27 July 2014

#151: Sweetz Bakery

Date Visited: 19 July 2014

Meal: Dessert (before dinner!)

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Mimi

Experience: We had a great day getting up late, having a big breakfast, and taking a trip to Great Country Farms with our friend Mimi. Because we missed lunch, we were feeling a mite peckish and decided to have dessert before dinner, so we visited Sweetz Bakery! Sweetz is located in the Battlefield Shopping Center, along with Five Guys, Golden China, Ledo Pizza, Which Wich, Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, and Ruby Tuesday. Sweetz is one of two cupcake-oriented specialty restaurants, along with Cupcakes Actually.

For this visit, Wendy abstained, so it was just me and Mimi ordering. I got a Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake, and Mimi got a Boston Cream cupcake. Mine was cool, creamy, and delicious; I’m not sure how Mimi’s was, as she devoured the whole thing before I could sample it. We then washed ‘em down with a couple of San Pellegrino sparkling waters. It turns out there are “everyday” cupcake flavors (ours were included), and then there are daily specials that vary. Sweetz also has a few other kinds of baked products, as well as specialties like wedding cakes.

If you like cupcakes, check out Sweetz for yourself, and support a local business!

Location: 1057 Edwards Ferry Rd., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 571-291-9141

Website: http://sweetzbakery.com/

Total bill: $10.22

08 June 2014

#150: Chimole Wine & Tapas Lounge

Date Visited: 6 June 2014

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me & Wendy

Experience: Chimole is the only “true” tapas restaurant in Leesburg, as far as I know. It’s the newest restaurant located in the center of downtown historic Leesburg on King Street, along with Windy City Red Hots, Blue Mountain Cafe, Georgetown Cafe, Old Town Grill, China King, and The Wine Kitchen. Our first visit to Chimole happened to coincide with Leesburg’s First Friday event, so we had live music in the restaurant!

To get into the tapas mood, I started off with a Bay Island Red Sangria (berries, apples, and oranges, with Punti Ferrer Merlot and Cabernet from Chile). Wendy (designated driver) had an iced tea.

Our first plate was an appetizer, the Chimolito “Signature Salsa” & Chips (onions, tomato, cilantro, garlic, habaneros, citrus juices, and spices). The citrus flavor made it especially nice and refreshing.

Our second plate was the Tres Quesos (goat, provolone, and mozzarella cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, house mayo, and lettuce on Rosemary Focaccia bread). It also came with a roasted red pepper dipping sauce.

Our third plate was the Combo Tapas Platter (6 tacos and 6 enchiladas, with three different meats: chicken, pork, and beef). The tacos are served bite-size on tortilla chips, and the enchiladas are made with soft corn tortillas, meat, cabbage, cheese, and homemade sauces. The platter came with more of the delicious roasted red pepper aioli as well as a savory barbecue sauce.

If you visit their website, you’ll find that Chimole is about more than just good food - owner Yovanna Reiser promotes unique Honduran artwork and pottery. In fact, the website hardly mentions food; for more about the restaurant, you’ll need to visit the Chimole Facebook page.

Check out Chimole for yourself, and support a local business!

Location: 10 S. King St., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-7011

Web site: http://chimole.com/

Total bill: $51.48 + $10.00 tip = $61.48

26 March 2014

#149: Cupcakes Actually

Date Visited: 22 March 2014

Meal: Dinner

iners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: Cupcakes Actually is located in the Village at Leesburg, in between Noodles & Company and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. Besides this location, they have another one in Fairfax. Cupcakes Actually is a product of the relatively recent cultural obsession with upscale, gourmet cupcakes. The menu is pretty simple, it’s mostly cupcakes! Different styles are featured every week, and there’s plenty of variety, including gluten-free and vegan choices. They also have other goodies, such as homemade gelato and sorbet, a coffee bar, breakfast pastries, and frozen treats - a full-service restaurant!

Our real purpose for this visit was to get some cupcakes for Andy’s birthday instead of a cake. We chose an assortment of three cupcakes: Fudge, Simply Red, and Dipped Peanut Butter. I only got to taste the Fudge one, and it was pure, creamy deliciousness. Andy devoured the other two before I got a chance to taste them, so they must have been good. To balance out all that sugar, I also got a small Cappuccino, which was just fine and well-made.

Check out Cupcakes Actually for yourself, and support a local business!

Location: 1607 Village Market Blvd. #108, Leesburg, VA, 20175, 571-442-8210

Website: http://cupcakesactually.com/

Total bill: $11.96

17 March 2014

#148: Which Wich

Date Visited: 16 March 2014

Meal: Lunch

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: Having our usual Sunday afternoon post-church discussion on where to eat, I suggested that we go to Quiznos, since the company just announced they were filing for bankruptcy, and we might not get another chance. So we headed over and found that Quiznos was already gone, replaced by Which Wich! Apparently they opened back in October of 2013 but I didn’t notice. Other restaurants in the Battlefield Shopping Center include Five Guys, Golden China, Ledo Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, Ruby Tuesday, and Sweetz Bakery (not yet reviewed).

Which Wich is a franchised restaurant chain with a unique approach to ordering. Here’s a quote from the website, explaining things for those new to Which Wich:

“Which Wich is a fresh, innovative concept featuring superior sandwiches served in an edgy, magnetic environment. In addition to more than 50 customizable “wiches”, including the signature Wicked loaded with five meats and three cheeses, Which Wich is known for its revolutionary ordering system. Find the bag with the category you want, grab a red Sharpie, and mark up the pre-printed menu on the sandwich bag. Select your sandwich, then choose the bread, cheese, spreads, and veggies. Your wich is prepared just the way you want it and delivered in your personalized sandwich bag. After you’ve enjoyed your wich, grab another red Sharpie, doodle on the back of your bag, and hang your masterpiece on the community wall. Wicked, right?”

Well, I’m not sure about the “magnetic environment”, but it is a pretty cool system. There are really just ten different bags to choose from: Turkey, Ham & Pork, Beef, Chicken, Seafood, Vegetarian, Italian, R&D, Classics, and Breakfast. There’s plenty of variety and customization possible once you select your bag.

For this visit, I chose the R&D (Research & Development) bag, which for now equates to a Shrimp Po’ Boy. It includes ⅓ pound of breaded butterfly shrimp, plus lettuce, tomato, pickles, and Cajun Tartar Sauce. This one comes with a bag of chips, and I chose the House chips, which were crinkle-cut potato chips with salt & pepper. I did enjoy my sandwich and the chips were kinda different. Wendy and Andy both chose the Turkey bag and customized them appropriately. You can order the sandwiches hot or cold, with different kinds of bread, different sizes (7”, 10.5”, or 14”), and lots of cheeses, sauces, mustards, mayos, dressings, veggies, oils, and spices. Andy also got a Vanilla Shake and he said it was pretty good, but I don’t know because I was too slow to ask for a taste before it was all gone!

Our visit to Which Wich was pretty positive, now you give ‘em a try!

Location: 1015 Edwards Ferry Rd. NE, Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-687-4345

Website: http://whichwich.com/

Total bill: $33.87 + $5.00 tip = $38.87

11 February 2014

#147: DelMarVa's Southern Cafe

Date Visited: 9 February 2014

Meal: Lunch

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: In their own words, DelMarVa’s Southern Cafe features “Southern, comfort food imported from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.” It occupies the former location of Tenderjack’s (next door to Tropical Smoothie Cafe), and has additional locations in Sterling and Baltimore. I spoke to one of DelMarVa’s staff and was informed that they essentially bought out Tenderjack’s, getting rights to the name and menu. You will see several items on the menu that retain the Tenderjack’s nomenclature. The menu has grilled wraps, sandwiches, chicken tenders, burgers, salads, mac-n-cheese, and southern favorites, as well as weekend brunch selections (including breakfast pizza!)

On this visit I had one of the southern favorites, Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits (“Cheesy grits covered in a spicy, andouille Cajun sauce, broiled shrimp and a buttermilk biscuit”). The generous serving of shrimp is delivered in big lumps of cheesy grits in the center of the plate, with the sauce all around. It was indeed just the right spiciness and delicious. I guess the biscuit adds to the “southern-ness” of the dish. Wendy had the Bacon, Tomato and Avocado Baked Mac-n-Cheese (“Our homemade cheese sauce and pasta, topped with smoky bacon, fresh avocado & diced tomatoes”). It came in a small cast--iron skillet on top a plate, and didn’t look like much, but she said it was very filling, as well as “creamy and cheesy.” Although not listed on the menu anywhere, Wendy also managed to get a cup of Tomato Basil soup for an appetizer. Andy got the Bacon Cheese Burger (“Smokey bacon, cheddar cheese and sweet tangy bacon marmalade”). A tough reviewer with high standards, he liked it a lot, rating it as better than the old Tenderjack’s version. The bacon marmalade seemed to be the magic ingredient.

We were pleasantly surprised at the food quality and noticed many other menu items that we’d like to go back and try. Give ‘em a try yourself!

Location: 506B E. Market St., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-669-4866

Web site: http://delmarvassoutherncafe.com/

Total bill: $43.77 + $10.00 tip = $53.77

09 February 2014

#146: Wegmans

Date Visited: 26 November 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: Well, yes, Wegmans IS too a restaurant! In my obsession to review every restaurant in Leesburg, I’ve got to include Wegmans, even though it’s mainly a supermarket. Previously reviewed restaurants at the Village at Leesburg include BurgerFi, Pinkberry, Firebirds, Finnegan’s, Eggspectation, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Flame Kabob, Noodles & Co., and Faang Thai. Still to be reviewed are Cupcakes Actually, Bean Bar, and the restaurants inside King Pinz and Cobb Theater.

Our Wegmans has a pretty decent Market Cafe. It’s a big buffet featuring all sorts of cuisines, especially asian and indian, along with a full salad bar. On this visit, I selected mainly chinese-style standards, Wendy got a more eclectic mix, and Andy of course got a pizza. It’s not fine cuisine, but it’s easy for everyone to find just what they want and exactly how much they want. The thing you have to be careful about is that it’s pay by the pound, so relatively dense foods tend to increase the cost quickly.

If you’re looking for wide variety in fast food with portions you control, give Wegmans a try.

Location: 101 Crosstrail Blvd. SE, Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-669-2044

Web site: http://wegmans.com/

Total bill: $40.49

02 September 2013

#145: Japanese Kitchen

Date Visited: 29 August 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me & Wendy

Experience: Leesburg has a new Japanese restaurant! Japanese Kitchen is located in the Fort Evans II shopping center along with Buffalo Wild Wings, Jersey Mike’s, Pho Royal, CiCi’s, and DQ Grill & Chill. They also have a location in Ballston, which seems to have been there a while.

We arrived at about 8:00 PM on this Thursday night, and there were only two other parties dining besides us. There was a weird, industrial-emo-jazz music channel playing. Our server was Donald (apparently the only server at the time) told us they had been open for about three months, but were not doing any advertising yet, in anticipation of a grand opening sometime.

We started out asking for hot tea; we got glass cups with green tea bags in them. Strange. We ordered Edamame for an appetizer, which was cooked just right and a generous portion. I ordered the Korean BBQ Beef Tenderloin Bento Box. The miso soup and seaweed salad were kind of average, but the Korean beef was really a surprise - very tender, juicy, and came with crisp grilled onions perfectly done; a real treat. The steamed shrimp shumai (dumplings) were also quite good, and not soggy.Wendy got the Tempura Udon. I didn’t get to try the tempura, as she downed them before I had a chance for a sample, but she said they were crispy and delicious. I did get to try her noodles and they were also enjoyable and toothsome!

Since we were there kind of late, towards the end we saw the chefs come out to eat their own dinner. All the staff (except Donald) looked Japanese to me, and their website has a similar authentic feel to it. We’ll probably come back and try some of the sushi rolls, as they looked pretty good too. Give ‘em a try yourself!

Location: 516 Fort Evans Rd. NE, Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-777-8917

Web site: http://borurestaurants.com/

Total bill: $45.99 + $10.00 tip = $55.99

18 August 2013

#144: Dos Tequilas Grill

Date Visited: 11 August 2013

Meal: Lunch

Diners: Me & Wendy

Experience: Located in Leesburg’s Bellewood Commons shopping center, Dos Tequilas Grill occupies the former location of Josefina Market (which I never got to visit before they closed). Other restaurants there include Red Hot & Blue, Starbucks, Pollo Loco, Papa John’s, Melt, Red Kabob, and Dunkin’ Donuts. According to their website, Dos Tequilas Grill specializes in Tex-Mex fare; their mission statement is to “bring to Virginia the best that Mexican food has to offer.”

When we arrived on this Sunday afternoon, there were only a few other customers dining. We were quickly seated, ordered a couple of iced teas, and enjoyed traditional tortilla chips & salsa. The website says it is their own salsa; it was of the “wetter” variety, delicious, and a great start. One not-so-great start was that I immediately knocked over my iced tea - the glass didn’t break, but it was kind of loud and obviously embarrassing. Our server cheerfully cleaned up the mess and brought me a fresh one.

On to appetizers... Dos Tequilas Grill serves a variety of authentic Salvadoran pupusas, so we ordered a couple: one cheese and one pork (“pupusa revuelta” - mixed ingredients). Just like the Wikipedia article says, “Pupusas are typically served with curtido (lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar) and a watery tomato salsa.” We got both with our pupusas, and I would describe the curtido as kind of like Mexican Kimchi. We were also served a very small cup of an extremely spicy green sauce (with appropriate warnings by the owner). The pupusas came out nice and hot, and all the sides combined with them for a great combination of flavors to start us off.

For my main course I ordered the Chile Relleno & Chicken Tamale. I guess there was a little mix-up in the kitchen, because the dish came with two Chile Rellenos and no Tamale. I didn’t say anything, and it worked out for the best. I’m not real experienced with Chile Rellenos, but these were great! Again, nice and hot, and with an assortment of sides. Even the rice and refried beans seemed better than average. Wendy ordered the chicken Chimichanga, which was fried just right; I had a couple of bites and enjoyed it too.

The Dos Tequilas Grill menu is fairly extensive, and I noted a few other dishes I’d love to come back and try (like the Huevos Rancheros). I encourage you to visit Dos Tequilas Grill, and support a worthy local, non-chain restaurant.

Location: 525 E. Market St. #F, Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-443-0262

Web site: http://dostequilasgrill.amawebs.com/

Total bill: $35.40 + $10.00 tip = $45.40

08 August 2013

#143: New Yorker Pizza

Date Visited: 4 August 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: Over the past five years, this South King Street location has had four different tenants: first it was the Fractured Prune, then Kabob & Falafel, then Juliano’s, and now we have New Yorker Pizza. I was able to talk with the new owner, Qasir Alekozai (who goes by “Q”), who said they’d been open for about a month at the time of this visit. Q also said he’d previously been in the pizza business for about eight years in New York.

On this visit, we ordered a large Deluxe Supreme (Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions, & Green Peppers), a large Pepperoni & Bacon, and a Stromboli. These pizzas are our favorite combinations, and the ones we use to size up pizza restaurants. In this case, our family found it was very good but not great; better than average. The Stromboli was particularly good. However, with so many pizza choices in Leesburg, our favorites are still Fire Works when we want gourmet pizza, and Vocelli or Rocco’s for “everyday” pizza.

New Yorker Pizza has a fairly extensive menu, offering Antipasti, Pasta, Italian dinners, Salads, Wings, Calzones, Gourmet Pizzas, Hot Subs, Cold Subs, Gyros, Wraps, and Desserts - lots to try, and all dishes are made to order. Please consider supporting this locally-owned and operated business, and check it out for yourself!

Location: 828 S. King St., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-2218

Web site: http://newyorkerpizzas.com/

Total bill: $45.18 + $10.00 tip = $55.18

24 July 2013

#142: Sbarro

Date Visited: 24 July 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me

Experience: Well, this was a case of taking one for the team. I’ve been putting off a visit to Sbarro because I could predict what the experience would be like. Today I did it, and my prediction came true. It was awful.

Sbarro is located in the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets food court, along with Arthur Treacher’s, Nathan’s Famous, Starbucks, Burger King, and Balducci’s. Sbarro is mainly just a place to grab a quick slice of pizza during a shop-till-you-drop mission at the outlet mall. The pizzas are all pre-made and on display in a glass-protected warming area.

On this visit, I came kind of late (about 8 PM), surveyed the offerings, and selected the one that looked the least unappetizing. It turned out to be the Veggie pizza (red onions, mushrooms, green peppers, tomato, olives, and broccoli). Apparently the warming area doesn’t really keep them warm enough, because the guy had to put my slice back into the pizza oven for a couple of minutes. Even then, it wasn’t very hot. The crust was a little too crunchy and the experience was more like having a slice of leftover pizza warmed up in the microwave at home. Maybe I should have gone with the Pepperoni. On the plus side, the slices are huge.

I almost never write negative reviews, but this time I can’t avoid it. Maybe it wasn’t so good because I got there late, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t have been much different otherwise. If you want, give ‘em a try and see if you have better luck, but if it’s pizza you want, any other Leesburg option would be a better bet (search this site, too many to list here).

Location: 241 Fort Evans Rd. NE, Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-779-2040

Web site: http://sbarro.com/

Total bill: $7.86

15 July 2013

#141: Five Guys

Date Visited: 14 July 2013

Meal: Lunch

Diners: Me, Andy, & Alicia

Experience: Five Guys has arrived in Leesburg! It is located in the Battlefield Shopping Center on Edwards Ferry Road.

The popular national burger chain, with stores in 48 states (sorry Alaska and Hawaii!) is now here. Five Guys began in 1986 with the first store located in nearby Arlington, Virginia. Five Guys is best known for serving never-frozen, fresh-cooked burgers with lots of toppings and very generous servings of french fries, cut fresh daily and cooked in peanut oil. Another distinctive of Five Guys is the sparse menu; all they offer is burgers (but many variations), hot dogs, fries, and drinks. Oh yeah, nowadays they also have a few styles of veggie sandwiches (I guess for vegetarian/vegan friends you drag in with you).

On this visit, I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger. As for toppings (all free), if you ask for “everything” you get mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, and mustard. I asked for everything but pickles. Other available toppings include relish, onions, Jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A1 steak sauce, barbeque sauce, and hot sauce. Andy also got the Bacon Cheeseburger but only with ketchup, mustard, and grilled onions. Alicia got the Cheeseburger with ketchup, lettuce, and onions. We got one large order of fries to share (tons). We also got one fountain drink for me and two waters (free) for the kids. Everything was delicious.

I think Five Guys is probably the best nationwide burger chain (but only because In-N-Out is only on the west coast!) In Leesburg, you can get better burgers at Melt or BurgerFi, but sometimes you just can’t beat the sheer, greasy joy of Five Guys. They also have nice, modern online ordering via web browser or apps for iOS and Android. Go get a burger now!

Location: 1083 Edwards Ferry Rd., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 571-442-8575

Website: http://fiveguys.com/

Total bill: $31.16

14 May 2013

#140: Primo Hoagies

Date Visited: 5 May 2013

Meal: Lunch

Diners: Me & Wendy

Experience: Primo Hoagies specializes in “Old Fashioned Style Italian Specialty Sandwiches” and is located in the Home Depot Shopping Center on Fort Evans Rd. Primo Hoagies is a franchised operation, with stores mostly in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware; Leesburg is one of their newest locations. Primo Hoagies has a very extensive menu featuring traditional Italian sub sandwiches as well as specialty types such as “The Diablos” (extra spicy), Cutlet Combos, Healthy Choice, and Meatless Delights. Hoagies come in three sizes, and they also have party trays, sampler platters, and cookies. Of the restaurants specializing in subs here in Leesburg, Primo Hoagies competes with Subway, Quiznos, Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, Deli South, Puccio’s New York Deli, and RJ’s Deli.

On this visit, I ordered the Schwartzie (“Thumann’s Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw & Russian Dressing”). An interesting combination of flavors; I really liked it. Wendy got the American (“Coteghino [sausage made from pork, fatback, and pork rind, from Modena, Italy], Natural Casing Genoa Salami, Ham & American Cheese”) and added mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and oil & vinegar dressing. What stood out for her was that it had “lots of meat, the pickles were cold and crunchy, and the dressing was delicious.”

Compared to their competition, one thing Primo Hoagies has got is selection; they have so many delicious-looking subs to choose from! Whichever you choose, I recommend the “Primo” size (9”). We’ll probably go back, but of all the Leesburg sub shops, Puccio’s and RJ’s are still my favorites.

Location: 210 Fort Evans Rd., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-771-6398

Web site: http://primohoagies.com/

Total bill: $17.48 + $5.00 tip = $23.98

21 April 2013

#139: BurgerFi

Date Visited: 10 April 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: We’d heard there was another high-end burger place in Leesburg that might give Melt some competition, so off we went to try BurgerFi.

For review, there are twelve restaurants now open in the Village at Leesburg: Flame Kabob, Faang Thai, Noodles & Company, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Eggspectation, Finnegan’s, Firebirds, Pinkberry, King Pinz (yes, they have a restaurant), Cobb Theater (yes, a real restaurant too), Wegmans (yeah, it's technically a restaurant), and the subject of this review, BurgerFi!

BurgerFi is a relatively new chain with about 36 locations nationwide, and the name is short for “Burgerfication of the Nation.” In their own words, “BurgerFi picks up where the other ‘better burger’ franchises leave off. First, BurgerFi focuses on all-natural, grass-fed beef. We do this because it tastes better, and it's better for you- with no chemicals, and no additives. Also, where others limit their menu to just the basic, no-frills options, BurgerFi has built a menu with specialty items like Kobe beef hot dogs, gourmet toppings, delectable desserts, craft beer & wine, and an overall focus on a healthier menu selection.”

For this inaugural visit, all three of us selected the BurgerFi Cheesburger (“Double Natural Angus burger, double American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BurgerFi sauce”), and also paid extra for the Hickory Bacon (naturally!) These were indeed tasty burgers! We all remarked on the perfectly grilled patties and cheese melted all over. The BurgerFi sauce is some kind of ketchup-mayonnaise mix and helped bring out all the flavors. As an extra touch, the buns are toasted and branded with the BurgerFi logo on top. Being double burgers, we were plenty satisfied. We also got a large order of Crispy Onion Rings, which lived up to their name and were some of the thickest, fattest, sweetest, tastiest rings we’ve ever had. Wendy ordered an additional “Cry & Fries,” which is a combo basket of some Crispy Onion Rings and Fresh Cut Fries. She added the Salt & Vinegar topping too, which she said was nice and evenly distributed over the whole thing. The fries were hot, crispy, and dense. Andy got a Vanilla Shake, which we all judged kind of average, and maybe a touch too sweet.

Overall, we liked BurgerFi a lot and will certainly be coming back. There is plenty of seating both indoors and out. We still think Melt is the best in the gourmet burger category, but Melt is closed on Sundays and BurgerFi is open!

Location: 1608 Village Market Blvd., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-669-3300

Web site: http://burgerfi.com/

Total bill: $49.60

03 March 2013

#138: DQ Grill & Chill

Restaurant: DQ Grill & Chill

Date Visited: 1 March 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me

Experience: Dairy Queen has come to Leesburg! It is located in the Fort Evans II shopping center along with Buffalo Wild Wings, Jersey Mike’s, Pho Royal, and CiCi’s. Our new restaurant is branded as “DQ Grill & Chill” with offerings for all sorts of fast-food meals. The “Food” menu includes hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, sub sandwiches, wraps, hot dogs, fries, and salads. The “Treats” menu includes all the ice cream items, featuring their flagship Blizzard soft-serve creations.

For this visit, I got the “FlameThrower GrillBurger” combo. The sandwich is a ¼ lb. burger with “fiery FlameThrower sauce, melted pepper jack cheese, jalapeno bacon, thick-cut tomato and fresh green leaf lettuce served on a warm toasted bun.” I actually did like it a lot, the spicy sauce made it kind of special. The combo also came with fries and a drink.

Since this is a Dairy Queen after all, I couldn’t visit without getting some kind of ice cream. I tried a small “Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard Treat” which I also liked, but a small was all I could manage in this frigid weather.

Fine dining it ain’t, but if you’ve got a hankerin’ for a good old burger combo and some ice cream, head on over to DQ to get your Grill and Chill on.

Location: 548 Fort Evans Plaza II, Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-777-5266

Web site: http://www.dairyqueen.com

Total bill: $11.58

02 March 2013

#137: Chen's Garden

Date Visited: 28 February 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me & Wendy

Experience: What, another Chinese restaurant in Leesburg? Yes, it’s true. Chen’s Garden opened a few weeks ago and adds a new dimension to our Chinese food options. It’s located in the same shopping center as Andy’s Subs & Pizza, Wish-Bone Rotisserie, and the recently-reviewed Pho #1.

We decided to go in and order for takeout, so we could try a variety of items, knowing we’d have some leftovers. We started out with the Crab Rangoon appetizers. The menu says you get 8, but we found 10 in our bag. This is Wendy’s favorite appetizer, and these were excellent, being bite-sized, crispy, creamy, and with hint of onion. We also tried their soups; I got the Hot & Sour, which was thick and had a decent amount of spiciness. Wendy had the Won Ton soup, which was average, but good. The menu didn’t say this anywhere, but our order included free Spring rolls (3), which were also nice and crispy.

The main course dishes are where the uniqueness of Chen’s Garden comes out. I got the Kung Pao Chicken. Compared to “normal” American-style Chinese food, which usually has fairly thick, very sweet sauces, Chen’s version seemed light on the sauce. This brought out the freshness of all the ingredients. Being Kung Pao, mine had the right amount of spice, but gave a different experience than I was expecting. We also got the Chicken with Cashew Nuts to share (and for Andy, and for leftovers!) Wendy got the Triple Delicacy (from the Chef's Recommendations section of the menu), which includes beef, chicken, and shrimp. It was tender and crispy. All three dishes shared the fresh-and-light-on-the-sauce style.

Overall, the portions were generous, and all items seemed to be prepared in a simple, fresh, clean, uncomplicated way. This was a refreshing change from what we expected, and should be a hit with many diners looking for more healthy Chinese food choices. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the reviews on Yelp are all very positive too. For a change, give Chen’s Garden a try!

For review, here's a summary of all the Chinese restaurants I've reviewed so far:

Asian-style restaurants that offer at least some Chinese dishes:

  • Pho #1 (visited 22 February 2013)
  • Pho Royal (visited 11 February 2010)
  • Aiyara Thai (visited 16 October 2009)
  • Pei Wei (visited 18 April 2009)
  • Red Apple Buffet (visited 19 October 2008 - out of business, replaced by Buffalo Wings & Beer, then Ironwood Tavern)
  • Thai Pan (originally called Thai Royal, visited 24 August 2008)
  • J&W Asian Bistro (visited 22 June 2008 - out of business, replaced by Sal's NY Bar & Grill, now vacant)
  • Xuan Saigon (visited 25 May 2008)

Location: 9 Catoctin Cir. #2A, Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-5266/5535

Web site: none (yet)

Total bill: $42.15 + $10 tip = $52.15

24 February 2013

#136: Pho #1

Date Visited: 22 February 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me & Wendy

Experience: It was a cold Friday night in Leesburg, and we needed something to warm us up. The obvious answer: Pho!

Pho #1 has been open for about four weeks now, at the southwest corner of the intersection of King Street and Catoctin Circle, around the corner from 7-Eleven. It’s the former location of Bacchus Cafe, and neighbor to Andy’s Subs & Pizza, Wish-Bone Rotisserie, and Chen’s Garden (not yet reviewed). Pho #1 is self-described as an “authentic Vietnamese restaurant.” They specialize in the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup dish called Pho, which puts them in direct competition with Xuan Saigon and Pho Royal here in Leesburg.

For this visit we started out with two standard appetizers, the #A1 Cha Gio - Crispy Egg Rolls, and #A2 Goi Cuon - Fresh Spring Rolls made with rice vermicelli. Both were excellent; the crispy ones were crispy and the fresh ones were fresh!

For our main Pho courses, I selected from the “Adventurer's Choice” part of the menu and got #P8 Pho Tai, Nam, Ve Don - Steak, Flank, Crunch Flank. The part that puts this dish in the Adventurer category is the Crunch Flank, which consists of small pieces of fatty beef flank, and does give the experience of crunchiness. It was different, but I liked it. Wendy chose from the “Beginner” section of the menu and got the #P2 Pho Tai, Nam - Eye Round Steak, Flank Pho. She said, “delicious!”

The usual Pho additions of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapeno peppers, and lime slices were served on a separate plate. A simple array of Hoisin sauce, Sriracha sauce, garlic chili sauce, and pepper were on hand at the table (but oddly no soy sauce or salt). There were some interesting desserts in the menu, but our server said they didn’t have any at this time, as they are re-doing their dessert offerings.

The restaurant is clean and simply decorated, retaining the same basic layout inherited from Bacchus Cafe. It is a family-run business; the sons are the main servers, Mom does the “authentic” part of the cooking, and Dad keeps everything running smoothly. Standard background Muzak plays as you are attended to throughout the meal. We felt we received very good value for the meal, and look forward to return and try some of the more adventurous menu items. Give ‘em a try!

Location: 9-E Catoctin Cir. SW, Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-1800

Web site: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pho-1/507248915986511?fref=ts

Total bill: $25.38 + $10 tip = $35.38

02 February 2013

#135: The Q Company

Date Visited: 30 January 2013

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: On this rainy evening (actually, we were under a flash flood warning!) we decided to visit one of Leesburg’s newest restaurants, The Q Company, which specializes in Texas-style barbeque. They had their grand opening on 17 November 2012, at the former location of Aashiana/Angeethi on Catoctin Circle.

Recently featured in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, owner Mitchell Matzek says “The Q may just do a handful of things, but they do them really well.” The menu features Smoked Beef Brisket, Slow Smoked Pulled Pork, and Smoked Sausage, along with Best BBQ Beans, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, and Mac & Cheese sides, plus a couple of specialties: Barbeque Baked Potato and BBQ Sundae(!)

The Q Company is a pretty laid-back place, and a sign at the front door tells you to come on in and seat yourself. On this visit, we had barely sat down and our server came immediately, delivering a plate of cornbread and taking our drink orders. Their cornbread is sweet and delicious; Andy called it “superior!”

We then ordered the “For Four” Package which offers several meat and side choices. We chose the Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, Best BBQ Beans, Mac & Cheese, and Cole Slaw. In keeping with the simple menu, the Packages are served family style, on trays, which i think adds to the experience and puts the emphasis on the food over the the presentation. Texas-style barbecue comes without any sauce added before serving, so there are several sauces available at the table: tangy Texas red, Carolina-style spicy vinegar, and spicy mustard. There are also several hot sauces available if desired. Andy and I liked the Brisket best, while Wendy preferred the Pork. We all preferred the red sauce for both of the meats. I was also impressed by the BBQ Beans, as they included several kinds of beans, onions, and bits of barbeque (reminded me of Famous Dave’s Wilbur Beans). Wendy said the Mac & Cheese was “creamy and peppery.” The Slaw was cold and crisp, not too vinegary, and a perfect complement to the spiciness of everything else. We found this Package a great option for sampling the Q’s offerings and quite filling; of course the “For Four” should be filling for a party of three!

BONUS: Check out the sign inside the restaurant:

Our overall experience was quite positive, confirming the LTM’s cheery review, and we’re eager to return and try the Smoked Sausage and the Ribs. We encourage you to give them a try and support this family-owned and operated local business.

Location: 17 Catoctin Cir., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-8767

Web site: http://theqcompany.com/ and http://facebook.com/TheQCompany

Total bill: $43.40 + $10 tip = $53.40

27 November 2012

#134: Chick-fil-A

Date Visited: 9 August 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me & Alicia

Experience: Chick-fil-A has finally come to Leesburg! Located right in front of Kohl’s on Edwards Ferry Road, Chick-fil-A has instantly become a Leesburg favorite. It is especially popular with the Christian community and especially members of our local church, Cornerstone Chapel. I’m sure it has to do with supporting the company founder’s unabashed Christian beliefs, but I think it also has to do with it being a great alternative to the standard burger chains.

According to Wikipedia, “The company's current trademarked slogan, ‘We Didn't Invent the Chicken, Just the Chicken Sandwich,’ refers to their flagship menu-item, the popular quick-serve or fast-food chicken sandwich.”

On this visit, Alicia and I just needed a quick meal, so we went through the drive-thru and ordered up some flagship meals for ourselves. I got the Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe meal and she got the Chicken Sandwich meal. Both meals came with their unique waffle fries. Quick and tasty.

What else can I say? Chick-fil-A is great; if you haven’t tried them yet, go now!

Location: 1002 Edwards Ferry Rd., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-777-1200

Web site: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/

Total bill: $13.09

12 November 2012

#133: Jasmine Chinese Cuisine & Sushi

Date Visited: 8 August 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me & Alicia

Experience: I did my first review of Jasmine way back on 27 April 2008. Since then they’ve added a whole new dimension to the restaurant that merits a new review: Sushi! The sushi bar has its own entrance, and the restaurant was subtly renamed in the process to Jasmine Chinese Cuisine & Sushi. Jasmine is still in its original location at Leesburg’s Market Station, along with Tuscarora Mill, South Street Under, Fire Works, and Los Tios Grill.

Jasmine’s sushi chef is Rome, and he’s done a superb job in bringing high-class sushi to little ol’ Leesburg. On this visit, Alicia and I ordered three of his specialty rolls to share: Tiger Roll, Captain Jack, and Cover Girl - all excellent. Read the online sushi menu for details, but you really have to try them in person to appreciate them. Rome’s non-stop dialog will also entertain you (if you wish!)

The only other “real” sushi available in Leesburg is at Golden China or Kobe Japanese Steak & Seafood, but I think Jasmine is clearly superior. If you or someone in your party doesn’t like sushi that much, you can also order from the regular Chinese menu. If you do like sushi, go to Jasmine now!

Location: 110 South St., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-737-2288

Web site: http://jasminecuisine.com/

Total bill: $48.83 + $15.00 tip = $68.83

UPDATE, 3 November 2012: Wendy, Alicia, and I returned recently for lunch after spending the morning at a competition with Alicia and the UMW Rowing Team. This time we tried four different rolls: The Volcano, Spider Roll, Pacifica, and Yes, Mr. No. We also had the Crab Rangoon appetizer (our family favorite). The sushi was just as excellent as our first visit. We were also very pleased with the performance of the backup sushi chef, Ronald, as Rome was off that day.

13 September 2012

#132: Little Caesars

Date Visited: 7 August 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: Me

Experience: Little Caesars is a national pizza chain, estimated to be the fourth largest in the U.S., according to Wikipedia. Leesburg’s first Little Caesars store was located in the current Vocelli’s location. It closed many years ago but a new one recently reopened in Prosperity Center. Since 2004 the Little Caesars chain has been pushing its Hot-N-Ready menu, which simply means pre-made pizzas you can order with no waiting. These pre-made pizzas, of course, may sit for a while in the warming racks before you buy one, so they’re not always quite so fresh.

On this visit, I was on my own for dinner, and ordered a large Pepperoni pizza and a side order of Buffalo chicken wings. I purposely ordered a Pepperoni from the Hot-N-Ready menu so I wouldn’t have to wait, but I guess something went wrong, and I had to wait anyway. They weren’t very busy, so I’m not sure what the problem was. The chicken wings are made by simply adding whatever sauce is ordered (like Buffalo for me) and put into an oven for a few minutes. Overall, pretty average and somewhat disappointing. I liked the old Little Caesars; they had the best Pepperoni & Bacon pizzas! Oh well. The only thing the new Little Caesars has going for it is the low prices - $5 for the pizza and $5 for the wings.

Little Caesars operates in a crowded Leesburg pizza market, which currently includes Giovanni’s, Manhattan Pizza, La Villa Roma, Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut Express, Pizza Hut WingStreet, Ledo Pizza, Andy’s, CiCi’s, Rocco's (was Joe's), Domino’s, Vocelli’s, Fire Works, Papa John’s, Juliano’s, and Sbarro (not yet reviewed). My current favorites are Juliano’s and Vocelli’s; you can probably skip Little Caesars.

Location: 703 E. Market St., Leesburg, VA, 20176, 571-918-0222

Web site: http://littlecaesars.com/

Total bill: $10.85

08 July 2012

#131: Juliano's Pizza

Date Visited: 22 June 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: 3 - Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: Back in September 2010, I gushed about our visit to Kabob & Falafel. Now, Chef Rida and crew have reinvented/rebooted their restaurant into its latest incarnation: Juliano’s Pizza. They advertise as primarily a pizza restaurant, but offer many other items, such as appetizers, wings, hamburgers, gourmet subs, and salads; they still have kabobs and falafel too. This is the same location as Kabob & Falafel, which was originally the Fractured Prune.

There is a lot of competition in the Leesburg pizza market, which currently includes Giovanni’s, Rocco’s (ex-Joe’s), Manhattan Pizza, La Villa Roma, Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut - WingStreet, Pizza Hut Express, Ledo Pizza, Andy’s, CiCi’s, Domino’s, Vocelli’s, Fire Works, Papa John’s, and Little Caesar’s (not yet reviewed). Many other Leesburg restaurants include pizza on their menu, but not as the main thing. It’s obviously a crowded market, but I think Juliano’s has established a unique niche for itself in Leesburg, as you will see.

On this visit, Chef Rida was not there, but Chef Ayman was in charge. Because he knew me (from the Kabob & Falafel review and later visits), he came out into the seating area and loudly greeted us and introduced us to the other patrons: "This is the guy who writes about all the restaurants in Leesburg!" - thus blowing my cover. :-)

Wendy and I both started with the House salad, which had a great tangy (homemade, I’m sure) house dressing. A very promising start.

For our main dishes, we shared a Grilled Chicken Brie gourmet sub (“Grilled chicken, warm Brie, honey, basil, pesto, red peppers, avocado, bacon, and field greens”). It had an amazing taste; the honey really made it pop! Wendy commented that it presented as layers of flavor, all distinct. I concurred, and proceeded to devour my half!

We also shared a large No Kissing Tonight pizza (“Ricotta cheese with pesto sauce and tomatoes, bacon, red onion, mozzarella cheese, chopped garlic and seasoning”). This was another amazing creation. I really liked the way that the ingredients were piled high, but remained light, not dense. The large pieces of shaved parmesan on top were a great finishing touch. I also loved the light but crisp-on-the-bottom crust, just perfect. We had plenty to take home for lunch the next day.

Andy was not actually with us on this visit, but we ordered for take-out a large Pepperoni and Bacon pizza for him. Of course, we got to share in this one too. One of Juliano’s special touches is that their tomato sauce has just a little hot spiciness to it. I asked Chef Ayman what it was, but he laughed and wouldn’t divulge the secret. He did talk about how he perfected the amount of spice in the sauce, enough for you to tell after the first bite, but not so much to overwhelm you.

So there you have it, another gushing review of a locally-owned Leesburg restaurant. But I think Juliano’s has earned and deserved this praise. The restaurant itself is small and inviting, and the hospitality of the chefs and staff is welcoming and honest. Reviews on Yelp are overwhelmingly positive, and they also got a nice write-up from a fellow Leesburg restaurant/shop blogger on There’s Something About Mary’s List. Please do visit Juliano’s, and tell them I said hi!

Location: 828 S. King St., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-2218

Web site: http://julianosleesburg.com/

Total bill: $54.83 + $15.00 tip = $69.83

UPDATE - 14 April 2013:

We went to lunch and Juliano’s has apparently changed hands - chefs Rida and Ayman are not there. The menu and food quality also seems to have changed and no longer has the uniqueness that I originally wrote about. It’s too bad; the food is now OK but nothing special.

21 June 2012

#130: Ironwood Tavern

Date Visited: 20 June 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: 4 - Me, Wendy, Andy, & Alicia

Experience: Ironwood Tavern opened on 29 February 2012. The history of this location is that it was a Sizzler when we moved here in 1987, then it became Ponderosa, then Red Apple Buffet (after I started this blog), then the short-lived Buffalo Wings & Beer (never visited), and now Ironwood Tavern. We had heard good things about this place, so we decided to go for a belated Father’s Day dinner.

On this Wednesday night, the restaurant was not very busy - only about five other parties were there with us. We were greeted with a basket of bread and whipped butter while our server took our drink orders. Since Ironwood Tavern emphasizes their two dozen craft beers on tap, I had a Fat Tire Amber Ale (a favorite of mine).

We started off with the Southwest Spring Rolls appetizer. Although this has become a restaurant standard, Ironwood’s version was pretty good; crispy and hot, with a just-spicy-enough dipping sauce. Plus, we happened to be there early enough to take advantage of the Happy Hour pricing of $5.

We all ordered salads; Wendy and I got the Ironwood Salad (“Mixed greens, raspberries, candied pecans, goat cheese, & champagne vinaigrette”) - nice. Andy and Alicia got the Caesar Salad.

For my main course, I ordered the Ironwood Burger (“Half pound wood grilled burger seasoned with crushed pepper corn, A1 sauce, topped with melted Gorgonzola, sauteed mushroom, lettuce, tomato, onion, & bistro sauce”). I ordered it Medium and it came just that way (yea!) It was an interesting combination of flavors. (I liked it, but if it’s a great cheeseburger you want, go to Melt.) Wendy got the Pork Chop (“Wood grilled & served with sweet potato mash, sauteed green beans, & apple jack brandy sauce”). She like the grilled finish, sweet & salty taste. Andy and Alicia both got the BBQ Burger (“Half pound burger topped with Smoked apple wood bacon, cheddar cheese, fried onion straws, our house made BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, & onion”). Andy rated it a “7-1/2 out of 10,” which is pretty good. For dessert, we shared a Double Fudge Brownie. It was good but not remarkable.

The vibe of Ironwood Tavern is confusing; they have good blues music playing in the background, but the decor and artwork of the place has no apparent theme. Andy said it was a “very plain restaurant.” Our server was attentive and pleasant, which improved the experience. Overall, we felt the place to be maybe above average, but not destined to become a favorite. However, as all the positive Yelp reviews indicate, your experience may be different. Give ‘em a try!

Location: 962 Edwards Ferry Rd. NE, Leesburg, VA, 20176, 703-777-6333

Web site: http://www.ironwoodtavern.com/

Total bill: $110.02 + $22.00 tip = $132.02

20 June 2012

#129: Balducci's

Date Visited: 16 June 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: 2 - Me & Wendy

Experience: According to their website, this Balducci’s location in the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets is more properly called a “Balducci’s Express,” even though the sign says “Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market.” It’s in the location formerly occupied by City Deli. Readers of this blog may be more familiar with the real “Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market” (gourmet grocery store) locations in Alexandria, McLean, and Bethesda. I’m a big fan of these stores and often have the opportunity to visit the Bethesda location. I always find some delicious treats and a high-quality lunch-to-go (sushi!) when I need it. This Balducci’s Express in Leesburg, however, is a different story. As far as I can tell, they basically stock only a very limited selection of pre-made sandwiches, salads, and a few sides.

On this visit, Wendy and I were looking for a quick, light dinner, and we were in the mood for sub sandwiches. We arrived about an hour or so before the mall closed, and were told by the guys behind the counter that the sandwiches and things in the glass case in front of us was all that was available, and they couldn’t make us anything new!?!

I ordered the Santa Fe sandwich that featured shredded chicken, red peppers, and chipotle seasonings on a baguette-type roll. Wendy got the Club sandwich that featured ham, turkey, bacon, and swiss cheese on a ciabatta roll. She also got another one to take home to Alicia. As these were listed on the menu as “hot” sandwiches, each in turn was put into an oven for one minute before being served to us. The best I can say is that the sandwiches were OK. The bread itself was better than anything inside. Alicia really did like hers, though.

On the whole, this was a rather disappointing experience, and I don’t think we will be back. It’s too bad, because the experience you get at a Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market is completely different.

Location: 241 Fort Evans Road NE, Leesburg, VA 20176

Web site: http://www.balduccis.com/

Total bill: $31.30

14 June 2012

#128: Georgetown Cafe

Date Visited: 14 June 2012

Meal: Lunch

Diners: 2 - Me & Wendy

Experience: The Georgetown Cafe is one of the oldest fixtures in Leesburg. Located in the historic downtown area on King St., it is across the street from Blue Mountain Cafe and Windy City Red Hots. Georgetown Cafe is just one of the properties owned and operated by Fabian Saeidi & family, including Leesburg Colonial Inn, Old Town Grill (formerly The Green Tree Restaurant), King's Court Tavern, Balls Bluff Tavern, and Bella Luna Restaurant (currently closed for renovations). We found out from our server that the plan is for King’s Court Tavern (a rented property) to move into the Bella Luna location (Saeidi-owned), but she was unsure of the fate of Balls Bluff Tavern. The decor of the Georgetown Cafe was simple, with trestle tables just like in the Old Town Grill.

Anyway, the Georgetown Cafe menu is filled with 17th century-themed meals, to go along with downtown Leesburg’s colonial vibe. All of the meals have interesting names (with historical notes included), such as Ben Franklin's Pleasure, The Hot Canadian, The Thoriughfare Gap Express, The Hessian Reuben, The Ambassador, The Blue Ridge, English Pub, Captain's Pleasure, and The Signer's Sandwich.

For starters, Wendy and I both had ice tea and soup. I got the 17th Century Peanut Soup, which was thick, creamy, rich, and very filling. The peanuts and celery bits were not too crunchy, making for a silky smooth experience. Wendy got the Tomato Basil Soup, which was also thick, chunky, and delicious.

For my lunch, I ordered The Ranger's Basket, described as a "half pound of fresh ground sirloin broiled, served on a kaiser roll, and topped with bacon & cheese. Served with lettuce, tomato, and fried potatoes." When the dish arrived, I saw that this was a fancy description for a bacon cheeseburger and fries platter. However, ordinary it was not. The bun was soft but perfectly toasted on the inside, the meat was actually cooked medium the way I ordered it, the bacon crisp, the tomato juicy, and the fries hot and crispy. Yum.

Wendy ordered one of the specials, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, with the aforementioned Tomato Basil Soup. The sandwich was constructed with thick, Texas Toast-style bread, and the cheese nice and melty. She liked it.

We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Georgetown Cafe and plan to go back to try many of the other dishes. To be fair, most of the Yelp reviews rate the place as average to poor, but our experience today was great. We especially urge your support of this locally-owned and operated restaurant, holding up the traditions of Leesburg’s colonial heritage. Check ‘em out yourself!

Location: 19 S. King St., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-5000

Web site: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgetown-Cafe/122404092575

Total bill: $26.20 + $6.00 tip = $32.20

22 May 2012

#127: Blue Mountain Cafe

Date Visited: 18 May 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: 3 - Me, Wendy, & Andy

Experience: Blue Mountain Cafe is a locally-owned, Caribbean restaurant specializing in authentic Jamaican cuisine. They are located in historic downtown Leesburg, on South King St. next to Windy City Red Hots. Prior to opening, the renovation of the building was also blogged by a local guy! I don’t really know much about Jamaican cuisine, so I will leave it to others to judge whether it’s authentic or not. On this Friday evening, the weather was beautiful, so we sat outside in the patio.

To start off, we ordered a couple of Jamaican Patties: beef and chicken. They were very different, and I liked the beef one the best; it had a bit of kick to it. Wendy called them “meat pastries” and Andy called them “Chicken Pot Pie Pop Tarts!” For drinks, I got a Red Stripe (of course!), Wendy got a Jamaican Ginger Beer (very gingery!), and Andy had a water (how boring!)

For my main course, I tried the Goat Curry, which came with red beans and rice, and fried plantains. The goat had a lot of bones in it, but the meat was quite good, sort of the consistency of pot roast. Wendy and Andy both got the Jerk Chicken. Wendy got hers with white rice and mixed vegetables, and Andy got white rice and fried plantains. Each plate came with three pieces of chicken, marinated in Jamaican Jerk spices (I asked one of the owners what was in it, and she said she was forbidden from revealing the secret!) I got one piece Wendy couldn’t finish, and it was succulent and delicious. The portions for all our meals were generous.

To finish, we had a couple of sorbets: strawberry and orange. The strawberry one was served in a hollowed-out lemon half, and the orange one came in a half-orange; unique! Andy said the strawberry one tasted like a “Strawberry Starburst” - I think this is because some of the lemon juice gets into the sorbet, to give it some extra kick. It was refreshing way to end the meal.

The service at Blue Mountain Cafe was excellent and friendly. In our experience, the food was rather average overall, and the Yelp reviews tend to confirm this. However, there are lots of items on the menu we didn’t get to try, so go check ‘em out!

Location: 26 S. King St., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 571-209-9099

Web site: http://bluemountaincafe-bmc.com/

Total bill: $73.75 + $15.00 tip = $85.75

05 May 2012

#126: Melt

Date Visited: 4 May 2012

Meal: Dinner

Diners: 2 - Me and Wendy

Experience: Melt has been open for about a month now. They are located in the Bellewood Commons shopping center, in the location recently vacated by Quiznos. Other restaurants there include Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Red Kabob, Papa John’s, and Josefina Market. Melt is owned by Debbie and Steve Hancotte, and Debbie makes it clear to inquisitive guests that this is NOT a chain! Melt has an extensive burger menu, categorized into “All-American Premium Beef Burgers” (Classic, Bacon, Bacon/Blue, Create-your-own), “Additional Gourmet Burgers” (Crab, Tuna, Lamb, Turkey, Veggie), and “Kicked-Up Gourmet Burgers” (Tex-Mex, Paris, Hatch Chile, Diner, Caprese, Swiss). There are also lots of sides, milkshakes, malts, floats, and endless other options.

We got one order of the Serious Melt Fries (“Our Delicious Crispy Fries topped with melted Tillamook Cheddar Cheese”) to share. My first reaction was what a generous serving size it was. Taste-wise, there was something about the combination of their perfectly crispy fries, and this particularly silky cheddar cheese, with a little pepper, that made these perhaps the best cheese fries I’ve ever had. Next time, I think I’ll try the Decadent Fries (“Seared Foie Gras & Crumbled Bacon”) - wow.

I ordered the Bacon/Blue Cheeseburger (“a Bacon Cheeseburger with Imported Gorgonzola Blue Cheese, Balsamic Glazed Onions, Crispy Bacon, Fresh Lettuce, Sliced Red Ripe Tomato and a Touch of Our Own Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing”). All Melt burgers are made of “aged, hand trimmed, 100% Angus Beef,” and I thought the quality was noticeable. Melt cooks all burgers medium-rare to medium unless you request otherwise. This is another gourmet touch that was executed perfectly - this is the way burgers are meant to be cooked and eaten! The Gorgonzola Blue Cheese was a thick slab (maybe ¼”), not a thin, wimpy slice. They also manage to keep the bacon crispy (mmm... bacon)! Which brings us to the bun - they bake them fresh, on-site, twice daily, and are unlike any other burger bun I’ve ever had. Deelish!

Wendy got the Paris Burger (“our Premium Beef Burger, Char-Grilled with Roasted Garlic, topped with Melted French Brie, Balsamic Glazed Onions, Baby Spinach and a Smear of Dijon Mustard”). She noticed that when you squeeze down on the bun, your fingers don’t just go right through it. She also appreciated the “wonderful combination of different tastes.” The Melt burgers are huge, and with the medium-rare cooking you might think the juice would be going all over the place. As we were finishing, Wendy noticed that there was hardly any grease dripped onto our plates. This is high-quality beef, cooked right!

On top of the food quality, the atmosphere and service were delightful. Debbie came out to check on us and chat a bit, making us feel right at home; she is a very perky lady too! If it sounds like I’m gushing over Melt, well, I guess I am; it was so refreshingly good in many ways. You can check out the Yelp reviews which confirm this. We felt that Melt totally lives up to their byline of “Gourmet Cheeseburgers.” You do pay a bit of a premium for this experience, but it is good value. We felt quite pleasantly full when we finished. Go visit Melt right away!

Location: 525 E. Market St., Suite J, Leesburg, VA, 20176-4171, 703-443-2105

Website: http://meltgourmetcheeseburgers.com/

Total bill: $30.05

25 April 2012

#125: Pinkberry

Date Visited: 1 April 2012

Meal: Snack after Lunch

Diners: 2 - Me and Wendy

Experience: After lunch at the Old Town Grill, we headed for Wegman’s to do a bit of shopping and afterward stopped by Pinkberry for a quick snack.

For review, there are eleven restaurants now open in the Village at Leesburg: Flame Kabob, Faang Thai, Noodles & Company, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Eggspectation, King Pinz (yes, they have a restaurant too), Wegmans (yeah, it's technically a restaurant), Finnegan’s, Firebirds, and the subject of this review, Pinkberry!

Pinkberry is a large franchise chain with hundreds of locations in the U.S. and around the world. Their main product is frozen yogurt in several sizes; many toppings are free, and a few cost extra. They advertise that their uniqueness is the signature “tang” in the yogurt. Well, here’s what we found...

On this visit, I had the Salted Caramel yogurt with Peanut Butter Crunch topping. It was creamy, definitely had a tangy taste, but a little light on the salt to my taste. the gooeyness of the peanut butter topping was a great match for this flavor. Wendy had the Blood Orange yogurt (seasonal) with Dark Chocolate Chips. This one had a most definite tang to it that was very pleasantly refreshing.

Pinkberry’s is the hip place to get your cool, refreshing frozen yogurt fix. Give ‘em a try!

Location: 1606 Village Market Blvd., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-771-3345

Web site: http://pinkberry.com/

Total bill: $8.30

22 April 2012

#124: Old Town Grill

Date Visited: 1 April 2012

Meal: Lunch

Diners: 3 - Me, Wendy, and Andy

Experience: The Old Town Grill has been open since November 2011, where the Green Tree was located. The Green Tree used to offer 17th century menu items and we ate there a few times, but they never got really great reviews. Owner Fabian Saiedi finally decided on a new strategy, a complete renovation of the old Green Tree, transformed into the Old Town Grill, marketed primarily as a steakhouse. Mr. Saiedi also owns Bella Luna Ristorante, Georgetown Café, Ball's Bluff Tavern, King's Court, The Colonial Inn Bed & Breakfast and, now the new Old Town Grill.

On this Sunday afternoon visit (April Fool’s day), we were the only people in the restaurant; not a good sign to start with, but read on! The menu includes a good selection of Soup & Salad, Sandwiches & Kabobs, Burgers, and a Beer & Wine list. Some items were remembered from the old Green Tree menu.

I started off with the Mixed Green house salad. It had a unique dill dressing that was creamy but not too heavy, and a good mix of lettuces. Wendy had the Green Herb soup, which, according to our server, is made with 14 herbs; it was creamy, and we could detect thyme, rosemary, and something spicy. Andy had the French Onion soup. So far, so good...

For the main course, I got the Crab Cake sandwich, which was served with lemon caper sauce on a baguette, with big thick-cut fries. The Crab Cake was made with a fine mix, not much detectable filler, but not much crust. There was nothing else on the bun. It also came with a 1,000 Island-ish dressing, which I used mainly for my fries. It was all pretty good.

Wendy got the Grilled Chicken sandwich, which was served with bacon, jack cheese, caramelized onions, and fries. The chicken was a good-sized, thick portion. She liked it.

Andy got the Old Town burger, which was Angus beef served wth bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and fries. The burger was orderd medium, but was delivered more like medium-well. He said it was a “good standard cheeseburger” with exception of the bun, which he really liked. They actually used the same bun for all our dishes.

We decided to try the desserts this time too. Wendy got the Mint Chocolate cake, which had “pretty chocolate dots” but was otherwise average. Andy got his favorite, the Creme brûlée, which he judged as above average! It did have a nice thick top. For my part, I sampled both, and finished off with a coffee.

Overall, Old Town Grill was good, but not exceptional. We wouldn’t hesitate to go there again, but there are better steakhouses, like my current favorite, Firebirds.

Location: 15 South King St., Leesburg, VA, 20175, 703-777-7246

Web site: http://theoldtowngrill.net/

Total bill: $77.69 + $16.00 tip = $93.69