Monday, April 30, 2012

Falls Church's OPEN KITCHEN is way more than OK (4-26-12)

Each year we try to dine out on the night designated by FOOD & FRIENDS as "Dining Out for Life," where the restaurants donate a percentage of their proceeds directly to Food & Friends. This is generally 25%, which is a nice chunk for chairty, but can be more. Samuel had a class in Arlington, so I searched for an new place nearby with a fun and interesting menu and chose OPEN KITHCEN ( located in a small mall just at the intersection of Leesburg Pike (7115 Leesburg Pike) and I-66, so it's a quick sprint if you are near I-66 (it took us under 15 minutes to get home). We were greeted by the owner, manager/sommelier and even the chef, Kenneth Hughes, who came to our table several time to check if everything was okay. As I said, it was much more than okay! There is indeed an open kitchen with a long bar at which you can sit and chat with the cooks; a TV perched in the corner (volume off) runs the Food Network! The tables are raised with bar stools, so not for the elderly or such, but the covered adjoining section has regular low tables, if not a view of the open kitchen. Samuel was thinking of a steak-frites until we spotted the $7 children's menu and he chose CHICKEN TENDERS with a side of Parmesan Fries and unlimited Sprite (each main comes with the side and soda or lemonade refills). The tenders were gorgeous, sauteed and seasoned and not breaded and layered with the gorgeous steak style baked "fries" in a presentation that would get any child or adult excited about the food. We ordered a bottle of Mittelbach Zweigelt Rose from Austria that was perfect with the 1.2 dozen Choptank (Chesapeake) Oysters we had. These came with a light red mignonette sauce that I adored, as oysters should never be smothered with anything...well not when raw! Will & I then shared one of the most novel and divine sappetizers of LOBSTER BREAD PUDDING with Sweet Corn Puree, Snow Pea Tendrils & Chive Coulis--this is one NOT TO BE MISSED! We switched to a superb medium to full bodied MURIETTA's WELL SPUR RED BLEND 2009 from Livermore in California. Ben, who handles the wine, was happy to pour tastes of the many wines offered by the glass, and was a great help in pairing as well. Will had chosen the Crispy Oven Roasted DUCK Leg CONFIT with Petite Green Lentil Bacon Stew, Crisp Prosciutto, Tomato & Spring Arugula Salad. Since we split dishes, I had a good part of this and can say it's superb. The star of the evening's entrees was the CREEKSTONE FARMS STEAK FRITES which plates a 16 ounce ribeye with Rainbow Chard Saute, Parmesan Oven Fries, Rogue Oregon Blue Butter & Red Wine Demi-Glace. You all know, I don't usually go for steaks, but this was magnificent cut of beef perfectly cooked and the rogue blue cheese butter is mild enough to give accent but not overtake; the red wine demi-glace is a divine addition that makes the dish. OH, and those oven roasted Parmesan Fries which have freshly melted parmesan drizzled on them are indeed SUBLIME! Our server Carlos gave us the dessert option and while Samuel gobbled up a bowl of lemon and raspberry sorbets (he preferred the latter), we shared the CHERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING ala Mode with Moorenko vanilla ice cream. This was our second decadent and ecstasy-inducing bread pudding of the evening. We left full and happy and glad that we put some bucks in the Food & Friends' coffer just by eating out. I must say I am tempted to return to the ASPARAGUS WINE DINNER they are having on May 21 (anyone care to join me at $89 plus tax and tip includes hor's d'oevres and a seated 3 course dinner with 4 wines!), although I must note Will & I start a strict (but breakable) diet today and these reports may be fewer and simpler for a while.... Enjoy! ALAN