and had a nice conversation with the person behind the bar....

I didn't see any hush puppies on the menu, and the only crabs I saw were in their crab cake sandwich. I may be wrong, however, but I have a menu at home and can re-look later.

Interestingly, I didn't know that the owners of Clare and Don's (took me a while to figure out the double entendre of the name) in Clarendon are the same people that brought you Mexicali Blues and the ice cream shop next door to it. Also Big Belly Deli...

I definitely want to go back to try their scallops.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife and I went tonight. We will be going back.

We started with a round of Red Stripe, and a basket of the coconut fried shrimp. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, with only a dusting a the coconut scented cracker meal.

My wife decided to go with the nights special (every Monday night is Fish and Chips night). She was greeted with two plump pieces of white fish, with just a thin layer of breading. I was under-salted, but otherwise quite good.

I decided to give the crab cake sandwich a try. This was the only miss of the night. There was too much filler (I believe it was cracker meal), and not enough crab flavor, or seasoning. It was edible, but I don't think that I would order it again. The only other thing that I was disappointed by are the fries. They were generic crinkle cut frozen fries. I hope that as time goes by they improve the fries.

We finished with another round of Red Stripe and a piece of key lime pie. The pie is frozen, and packed full of lime flavor. I agree that it was not as Tart as Ray's version, but since it is easier to get a table at Clare and Don's it will more than offer a fix.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  The only other thing that I was disappointed by are the fries.  They were generic crinkle cut frozen fries.  I hope that as time goes by they improve the fries.

Umm... I liked the fries... they had a slight seasoning on them... though they were definitely out of the bag so to speak.. but that is sort of the charm as it is supposed to be a "beach shack"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Iron City beer in the new aluminum bottles for 1.75 at HH sold me... good shrimp too.

AAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Are you kidding me? :P:wub:

Half the reason I left Pittsburgh was to get away from that crap!

Truly one of the most god awful beers on the face of the earth!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The owners of Clare and Don's do not currently own Mexicali Blues. They started it and sold it a few years ago. They also no longer own Big Belly Deli though they did start the deli. They do continue to own Lazy Sundae which was their first venture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We went there 2 weekends ago...and I agree that the coconut shrimp was excellent. The breading was not too overpowering, and the shrimp was not overcooked.

Unfortunately, I thought my fried oyster sandwich kind of missed the mark. It felt like there was too much bread, and not enough oyster. My husband felt the same way about the grouper sandwich--- it wasn't bad, but wasn't anything "to drive across town for." My sister-in-law had a tofu dish, which she kind of picked at.

I think I'd go back and try something else (though I'd definitely get the shrimp again!). Nice casual vibe with friendly, helpful servers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the good feedback. Clare and Don's is my restaurant and I can assure you that the feedback received here will be taken into consideration.

a couple of quick repies...

The Iron City beer is really good because it is really cold!

The crinkle cut fries will stay, because one of my few fading childhood memories is having crinkle cut fries right on the beach with my grandmother.

I am sorry the oyster po-boy was not very oystery...they are coming back into season and we hope to have beautiful plump oysters for you soon.

We are also looking into oysters on the half shell.

Our hushpuppies are being tested as we speak....yes at 2:05am ( that's how I keep my girlish figure )

Our fish size tends to fluctuate so sorry about the sandwich.

The one thing I can say is that if anything strikes you as wrong then please let me know. I am usually there....I will fix the problem...unless you're crazy.

and for the person who thought the crabcake was all filler, please try another. That must have been an anomaly because we pride ourselves in our crab to other stuff ratio.

Thanks for listening and more thanks for eating

David

I am getting the college football package tomorrow. Boiled peanuts, cheap beer and college football. see you there!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and for the person who thought the crab cake was all filler, please try another. That must have been an anomaly because we pride ourselves in our crab to other stuff ratio.

That would be me. I did not write that it was all filler, or even mostly filler, I wrote that there was too much, big difference. I will say that I thought that the corn meal was there as a binder, not as a "filler", my problem is less with the quantity than with the flavor. If the binder brought flavor to the crab cake I would have not written that, it just stood out on my palette as a glob of flavorless corn meal, not a very pleasing texture or taste. Those crab cakes that stand out in my mind as being great have a flavorful binder that is complimentary in taste and texture to the crab.

I look forward to trying your hush puppies, finding a decent version around these parts is even more difficult than finding respectable BBQ, or pastrami. I hope that you do not try to gussy them up with bell pepper and corn kernels, those are an abomination. Like I mentioned, I did enjoy your restaurant and hope to go back soon, we almost went again last night, but the call of Indian food was too great for us to pass on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A server sat down at the bar tonight at Clare and Don's, with a platter of buffalo wings in front of her.

"Those look good," I said.

"They are good. Do you guys want some?"

"Nah, enjoy your dinner."

"Don't be silly. I can't finish this." She gets up and gets a couple of plates, then puts them in front of us, pushing her plate of buffalo wings in our direction.

"Okay, how can I refuse?" I took one, dunked it in white sauce, grabbed a piece of celery.

I had never met this person. Can anything in life get better than this?

Ice-cold Aluminum-bottle Iron City beer. Cold to the bottom.

Bar staff that cares about their customers.

I won't say it's a culinary mecca - much of the seafood is frozen, and I suspect the chicken is too. But I don't care.

In this case, service matters more than the food. They've won my heart, and I'm coming back to the bar in the future.

Cheers,

Rocks.

[Edit: Also, people here will be pleased to know that I'm never drinking again.]

Edited by DonRocks
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In this case, service matters more than the food.- They've won my heart, and I'm coming back to the bar in the future.

Cheers,
Rocks.
A better description of the place could not be made. Last night my family descended on Clare & Don's just as the Clarendon Fest ended. They had been swamped all day and the bar area was still packed. The servers were great and patient with my crazy bunch (people coming and going, toddlers running around in the back room around our table).

Oh and the food, well I think it is above average for what it is: Glorified bar food with a beach theme. Their blackened grouper sandwich is as good as I have had in Florida and I had the crabcake sandwich last night in which there was NO filler. And the prices are awesome.

edited to remove the evil triple space! blink.gif Edited by DonRocks
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ice-cold Aluminum-bottle Iron City beer. :Cold to the bottom."

[Edit:: Also, people here will be pleased to know that I'm never drinking again.]

blink.gif
blink.gif
Where's the retching icon?

Edit to add comment on Don's edit of his post -- Well, you certainly picked something for a last hurrah that has turned more than one person off drinking
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question:

Why does Iron City beer in its aluminium can seems to defy rarefaction?

My guess is that it has to do with the molecular structure; the beer comes colder and stays colder than anything in a glass bottle. So, in turn, it's more difficult to change the pressure of the beer and annoy people with that gusher.

Does anyone know the answer? Chemists?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welp, since its buy out, there's no more Iron City to be had. But I made a pit stop at Clare and Don's last night for a couple of Tattooed Surfers and whimsically, a basket of onion rings. I must say, those are some of the best rings of crispy fried goodness I've had in many moons (for $3, try to argue with me). Not only that, but they gave me two small boy's flip-flops and a handful of Sharpies with which to decorate them. If you can find my two flops on the wall (both the same style yellow kids size 10 thongs), I'll buy you beer. Don and Clare's is fun; it's like having your brother's best friend behind the bar. A place to relax and forget where you are. Have you noticed that the girls have pink tees that say "Clare" in script and that the boys have blues ones that say "Don"? Oh, and Don: the buffalo wing-giver, doll's name is Mai. Cheers!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interestingly, last night I walked past the future Tiki bar and wondered how the place would do in the Fall/Winter. I also thought the menu posted was pretty skimpy. Now it makes sense.

I also wonder how the Tiki Bar will affect Clare & Don's.

I thought I read recently that Clare & Don's was being forced out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We had dinner there tonight. I hadn't been there since they first opened, and their crinkle cut fries were better than I remembered from my first visit -- they were crispier and seemed a little thinner. I had the 1/2 pound burger topped with cheese, pulled pork and bbq sauce, which I enjoyed (hubby had the vegetarian crabcake (tofu) sandwich). We also had the hush puppies which were very hot when they arrived and were tasty with the side of tartar sauce. (Their hush puppies are on the less-oniony side).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last night I had a less than pleasant meal at Clare and Don's. The food was not as good as it had been in the past, and the service was almost non-existent.

As for the food, the onion rings were greasy, over-battered, and arrived on the lukewarm side. I thought that the hush puppies were on the heavy side, and lacked much flavor, not horrible, just not very memorable. The coconut shrimp lacked any semblance of coconut flavor, but had the all the sweetness. The one positive I can say is that as noted above the crinkle fries were better than they used to be, oh and once we got our beer, it was cold.

I am not sure if they were short on wait staff, but the waitress only appeared outside a couple of times. One table had to go inside to get and pay their check. I am hoping that last night was just a fluke and not a sign of things to come.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not been yet, but I will be going to support them. They have always had quality service and decent food in their other operations. I think it is important to support the local business owner. Escpecailly since the trend is to clear a path for the big box , high revenue generating crap merchants. The alliance has co-opted the lower part of the street and based on recent permit pulls they seem to be gearing up to hit the Queen Been corner, back to the old Dulat.

Maybe another Irish bar is needed

I recently read that they just gave some sort of "historical" status to the bulidings in that strip (I think it was Hard times and the British store) so that the original facades will stay. I dont know the whole story, but I would hate to see more development like the Barnes and Noble/Cheesecake Factory area. I think the agenda of Arlington County is to promote the small, individual business owner in spite of what you see going on up and down the Orange Line. It is sort of a Catch-22 situation, in that retail rent (and taxes) in Arlington County have skyrocketed making it almost impossible for the independent small business to afford space. Im sorry if this is completely off topic, but as a small businees owner in the county I need to vent my feelings on the subject. So, please go out and support places like Rays, Murky Coffee, Clare and Dons, and all the other folks who want to keep Arlington unique. Sorry for the soapbox.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently read that they just gave some sort of "historical" status to the bulidings in that strip (I think it was Hard times and the British store) so that the original facades will stay. I dont know the whole story, but I would hate to see more development like the Barnes and Noble/Cheesecake Factory area. I think the agenda of Arlington County is to promote the small, individual business owner in spite of what you see going on up and down the Orange Line. It is sort of a Catch-22 situation, in that retail rent (and taxes) in Arlington County have skyrocketed making it almost impossible for the independent small business to afford space. Im sorry if this is completely off topic, but as a small businees owner in the county I need to vent my feelings on the subject. So, please go out and support places like Rays, Murky Coffee, Clare and Dons, and all the other folks who want to keep Arlington unique. Sorry for the soapbox.....

A little off topic but here is the official press release. Several more high-rises on the way....

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Arlington County Board today approved a site plan that will reestablish the true center of Clarendon by redeveloping two of its most important commercial blocks while preserving two historic buildings.

"This is one of the most significant site plans ever approved in Arlington," said Arlington County Board Chairman Christopher Zimmerman. "We are pleased that negotiations with the developer and the community produced a project that will foster a true sense of place in Clarendon."

The proposed Clarendon Center, bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Highland Street, 11th Street North and North Garfield Street, lies within the Clarendon Metro Station Area. The project combines office space, ground-floor retail and a residential tower.

First Project to Comply with Clarendon Sector Plan

The Clarendon Center is the first project to comply with the newly adopted Part I of the Clarendon Sector Plan and associated policies. It is the first Clarendon project to use the new preservation incentives, applying them to keep intact both the Underwood Building, built in1939, and Old Dominion Building, built in Art Deco style in 1941.

The site plan includes preservation of the Underwood Building on the North block, with the addition of a 97,860 square-foot, six story office building and 15,725 square feet of new ground floor retail space. On the South block, the Old Dominion Building will be preserved, and two towers - one a 244-unit, twelve-story residential tower and the other a nine-story, 84,395 square-foot office tower - will be added. They will be separated by a landscaped second-level courtyard. Some 38,333 square-feet of ground floor retail will be added.

The developer, Saul Centers, Inc., expects to break ground late this year on Phase I, the South block, with a completion date of late 2008 or early 2009. Phase II, the North block, is expected to break ground in late 2008 or early 2009, with a completion date of 2010.

Relocation of retail businesses

Typically in redevelopment proposals, developers commit to working with Arlington Economic Development to resolve business displacement issues. For this project, in addition to this commitment, Saul Centers has proposed a retail tenant relocation program unique to Arlington. To encourage existing tenants to remain within the project, Saul Centers has offered retailers within the current building on the North Block an option to relocate to new space at a subsidized rent in the South Block after its construction.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rumor Josh has spoken of is partly true. Rebecca and I have signed lease where the garden shop used to be next to The State Theatre. We are extremely excited/scared to death, about this project. We have great visions for the extensive outside area looking directly at The State. We love our new neighbors Argia's and they State Theatre and think we will help make Falls Church a great option for people wanting to hang out or have dinner or both! Now I just have to convince Michael to bring those addicting steaks to Falls Church! We are hoping to open around January 1st. This is our 1st public venue in which to offer this information..... Where better?

The part of the rumor that is up in the air still is the move part. We feel that we can begin building out the new space and then decide later whether it will be a move or an addition. If things are going well at the existing location we would be stupid to close it. We are month to month on our lease pending the redevelopment of our block. So we may stay until kicked out. That is a decision for down the road. The only decision now is whether to use my son's college fund 1st or my daughters for the new restaurant...shhh, don't tell them they are at camp!

Also...sthitch,

I am not big on excuses but, I will offer an explanation of Wednesday night. Sorry we were down 1 waitress and 1 cook. They were flooded in,in DC. Please whenever you have a less than pleasant experience at our restaurant bring it to my or Rebecca's attention. We are usually there and would love to discuss it with you.

see you soon,

David Tax

Owner Clare and Don's

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's an interview with David and Rebecca on washingtonpost.com - video, sorry about the ad

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...6111000506.html

Includes shots of old and new locations.

Also related: Clarendon redevelopment article

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...6111000984.html

It really is a shame what's happening to Clarendon with the local shops. We have lived in the area for a short two years (moving on Friday) and so much has changed because of new development. With all those condo's coming up, the area is starting to look like an overpriced housing project.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Clare and Don's has been open in their Falls Church location (between Argia's and the State Theatre on Lee Hwy) for about a month now, and my wife and I have been twice. The first time was two weeks ago for a Saturday lunch, the second time last night when, coincidentally, they were holding a "grand opening" celebration (with the local parrot head club partying in the bar).

Overall, I wouldn't recommend that anyone go far out of their way to eat there, but I'm very happy to have this establishment as an addition to my neighborhood. The service is friendly and mostly efficient -- though there were some lapses on both occasions when our server got busy. The food is fine, if never brilliant. Items like a crab cake sandwich or buffalo shrimp seem like the best bets -- simple, tasty. The blackened tuna was no better than what I've done at home with decent tuna from Harris Teeter, the house salad with a key lime vinaigrette was bland and boring. For desert, both times I had the key lime pie and my wife had the Peppermint Patty (Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps) and left happy.

This is an establishment that should have something for just about anyone, is good choice for families with young kids, has a nice, large bar area, and a staff that appears to be happy to have you there. A welcome addition to Falls Church! (Don, you should move the reference in your dining guide from Clarendon when you have the time.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone tried the relocated Clare and Don's, which is now located between the State Theatre and Argia's in Falls Church?

When it gets a little warmer, I'll walk over and take one for the team.

Well, it got a little warmer today, so I walked over to Clare and Don's for lunch.

Pretty much what I would expect at a beach shack. Nice beachy vibe, food (fish and chips) decent but nothing spectacular, prices a little higher than they should be. As to the last point, when you're at the beach you don't mind paying a little more because, well, you're at the beach. But in downtown Falls Church, where there is no beach in sight, it's easier to notice that the $9.75 fish and chips should really be around $7.75.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's been almost a year since the last post, so I thought I'd share my experiences here last night at around 6:30pm. I agree with holdtheline that this place is very family-friendly, since most of the patrons there were families. My friend, DS's dad, and I had our 2 kids with high chairs in the back breakfast bar-type of table with high seating and very comfortable stools. Place was pretty packed for a Sunday night (we had the last indoor table), with quite a few people in the patio area until the nice storm hit.

I went with the recommended crab cake sandwich, which came with a super-thick bun that ended up being eaten like an open-face (1/2) sandwich. I loved the amount of crab meat used, but similarly to Sthitch, I was not a fan of the "binder" used. I think because the mushiness of it contrasted so much with the meaty, heartiness of the crab meat.

Friend really liked the hush puppies served here, as well as her Garden pasta with pesto sauce -- very flavorful, yet light. So much so that her child liked it more than the chicken tenders ordered of the kids' menu. I like the fact that the chicken tenders were made with breast meat and cut into strips that are kid-finger-friendly.

Crinkle-cut fries were a hit with everyone.

Like others, we enjoyed the "nice, beachy vibe," (nice term Twinsdaddy!) with great service (they were fast with our hungry kids' orders), but also like some of the previous comments, I did get a little sticker-shock at the end when I got the total bill (even though that's what I expected after reading the menu prices, posts here, and having enjoyed the beach vibe...).

It's a great place to put on my rotation, with it being kid-friendly, and tantrum-friendly too (as DS, um, threw a mini-tantrum and we didn't get stares of death).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ordered: Hush puppies, crab cake appetizers, admiral's platter.

We liked the hush puppies, but didn't really care for the crab cakes. That binding is just weird. Even though I could see a good amount of crab, I didn't get much of a crab taste. The fried shrimp and scallops on the platter were good. The fish was a little dry. We asked for clams instead of oysters on the platter, but got the oysters. Just not a big fan of oysters. We had enough to eat, though, so I didn't ask for the clams.

I want to go back and try some other stuff. The menu looked very appealing. The pastas sound good.

As others mentioned, great place to take kids...although we left ours with a babysitter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't been back to this place for a few years, ever since the key lime pie tasted like freezer burn - yech.

I can think of worse sins of a casual restaurant than serving an off piece of pie, it is not like the owner yelled at you and threw you out for complaining*

* I am in no way insinuating that I have heard, seen, or been a victim of such a thing by the owner's of Clare and Don's Beach Shake, just pointing out that there are worse offenses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree - I should have added that the food was average so just not worth the effort for me to try it again.

I can think of worse sins of a casual restaurant than serving an off piece of pie, it is not like the owner yelled at you and threw you out for complaining*

* I am in no way insinuating that I have heard, seen, or been a victim of such a thing by the owner's of Clare and Don's Beach Shake, just pointing out that there are worse offenses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...