Sietsema Skewers La Tagliatella — Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema has delivered a devastating half-star review of La Tagliatella, the European-based Italian restaurant chain that recently opened in Clarendon and is planning to open in Shirlington. The restaurant “makes a strong case for hazard pay for restaurant critics,” Sietsema wrote, and future locations (like Shirlington) “have my condolences.” In a subsequent online chat, Sietsema said that La Tagliatella was several notches below the Falls Church Olive Garden in terms of the overall dining experience. [Washington Post]
AAA Predicts Lower Gas Prices — Gas prices in Virginia will fall 6 cents after July 1 thanks to the bipartisan transportation package that passed the state legislature this year, AAA predicts. Another byproduct of the legislation: the state sales tax in Northern Virginia will rise from 5 to 6 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Forum on Transportation Projects — Arlington’s Transportation Commission will hold a public forum next week to review projects under consideration for funding by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Projects proposed by Arlington County include the Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvement Project, the Crystal City Multimodal Center, ART fleet expansion (Silver/Blue Line mitigation), and a new Boundary Channel Drive interchange. [Arlington County]
Number of Households Growing — The number of households in Arlington grew by one percent over the past year — from 105,667 to 106,717 — a rate twice that of the 0.5 percent household growth in the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. [Sun Gazette]
New Ballston Bars Reviewed — Ballston’s bar scene has “received a shot in the arm over the last two weeks” with the openings of World of Beer and A-Town Bar and Grill, according to a review by Fritz Hahn. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Meriweather Pleads to DWI Charge — Washington Redskins strong safety Brandon Meriweather has pleaded no contest to the charge of driving while intoxicated in Arlington. As part of the plea, Meriweather was assessed a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and a 180 day jail sentence — though the jail time was suspended. ARLnow.com was the first to report in April that Meriweather had been arrested for DWI following a traffic stop on I-66 in Arlington. [Washington Post]
Heat Advisory Issued — A heat advisory will be in effect from noon to 8:00 tonight. Heat index values are expected to reach around 105 degrees, which brings the risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses. [Weather Channel]
District 45 Special Election Scheduled — The special election to replace Del. David Englin, who resigned in June, will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the special election date yesterday. [Virginia.gov]
Green Pig Bistro Reviewed — Washingtonian Magazine reviews Clarendon’s Green Pig Bistro (1025 N. Fillmore Street) and dubs it a “hipster farmhouse.” In addition to the food, the restaurant’s staff also receives attention in the article: “That dude with the mohawk and baroque tattoos? That’s the sous chef.” [Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
W-L Softball Field Approved — The Arlington County Board has unanimously approved use permits for a new softball field at Washington-Lee High School. The $1 million field will include lighting, grandstands, and a press box.
Comcast Doubling Internet Speeds — Arlington is one of the areas where Comcast is increasing its internet speeds this week. The company says it’s doubling the internet speeds of Arlington customers who currently have the Blast 25 Mbps or the Extreme 50 Mbps internet service, at no additional cost. “This is the seventh time since 2002 that Comcast has increased speeds for its customers,” Comcast spokeswoman Alisha Martin said.
Encore’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’ Reviewed — The Encore Stage and Studio production of “The Pirates of Penzance” — currently playing at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater at 125 S. Old Glebe Road — is “two hours of solid entertainment for all ages,” according to a newspaper review. [Sun Gazette]
In addition to being able to peruse hard copies of the magazine at branches throughout the county, the library is offering online access. Readers can compare the items reviewed in recent issues of the magazine, as well sift through the archives from the past four years.
Users need to enter their Arlington library card number and PIN code after clicking on the link to access Consumer Reports.
BRAC Not Too Bad, After All — Today is the deadline for the transfer of military offices affected by the Base Realignment and Closure Act. By today, 17,000 jobs were supposed to have moved out of Arlington County (mostly Crystal City) and into secure military installations like Ft. Belvoir. But in the end, the feared deadline is coming and going “with little fanfare.” The Associated Press reports that 10,000 of the 17,000 BRACed jobs are still here and expected to remain through as late as 2014, thanks to extensions granted by the Department of Defense. [Washington Post]
Pumpkins Arrive in Clarendon — The first pumpkins of the season showed up yesterday at the Clarendon Farmers Market. [Clarendon Culture]
Artisphere Called ‘Sad,’ Lonely — The designated art critic for the Clarendon-Courthouse-Rosslyn Patch says he was disappointed by Artisphere on his first visit. “I noticed an immediate loneliness to the place, a sad emptiness,” he wrote. The critic went on to recommend “more traditional” art galleries, in addition to Artisphere’s more modern, avant-garde exhibits. [Patch]
Burapa Thai opened its doors on Monday. Located next to Circa at 1210 North Garfield Street, the restaurant serves Thai classics like Pad Thai and Kaprow, in addition to some signature dishes like the crispy Burapa Noodle in spicy chili gravy.
The restaurant also has a sushi bar near the back, allowing it to serve fresh sushi and hybrid dishes like the bento box with spring roll and Pad Thai noodles.
The Panang Curry was particularly delicious when we stopped by last night. The Larb Gai, meanwhile, was excellent as a starter.
Burapa Thai is offering a limited-time $1 per piece sushi deal through March 15. Regular deals include a 50 percent off happy hour from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., half-price wine on Tuesdays and Thursday and kids (10 and under) eat free on Monday. There’s also a lunch special from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.: two dishes on one plate for $9 to $12.
The restaurant offers an order-by-fax carry-out option (fax: 703-294-4104) and free delivery with a minimum $20 order (phone: 703-294-4102). It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Management eventually hopes to bring in a live DJ on Saturday nights to create a lounge-like atmosphere.
Yesterday “Tara S.” — presumably Eclectic Threads owner Tara Selario — went on the review site Yelp to respond to the store’s critics.
“Please go to Georgetown to complete your Halloween costume next year – let them deal with your complete lack of respect for other people’s property,” she said to someone who complained about “dour, snotty service” this past fall.
She had a more measured response to a gripe about the fact that many store transactions are cash-only.
“We do not accept credit cards under $100 because banking fees have gone up in the last few years but there is an atm across the street,” she wrote.
But to a woman who complained about a lack of parking, an abundance of “junk,” and a “growling” dog that inhabits the store during business hours, Tara S. had much sharper words.
The dog probably sensed your negative attitude – you’re clearly a nasty person . We’ve been in business for 10 years and we didn’t last this long selling over priced junk (obviously). There’s plenty of street parking for those capable of reading parking signs. We’ve never advertised our shop as an upscale boutique but it is very much a true vintage shop. Everything is sized and very well organized. There’s not a fur coat in our inventory that’s missing fur spots and just an fyi “divits” is spelled “divots” and it means “sod”.
The Yelp user community wasted no time in responding to Tara’s unapologetic retorts.
“If I went onto a business page and saw the owner making those kinds of comments, I would not step foot into her establishment,” one Yelper said today.
“Seeing the vicious attacks made on those who had negative comments makes me want to steer clear of this place,” said another. “Does she not know that if she wouldn’t have given a negative experience, there would be no negative comments? I’m not sure she understands what customer service is all about.”
Even with the negative reviews, Eclectic Threads (2647 North Pershing Drive) currently has an overall rating of 3 out of 5 stars on Yelp thanks to a number of people who said they had a positive experience at the store.
The business has received considerable media attention over the past few years. Last year it was named the area’s best vintage boutique by Northern Virginia Magazine. It has also been featured in the Washington Post, the Arlington Connection, and on WTOP.
A phone call to Eclectic Threads for comment and confirmation of the postings went unanswered this afternoon. “Tara S.” was identified as the store’s owner on Yelp, which has its own owner verification process.
Photo via Yelp
Despite the weather and the fact it was Tuesday, a decent-sized crowd jammed into Clarendon’s Iota Club last night to see Sean Lennon perform with girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl.
Together, Lennon and Kemp Muhl comprise The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. Under low lights, the band performed their dreamy, acoustic folk rock as snowflakes fell outside — a fitting backdrop.
The stage was as bare and humble as the music. Lennon and Kemp Muhl vocalized while playing a variety of instruments, with the occasional commentary in between. The melodies were hard to memorize and the tempo decidedly slow, but the duo’s passion for their craft was evident.
If the audience was as into the music as the musicians were, count it a successful outing.
Back to School — The nearly 21,000 students enrolled in Arlington Public Schools are returning to class today. Watch out for school buses on the roads this morning.
Arlington Parents Like Their Kid’s School, Teachers — On Friday, we reported that a survey conducted on behalf of Arlington Public Schools found that parents were very much opposed to redrawing school boundaries. Now comes more evidence that parents of APS students are happy with their kid’s current school. Asked to grade their child’s school, teachers, and quality of education, parents gave each a 4.4 out of 5 on average. More from the Sun Gazette.
Arlington-Based Rosetta Stone Disappoints Investors — Language education software maker Rosetta Stone, which has its corporate headquarters in Arlington, has struggled through executive departures and weak sales this year. The company hopes to turn that around with a new product, to be launched next week. More from Business Week.
Enthusiastic Review for ‘Chess’ — Signature Theater’s production of Chess, which was inspired by a much-hyped 1972 chess match between American Bobby Fischer and the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky, might not sound too exciting at first. But add a rock soundtrack, energetic performances and (of course) a love story, and Chess “sizzles,” according to theater critic Terry Ponick at washingtontimes.com. The Shirlington-based production runs through October 3.
New Bike Lane in Courthouse — Cyclists now have a safer way to get to Courthouse from North Rhodes Street (and vice-versa). The Ode Street Tribune reports that a bike lane has been added to 15th Street.
Arlington is home to a relatively new establishment that may be the country’s only restaurant dedicated exclusively to Tunisian cuisine (at least the only one with a web presence and decent SEO).
Chez Manelle (2313 Wilson Blvd) opened in Courthouse late last year. It is a small, independently operated eatery, with a unique vibe, a unique menu and some good old-fashioned friendly service.
It’s a bit of a hole in the wall, just off the Courthouse main drag and well down the road from Clarendon. The front of the restaurant — a two-tone awning amid beige stone brick — does not do the interior justice. The owners have added planters and some outdoor seating, but making the place look like the unique ethnic restaurant it actually is seems to be an uphill battle.
The restaurant has fared well on Yelp, getting high marks for all the reasons stated above. But one particular complaint seems to resurface among the few negative reviews: bland, greasy food.
The blog DC Dives recently posted a review of Chez Manelle, and came to the same conclusion. Here’s an excerpt.
When reviewing restaurants I have tried to avoid making definitive factual statements, because after all my review is just my opinion. However, with Chez Manelle I can say as fact that it is unquestionably the best Tunisian restaurant in the DC area. Sadly it’s not because of its great food, but because it is the ONLY Tunisian restaurant in the area. Located in Clarendon near the courthouse metro, the restaurant is ideally located, yet when we arrived at 8:00 the only people in the restaurant were the 4-5 waiters standing around watching TV. That should have been our first hint, but we decided to go ahead and order several appetizers and a couple of main entrees.
Read the rest of the review here.
We’d love to see Chez Manelle stick around long enough to perfect its food offerings. Amid the influx of pizza restaurants, burger joints and bakeries, the value of having such a unique spot in town should not be overlooked.
Northside Social (3211 Wilson Blvd) is rolling out a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day summer special tonight: organic soft serve ice cream. A creation of pastry chef Rob Valencia, the ice cream is made with Northside’s organic Trickling Springs Creamery milk and other organic ingredients.
The flavors will rotate. This weekend they’re serving French vanilla and local organic strawberry. Other flavors in the works include mocha caramel, wildberry creme fraiche, and red velvet.
How does it taste? Very good. The creaminess is definitely a notch or two above your standard dining hall soft serve machine. We recommend getting the swirl.
Upscale cupcake bakeries are nothing new. Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired, and Hello Cupcake are just a few of the gourmet baked goods establishments lining the streets of the District. Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe on 2150 N. Culpeper Street in North Arlington has won some online acclaim for its more traditional cupcakes. But Bakeshop, at 1025 N. Fillmore Street, has the distinction of being the first of its kind in Clarendon.
The store is a labor of love for chief cupcake maker Justin Stegall. Stegall’s sweets have been sold at various DC coffee shops, including Chinatown Coffee Co. (hat tip: Washington City Paper). Now, he finally has a storefront to call his own.
Bakeshop hasn’t officially opened yet, but Stegall has been inviting people to check out the store during special hours announced via Twitter. During Saturday’s snow storm, about 60 people stopped by for a so-called soft opening. Within five hours, the store was sold out.
(Pictures and an expert cupcake review, after the jump.)