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Wine, Wine and More Va. Wineries

I have heard some weird stories about Chateau O'Brien as well.
I think I am going to try Linden I have heard good thing about them.
Thanks for the reply

Wine, Wine and More Va. Wineries

How about folks, anyone out there can offer up some good analysis of any Northern Virginia wineries that have met or exceeded your expectations, let's categorize this: 1st quality of the wines tasted, 2nd knowledgeable staff, 3rd Venue appearance and space for groups, 4th but not least for sure any decent eats.

I will summarize this by saying I have only really focused on the Loudoun County area. As far as food goes, the BBQ at Corcorans is very good, and the bread and cheese baskets at Sunset Hills are very well done. This is really the only food I have had at any of the wineries I visited.

Wineries I visited and ranked for quality of wines tasted.
1. Otium Vineyards south of Purcellville Va "Best reds try the German red" starts with and "F" the Malbec is quite nice as well.

2. Fabbioli Leesburg Nice Cab Franc, Viognier and an awesome Rasberry Merlot

3. Sunset Hills North Purcellville Best Cab Francs, and good whites.

4. Breaux Vineyards Hillsboro Va Decent reds really good whites

5. Zephaniah Vineyards Nice honest wines, good chambourcin

6. Barns of Hamilton Va. Venue ranks higher than wines, they also are very new, they get most of their wines from central Va, but they were decent.

7. Casanel, Leesburg Va Very light reds, friendly staff, and nice owners, pleasant experience, but wines need more depth.

8. 8 Chains North, Paeonian Springs Va. Decent wines nothing really stood out though, very typical of all the Va wines at all the venues, except most venues manage to have a couple of vintages that stand out, I don't remember any of that here, nice venue sitting in the tasting room though, kinda of a zen thing.

Bluemont Vineyards Great site, but not into the sweet wines, the rest they kinda source from other places, never know what they're gonna have available, food is good though.

Overall for functionality and staff
1. Sunset Hills they can handle the crowds, good entertainment, great barn.
2. Bluemont Vineyards great view, and a nice way to spend the day
3. Breaux Good views, countryside and awesome events
4. Otium Great wines, peaceful setting, unwind.
5. Zephaniah Awesome owners, great old farm house not good for large groups, but a wonderful time spent at Zephaniah chatting it up with the owner.

Buffet Restaurants are not all bad, are they?

Wegmans locations in the metro area have some very good selections in the Asian Wokery sections, with Thai, Indian and Chinese selections...salads are fresh as well as Sushi I would trust them over some of the Chinese style buffets in the area. I see them rotating their food constantly. Cost is 8.49 per pound. Some of the stuff is just okay but most of the Asian food is quite good. Soup bar is nice also.

Rao's maranara sauce @ $10 - What gives?

I have tried Rao's sauce and yes it does taste good for a jarred sauce, but I pride myself on making fresh sauces from canned tomatoes in the winter and fresh in the summer, marinara, and pomodoro fresh diced, but in a pinch I will buy a jar of sauce every so often...First of all you are paying for convenience, not the for the taste of fresh made sauces, because no matter how good some pre-made sauces taste they can not replace a good simmered home made sauce. Rao's comes close but I would not spend 10 dollars for 1 jar. I think Safeway must mark up their sauces a bit more than some other chains, but maybe I am wrong. I thought I have seen their sauces for 7-8 dollars a jar in some stores. But for me to keep buying this sauce for 10 dollars a pop, it better make me start talking Italian!

May 02, 2013
keithlb1 in General Topics

Best store for birthday cake?

Wegmans is always done right by me. Their selection is great, from the homestyle chocolate cakes, even their flat cakes that are the birthday type of store bought cakes you see in all grocery stores, taste fresher lighter and not so artificial. In the summer they have a white rasberry mousse cake that is very good. Teeters is okay but a little to heavy on the artificial frosting ingredients, Whole Foods is good with the whipped cram frosting and fruit. But I still lean towards Wegmans for your cake needs. Costco would be okay for larger groups, but still to artificial tasting to me.

The best and the worst days to dine out ?

People that dine out on Holidays should remember that most people working on the holidays hate the fact that they're being forced to work those days, thus the service is a bit chilly, and the food can be a bit rushed. Add the symphony of screaming kids, looks of horrified parents, and you get the picture. I am guessing that is why Vegas went back to the adult theme. And left the family theme to Walt Disney

Sep 03, 2012
keithlb1 in Not About Food

The best and the worst days to dine out ?

I would have to agree with that statement. If the restaurant is super busy you may get two deliveries, but in most cases just 1 per week is enough.

Sep 03, 2012
keithlb1 in Not About Food

The best and the worst days to dine out ?

100% agree!

Sep 03, 2012
keithlb1 in Not About Food

Cash only for gratuity!!

yes that is what I meant by reporting the required amount based on your total sales
In some states I think it is 8% of total sales.
It makes it a universal practice and hard for servers to fudge which I still say happened in many places.
I recall servers in a high end steak house from DC getting audited to the tune of 10,000's of dollars back in the 80's The laws might even be more strict now but I can't say for sure. Remember servers are required to tip out bussers, hosts, wine stewards in some cases and bartenders so the 8 % might be the right amount.

Aug 22, 2012
keithlb1 in Not About Food

Cash only for gratuity!!

I work in the biz, and lets just say that with the advent or payroll companies and computerized reporting the days of fooling the IRS are pretty much over. But they still like to conceal their cash tips to some degree because the minimum reporting requirements are such that the cash tips are usually more than the minimum based on your total sales

Aug 10, 2012
keithlb1 in Not About Food

Cash only for gratuity!!

It is a fact that most servers prefer the cash tip, they like to fudge on reporting them to the IRS, and in some cases are required to tip out 15 to 20 % percent to bus persons and 5-10% to the bartender. Thus cash tips make it easier for them to skimp on the tip out.
That said it doesn't happen with all servers but it has happened in some instances.

Aug 10, 2012
keithlb1 in Not About Food

Olive Garden in decline?

There isn't a lot of those so called Mom and Pop places left, and most of those are what Olive Garden attempts to imitate, with the basic Itailan American menu. Now if you go to an urban area you will find more chef driven places that have learned to cook real Italian. Not just spaghetti and meatballs, Linguini clam sauce etc. Although good in their own right just not a good representation of real Italian cuisine.

Aug 06, 2012
keithlb1 in Food Media & News

Olive Garden in decline?

Should we be upset? I mean is this a culinary icon that fell off the cliff!? A lot of so called nuevo Italian chains think they cook authentic Italian but only do an average to a mildly good job at pulling it off. Now the Italian American places seem to connect more with American diners, who swear it's real Italian cuisine. I think Olive Garden fits that niche. Memories of Mom's quick Italian meals at home as a child. But even their versions are average at best

Aug 04, 2012
keithlb1 in Food Media & News

Why do chinese restaurants insist on having "secret" Chinese menus their English-Speaking customers can't decipher?

I could not have said it any better. Most people on this board are pretty knowledgeable on food matters, but I will Second the "level headed" quote. Most average Americans want what they think is saved for somebody else. Look at the bigger is better SUV craze if you don't believe me. And like all wasteful and disregarding lemmings we have become, we moan and groan when something doesn't come out the way we the "experts" thought it would. Waaa! Then we go to YELP and post our narrow minded opinions about how awful the food was, ruining the reputation of a hard working career restauranteur making their life that much tougher. Most owners don't need that aggravation. Just to please a few adventure seekers. Like the well informed hounds on the board here. Not trying to be a real pessimist, but as a restaurant worker I see it all the time. Another scenario is the Chinese or Asian restaurant owner might have some very limited ingredients available for his friends, family or regular Asian clientele, but really can't predict when they're is going to be a run on fish heads,ex. People who know how to communicate with owners should have no problem getting what they want. But for the average diner it is just another obstacle that has a negative pay off for the owner.

Aug 04, 2012
keithlb1 in General Topics

Why do chinese restaurants insist on having "secret" Chinese menus their English-Speaking customers can't decipher?

There is a place I go to in Seven Corners Va called Hong Kong Palace where they actually give you 2 menus and have a chinese menu on the wall. I asked about the specials on the wall and they basically said they're on the menu as well.
Their food is no the prototypical Wonton soup and Orange Chicken type of place so even their Americanized menu has a different blend of flavor and cooking technique. I love it.

Jul 17, 2012
keithlb1 in General Topics

Why do chinese restaurants insist on having "secret" Chinese menus their English-Speaking customers can't decipher?

I think it is more of a decision based on their culture and belief systems.
They really don't have the time to spend trying to explain the complexities and nuances of food items that many people in Asian countries know and enjoy on a daily basis. Most Chinese food comes at a very affordable price and most Chinese restaurants worth their salt make money off of selling their specialties to a Chinese, Asian, and... American clientele. In order to be profitable they need to turn tables. Unless the establishment is a big urban style restaurant, the smaller family owned places need to turn and burn. They "usually" are staffed with family members that speak broken english, have little time to explain the obscure items that Americans might cringe at, with the exception of the foodies on these boards, do you really want to deal with the masses in a restaurant that "usually" delivers food and drinks to the table in a very timely fashion, with a lengthy Q&A at every turn? People that dine in restaurants really need to understand what it takes to make a restaurant successful, a lot of blood sweat and tears and long hours. Things just don't happen at a snap of the finger. Family owned restaurants are dying off because the corporate owned places train and staff with huge budgets. I am sure the Chinese places that serve a separate menu would accommodate peoples requests for the special menu if patrons actually had some cultural understanding and food knowledge. Other than that they are within in their right to serve what they want to who they want.

Jul 16, 2012
keithlb1 in General Topics

My Search for a Decent Sunday Brunch (Ongoing)

I have been reflecting on this thread about Sunday brunch and as a person who works in a restaurant that serves Saturday and Sunday brunch, and have worked in hotels that serve brunch, I think the FF debacle can probably be related to the fact that most restaurant employees absolutely hate working Brunch. Thus you have a lot of new hires that work those days, and there is one of the reasons you get many more mistakes made on these days. A lot of this bias can be traced to the fact that most servers are paid a less than minimum wage per hour, and exist on tips only. Many servers prefer to work the business lunches and dinners during the week so they can boost check averages by selling wine and appetizers. Desserts aren't enough to boost tip totals enough to work a brunch. Basically many places cater to families with kids, and girlfriends who get together and talk more than eat and drink thus taking away the server's ability to turn the table. I am not criticizing these people after all they're paying guests and are very welcome. But this takes me back to the premise about why servers hate working brunch. Some places do brunch way better than others. Because brunch can be a bit pricey in some locales they tend to get more foodie attention, and reservations only crowd, in other places where the brunch is less so, and provide kids menus you have more of a casual eat and go crowd. But to cater to this clientele the restaurant as a whole has to no how to handle a high volume situation on a Sunday morning where I guarantee that no one is really thrilled about working in a situation where guests who don't really eat out a lot have become part of the proverbial "fly in the ointment" by not even attempting to meet the servers level of competence by informing and prompting the server. After all in some instances the guests feel like we should automatically know that even though the menu says mushrooms they can't stand mushrooms...Go Figure.

downfall of chow

what is supertaster? I usually just read the local blog in Chowhound. Are there corporate factors trying to control content. Are we being taken over by "Fox News?"

Jun 18, 2012
keithlb1 in Site Talk

Best Italian Canned Tomatoes?

Wegmans has their own DOP San Marzano tomatoes for less than Muir Glen and their store brands usually hold their own to most national brands for less price.

Jun 16, 2012
keithlb1 in General Topics

downfall of chow

I think people need to chill out here. Any site that attracts more and more people has a tendency to suffer through the internet watered down stage. Just look at some the reviews on Yelp, or trip adviser. It is almost like you have to look at the content verbatim before you can decide whether or not it is relevant. I like this site because the majority of the users seem to like eating out and have an understanding of what is good or not. Yes you will see some crazy posts but that happens on all the sites. I don't think you can criticize Chowhound for what people choose to post. You just need to be more selective on which threads to partake in.

Jun 08, 2012
keithlb1 in Site Talk

What great ethnic chow in DC won't I find in NYC?

Checkout the Longworth Office where the House of Reps eat at the Longworth Cafe.
Open only weekdays, and it's open to the public, you won't see that in NY. 7.30 am to 2.30pm
Now that would be a hoot to hob nob with our elected officials.

Pizza in Baltimore

actually ground sausage is what most authentic places use, pepperoni is sliced because it is already cured but sausage is usually crumbled then browned and then added to the pizza evenly to really give you that sausage flavor you crave.

New Peruvian Chicken in Reston

I have been eating at the Peruvian chicken places since the early 90's and have even had Peruvian chicken in Peru of all places. This place was a little to Americanized for my liking the dipping sauces tasted a bit off, and the chicken itself was a bit over seasoned and slightly off, it wasn't bad but just not the quality of Crispy and Juicy in Falls Church, or Pollo Rico in Arlington. There are a lot of Peruvian places popping up and like many ethnic places the "authentic" methods always find there way to my plate over the imitations. That said, I didn't dislike Pollo Peru it just didn't hit a home run in my book

Ocean City, MD Anything worthwhile in the southern part of town?

Shark is in the fishing district of OC on the bay side but definitely in the southern part of town. They have a great selection of fresh caught seafood and sustainably grown produce. A nice change from the fried fish shacks that dot the boardwalk area. www.ocshark.com

Apr 30, 2012
keithlb1 in Mid-Atlantic

Virginia Beach Eats

Great will have a look, last time we there I only ventured around the boardwalk, was very underwhelmed. The new hotel had some trendy place that was attractive but way over priced for the net experience, and the rest of the beach haunts were over priced and provided poor to average eating experiences at best.

Apr 30, 2012
keithlb1 in Mid-Atlantic

Virginia Beach Eats

Looking for some good places to eat in Va Beach.
Not into the real touristy stuff with fried everything and boardwalk fare.
More like diamonds in the ruff places, good seafood, and engaged service.
Any tips?

Apr 27, 2012
keithlb1 in Mid-Atlantic

please make this site iPad friendly

Jobs isn't a flash fan. But exposure will bring the sites to Apple.

Jan 08, 2011
keithlb1 in Site Talk

Wegman's-Local?

I think the theme here is Wegmans certainly makes an honest effort to incorporate local business when it's feasible. I shop at Dulles and I see a lot of local produce and fruit when it is in season. Even brands like Dominion Beer, BBQ from Ashburn, and a lot of upstate Ny brands have been filtered into the store, which I really enjoy. Whole Foods can not mix the elements of price,convenience,quality,like Wegmans can. They do well with the store made items, but everything else in Whole Foods is a rip off IMHO.

My Search for a Decent Sunday Brunch (Ongoing)

Brunch should be effortless in the relaxation department
Tabard Inn fits the bill, excellent food, outdoor seating, and competent service.
And a Washington brunch would not be complete without fresh oysters.
You do need to make reservations at least a week in advance.
But it is worth it.
If you just want eggs benedict try bistro francais in Georgetown pretty good, and Clydes has decent Benedict not great but fits the bill.

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Tabard Inn
1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Five Super Supermarkets

It's funny to watch how the grocery stores in the area are scrambling to keep up with Wegmans. Check out the new Safeway in Georgetown. But as long as these stores keep their business models as they are, they will fall short of Wegmans. Wegmans is a privately owned venture and has more lateral movement based on buying trends, and local purveyors.
They may not have the cheapest this or fresh ramps but they have a lot to make me want to keep going back there. The atmosphere, prices and quality are in a superior category not seen by other stores. If you buy national brands only then you might not have the same shopping experience that most shoppers have at Wegmans. But Wegmans brands are cheaper and in most cases as good if not better. I love their organic meats, organic ice cream, and Italian style frozen pizzas. I even like their fresh food court, it's fun to eat and shop at the same time. Overall the quality is superior and I will keep driving out of my way to shop there.