When in Virginia : Dining experiences in Northern Virginia, USA

There’s a lot of things miss when I travel, regardless if it was travel for business or for pleasure. I miss my daily routine like my own eating schedule, going to the gym, waking up late, lunch with friends , and most especially baking and blogging. Since I started my blog, it became part of my daily routine. I cannot bake while I am away, but that doesn’t mean I cannot continue on blogging. Traveling is a great opportunity for me to share with you what I found exciting in terms of foods and places I’ve visited. I had been away for quite a while and Virginia was my home for few weeks. I had some interesting finds, let me share with you my adventures. Let’s get started!

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I stayed in Westin Heights Reston and Sheraton Reston for the duration of the trip. The Westin Heights Reston is very nice and well maintained hotel.

The hotel has in-house restaurant, Vinifera is where I had most of my breakfast meals. The lobby and restaurant are quite cozy and comfortable, with modern style decor.

The food is quite ok, but not exceptional. Serving portions are huge, although it is a little bit pricey. They do not have that much menu options, but it is enough if you don’t feel like going out just to get something to eat. I tried quite a few of their foods, let me show you what I had. Place your mouse on the photo to see the description.

When I was there, they had an Open Table for few days. They had a 3 course set menu, with soup, entrée and desert. I  ordered the Soup of the Day which is Lentils Soup, Beef Tenderloin and Pot du Creme as desert. It was a great meal, just the right serving portion for me.

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Beef Tenderloin

The Beef Terderloin was good enough. I do not eat much meat, so the small  serving portion is just perfect for me. It was cooked nicely, well done as requested.

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Pot du Creme

This Pot du Creme is sinfully delicious! It was made from dark  chocolate with chantilly cream and chocolate cookie. The mousse is so smooth and decadent, every spoon literally melts in your mouth, and I am not exaggerating. The moment I took spoonful of it, I can immediately tell that they used quality chocolate to make the mousse. I wished I had more space in my stomach to finish all of it.

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French Toast with Berries

French Toast is my absolute breakfast favorite. This is what I had when I don’t feel like having savory breakfast. The bread was thick with crispy outside, the fresh fruits are of good quality, and the serving portion is generous too. Definitely a must try breakfast item.

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Semifreddo

This Semifreddo desert is also from Vinifera restaurant. This desert has a ruby grapefruit, swiss meringue, honey panna cotta and candied zest. I find this desert quite interesting as there’s a lot of flavor going on in this plate, but they all seem to come together just nicely. The sweetness of meringue and the creamy taste and texture of panna cotta was balanced by the slightly sour taste of the grapefruit and candied zest. A perfect pair for my green tea.

I was surprised to find quite a lot of good restaurants in Reston, Virginia. Most of the restaurants are concentrated in downtown Reston, but there are quite a few that we discovered outside of downtown that is worth visiting. Let’s go check them out now!

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Combination Kebob

Zamarod Afghan Cuisine: I would rank this restaurant as the top 1 to visit when in Reston, Virginia. We went there twice during lunch time. The interior of the place is quite nice, it looks like an old house that had been converted into a restaurant. The dining experience gives you are more homey feel.  The owner is a very friendly gentlemen and the service was great, but most importantly, the food was exceptionally good. I am a fan of grilled dishes, so I didn’t passed the oppurtunity to try their grilled Combination Kebob. This dish is a combination of chunks of chicken, boneless lamb, marinated and charbroiled. The meat is fresh, tender, tasty and well seasoned. A little bit more veggies on side or salad will have made this dish complete, but nonetheless, it was great and a must try item too.

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Grilled Pacific Salmon in Spinach and Squash

The second time we visited Zamarod Afghan Cuisine , I ordered Grilled Pacific Salmon. It was fresh, juicy and very well seasoned and grilled to perfection. The spinach is surprisingly very tasty and the squash was absolutely delicious. It was very soft , well cooked and it has a very natural sweetness in it. I had never tasted a squash cooked this way that is this sweet. The plate is amazing and all the ingredients works perfectly together. This dish is the special for the day, it was difinitely a good choice ordering this.

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Muntoo

My 3rd favorite item in Zamarod Afghan Cuisine is their appetizer Muntoo. It is a dumpling filled with ground beef, onion, topped with seasoned yogurt, coriander and meat sauce. This is not what I expected at all when we ordered dumplings. The dumplings I had in mind is the traditional asian dumpling. This looks like more of a Ravioli to me than a dumpling. The texture of the dumplings itself is very soft, but what made this dish special is the meat sauce and the yogurt. The meat sauce is very tasty and the addition of yogurt made it even better. This is one dish that I hope to re-create anytime soon.

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Enatye Ethiopian Restaurant : is my top 2 restaurants to visit when in Virginia. I find the dining experience very unique and different from the other places we visited. I had never visited a Ethiopian restaurant before, so this was the first for me. We ordered  Beef and Lamb Lega Tibs which they suggested to be served in one huge tray for sharing. The dish is a lean beef or lamb diced and cooked in a special mild sauce, Ethiopian herbal butter, onion, tomato and garlic and served with Injera (bread). The food looks like an ordinary lamb and beef stews with vegetable side dishes , but looks could be deceiving because the taste is far from ordinary, it was great! The meat is very tender, they almost separate when you pick them up. In my opinion, Injera (bread) is what made this dish extra special. As per wikipedia, Injera is an East African sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture and is considered as a national dish in Ethiopia.  It was unlike any other bread I had tried before, it was very thin almost like a crepe but better. What’s more interesting is we actually used Injera to scooped out the food. No utensils, although you can request for one if you want to. We did not, which made the experience unique for me. This maybe not for everyone, but I find it quite fun and interesting. The only hiccups of this visit was it took long to get our order because it was Friday night and the restaurant is full and busy.  Aside from this, the food was amazing and definitely worth the try. So when you are in Virginia and looking for something new to try, and don’t mind being messy, give this place a try.

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Syrah @ Sheraton: This chicken dish is fantastic! I am already looking forward tp re-creating this dish. The dish is very simple, but it is very tasty. It has chicken breast and a tomato based sauce with mushrooms, olives, capers, cherry tomato and eggplant, all my favorite in one dish. It was great, but It would have been better for me if the chicken was baked or pan seared rather than dip fried. I cannot vouch for other dish in the restaurant though, this is the only one I ordered that I liked. But to be fair, I only went there twice during dinner.

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Shrimp and Ribs with Spinach & Mushroom

We celebrated our last day and had dinner at Friday’s. Although I don’t normally eat meat, I made this day exception. I ordered Shrimp and Ribs with 2 sides of steamed broccoli, and spinach and mushroom. The rib is very tender, no effort needed as it is almost falling from the bones when I ate it. The  sauce is just the way I like it, not too sweet at all.

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Clydes: Seafoods Hot Pot

Clydes is our favorite place for dinner. The ambiance of the place is very cozy and comfortable, all the food we ordered were great, but most of all, it is very accessible and conviniently located in downtown Reston Town Center. We went there quite a few times, but I was not lucky enough to get a good shot of any of my foods. Most of them turned out to dark and so I cannot use it here. Nonetheless, this is definitely a good place to visit when in Reston, Virginia.

Red Velvet Cupcakery : This cupcakery was my home sweet home for my sweet cravings. Thanks to my teammates for introducing this place to me. This is located in downtown Reston, quite close to most of the restaurants. Their cupcakes are amazing! Northern Beauty (sugar-free) Red Velvet, Devils Food and Mocha Latte are among my top 3 favorites. They are  a little bit pricey for a cupcake, but the quality and taste was good enough, so for me its worth the price.

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Chocolate Pinata

My 3rd favorite place to visit is Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant. Great Mexican place, fresh homemade tortillas and guacamole, and house to their famous Chocolate Pinata. This desert alone is a reason for me to visit this place. The experience itself to break and share it with my teammates is so much fun that I decided it deserve a separate post on its own. Check out my Chocolate Pinata post for more photos!

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Cake Pops from Starbucks courtesy of my teammate Dave

It was a long trip and long time being away from home. Although I had fun trying out new food and different cuisines and sharing this experience with my amazing teammates, there’s still no place like home. I enjoyed my stay, but I am glad that I am now home sweet home and having my home cooked meals again.

Quote of the Day

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

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Categories: Travel, When in Virginia

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