Farmhouse dining, cupcakes in McLean, a juice-bar expansion and fall road trips in search of apple cider.
If you like the idea of dining in an old Virginia farmhouse, you’ll like what Founding Farmers is bringing to Tysons Corner this fall. Each section of the 260-seat, Virginia-themed restaurant (slated for a September opening, as of press time) will evoke the feeling of a different room.
For example, the “pantry” by the front door will house a bakery where customers can buy breakfast items or confections to go. The upstairs “bedroom” will feature a quiet dining atmosphere, with headboard-inspired high-walled booths; while the downstairs “living room” promises lounge-style banquette seating that takes its cues from comfy couches.
Tysons is the third outpost for the popular farm-to-table restaurant, which also has locations in Washington, D.C., and Potomac, Md. “We chose Virginia because it has an insanely rich history surrounding the Founding Fathers and agriculture,” says co-concept developer and managing partner Dan Simons.
Watch for an in-house butchery program offering both popular and lesser-known cuts of beef, as well as health-conscious dishes under 600 calories.
The bar area—framed by a dramatic wooden barn truss—will showcase some interesting proprietary spirits, including a pisco crafted in conjunction with Peruvian distiller Macchu Pisco, and a private-label rye whiskey and gin, created jointly by bar and beverage director Jon Arroyo in partnership with Rick Wasmund, the master distiller at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville. You’ll also find a dozen draft beers—mainly Virginia brews—and a whiskey-heavy spirits menu featuring plenty of bottles from the Old Dominion state. Plus, non-alcoholic options such as house-made sun tea, pour-over coffees and cold-pressed juices.
Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, the kitchen plans to import some fan favorites from its other locations, such as fried green tomatoes and bacon lollis.
But Simons says that approximately 40 percent of the dishes on the menu will be unique to this Virginia location. “You can’t do the same things twice,” he says. “That’s why we’re always pushing ourselves to add new elements.”
I’m eagerly awaiting the Southern-style biscuits, served with an array of sweet and savory accompaniments.
Founding Farmers (slated to open this fall), 1800 Tysons Blvd., Tysons Corner; www.wearefoundingfarmers.com
Pick & Choose
Looking for an excuse to take in the fall foliage in the Virginia countryside? Savor the flavors of autumn by tipping back a glass of fresh, non-alcoholic cider at one of these apple-centric outposts. Trust us, they are worth the trip. And you won’t need a designated driver.
The Apple House
4675 John Marshall Highway, Linden; 540-636-6329, www.theapplehouse.net
Pair a bottle of Alpenglow sparkling cider with fresh, cinnamon-sugar-dusted apple-butter doughnuts at this roadside favorite on the way to Shenandoah National Park. Johnny Appleseed would surely approve.
Crooked Run Orchard
37883 East Main St., Purcellville; 540-338-6642, crookedrunorchard.com
Enjoy freshly pressed, unpasteurized ciders, made with more than a dozen apple varietals that are grown in the on-site orchards. You can also pick a few bushels of your own to transform into pies, cobblers and applesauce once you get home.
3035 Cedar Creek Grade, Winchester; 540-662-1980, www.markermillerorchards.com
Choose between straight-up apple cider or a sweet-tart apple-cherry blend. Apple lovers can further indulge in a slew of homemade goodies, such as apple pies, cider doughnuts, apple butter, jellies and jams.
3064 Hartland Lane, Markham; 540-364-2316, hartlandorchard.com
Visitors can enjoy just-pressed, house-made cider, and 18 varieties of apples are available for picking in the orchard, including tougher-to-find varietals such as Smokehouse, Rambo and Grimes Golden.
Good news for those who’ve been following the Sweetbites food truck on Twitter (@Sweetbitestruck) to find out where they can get their cupcake fix. The popular mobile sweet shop will soon expand its operations with the opening of the Sweetbites Café and Bakery in McLean.
Owner-baker Sandra Panetta’s signature cupcakes are still the big draw, enticing sweet tooths to indulge in a rotating cast of 50 different flavors. Those include the best-selling salted caramel; a triple chocolate, loaded with cocoa, chocolate frosting and chocolate shavings; and a boozy piña colada, amped up with coconut Malibu rum and dark Jamaican rum.
Feel guilty eating dessert first? The café’s menu also includes savory lunch items—soups, salads and sandwiches—as well as breakfast bites, such as scones and muffins.
“My mother taught me that food should be delicious, simple, fresh and always be made with good quality ingredients,” says the owner. “That’s the guiding principle for everything I make.”
Panetta says her new brick-and-mortar location is a reaction to the growing competition among food trucks on both sides of the Potomac. “When I opened in 2010, there were no other trucks out there—now there’s a fleet,” she says. “I saw the writing on the wall and had to find something else to do.”
Food truck fans needn’t worry though. Panetta is keeping her mobile operation on the road (watch for her eye-catching pink truck in various locations in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland). “Small business changes on a dime,” she says. “You always just have to roll with it.
Sweetbites Café and Bakery, 6845 Elm St., McLean; www.sweetbitesdesserts.com
Fans of Clarendon’s South Block Café will be happy to hear that the health-conscious business is expanding into the space next door and opening a dedicated juice bar.
The 640-square-foot South Block Juice Co. will showcase the same cold-pressed juices and cleanses that owner Amir Mostafavi has been selling at his adjacent eatery and by delivery since spring 2013 (his sister operation, D.C.’s Campus Fresh, also carries them). “The juice took on a life of its own,” says Mostafavi, “so this gives it its own space.
Sidle up to the bar and you’ll find the raw, unpasteurized juices (made fresh daily) presented in a couple of new formats beyond the usual 16-ounce bottles. Juice flights will be served at the counter, and larger growlers will be available for takeaway. Mostafavi says he strives to use organic and local produce whenever possible, though not all ingredients can be sourced locally.
The Clarendon bar isn’t his only expansion. Since June, he has been cold-pressing all of the juices for his various operations at a new micro-juicery in East Falls Church.
The [production] space allows us to explore different recipes and expand our lineup,” says Mostafavi, who hopes to squeeze out a few more juice bar locations across Northern Virginia over the next year or so. “We’re going to do more seasonal juices and create three types of juice cleanses—beginner, intermediate and difficult, which has more green juices and fewer calories.
South Block Juice Co., 3019 11th St. North, Arlington; southblockcafe.com