Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Monday, March 14, 2011

Burger 7, Falls Church, VA

7505 Leesburg Pike #E, 
Falls Church, VA  22043 

There is nothing not to like about this place, especially when compared with Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington (see previous entry).  Plenty of parking here and also plenty of tables.  After numerous raving reviews in the local press such as Tom Sietsema's in the Washington Post, the lines are surely to get longer and tables scarcer. Deservingly so. 

Burger 7 has only been operating for several weeks, but it has already become our favorite burger joint.  Burgers are fresh and flavorful.  We have been fans of Five Guys for years, but we think this is heads above Five Guys in quality.  Burgers (either single patty B7-JR or double patty regular B7 or the Veggie burger option, which we did not try) are excellent.  Toppings variety is plentiful with lots of healthy choices.  Watch out for the jalapenos - they are much hotter than those at Five Guys.  They offer a daily milkshake special – all wonderful, not to be missed.  Fries are great, as well as the onion crisps.  Ordering is a cinch.  The menu is up above the counter, easy to see.  You get a vibrating pad, which lights up and vibrates when your order is ready.  By this time, you have had a chance to select your booth table and get yourself the fountain soda of your choice.   

The restaurant is clean and large windows keep it bright in the daytime.  Don’t forget to get the B7 Club Card – for every 7 burgers you buy, you get the 8th free.  What’s not to like? 

Ristorante Bunorotti, Vienna, VA

428 Maple Avenue, Vienna, VA 22180

There are Porsches, Camrys, and Civics on the road.  There are Porsches, Camrys, and Civics in the dining world as well.  Ristorante Bunorotti is certainly a Porsche.  Its kitchen is the Porsche’s engine—revving up some amazing dishes.  The wait staff and hosts serves diners with the sleek lines expected of fine motorcars.  The establishment itself is very traditional Italian style reminiscent of the style of the Porsche itself (meaning it is what you expect a high-end Italian restaurant to be).  That said, Ristorante Bunorotti, located in a small strip mall perpendicular to Vienna’s Main St (yes, we drove right by the place before realizing we had passed it), is all one can expect from a high-end dining experience.  Approaching the place is a bit like parking your Porsche at a 7-11 (if you’re keeping up with the analogy).  But once inside, your eyes are drawn to the collection of photos with various sports and local celebrities intertwined with Italian “kitsch.”  While waiting we were able to identify a variety of players and other local celebs including Chris Cooley, Tony Siragusa, Mike Shanahan, and (sad to see) the late NBC-TV Sports Director George Michael (what??? No hockey players?).  Even though we had reservations, there was a bit of a wait for a table.  Picking out the celebrities helped us endure the wait.  The time had come for Sergio Domestici the host and owner to give us the keys to the Porsche (still riding that metaphor) and take us to our seats.

We were seated in the main dining area along the back wall.  A great seat considering we were out of the way from diner congestion.  We had the customary basket of fresh breads, but to our surprise were servings of an olive tapenade and a tomato mixture to accompany the butter for the breads—a delightful accompaniment.   Our waiter Charlie rattled off a novella of house specialties for the evening and we decided to go with what was on the menu.  We started off the meal with the Swordfish Carpacio and a Caprese salad for appetizers.  Both were fresh and excellent.  While the specialties were enough to choose from, we went with a Puttanesca pasta and the Veal Cotoletta Parmigiano.   Even though the Puttanesca pasta was not on the menu, the chef and staff were more than willing to prepare the dish which was a wonderful medley of anchovies and olives over angel hair pasta.  The Cotoletta came with a polenta puree and roasted vegetables.  Very well done.  We shared the raspberries in Chambord cream sauce for dessert.  

This is fine Italian dining and unless you have an endless food budget we recommend Ristorante Bunorotti for when a very nice meal will complement a very special occasion. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ray's Hell Burger, Arlington, VA

1725 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA, 22209
(703) 841-0001

If it’s good enough for Obama and Medvedev, then it’s good enough for us.  The only catch is finding a parking spot and a free table, which, if luck is not on your side, can be quite time-consuming and frustrating.  It didn’t help that we were there on a Saturday evening.   The parking lot was full and street parking in this Arlington location is impossible to find.  Tables are few and crowded.  On a cold February evening, people were even sitting at the patio tables, which did not appeal to us.  

The line to order at the counter went pretty fast.  The menu is up on the wall in huge letters to the right of the line, making it difficult to read, as you have to get out of the line, stand back (if you can find space to stand back) craning your neck to see it, and most people in line let others pass in front while figuring out what to order.  Not the best configuration, but otherwise the ordering process was relatively efficient.  We were given a number to stick onto a metal circle on a table (if we get lucky to find one), so that a staff person can find us.  If you can actually see an inch past the people surrounding you, the place is relatively grungy, although wait staff does its best to collect trays and wipe down tables.  When we finally got a table and shortly thereafter received our burgers and fries, we were unsure of whether it was all worth the trouble.  

The burgers were OK, but certainly did not live up to expectations (the hype of this place is pretty serious).  Telling sign: Bill really liked the bun!  The burgers fell apart, were messy to eat, but even so, did not make up for this in taste, with or without the toppings (which, incidentally, were different from what we ordered, but by this time, we were just plain hungry and switched the toppings on our own with each other).   The fries, Cajun and regular, had little taste.  I am not even sure that it’s worthwhile to continue describing the experience, as by now it is probably pretty obvious that the whole thing was underwhelming.  No fountain sodas are available, only bottled drinks.  You can ask for a cup with ice when you’re ordering.  Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to try the milk shakes, which would have probably made us like the place more.  

 It is unlikely that we will be returning, and, for our money, Burger 7 in Falls Church (check out the blog entry) is unquestionably a better investment of time, money, and certainly appetite.