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Brabo Tasting Room

21 Dec

It is me, or has this entire month blown past us?  I feel like I’ve spent the last few weeks hopping from one event or holiday party to the next.  It’s been fun, but also means that I haven’t spent any quality time in my kitchen experimenting.  Miss you immersion blender, mwah.

Instead, I’ve been eating out…a lot!   One of my new favorite places is the Brabo Tasting Room in Old Town, Alexandria.  Robert Wiedmaier’s Tasting Room is cozy, casual, and as charming as all of the lights in Old Town.  I’m not usually a fan of walk-in seating only, but somehow it’s different when you feel like your walking into a friend’s living room.

All of the dishes at the Tasting Room are really fresh and very reasonably priced.  My friend and I decided we could try more things on the menu if we split a bunch of dishes.  A girl after my own heart!  We each started with a bubbling bowl of the Five Onion Soup.  The inviting soup had bold beefy flavor and included cooked onions and fried onions for texture.  I loved the buttery Gruyère cheese and crisp croutons.  Way to start the meal on the right note!

Next up was the bright Roasted Butternut Squash Wood Fired Tart.  This was basically a flatbread that featured seasonal roasted squash, blue cheese, bacon, arugula and sage pesto.  All of the flavors worked beautifully together and I loved the idea of using the sage to make a fallish pesto. 

If you’ve ever been to another one of Robert Wiedmaier’s restaurants like Marcels or Brasserie Beck, you know I had no choice but to order the mussels for our third course.  We selected the Chorizo and Fennel Mussels, and as usual, these did not disappoint.  They were cooked perfectly and I had to request extra bread to dip in the tasty broth

I shouldn’t have had any room for dessert.  Frankly, I almost didn’t, but then our waiter mentioned their seasonal Pumpkin and Chocolate Cheesecake That smart man forced my hand!  I just wasn’t in a position to say no after he described it.  The cheesecake was light and airy.  I loved the chewy nut crust and of course the winning combo of pumpkin and chocolate. 

My overall rating is an A for the Brabo Tasting Room.  I recommend you add this to your list of restaurants to try in 2012.  Oh and let me know if you need a dining companion to join you.  Happy to split a few dishes :). 

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I Heart Screwtop

11 Feb

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and it’s only fitting that my first restaurant review should be a place I love.  ♥

Screwtop is a charming neighborhood wine bar in Clarendon, VA.  I’ve been there several times and have yet to be disappointed.  The staff is knowledgable and friendly, and the food is creative and whimsical.  The wine…lets just say I’d be happy to celebrate or drown my sorrows anytime with their selection!  In fact, the place is just perfect for book club; provided that book club is really an excuse to drink and nosh, instead of actually discussing a book. 

Moving on!  My most recent trip to Screwtop was with my best friend RB.  She had recently returned from a trip to South America and was really pleased the featured flights that evening were from Argentina and Chile. 

I started my dinner with the Obscurely Delicioso flight of red wines.  How could I pass them up with a name like that?  Total consumer.  I really enjoyed the Familia Mayor Bonadara and Yale Cabernet Carmenere wines.  I wasn’t a fan of the Alma de Chile Carmenere, and thought it tasted too much like the Chili Dog wine from the VA Wine Festival.  RB ordered the Chilaxing in the Andes white wine flight.  All three of her wines were light and refreshing.  

The two of us also decided order the Baked Camembert cheese with fig compote, walnuts and crusty bread.  It warmed me up from horrible cold, and was incredibly comforting.  I felt transported to a ski lodge somewhere sitting by the fire.  Heaven knows I strongly prefer the great indoors to snow.

After the cheese we decided to order… more cheese.  RB ordered the Mac’s Mac & Cheese Trio.  This included three adorable portions of pasta.  The flavors were blue cheese, traditional and truffle.  She let me sample (another plus to being best friends) and I LOVED the truffle.  The blue cheese was surprisingly good and tangy.  The traditional was fine.  I liked it, but I’d rather save room for the other two flavors and eat the truffle oil popcorn.

I ordered Wendel’s Low Country Lasagna served with a side of their yummy tomato soup.  The soup was thick and had chunks of tomato that made it seem more like a bisque.  I’ve ordered it before and it’s a real winner.  The lasagna was made with beer-braised beef and a good amount of tomato sauce.  I thought it was a nice twist on a very traditional receipe.  

All and all, I thought this was a great meal.  I love this funky little place and would order most of the items we ate/drink again.  I also thought the truffle oil popcorn was a nice touch with the wine.  Overall Rating B+ 

After a filling and rich dinner our thoughts turned immediately to a nice brisk walk.  We were so full we were busting at the seams!  Somehow (these things just happen) we decided after a few minutes that we needed to finish the night on a sweet note.  We ended up outside of Crumbs and this happened.  

My excuse-I overdid it on the cheese and simply blacked out.  That happens to people right?!