Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Flavors Soul Food Restaurant - Falls Church, VA

3420 Carlyn Hill Drive
Falls Church, VA 22041
Bailey's Crossroads
(703) 379-4411

I SO WANTED TO LIKE THIS PLACE. When I lived in New York City's Hell's Kitchen (today known as Clinton) in the mid-90s, there was a fantastic Soul Food carry-out on 9th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.  It was my absolute favorite default dinner joint until they closed in the late 90s. When I heard that there is a soul food restaurant at Bailey's Crossroads,  I was thrilled and kept it in the back of my mind as a place I'd love to try.  Being from New York, I consider Virginia to be almost the deep south, so the soul food should surely be even more fantastic here, right? I so miss the sweet yams, the tangy collards, the creamy mashed potatoes, the crunchy fried chicken with those wonderful spices and textures and that southern hospitality from that awesome NYC dive.

Recently, I was running errands and found myself driving along Columbia Pike about to turn off on Rte. 7 when I noticed it just to the side on Carlyn Hill Drive - there it was - Flavors Soul Food! Since I was in the middle of errands, I didn't have time for a proper sit-down lunch, but I definitely couldn't pass up an opportunity to stop in for at least something small to see whether this is a place I could return to when I had more time.

The standalone small restaurant (right behind Meaza) is a run down shack. Potentially, this could be good, I thought. Looking around, it's pretty obvious that overhead spending at this restaurant was not just minimal, it was nonexistent. Torn up chairs behind the cash register with their guts hanging out. The wood paneling and the rest of the decor looked like it was not only original to the restaurant, but perhaps even pre-dated it.  The grimy door leading to some kind of other room next to the kitchen behind the counter was quite ominous. The good news was that on a Sunday afternoon in-between standard meal times, there were at least some patrons dining here, so it had to be somewhat good.  

I approached the counter and began studying the menu hanging above. Despite the dilapidated feel of the place, the prices were quite average, or even above-average.  Since I could only carry out something small, I inquired with the serious-looking big guy behind the counter about the chicken sandwich. Specifically, I asked him what does it come with? "Bread," answered the big guy, who perhaps doubled up as the cook.  No lettuce, tomato, pickle or any special sauce? "NO." Okaaaaaay - no fresh vegetables, which would make the overhead even smaller than I thought! How about mayo or ketchup? "Only packets of mayo over here," he replied, "No ketchup." I asked what was the spiciest thing they had on the menu? I'll take that. "Nothing spicy, unless you add some of this hot sauce."  Wow, what a disappointment already, and on top of that not much hospitality, either.

I ended up ordering a veggie platter comprised of 3 sides for $10.95 - Collard Greens, Mashed Potatoes and Cole Slaw. It came with buns. To tell you the truth, I was particularly looking forward to some warm home-baked real soul food southern buns! Guess what - the buns turned out to be regular generic store-bought Giant (or elsewhere) buns you'd get shipped from a warehouse. The Collard Greens and the Mashed Potatoes were probably made at the restaurant, but they'd have to really convince me that the Cole Slaw was made at the restaurant - it looked and tasted store-bought, just like the buns. In short, the Collards were overly sour, the Mashed Potatoes were pretty bland, and the Cole Slaw was... well, it was not bad for store-bought.

Ok, ok, I didn't have the one thing that may have probably been THE ONE thing to have - their Fried Chicken and Waffles. If I ever came back, this is definitely what I would get.  But honestly, I am not sure it is worth returning here, even for that.  I think I asked the big guy how long the restaurant had been there and he told me it was 30 years or something to that effect, even though their Twitter page says they were established in 1997, which would make them about 18 years old. Either way, that's a pretty long time, so, it obviously has its dedicated clientelle. Unfortunately, I just won't be one of them.

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