“I’ll Have What She’s Having!”
By Julie Walters
Falls Church Times Staff
September 27, 2013
On a July weekday lunchtime visit to Curry Mantra 2, the 7-month old Indian restaurant in West End Plaza on Broad Street, a diner at the table next to me oohed and aahed with delight as she sampled each dish from the ample lunch buffet. “I will remember this food for the rest of my life,” she gushed to her dining companion. Her enjoyment of the food was so effusive, and her sounds of pleasure were so, shall we say, passionate, that I hoped my lunch partner — my 5-year old son — didn’t notice me blush.
It was quite a testament to the smorgasbord we were about to enjoy. And, for the most part, my son and I agreed with her. We tried, however, to limit our audible reactions to a more modest “yummy!”
It was yummy. The lunch buffet at Curry Mantra 2 is a delicious, great deal. And, they just lowered their prices, making it an even better lunchtime bargain. For $9.49 per person ($5.49 for kids ages 5-11, and kids under 5 eat free), you can dine on a half dozen different all-you-can-eat meat or vegetarian entrees. The flavors range from mild Tandoori Chicken or Saag Paneer (spinach with homemade Indian cheese) to creamy Butter Chicken (tender chicken in a tomato cream sauce) to spicy Lamb Vindaloo or Goat Curry.
Along with the ever-changing vegetarian selections and at least three meat entrees, the lunch buffet includes some other real treats. On my lunch visits, I’ve enjoyed: fragrant basmati rice, as well as a second rice dish (I love the crispy onions on the tomato rice!); Palak Anar (crispy spinach); Vegetable Pakora (an addictive vegetable and onion fritter); two salads; a Daal (my favorite is the slightly spicy yellow lentil soup punctuated with tomatoes and cumin seeds); warm, flaky, and perfectly chewy Naan (Indian bread) served to your table (on my last visit it was the best Naan I’ve ever had anywhere!); a modest dessert; and, as much of that flawlessly flavorful and spicy “green sauce” (cilantro sauce with a hint of mint) as you want.
At dinner, the price point increases considerably. With most entrees in the $18.00-$20.00 range, dinner for two (with 2 entrees, an appetizer, and bread) runs more than $50.00 (without alcohol). It makes lunch feel like an even better deal, especially because, with curries, the food on the buffet is pretty much the same as ordering a la carte for dinner. Curries are not made to order, and curries sitting a few hours in a chafing dish at lunch didn’t taste much different from those simmering all day on a stove for dinner.
In my several visits for lunch, the entree choices were never the same. Each time, regardless of my selection, I found the flavors to be varied, complex, and delicious. Everything had a nice kick, but nothing was so spicy that I couldn’t enjoy the other flavors.
The biggest standout was also my biggest surprise: the goat curry. Truthfully, I just wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It was by far the best dish I ate on each of my visits. The curry had huge depth of flavor, aided by the red chilies, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods found in the sauce. It was rich without being heavy, and spicy without being overpowering. And the goat meat. Wow. It was tender and lush and such a pleasant surprise. I expected to love the Lamb Vindaloo or the Chicken Tikka Masala the best. Nope. They’re very good. But, get the goat!
Another surprise, this time not as pleasant, was the Palak Anar (flash fried spinach served with pomegranate seeds and tamarind and yogurt sauces). At lunch, it doesn’t stay crisp on the buffet. That makes sense to me, and it still has nice flavor even when it’s limp and lukewarm. My son always gobbles it up (he loves spinach and pomegranate seeds). In fact, when a friend first sampled the Palak Anar during lunch this week, she enthusiastically observed, “that spinach doesn’t taste like spinach. It tastes like a funnel cake!” Maybe that’s also why my 5-year old loves it.
I was excited, however, to return for dinner to sample a fresher, crispier version. How great would it be to find a local supplier for my crispy spinach fix? Usually, I can only satisfy that craving downtown at Rasika. Sadly, though, the biggest disappointment of my many meals at Curry Mantra 2 was the discovery that the Palak Anar is not prepared fresh to order at dinner either. And, even if the spinach were fried to order, it would become mushy and soggy when served drowned in the tamarind and yogurt sauces. The whole thing just confused me.
On the bright side, the management at Curry Mantra 2 seems eager to receive feedback and make adjustments as necessary. On my first few visits this summer, the Tandoori Chicken was tough, fatty, and rubbery. It was a complete miss. During one of those visits, the manager, Sid, asked if I had any suggestions or feedback about the food. I shared my impression of the chicken. When I returned this week, the Tandoori Chicken was spectacular. It was actually perfect. Maybe there’s hope for the crispy spinach too! [Note: This is my first restaurant review and I was completely unknown to the manager. I think he was genuinely interested in a random customer’s feedback and was looking for ways to improve the dining experience. In fact, it’s obvious that they’re making adjustments since the food has improved considerably in the last two months. It started off pretty good but now it is excellent.]
Finally, the service and the decor at Curry Mantra 2 are top notch. At lunch, our water was always filled and our dirty plates were quickly (too quickly?) whisked away. The wait staff was friendly, attentive, and kind to young kids. One night at dinner, we had the best waiter ever. He was super knowledgeable about the menu, as well as about Indian cuisine generally. He enthusiastically shared his knowledge with helpful and often funny explanations. When we inquired about the design-your-own Veggie/Meat “Must Try” combinations, our waiter suggested we not get too creative. “Most dishes are good. Some combinations are deadly,” he advised. We also asked about the spiciness of some of the entrees and were educated about the flavor differences among the many regions of India. “Generally, in India, as you go south, the food gets spicier. Kind of like greasiness in the United States,” he explained.
The decor is happy, with a warm color palette, bright mosaic tiles, and walls the paint color of which could be named “Tandoori.” The room has a lot of natural light with high windows that offer a fun overhead view of the W&OD trail where it crosses Broad Street. The street level windows are opaque, yet they allow plenty of light while enabling you to forget you’re sitting in a strip mall next door to yet another frozen yogurt shop.
And speaking of frozen yogurt, get the Mango Lassi (mango yogurt smoothie) at Curry Mantra 2. It’s awesome! Do you really need more fro-yo?
(All photos copyright: Julie Walters)
Curry Mantra 2
1077 W. Broad Street, Falls Church, VA 22046
(Curry Mantra 2 is the second location of the original Curry Mantra in Fairfax)
Hours of operation:
Lunch – Mon. – Sun. – 11:30 – 2:30
Dinner – Mon. – Sat. – 5:00 – 10:00, Sun. – 5:00 – 9:00
Free delivery for dinner within a 5 mile radius. (Minimum order: $35.00)
[Congratulations Deanna Dulka! Your entry to name this column "Tastes of the Little City" has won you a $20.00 gift certificate to a local Falls Church restaurant of your choice. Thank you to everyone who entered our contest. Happy dining!]
Julie Walters is a resident of Falls Church and writes children’s books (mostly about food). She’s the daughter of a food editor, the wife of a man who knows his Louisiana cuisine, and the mother of a 5 year old with a ridiculously sophisticated palate. You can reach her at FCTFood@gmail.com. Read more
By Falls Church Times Staff
May 8, 2013
The restaurant released the following statement this morning:
Dear Patrons and Friends of Anthony’s,
It is with a heavy heart and sincere regret that we inform you that Anthony’s Restaurant will be permanently closing our location at 309 West Broad Street, Falls Church, Virginia. As a result of our lease expiring, our last day of operations will be June 2, 2013. Although we have yet to find a suitable new location, we continue our search and we hope to find a new home for Anthony’s in Falls Church. After 41 years of serving our patrons at this location, we would like to say THANK YOU for being a special part of our family and for all the wonderful memories. We will continue to serve the community at our Manassas location.
The Anthony’s Family
As we settled into our sitting area a few winter weekends ago, my husband said “this really is a little gem” referring to our cabin at Savage River Lodge. After just under three hours away from the City of Falls Church and after a lovely stop for lunch in Frederick at Family Meal, our drive dipped down into a canyon, across a meadow stream and then up Savage River Mountain.
In the winter, if you do not have four or all wheel drive, you either have to call to be picked up or don’t bother coming. The road is plowed but still needs extra traction to get up to the main lodge and even some cars (Audis) still don’t make it. If you try to chance it and get stuck, it is a $250 charge to get pulled out. This seclusion is worth it because at the end of the road is a luxurious and sumptuous get away for you and possibly your favorite furry friend.
Once at the main lodge, you feel like you have returned to your family’s mountain retreat. Rough hewn walls, comfy chairs and a huge fireplace welcome you to your retreat. This lodge has seen many of my family celebrations – birthday, anniversaries, holidays and the all important get a way.
Savage River Lodge is set on 45 acres surrounded by 750 acres of the Savage River State Forest in western Maryland. You are very far removed from traffic congestion, hub-bub of urban life and most importantly TV or electronics of any kind. The lodge was started by Jan and Mike Russell after forming Nature of Business, a management development program founded on the principle that nature can teach us personally and organizationally how to succeed.
After purchasing the land in 1990, the long road was started. Literally as the road and bridge to the main lodge was not finished until 1998 with the lodge and cabins completed in 2001. Each of the 18 cabins is a serene get away with a loft for sleeping, a cozy sitting room with gas burning stove and a porch. All the cabins are similar in layout but offer different views of the forest, which is right outside your door. You can step out of your cabin and be on one of the many hiking or cross country skiing trails. The favorite and easiest trail being the Bodhi’s Green trail which circumvents the main property and allows secluded views of the forest and its valley’s to and from the main lodge or just to take a walk.
In following Jan and Mike’s environmental vision, many “green” enhancements have been made along the way to support their business venture. Biodiesel was first used in 2008 utilizing the restaurant’s cooking oil to power all of the equipment on the property and in 2010 350 solar panels were installed on the hillside behind the Main Lodge. Mike has done all this himself and provides many tidbits to interested parties. These conversations have been helpful to my family as Virginia and the City of Falls Church seems to be void of any green energy practitioners.
The lodge has a restaurant that may serve most of your meals. You do receive a lovely morning basket with muffins, juice and the daily lodge newsletter. The lodge restaurant serves breakfast/brunch/lunch on the weekends from 9am to 2pm and dinner all evenings. You can go off property for your meals, but you really won’t want to. A leisurely walk through the forest to the lodge where a sumptuous meal awaits is what getaways are all about.
During the warmer weather the restaurant offers a lovely porch with a commanding view of the meadow and surrounding forests. Hummingbird feeders and flower filled planters frame the view. In the winter, the dining room just beyond the bar is warm and cozy. The lodge works with several area farms for their ingredients including a new partnership with Firefly Farms for their goat cheese.
The new chef Tylor Dinteman has significantly expanded the menu including several vegetarian options including Grilled Trumpet Mushrooms served over black Beluga lentils and Heirloom Bean Cassoulet served with mushrooms and root vegetables. The rest of the menu has also been expanded to include several new dishes for brunch and dinner.
For breakfast I was enthralled with “The Hunter” omelet with caramelized mushrooms, melted leeks, smoked Gouda and wilted arugula. Omelets sometimes are too big and too wet for me, but this omelet was so perfect that I had it both mornings. The caramelized mushrooms and melted leeks supported the smoked Gouda, so the overall taste was warm and inviting with just enough bite from the arugula. Maple glazed bacon – maple from trees on property – was thick and crunchy.
For dinner the Lodge Meatloaf is a favorite with its unique bland of wild meats, pork and beef with fresh herbs, spice and local maple syrup that is wrapped in apple wood smoked bacon, finished with cabernet mushroom demi glace. The new menu includes several new items such as a Lamb Cassoulet a lamb loin with braised lamb, Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast and a duo of Pork which includes a pork ragu tossed with fresh pasta served with a roasted pork tenderloin.
One of the new additions is a partnership with Firefly Farms and you can see this at its best with either a private tasting at the farm or for dessert by choosing the cheese plate. I am partial to cheese after dinner rather than dessert so I was thrilled to see this addition to the menu and impressed by the selection of cheeses presented.
For your dining pleasure there is an extensive wine list which has been noted by both the Wine Spectator and the Wine Enthusiast as being exceptional. I tend to agree.
In addition to the secluded and lovely location and the wonderful food, the Savage River Lodge is a very the dog friendly environment. The current lodge canine hosts are Koko and Karma who just celebrated their third birthday – 21 in people years – and they were able to enjoy their first micro brew. Besides seclusion, luxurious hospitality and environmental responsibility, canine comfort is important to the team at Savage River Lodge. In your cabin there are supplies that all dog parents need – towels, bowls and bags. If you need any treats, they are freshly baked on the premises. If you would like to treat your pup to a gourmet meal, there is a menu to select from. And in your morning breakfast, you will find a sumptuous doggie treat for your pup along with your muffins and juice. Dogs are allowed everywhere on the property except in the Main Lodge and only need to be on leash in and around the cabins. There are plenty of puppy stations throughout the main property equipped with bags and trash receptacles. Ill behaved puppies and their families are noted and not invited back.
Savage River Lodge is located off of Interstate 68 just outside of Frostburg Maryland. The cabins are all the similar with differences being in size of the bed and view. They range from $225-$245. There is a pet fee of $30 per night. There is a two night minimum on the weekends, and a three night minimum on holiday weekends. The lodge notes that it is an adult centered retreat and does not have activities or sitting arrangements for children as well as a very limited children’s menu in the restaurant.
Savage River Lodge
1600 Mt. Aetna Road
Frostburg, MD 21532
January 29, 2010 (republished January 11, 2013)
After a few ho-hum experiences with Ethiopian food in high school I was ready to swear off the cuisine forever. Even though Washington D.C. — especially the “Little Ethiopia” neighborhood at 9th and U streets– reputedly has the best Ethiopian dining scene in the country, I couldn’t bring myself to shell out cash for what I perceived to be nothing more than mushy vegetables and cold, sour, spongy bread.
Then I went to Virginia Tech and everything changed.
My four years in Blacksburg, Virginia, were, for the most part, unbearable when it came to eating out. Most places were generic sports bars or pathetic attempts at Chinese, Thai, or Mexican food. One day, out of sheer desperation for something “ethnic” I tried a hole-in-the-wall, one-woman take-out Ethiopian joint called Excellent Table, which had been open a few months and seen little business.
Given what I thought of Ethiopian food and what the standards were for restaurants in Blacksburg my expectations were unbelievably low. But I was shocked at the freshness of the food, the spicy complexity of the lentils and meat stews, and even the injera, the ubiquitous flatbread that I’d only had cold and sour could apparently be pleasantly tangy and earthy when made right. I went back several times, gaining more respect and admiration for Ethiopian cooking each visit.
Now back in Northern Virginia I’ve gotten away from Ethiopian food a bit. I’ve neglected the cuisine in favor of so many others that I can’t get enough of. I’ve been pulled away by the Eden Center and great Thai, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants in the region. I’ve been on Indian kicks and Lebanese kicks and Persian kicks. And that’s a loss for me, because Ethiopian food is soulful and unique.
So this week I finally got off my rump and hit up Meaza Restaurant, one of a few Ethiopian restaurants within a reasonable grasp of the City of Falls Church. The gargantuan, tastefully decorated eatery (supposedly the biggest Ethiopian restaurant in the United States) straddles the border between Falls Church and Arlington and has garnered rave reviews by every major news outlet. Meaza is widely recognized as the best Ethiopian restaurant outside of Washington D.C. proper. Many food writers even consider it to be better than the innumerable Ethiopian award-winners in the District.
After one visit all I can say is that I will be back. Though it was just a single meal, my dining companion and I ordered a variety of dishes, easily enough to feed four people. Essentially, I crammed two trips to the restaurant into one lunch.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first, because there wasn’t much of it. In fact, the only thing we got that I wouldn’t order again were the sambusas, Ethiopia’s off-shoot of the fried Indian turnovers called samosas. They were oily, heavy, tepid, and bland, and a horrible waste of calories to start your meal with. Also, I suppose the service wasn’t fantastic. I’ve read many complaints in reviews and online about slow servers, unfilled water glasses, and missed orders. Nothing on my visit was too egregious, but there was some difficulty in placing the order because of the language barrier and the waitress was a tad pushy. If you go in expecting so-so service you’ll probably leave happy.
Food-wise, everything we got after the sambusas was either good or excellent. And all of it was greatly aided by the first-rate injera that Meaza makes on-site. The starchy staple of choice in Ethiopia, injera is a thin-as-a-pancake, fermented flatbread traditionally made from teff, an ancient grain that resembles millet. Most every Ethiopian dish is served atop of a piece of injera, which soaks up sauces and gravies beautifully. Additional injera is used to pick up whatever is on the plate, including the well-drenched injera. No utensils necessary.
Teff is expensive to get in the states (though it is grown in the Midwest now); so many Ethiopian cooks use part teff and part wheat flour to make their bread. Meaza makes both an all-teff injera and a half-and-half one, but you’ve got to ask for the all-teff to get it and pay an extra dollar. We opted to have our meal served on the half-and-half but got all-teff on the side for scooping. The “pure” bread was noticeably darker in color, and, to my taste, a little bit less sour and more pleasant to eat. For a measly buck, I’d splurge for the traditional stuff.
The dish I’d be most inclined to order again—and, actually, the one I would order every single time if I were with a big group—is the #7 special vegetarian combination meal. Ethiopian’s treat vegetables and legumes in a delicious manner, gussying them up with chilies, ginger, onions, and berbere, an indispensable spice mixture with a laundry list of ingredients.
I won’t recount every dish on our platter, which included eight dollops of veggies and lentils, but there were a few that really spoke to me. The mesir wat, an earthy, rich, brick-red mass of lentils, was excellent. Wat means stew in Ethiopian and pretty much any dish involving the word is chockfull of spice and seasoning, thickened with cooked-to-death onions, and uncommonly delicious. The jalapeno and ginger-studded collard greens, called gomen, were another standout. They were tender but not mushy and the perfect foil for the injera. They were also strikingly similar to the greens I’d had in Blacksburg, which gave them some bonus nostalgic points.
But the best part of the special veggie combo was one of the elements that separates it from the standard veggie combo; a salad of injera and tomato known as timatim fitfit. I’d never had the dish before but went gaga over it after one bite. It’s nothing more than leftover shards of injera with tomatoes, onions, and a light lemon dressing. Yet it is so refreshing and bright, and such a great counter to the heavier stews and meat dishes. Having tried it, I don’t see how anyone can justify getting the regular veggie combo.
To test out the meat options, we opted for the doro wat, a richly spiced chicken stew served with hard boiled eggs that is the nation’s national dish, and the lamb tibs with awaze sauce. Both were spooned onto our communal platter of injera, which housed all the veggies from the sampler on the perimeter.
Doro wat was often on the menu at Excellent Table in Blacksburg, so I’m quite familiar with the dish. Meaza’s rendition was spot-on but its flavor profile overlapped too much with the mesir wat. But that was my fault because I ordered both. Also, I had forgotten that the dish is usually served with one scrawny piece of chicken and is mostly about the sauce, so don’t expect a plate full of chicken if you order it.
I’d never had lamb tibs or anything prepared with awaze sauce before, so it was a thrill to try both in one dish. Tibs are a quick-cooked Ethiopian specialty, usually consisting of stir-fried pieces of beef or lamb teeming with jalapenos, onions, and garlic. They can be eaten as is or embellished with a marinade in awaze sauce, which typically includes red wine or Ethiopian honey wine and all kinds of spices. Our tibs could have been a tad tenderer but were still perfectly delicious—spicy, assertive, and fun to pick up with the injera.
There’s still plenty on the menu I’d like to try, including the kitfo, a famously spicy minced raw beef preparation, and any number of lamb and beef tibs variations. If my meal is any indication most of it will be pretty darn tasty. This is the sort of place where you should feel comfortable exploring much of the menu. Someone in the kitchen really cares about what they are putting out.
Meaza’s also a good bargain. The portions are generous and, considering the quality, well-priced. You could get out at 15 to 20 bucks a person for dinner no problem.
So the only real hurdle for a City of Falls Church resident is getting there. But if you’re an adventurous diner with a pension for spicy foods, I think a ten or fifteen minute trek isn’t too much to ask.
Meaza Restaurant is located at 5700 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, Virginia, 22941. (Click for map.) 703-820-2870.
(Editor’s Note: Kathleen Nixon has succumbed to the flu and will be taking a break for the next few weeks. Over the holidays she visited Meaza and concurs with Jimmy’s assessment of the restaurant.)
As has been shared in many of the comments of the articles over the last few months, there is a very strong interest to bring Man (or woman’s) Best Friend with us on our dining excursions. While this is readily acceptable throughout Europe, America is still playing catch up. There are many cities and communities that are extremely dog friendly, while others are not. Alexandria – Del Ray in particular — and Arlington boast many dog friendly restaurants and retail venues.
I have been dining with my dogs for 10 years all throughout the US and find it very relaxing and enjoyable when I am at an establishment that is accepting of dogs. However there are challenges that we need to address which focus more on the people aspect rather than the canine. Dogs are easily trainable, people not so much, so it is usually more the owners who create a problem than the canine who is just following their owner.
Some simple rules about dining with your dog:
- Please be sure your friend has done his/her “business” at home before you take them out.
- Please be sure you have fed and watered your dog before going out.
- Make sure that your dog is comfortable in crowded noisy environments.
If you are someone who is near a dog that is joining his people for a meal, please remember to ask before approaching the dog rather than running up to the canine friend saying “oh what a cute puppy”. I share these tidbits for everyone’s dining pleasure.
There are several dining establishments in and around The Little City that I have found to be a wonderful experience for me and my puppy, Bentley.
Clare and Don’s does have a hamburger and rice available for canine guests. Lunch has worked out better for us rather than happy hour and dinner just because of the crowd and music.
MadFox Brewery will allow dogs only on the patio outside the chain.
Pizzeria Orso has a nice patio that has lots of room which is more comfortable for Bentley and other customers who are on the patio and may not be dog friendly. Chef Will is the only chef I know of who has several rescue dogs, and Bentley loves the pizza crusts.
Buzz Bakery and Café is nice for a coffee and scones for humans while puppies can munch on carrot, peanut butter, low fat cream cheese and bacon muffins.
Le Marché is a nice walk from our house for Bentley and he loves the international flavor along with a nibble of croissant and ham and cheese omelet.
I would not consider myself a fried chicken connoisseur, but I do love fried chicken, from the fast food variety to the upscale version. I even own a deep fryer so I can make it at home when I’ve got the urge. So when my husband’s cousin mentioned that he was going to Flavor’s for some fried chicken, I was very intrigued and wanted to try it out for myself.
I’d definitely describe the restaurant as a hole in the wall type place, it’s right off Columbia Pike and if you weren’t looking for it, you’d miss it for sure! The interior is set up like a cafeteria and the décor is interesting. But I was there for the food. You actually order at the counter and pay for you meal after you’re done. The gentleman behind the counter was actually super helpful in giving his recommendations. I decided to go with a 2 piece dark chicken with collard greens and mac n cheese as my sides. The fried chicken is cooked to order, so there’s a little bit of a wait after putting in your order. It took about 30 minutes for our food to be cooked.
When my order was ready, I couldn’t believe how home made my dinner looked! It really reminded of a Sunday night family meal. Looking over my plate, I loved how golden brown and crispy my chicken looked and the side orders were generously portioned. Taking my first bite, I loved the crunch and the perfect seasoning on the chicken. There wasn’t too much breading, but just enough to coat and keep the chicken moist. I just had a few squirts of hot sauce over top and my chicken was perfect. There was some greasiness on my plate, but that’s from the lard it was deep fried in and since I wasn’t really worried about my cholesterol level, devoured every morsel. The mac n cheese just oozed with cheese and the collard greens reminded me of something you’d find at Grandma’s kitchen.
Overall, I was very satisfied with my dinner. The ambiance of the restaurant wasn’t that great, but the food definitely made up for it. And if you don’t mind smelling like fried chicken after you leave, I’d recommend you stop by Flavor’s and try it out.
Flavors Soul Food
3420 Carlyn Hill Dr
Falls Church, VA 22041
By Kathleen Nixon
October 5, 2012
Falls Church Times Staff
There is a new place in the community, but not in the Little City, where I have been frequently over the last two weeks. My new favorite snack food is Junk and my new favorite drink is Cupcake. I did one night sustain myself with a Kimchi Dog. And there are also cupcakes.
Do you know where I have been hanging out? Congratulations to “grateful2BinFC” for their correct answer! Angelika Movie Theatre in the Mosaic District.
When the initial press releases came out about the Angelika, I noticed three things: the concept of Angelika, the types of entertainment that would be offered there and that they had partnered with a celebrity chef.
A celebrity chef for a movie theater? I was intrigued.
Angelika has created an entertainment brand around making going to the movies a unique and elegant experience. One that is derived from an all around sensory experience rather than just some place to plop down for a few hours and gorge on popcorn. The lobby greets you with sleek concrete, glass and steel that makes you feel more like you are going to a museum in New York rather than the new movie theater where the old one used to be. Once inside, you have three levels to enjoy eating, movie watching or sunset gazing.
Your first eating adventure is a mixture of cupcakes, coffee and beers on tap. On one occasion the cupcake and coffee café was filled with folks just enjoying the environs and the treats without realizing that they could also go upstairs to watch a movie.
At the main concession stand, you have such a wide selection of treats and beverages that I recommend getting there early because you will have a difficult time deciding what you will want to enjoy. At Angelika, your standard movie fare has a definite twist. Your beverage selection includes your usual soft drinks but these are pour your own from a soda fountain machine. This allows me my favorite drink combo – Diet Coke mixed with Barq’s Root Beer. There is a selection of beers on tap: Port City Optimal Wit, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold, Bell’s Amber Ale, Lagunitas IPA as well as a fine selection of bottle beers. My guests were quite fond of the Port City Optimal Wit and the Lagunitas IPA. I have fallen in love with the Cupcake Prosecco and it is hard to sway me away from this. The Prosecco is smooth and light, not overly sweet. Yes, you can take these into the movie theater with you in a plastic cup.
If you have a difficult time deciding which meals to pair with the beverages there are several suggestions on the menu which include the Black Forest Ham and St Andre Sandwich recommended with the Michael David Seven Heavenly Chardonnay or the Bell’s Amber Ale. Or you might like the Wasabi Chicken Breast Sandwich with the Dona Paula Malbec or Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold.
The other “food” is what you would expect at a movie theater – dogs, popcorn and nachos but with an upscale take. The nachos are blue corn chips, with your selection of toppings. The hot dogs – there are three choices – Kimchi, Mexi Cali or BLT. The Kimchi seems to be the favorite with Kimchi, and sautéed green onions. The piece de resistances are the popcorns that offered with different flavors with my favorite being Beer and Cheddar. However there is one more popcorn delicacy that bears special mention: the Angelika Junk.
Junk includes popcorn, pretzels, potato chips, Rice Krispy treats drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce. And bacon. Yes, bacon! Now while this may not sound like something you would enjoy, trust me you will.
On my frequent trips over the last few weeks, I have ended up with Cupcake Prosecco and Junk either as my main movie snack or for the post movie snack up in the Lounge. The Lounge is on the third floor and has a great view toward the west. Now this can mean a great sunset or watching an approaching lightening storm, or gazing at the huge cell tower left over from the previous development.
The concession staff is still working out the kinks of getting to know the offerings and working with customers. The one complaint I have is that most of the food – hot dogs, nachos and sometimes the popcorn- is room temperature rather than hot.
In mulling over the movie going experience with friends, we still give the Angelika thumbs up as a great experience. You will pay more for the movie ($13) and for the refreshments (Junk $10) than you would at a regular movie theater, but I would rather enjoy a nice glass of Prosecco and a yummy treat than gorging on stale popcorn coated with who knows what washed down with a soft drink for just a little less. A colleague ventured away from his beloved E Street Cinema to join me on one of my ventures. He frequently ( 3 times a week) goes to the movies at the last minute, usually counting on the movie fare for dinner. He said he would really love knowing that his evening meal would be of the quality and variety that he found at Angelika, with great beer, nachos and hot dogs rather than what he usually has to settle on.
On an entertainment note, I do “love” the aspect of an independent movie theater closer than E Street or Shirlington and was quite plussed when several DC reporters and film goers at the Press Opening commented that this community “didn’t deserve this theater”. Touting the education, income and cultural aspects of the surrounding communities, I did politely correct them that we not only deserved this entertainment venue, but it will thrive in our community. I have truly enjoyed being able to watch Bill Murray and Laura Linney in Hyde Park on Hudson ( sneak preview, coming out in December), Samsara which is all visual images, Hello I Must Be Going, a quirky comedy, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a coming of age comedy drama. In the future I am looking forward to 7 Psychopaths with Woody Harrelson and Argo with Ben Affleck, not to mention the several other great film expositions that will be coming to town. There are CryBaby morning, Student nights and Baby Boomer specials listed on the website.
Lee Highway at Gallows Road – behind the soon to open Target
There is a new place in the community, but not in the Little City, where I have been frequently over the last two weeks. My new favorite snack food is Junk and my new favorite drink is Cupcake. I did one night sustain myself with a Kimchi Dog. And there are also cupcakes.
Do you know where I have been hanging out?
Answer will come next week!