Well Dined

7Dec/151

Local Favorites – Chantilly, VA

I wanted to give a quick shout-out to a couple of my favorite local establishments in Chantilly, VA.

Well Dined | 5T*Ice

First up is 5T*Ice, an Asian dessert shop at Dulles Landing.  I used to frequent Tutti Frutti, owned by the same people, but 5T opened much closer to where I live. Yay! In addition to frozen yogurt and gelato (including hard-to-find durian), they serve Patbingsu - shaved ice topped with ice cream, fruits, and syrups.  I really like the coconut and ube bingsu with coconut shavings, sweetened condensed milk, and ube ice cream.

Well Dined | 5T*Ice

They also have bubble tea, smoothies, milkshakes, and other various similar drinks.  I really like the Che Thai - a Vietnamese drink with coconut milk, grass jelly, coconut jelly, pomegranate jelly, lychee, jackfruit, and toddy palm.  It is crazy good.  If sweet is not your thing they also have steamed pork buns, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, and other goodies.  And, no, I don't know what the name means - no one I know does!

28Mar/140

Pearl Brewery, San Antonio TX

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Photo credit: Nick Simonite

San Antonio has become a really hip place since I moved away, and that is due in large part to the Pearl Brewery area.  The original brewery was opened in 1881 and ran until 1985 when Pabst Blue Ribbon took over, and then shut down in 2001.  The land was purchased and slowly developed into a shopping area, which is now booming.  With a weekly farmers market, boutique shops, new apartments, and amazing restaurants - this is now the place to be.  It reminds me a lot of Mosaic District, actually.  They even built a new section of Riverwalk nearby!

Anyway, when I came to visit - all the places my family wanted to take me to ended up being at Pearl, so I have lots of reviews for you!

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exterior-cured

Stock Photo

The night I flew in, my family took me to Cured, located in the historic administration building of the brewery.  As you can guess from the name, cured meats are a large focus of the menu, but they also have cooked main dishes under the categories vegetable, seafood, fowl, pork, beef, and goat or lamb.  My dad ordered a selection of cured meats for us, and they were delish - especially the country style pate and lamb/citrus terrine.  I also had the pork cheeks poutine, which was AWESOME.  The pickled cauliflower they put in there is totally unexpected and is what makes the dish, I think.  For dessert I had a beet twinkie with meyer lemon curd - yum.  The drink menu includes cane sugar sodas from much-beloved Dublin, TX; craft cocktails; and a killer beer list.  My brother is going to have to get on here and tell me what local beer I had, because it was fantastic.

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Stock Photo

The next night, we went to The Granary - a modern BBQ joint located in the original brewmaster's house.  I have never seen a concept like this before - super modern, artistic BBQ - very cool.  Apparently my father comes here for lunch at least once a week, because the waiter greeted him by his nickname and knew his favorite dishes.  We thought that was pretty funny.

26Dec/130

Christmas 2013

Well Dined | Christmas Wreath

Merry Christmas, y'all!  We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas.  We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.

Well Dined | Christmas Dinner

We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year.  But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?).  Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.

Well Dined | Cranberry Raisin Tart

And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.

Well Dined | Orange Cranberry Rolls

Oh yeah, and breakfast!  Can't forget Christmas morning sweets!  I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!

30May/130

Sea Pearl Restaurant, Mosaic Center

The new Mosaic Shopping Center in Merrifield, VA is super cool.  There's a Target, an indie movie theater, a gym, boutiques, and cafes.  Sea Pearl is one of the larger, less casual restaurants in the center.  The website describes it as "Asian inspired modern American cuisine."  The main focus is seafood - they have both cooked dishes and sushi - but they also have some meat dishes and a pretty good brunch (on Saturday, too, which I love).  It's quite large and the decor is really lovely.  It's a little on the feminine side, which would make it perfect for ladies' brunch or girls' night out (the drinks are good, but with DC prices).  I've never seen it packed, so large groups could be seated easily.

Let's start with Brunch, because that is what I go for most often.

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Cinnamon churros with warm chocolate dipping sauce: these are super awesome - hot, fresh, crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside.  Love it.

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Ricotta fritters with honey and seasonal fruit (this time it was apple): these are good too, fluffy and rich.  If you had to choose only one pastry though, I'd go with the churros.

31Dec/120

Christmas 2012

I wanted to do a big Christmas dinner, but I didn't want to be in the kitchen all Christmas Day. I also wanted to try something different than the usual rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. So I decided to do dinner on Christmas Eve and to do some easy, low-prep dishes for Brunch on Christmas Day.

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I ordered a half fresh ham through Whole Foods to try cooking a Christmas ham for the first time, but I made a few mistakes.  I wanted to cook it in the slow cooker with brown sugar and cider to make a glaze, but I didn't realize that "fresh ham" is not really what we consider ham - without the curing or smoke, it is more like a pork roast - so I didn't really get the flavor that I wanted.  I also couldn't get the whole thing to fit in my (very large) slow cooker insert, so I had to chop a chunk off - which actually ended up being a good thing because I roasted that piece and it came out better.

7Dec/120

Maple Avenue Restaurant

I have been going to Maple Avenue Restaurant (located on,  you guessed it, Maple Ave) for lunch pretty regularly the past couple of months.  I am so sad that I didn't discover this place sooner, because it is awesome!  It is super tiny (like 20 seats max) and not much to look at, but the food is super fresh and seasonal and local and just great all around.  I don't know much about the chef, I haven't been to one of their "meet the farmers" events, and I haven't even been for dinner, but I just love this place.  They have a super awesome lunch deal of 2 courses for $20 which, considering a main is like $22 usually, is a pretty good bargain.  The menu changes all the time, so it's likely that dishes I post about here won't be on the menu any more, but they can give you an idea of what you can expect.

The baked mac and cheese - this is one of their most popular small plates, and for good reason!  Really good pasta, cooked to the perfect al dente, with gruyere and cheddar, topped with an herbed panko crust.