Friday, September 18, 2015

Alexandria: Bon Vivant Cafe

Back at the end of March (whoops!) I was invited to a media dinner at Bon Vivant Cafe in Del Ray, Alexandria. Daylight savings hadn't hit yet and the lights were dimmed for the dinner ambiance so my photos sucked, hence the lack of a post. I enjoyed the experience and made a mental note to come back and try them out, finally managing to do so recently. 

Bon Vivant was started by a husband and wife team - Jawad and Tania. They originally began serving food at local farmers markets but grew in popularity and decided to open a restaurant! Their goal is to "celebrate the ingredients," letting them speak for themselves. Jawad ran the media tasting and let us know his favorites depend on the day but he prefers the Tarragon Chicken Salad and the meatballs. 
When we came in March, they mentioned they were in process of building a patio (which was apparently kickstarter funded). They did a great job, it really is lovely and is the type of patio that makes you sad the season is about to be over. 
Mac and I both ordered smoothies. I went for the Green Refresh cucumber, spinach, mint, avocado, lime + green tea $5.90 because I knew I would probably be indulging in dinner (although I ate a sandwich for lunch soo I don't really know what was going through my mind). I enjoyed this as much as I could enjoy a green drink and did not think it was too overwhelming as it lacked a sweet (apple, pineapple, etc) addition. Mac ordered the Mango Basil mangos, strawberries, basil, oj $5.90 and she really liked it. 
Carrie and I both took the carb filled route and ordered sandwiches, which are served with a side of greens. I went with the Italian Sandwich prosioutto, smoked gouda, tomato and basil $10.25. Carrie ordered the Roasted Beef with Blue Cheese Dressing $10.50. Both sandwiches were good, but needed a little more substance inside to balance out the amount of bread. The baguette stole the show and was fluffy and crunchy and soft and tasty. 
Mac took the healthy, smart route and ordered the Southwest Salad grilled local-pastured chicken, bell peppers, avocado, corn + habanero tomato dressing $11.95This salad was packed full of flavor. The habenero tomato dressing had a slight kick to it, and for those that shy away from spicy, I was told it was manageable. Bonus points, this salad had a half of an avocado on it! 
Feeling slightly under the weather Carrie also ordered the 72-hour 100% Grass-fed Beef Broth $5. The flavor is a little bland, but when she dipped her steak sandwich in it, she said it made the perfect aus jus. Beef broth seems to be a new health trend. A glass of broth a day is said to help with digestion, skin (something about the collagen) and other things - check out here for more. But hey, if Chuck Norris drinks beef broth, then perhaps I can get on board with this new trend.  
When I came for the media tasting we also got to try a variety of soups, including a Chickpea and Kale soup that I was head over heals for. The soup was gluten free, dairy free and vegan - yet packed full of flavor and texture. We also tried a Key Lime Parfait that the table all really enjoyed. If you have any sort of dietary restriction or are looking for a sugarless dessert this is a good option - however I prefer my desserts to be full of fat and sugar and butter and would most likely not order it unless I had to because of my diet. 

All in all round 2 was a great experience - I wish it was a little closer to my office as they have some really impressive salads which Old Town severely lacks. 

Would I come back? Yes. In addition to their cafe, they have a little shop that serves locally sourced goods, including some amazing bread. I also want to try a few more of their salads.

2016 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA
Bon Vivant Cafe + Farm Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Falls Church: Elephant Jumps

A group of friends and I have started a monthly girls night where it’s just us gals going out to eat and chatting about life and love and other fun things. Last month we went to Kapnos Taverna for Restaurant Week in Arlington and it was delicious – I highly recommend. We all shared food and I knew these girls were worth keeping around (note – if you do not let me take a bite of your food, I will still probably be your friend).

This month’s restaurant choice was Elephant Jumps in Falls Church (Merrifield) and it was another winner in our books.
Jessie ordered the Thai Spicy Shrimp Soup $5 (which we all sampled a spoonful of) It was sweet, sour, and spicy with perfectly cooked mushrooms and shrimp. We also ordered the Thai Spring Rolls $4 which were fried without being oily and served with a delicious sweet chili sauce. 
Erin and I split the Pineapple Fried Rice $11 pineapple, green pea, onion, carrot, egg, curry powder, cashew nut, cilantro + chicken and the Fried Tilapia with Mango Salad $15 (a popular mention on yelp) fried tilapia served with green mango sauce, red onion, chili, lime. Pineapple Fried Rice is really a best of both worlds dish– sweet and savory. It was aromatic and had a mild curry flavor to it with a splash of sweet from the pineapple. The breading on the tilapia was fried to perfection and had a good flavor to it. Tilapia is a mild fish and the combo of the breading and mango salad adding a crunchy yet fresh, cool, spicy and acidic contrast when paired together.  

Kir ordered the Chicken Aroma Coconut Rice $15 grilled marinated chicken, coconut rice, thai sweet chili sauce, side of papaya salad. This chicken was marinated and cooked perfectly, with a slight and welcome hint of coconut flavor. While Jessie enjoyed the flavor of her Chicken and Peanut Sauce $11, the sauce was more of a soup and the chicken and veggies were not her favorite. 
Prices and service and were great - they were extremely patient with us. After we paid for our bill we hung around and talked for probably an hour and they had no outward feelings of annoyance or trying to move us along (it was not full or we would have definitely moved along and chatted somewhere else). The food was really good, and everything we ordered is highly recommended except for the chicken in peanut sauce. 

Would I come back? Yes, I would love to try more of their dishes, especially the SEN YAI PAD SEE EW MOO MUG (an original/more authentic version of my fav pad see ew)!!! 

8110 A Falls Church Blvd
Falls Church, VA
703-942-6600
Elephant Jumps Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Willamsburg: Breakfast/Brunch at Food For Thought

A few months ago I was in Williamsburg for a wedding with the family and we had a free morning/afternoon to explore. I obviously had scouted out food options and picked a place that was walking distance from our hotel (in fact this is near a big strip of hotels)- Food For Thought. 
The meal started off with a helping of beignets on the house. They were quite tasty and if you wanted a round 2…or 3, they were available to order. I also ordered a fresh squeezed orange juice and it was fresh and pulpy, just how I like it. 
We all enjoyed our breakfasts. Jeff got the normal, American breakfast. My mom ordered a benedict of some sort and I ordered the Sausage Gravy Benedict (last photo). My sausage gravy benedict on a crumpet (similar to an english muffin) was amazing. Best of both worlds being a biscuits and gravy girl with a soft spot for benedicts. 
All of the tables had cards with thought provoking questions on it - making it a fun way to pass the time, or something to take you away from your cellphones and actually talk to each other (strange concept I know). Service was great, prices were reasonable and we enjoyed looking through the cards. 

Would I come back? Yes, everything was delicious. If you are looking for a good breakfast/brunch spot, make sure you check out Food For Thought. 

1647 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, VA
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