The New Orleans Jazz Festival begins next week and that’s often considered the beginning of crawfish season. Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) is holding an event featuring the crustaceans this weekend to kick off the season.
The restaurant is kicking off its Third Annual Crawfish Boil series this Saturday, April 20. A spokeswoman for Bayou Bakery noted that chef David Guas is a Louisisana native and has been cooking crawfish “practically since he was in diapers.”
Visitors can purchase boiled crawfish and peel-and-eat shrimp by the pound, along with sides like corn on the cob. Beer specials will also be available. The event is first-come, first-served, and customers may call in to make sure there is still crawfish available.
The patio party begins at 5:00 p.m. and a New Orleans-style jazz quartet will begin playing at 5:30 p.m. It will wrap up around 7:30 p.m. The crawfish boils are scheduled for every Saturday through crawfish season, which typically ends in early June.
From now until the end of the festival, five participating Arlington restaurants will “serve creative spring and Festival-inspired entrées, appetizers, desserts, cocktails, or multi-course menus.” Last year, no Arlington restaurants participated.
The special offerings are part of the festival’s Cherry Picks program, now in its 11th year.
The participating restaurants are:
- American Tap Room Clarendon (3101 Wilson Blvd)
- Amuse at Le Meridien (1121 19th Street N)
- Epic Smokehouse (1330 S Fair St)
- Morton’s The Steakhouse – Arlington (1750 Crystal Drive)
- Sushi Rock (1900 Clarendon Blvd)
Photo via National Cherry Blossom Festival
Vote Expected on Homeless Shelter — The Arlington County Board is expected to vote this weekend on a use permit for the planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N. in Courthouse. A group of neighbors has vehemently opposed the shelter, which is located two blocks from the existing emergency winter shelter. [Sun Gazette]
Opposition to Environmental Cuts — One local environmental advocate is sounding the alarm about proposed cuts in the County Manager’s proposed budget. The budget would cut a Natural Resources Specialist at the Long Branch Nature Center, would eliminate an “urban forestry” position,” and would shrink the budget for tree plantings, tree supplies and invasive species control. [Arlington Mercury]
Proposed 2013-14 School Calendar – The 2013-14 school year for Arlington Public Schools would begin on Tuesday, Sept. 3 under a proposed calendar that administrators presented to the School Board. [Arlington Public Schools]
Volunteers Pack 60,000+ Meals — A group of volunteers packed more than 60,000 meals for the hungry on Saturday. The meals — a lentil casserole consisting of “lentils, dehydrated vegetables, rice, vitamins and Himalayan sea salt” — were packed in baggies that will be distributed through the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Capital Area Food Bank. [Sun Gazette]
Ballston is about to get an influx of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese foods. All of those varieties will be served up at Red Parrot Asian Bistro (1110 N. Glebe Road) when it opens next week.
Workers are setting up furniture and making finishing touches on the restaurant, so owner Wendy Cheng expects to have a soft opening by next Thursday (February 14), with a grand opening in March. She already has two successful Red Parrot restaurants in Maryland, and had been looking to open an Arlington location for a while.
“Arlington’s a great place,” Cheng said. “We want people to enjoy, to explore more good food. I think we’re right for here, a great restaurant for all these people.”
Cheng is originally from Hong Kong and used to be an engineer. She has a number of family members in the food industry and eventually decided to open her own restaurant due to a passion for cooking and an enjoyment of customers.
“We love cooking and I decided engineering is really not for me. I’m a people person,” Cheng said. “I’m a foodie and I’m a good chef myself.”
Instead of only offering one variety of Asian food, Red Parrot takes popular dishes from many cultures — such as Chinese dim sum, Japanese sushi and udon noodles, Vietnamese pho, Thai curry and pad Thai, Korean bibimbap and freshly made Malaysian roti flatbread. Less traditional items include cheesesteak egg rolls, spicy chicken wings and grilled ribeye steak.
“When you look at Chinese restaurants, they have all kinds of good food, and then a lot of things you’ll never order,” said Cheng. “I just want the best. I just picked the good items.”
Cheng said Red Parrot uses high quality ingredients and has high food turnover to make sure it stays fresh and flavorful. She noted that, for example, many Asian restaurants use lower quality or frozen seafood that doesn’t taste as good or has an unpleasant texture. She boasted that even the lobsters used in some of the Red Parrot entrees and the sushi are fresh.
“We focus on quality. I focus on everything from scratch, very high quality,” she said. “I love food. So I enjoy seeing people enjoying the food.”
Head Chef Sotheerny Massey is from Thailand and also prides herself on the fresh foods made from scratch. She pointed out that even the noodles are made fresh in-house.
“We plan all the food together, it’s great, we come up with ideas,” said Massey. ”Sometimes the customers want to talk. We are happy when our customers like our food.”
The Red Parrot’s food will be available for carry out and for delivery within about a five mile radius. There will be happy hour specials at the restaurant from 2:00-6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition to drink specials, happy hour will include discounts on selected foods like sushi and appetizers.
The restaurant is hiring immediately for a number of positions including bartenders, servers and hostesses. Applicants should call Wendy at 443-506-3042 or email email@example.com.
Mind Your Body Oasis is scheduled to open at 1750 Crystal Drive on January 12. Owner Amanda Shipe said the area has been hurting for a business of this type.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years, I own a house on South Glebe Road, so I kind of know the lay of the land really well. I’m also a realtor,” said Shipe. “There’s not a yoga studio in the area. It’s very densely populated and is really in need of something different than what’s happening with the restaurants and shops.”
In addition to yoga, the center will offer massages, facials, acupuncture and nutritional coaching.
“There is nothing else like my studio,” said Shipe. “You have your yoga studios that have just yoga and maybe massage, but there is not a center that has hot yoga, regular yoga, pilates and the spa options and acupuncture. There is no other studio that combines everything I’m doing into one in the entire D.C. metro area.”
The Crystal City location made even more sense to Shipe after she led a few outdoor yoga classes in the neighborhood earlier this year. She said the studio will be easy to get to by Metro, and customers can enjoy the renovated courtyard area at the Crystal City Shops. Shipe said customers can take food they buy at her studio into the courtyard to eat.
The food will be provided by local startup Postmodern Foods. Business owner Denise Hicks will make the pre-packaged health food that will be sold out of a refrigerator near the studio’s front desk. Hicks became more involved with health foods when she became ill a number of years ago, and she saw positive changes in her body and emotions due to a change in diet and exercise. She then attended the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York and learned about concepts such as cooking foods to keep them nutritionally intact.
“It took me to another level in terms of understanding different philosophies about food. I think food is really powerful, but it can be more powerful if you handle it respectfully,” said Hicks. “I’m really excited to be able to create food that I believe in and give it to the market. I want to make sure that people have access to really healthy foods that can change the quality of their lives.”
Although about 80 percent of the selections will be raw foods, Hicks plans that around 20 percent of the products will be cooked.
“100 percent raw is not something that you want all day, every day, especially not in winter,” she said.
Hicks makes all the items herself and plans to sell the beverages in glass containers, and the food in compostable, cornstarch based plastic containers. One of the pre-packaged dishes she’s featuring will be a quinoa and egg scramble, with an organic tortilla, corn, salsa fresca and a spicy black bean sauce.
Shipe said she is excited to have Hicks on board for the wholistic center, not just because of the healthy raw food concept, but also because she enjoys helping local people start a small business. Another business she’s helping out by selling its products is House of Steep, which is owned by Shipe’s sister, Lyndsey DePalma.
“We really play off of each other with our strengths and weaknesses. She helped me with the business plan, I helped her with the marketing,” Shipe said. “She’s a little bit ahead of me, so she gives me a future view of what I should be doing. It’s a very, very fun bonding experience for us. It’s been two years since we started this journey. We’ve been along for the ride together.”
If all goes well for both businesses, the sisters would eventually like to open a location combining Mind Your Body and House of Steep. But for now, Shipe is focused on getting out the word about her wholistic center.
“I want Mind Your Body Oasis to be a community and be a place where people can come and meet like minded people and escape the world,” said Shipe. “When you walk in the studio you have a sense of peace and harmony and it’s your little oasis to escape to for a while and forget about anything you’re dealing with that day.”
Mind Your Body Oasis will have a grand opening event from 2:00-9:00 p.m. on January 19. There will be raffles and samples of the juices that will be sold at the center. Customers are also welcome to check out the facility and enjoy a free yoga class.
The new restaurant held a ‘soft opening’ for dinner on Saturday and for lunch and happy hour on Monday, but is open for all three — plus late night food — starting today (Tuesday). The new eatery replaces the former Thai Terrace restaurant at 801 N. Quincy Street.
Leek will be open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for happy hour from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., for dinner from 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., and for late night food and drink from 11:00 p.m. to closing time, seven days a week. There will also be brunch service on Saturday and Sunday.
Leek seats about 100 diners and bar-goers inside and will seat about 50 people outside during warm weather months. Chef and co-owner Nathan Spittal says he’s hoping Leek will provide fine dining-caliber food — utilizing local, organic and sustainable ingredients — in a bright, casual and welcoming environment.
“We like to call it tablecloth casual, which basically means you’re going to get fine food, good wine and good drink, but in a casual atmosphere… at a really good price,” he said.
Although the restaurant is dubbed an “American Bistro,” Spittal says it’s more of an American “melting pot,” blending influences from around the world. Among those influences: French, Thai, Latin America, Indian and Middle Eastern.
The name of the restaurant itself, says Spittal, a classically trained chef, refers to the leek, which he described as the foundation of classical French cooking technique and a “very versatile” vegetable that “makes everything taste better.” Leek can be found in some — but not all — dishes on the menu.
Spittal has proven his own versatility by working at both fine dining restaurants and on a short-lived barbecue food truck. Together with business partner Joe D’Jassebi, Spittal is hoping this venture appeals to those with discerning but versatile palates.
The lunch menu includes “starters” like a $10 ahi tuna tartare (ginger-chili mayo, spring onion and seaweed salad); salads like the $8 Leek house salad (mixed greens, grilled pear, smoked red onions, chevre cheese and herb-cider vinaigrette); “handhelds,” or sandwiches, like a $14 Maine lobster roll (lemon-terragon mayo, bibb lettuce, Napa slaw and garlic fries); and main courses like the $24 Maryland crabcake entree (English pea and roasted corn succotash, whole grain mustard remoulade and garlic fries).
The dinner menu includes a $7 fennel and leek soup appetizer (poached lobster and orange-anise cream); a $10 Leek bistro burger (hickory smoked bacon, a choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and garlic fries); a $20 falafel crusted salmon entree (roasted garlic-garbanzon puree, red onion and tomato compote, cool cucumber nage) and a $18 lemon-chili roasted chicken (red potato and green leek hash, garlic brussel sprouts and herb olivata).
Desserts include sweet corn panna cotta (caramel corn, poblana creme Anglaise and tortilla tuile) and black sesame-pear tea cake (candied ginger and coconut gelato).
Beers on tap include Magic Hat #9, New Belgium 1554, Flying Dog Black Dog IPA, Brooklyn Winter Ale and Sam Adams Oktoberfest, among others. The wine collection hails from California, Washington state, Virginia, Italy, France, Australia, Argentina and South Africa, among other locales. The artisan cocktail menu includes Blueberries Maryland (blueberries, fresh rosemary, smoked maple syrup, club soda and Gran Marnier), Dirty Ginger (ginger honey, fresh lime, Krug Rose and Meyers dark rum), and Virginia Royal (pomegranate, fresh raspberries and Barboursville Brut).
Happy hour will include both food and daily drink specials.
As for the Ballston location, Spittal says he’s excited to be opening in a still-growing area that has city-like foot traffic outside of D.C. proper.
“Arlington is a great neighborhood that has come a long way,” he said. ”It’s not a suburb anymore.”
The main event is being called the “Hunger Challenge,” during which residents are asked to try feeding themselves on $4.03 per day. That’s the amount of assistance the average Arlington resident would receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Participants are asked to try the challenge all month, for a week or even just a day, in an effort to understand the difficulty some of their neighbors have with feeding themselves and their families.
“If you struggle to eat well on $28.21 per week, you’ll understand how glad AFAC clients are to be able to fill the gap in their food budget with the milk, eggs, produce, meat and other items distributed by AFAC,” said Charles Meng, AFAC’s Executive Director.
AFAC currently helps about 1,600 families per week, which continues its recent trend of serving an all-time high number of people. Mona Bormet, AFAC Outreach and Research Manager, noted that it’s difficult and often embarrassing for people to receive assistance, but they may not have other options.
“They don’t really want to come here for help, they come here because they need to,” Bormet said. “Most people would rather be able to take care of themselves and their families on their own.”
AFAC is also offering the following volunteer opportunities to help fight hunger throughout September:
- Help collect food donations at local Safeway stores from September 8-11.
- Help pick fresh produce from area farms and gardens that will be used for food donations, on September 8, 15, 22 and 29.
- Eat at Pete’s Apizza (3017 Clarendon Blvd) on Monday, September 17, from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. and 25 percent of the proceeds will be donated to AFAC.
- Attend movie night at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) on Wednesday, September 19th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Join AFAC and filmmaker Cintia Cabib in the main auditorium for a screening of “A Community of Gardeners.” The film highlights D.C. community gardens and their vital role.
- Join AFAC’s Young Professionals on Thursday, September 20, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Whitlow’s on Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd) for Mug Night.
- Try the California Dreaming Wine Tasting at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop (1025 N. Fillmore Street) on Monday, September 24, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. All of the proceeds will be donated to AFAC. The event is limited to 45 people, and costs $15.99 to sample 10 wines and cheeses.
Anyone interested can get involved with these and other AFAC volunteer opportunities by signing up online.
The Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant slated for the former Cafe Parisien space at 4520 Lee Highway in the Lee Heights shopping center is scheduled to open on Oct. 16, according to a company spokesperson.
The franchise owner and a team of contractors were on site today (Monday) to tour the still-empty interior. But a sign on the boarded-up front of the store promised the “Burritofication” of the former French restaurant and long-time Lee Heights fixture, which closed suddenly last summer.
This will be Chipotle’s fifth Arlington location after one opened in June in the Pentagon City Mall food court.
The 25th annual Taste of Arlington will be held in Ballston this coming Sunday, May 20, from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Taste of Arlington is the county’s largest food festival, attracting some 15,000 attendees every year. More than 35 local restaurants — including newcomers — Memphis Barbeque, Zoe’s Kitchen, World of Beer and Cava Mezze — are expected to participate in this year’s event.
Taste of Arlington is held on Wilson Boulevard in front of Ballston Common Mall. Arlington County police will be closing some roads in the area to accommodate the event. The following streets are scheduled to be closed from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
- Wilson Boulevard eastbound at Glebe Road
- Wilson Boulevard westbound at N. Randolph Street
- N. Stuart Street between N. 9th Street and Wilson Boulevard
- N. 9th Street between N. Stafford Street and N. Stuart Street (open to Metrobus traffic only)
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Despite the closing of Chevys in Ballston — and rumors of its own demise — the Chevys Mexican restaurant in Pentagon City (1201 S. Hayes Street) is alive and kicking. So much so, it’s holding Cinco de Mayo specials every day this week.
The daily specials started yesterday and include deals like $4 1800 fresh fruit margaritas (Wednesday) and $5 Dos Equis Grandes (Friday).
In addition to the drink deals, there are also food specials and chances to win free dinners. On Saturday, May 5, there will be games and dancing for the big Cinco de Mayo bash. The fiesta ends on Sunday with a “Kids’ Cinco” featuring balloons and face painting.
There’s a lighthouse inside the Ballston mall right now, but it’s probably not what you think. It’s one of the many structures on display made entirely of canned food, all for a good cause.
The American Institute of Architects Northern Virginia Chapter and the Arlington Food Assistance Center have teamed up for the ninth year to present the Canstruction competition. Teams of architects build structures made entirely out of canned food. All the food donations, which typically add up to tens of thousands of pounds, are then donated to AFAC.
Tonight, the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Rock Bottom Brewery, starting at 6:00 p.m. The displays will remain intact throughout the mall until 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
A new restaurant is coming to Virginia Square. “Coming Soon” signs have gone up for a Tropical Smoothie Cafe at 3811 Fairfax Drive.
The chain restaurant highlights its use of fresh, simple ingredients. Fresh fruit and turbinado sugar are used in the smoothies, and the wraps, salads and sandwiches are also made with healthy ingredients.
Patrick McKiernan, Area Developer for Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC, said two partners who recently graduated from William and Mary College in Williamsburg were interested in bringing the franchise to the metro area. They liked what they saw in Virginia Square.
“They liked the mix of business and residential there, and the proximity to the Metro,” McKiernan said. “It’s our first location near a Metro, so we’re anxious to see how it goes.”
McKiernan stresses that the restaurant is more than just a place to grab a smoothie; the sales are about 50 percent smoothies and 50 percent food. He thinks the sandwiches, wraps and salads will bring in a good lunch crowd, while the focus on fresh foods will bring in those seeking health conscious options.
McKiernan says they’re pretty early on in the process, and hope to start construction next month if all the permits are obtained quickly. He said it’s tough to estimate an opening until things move along a little further, but he’s guessing sometime during the summer.
There are a number of Tropical Smoothie Cafes throughout Northern Virginia, but this will be the first location in Arlington.
Arlington native Scot Harlan owns the restaurant and serves as a chef. His co-chef, Will Sullivan, also hails from Arlington.
Harlan has traveled around the world in an effort to perfect his culinary skills and has worked in kitchens of famed chefs like Gordon Ramsay. He made his way back to the area to work at notable local establishments such as 2941 and Inox, but now wants to try his hand at running a restaurant in the community his family has called home for many years.
“We’ve been here a while and we’ve seen this location change from a Sears parking lot to an area hot for 20 to 30 somethings,” said Harlan.
He said one of the things that will make Green Pig Bistro stand out is that it’s not run by a corporate entity, but instead by a chef-owner. Harlan thinks his desire to keep it simple and let the food shine without experimenting with exotic blends of spices in dishes will keep customers coming back.
“I’ve spent the last 10 years doing tiny, 16 touches on a plate,” Harlan said. “I find more value in not going in that direction. You’re not paying for the paint on the plate, you’re paying for the food and ingredients and our staffing. Not for innovation.”
He likes innovation in cooking techniques, but not in flavor combinations. Harlan believes some classic dishes just shouldn’t be messed with.
“Customers don’t always really dig it,” Harlan said. “It’s just a small percentage of customers looking for something like that. I’m trying to get everybody in here.”
Harlan stresses that the restaurant is an American take on a French bistro. But he wants customers to remember that “bistro” doesn’t mean “small restaurant.” Rather, it connotes a certain theme, such as Green Pig’s “nose-to-tail” cooking, in which all of an animal is used.
The menu will change slightly based on which items are available seasonally. One of the more unique dishes available right now is a “rabbit cake,” which is the Green Pig’s spin on a crab cake. More traditional items, such as hamburgers or steaks, are also available. Harlan’s pastry chef training shines through in simple desserts, such as a donut with chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.
The back of the restaurant houses most of the seating, and patrons can see into the kitchen. The front, which overlooks 11th St N. and Fillmore St, has a bar and a few tables. Harlan believes many customers will like the bar area not just for the food and ambiance, but also because he tries to keep beer prices below those of many nearby establishments.
For now, Green Pig Bistro is only open in the evenings, but the plan is to start serving brunch in about a month. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.
“People think it’s strange to be closed on Tuesdays, but I think it’s strange that people close on Mondays,” Harlan said. “You’ve got many holidays, you’ve got Monday night football.”
Green Pig Bistro’s grand opening party is scheduled for April 17.
Shops and restaurants will offer a variety of specials, discounts, and trunk shows. Some stores will even offer cocktails or snacks to shoppers.
Participating establishments include CakeLove, Capitol City Brewing Company, Cheestique, Dogma Bakery & Boutique, Extra Virgin Modern Italian Cuisine, Hair Cuttery, Hardwood Artisans, Johnny Rockets, Le Village Marche, Luna Grill & Diner, Periwinkle, Studio Salon & Spa and VisualEyes Optical Boutique.
A similar type of event kicked off Shirlington’s restaurant week in October. Danielle Bolger, Marketing Coordinator for BrandLinkDC, says the event last fall was so successful and there was so much positive feedback, the decision was made to turn it into a monthly happening.
The event officially runs from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., but hours for the specials may vary slightly among the individual establishments. You can see what each store and restaurant will offer on the Village at Shirlington website.
She’ll be at Sur La Table (1101 S. Joyce St) in Pentagon Row on March 31 to promote her upcoming cookbook, “Weeknights with Giada.” The recipes in the book are touted as home cooked dishes that come together quickly, many in half an hour or less.
De Laurentiis will sign copies of the book starting at noon. Fans who want to attend the book signing must purchase a copy of the cookbook from Sur la Table in Pentagon Row. The purchase will grant the customer one ticket to attend the signing event.
The book goes on sale on March 27.