Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Best 'O Veg - Saigon Pho Style

Here is another review for the herbivores amongst us. In this article series I am reviewing local restaurants for their vegetarian offerings. Saigon Pho Style is my favorite place for vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine. Check out my review below.


This is a lovely little gem tucked into a well established business park off of Spring Street in Herndon Virginia. I found it when I was going to eat at another fave eating establishment right next door called A Taste of the World. Both boast in their front windows to specialize in vegetarian fare. So I decided that night to change my dinner plans, and I was very happy I had.

The 1st thing you will notice when you enter this place is that it is small, very small indeed. You will also notice that the décor is Spartan. Despite the sparse appearance, it is meticulously clean (I find this to be a greater virtue), and the staff are tremendously friendly and eager to serve you.

I believe that since it is somewhat hidden, it never seems all that crowded. I am hoping that this fact will change because I would hate to lose a great place like this due to lack of patronage.

In my 2 trips I sampled the Caramelized Veggie Shrimp, and the Vegetarian Pho Soup. I double checked on the soup to be certain it was vegetable broth because many Asian restaurants do not understand that animal based broth does not classify as vegetarian.

This place, however, does, and they assured me that their Pho was made with only vegetable broth. Let me tell you, this was by far, the BEST vegetable Asian soup I have ever tasted. The flavors were numerous and it tasted fresh, not processed and over salted. It had fresh herbs swimming in the clear broth, and it was chock full of rice noodles. It was an event all by itself.

The Caramelized Veggie Shrimp is also excellent. It is the perfect mixture of texture and flavor as Vietnamese food should be.

It is evident that this restaurant is a family affair, the recipes, most likely, created in the home kitchen. This obvious fact makes the food memorable and well worth the trip for Veggies and carnivores alike (Yes they serve meat as well).

Contact Information:

281 Sunset Park Drive
Herndon, VA 20170-5220
Phone: 703.435.9573

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Organic Butcher of McLean - McLean VA

Article 1 - Series: The BEST Local Places You Should Know About

There are so many uncertainties in the world today. Where your meat comes from and what is in it should not be one of them. That is something the Organic Butcher wants to help you with. An old school European style butcher located in McLean, the Organic Butcher was started back in 2005 by Don and his Brother in-law, Ryan Ford. Ryan resides in Charlottesville and operates that location while Don owns and operates the McLean store.

They focus almost exclusively on local farms, .to make sure they know who they are dealing with, the conditions the animals are raised, and methods the meat is prepared for sale. Their products are free of chemicals and hormones, and the fish is purchased from Clean Fish (http://www.cleanfish.com), a sustainable seafood company with a fabulous reputation. Organic Butcher is serious about bringing the customer the absolute best product around.

One of the questions I asked Don during our interview was “what makes the Organic Butcher different than a Whole Foods?” He stated that it is the customer service they provide that is the driving force for them and their dedication to local farms ensures the origin of the product is better documented and monitored. My own observation is that these are butchers. This is their livelihood and it is what they do. With stores like Whole Foods, they may move staff around, therefore making the knowledge of the staff unpredictable. At the Organic Butcher the focus is on you and the quality of what they are selling. Don has been there from the beginning, and so has Wendell (another butcher at the store). Chad and Wyatt round off the compliment of staff eager to assist in your delectable purchase. They know their customers, there are few strangers, and those that are, are not that way for long.

An enthusiastic customer, McLean resident Jeff Killduff, stopped by our table as Don and I talked. He wanted to be extra sure I knew that Organic Butcher was the best place for quality organic meat in town. His enthusiasm was contagious. I felt like shopping right then. I am thinking Don should hire him to be a spokesman.

I wanted to know what are the boss man’s favorite items. “I am really into wild game, wild boar and venison. For beef, I would say a good hanger steak or rib eye.” You can definitely find wild boar in shop. I would love to try that myself sometime. They even make their own varieties of sausage!

In the future, Don is looking into options such as online ordering and local delivery. They already provide wholesale ordering for restaurants like the Blue Duck Tavern.

Whether you’re talking fresh free range turkeys for Thanksgiving or ground beef for your everyday meatloaf, the Organic Butcher is the place to get those needs met without all the worry attached.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chutzpah - Fairfax VA

There are very few places I can get this excited about. Chutzpah, in the Fair Lakes area, is one of the illustrious few. Chutzpah is a small bit of NY sass in the Stepford wife generica of the DC suburbs. Offering a full NY deli, catering service, and an awesome sit down restaurant too. Today I am here to report on their wonderful dinner menu.

I had my husband and friend with me, so I was lucky to not only try my dinner, but theirs too. I am super clever that way. All meals come with their famous pickles and slaw. Some places serve bread before the meal, but hey, they have Chutzpah! <Spoken in a thick New York accent>

The matzo ball soup was for starters. No denying its homemade roots. From broth, to the matzo ball, every component was made fresh there and it was delicious. Two things took me by surprise. The first thing was that they put noodles in their soup. They are awesome noodles, not at all mushy like most places noodle soups, but it was new to me. The second thing was this matzo ball was the size of a baseball. Amazing. I licked the bowl clean.

Next round was our entrée. I ordered Bubba’s Famous Meatloaf wrapped in bacon with brown gravy. For $13.95 you get your entrée, a house or Cesar salad, and 2 sides. I think that is quite reasonable in today’s prices spiraling out of control. I paid a bit extra to get a latke as one of my sides. As a latke expert, this gets the Jewish American Princess seal of approval. The meatloaf was so awesome that it defies any cute description I could think up for it. Obviously it is not kosher, but despite was most non-Jewish people think, not all Jews keep Kosher. As stated previously, I was also able to sample Hubby and Friend’s pick as well. For this reason I can say, without doubt, that the Beef Stroganoff and stuffed cabbage are also without equal.

What I cannot reiterate enough, is this food here is the real deal, Bubbe home cooked, no kidding around. Eric the owner is an import from New York, and we are so pleased he has joined us in DC. I now have a place to buy homemade chopped chicken liver (YUM! I like to call it Jewish pate), and wonderful deli meats to boot. The roast beef and brisket are cooked in house! I highly recommend it. Don’t forget to save room for the sinful desserts, including  favorites of mine, Napoleons and REAL New York Cheesecake.

Put Chutzpah’s on your must try list. I promise you will not be a one timer.

12214 Fairfax Town Center
Fairfax, VA 22033
Voice: (703) 385-8883
Fax: (703) 385-5855
Website: http://chutzpahdeli.com 
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