Thursday, March 26, 2015

THE WINE KITCHEN IN LEESBURG - Eat, drink and be educated!

The Wine Kitchen has gotten it right, and they are filled to capacity every night for dinner . . . 

I visit every new restaurant in the area, and The Wine Kitchen is no exception.  Not only is their food and wine selection superb, but they have a willingness to educate us and add a bit of "social" to our dining experience.  I think you will just love The Wine Kitchen that has paired with local farms and others to impress your palette.
  Image result for the wine kitchen
The décor in Leesburg reminds me of a DC restaurant.  Their style though is quite unique in that they not only serve you food and wine, but you are adorned with a "descriptive wine card" paired with each glass of wine you order.  I love this great concept, it's both educational and social. 


Whether you are ordering food or wine by the glass (prices vary and are very competitive) or you are partaking in one of their "Flights," they add a unique touch by serving you one of their Wine Cards.  It adds to your dining experience as you try to decipher from your own glass of wine whatever flavors they have poetically described on this little card.  I think you will enjoy this fun, learning experience and walk away with one of those little wine cards as a special souvenir from a very special restaurant.  It's a great concept.

There are too many dishes on the menu that I love to name, but suffice it to say "everything is top-notch."  The gourmet infusion into their farm-style dishes, as well as European introductions, appeal to the most meticulous taste buds and will possibly cause you to pause.  Some of my favorite dishes are:

The Rosemary Gnocchi - sweet potato, kale, walnuts, blue cheese and pomegranate reduction
The Hanger Steak  (A FAVORITE ) celeriac walnut risotto, sautéed spinach and shallot gastrique
The Braised Short Ribs - celeriac and black garlic puree, smoked mushrooms, sweet pan soy sauce 

Each day they have a selection of wonderful cheeses they present on their blackboard and under "Cheese and Charcuterie" offering three artisanal cheeses for $13 or a Charcuterie plate for $11.  This is one of my favorite menu items, being Italian and enjoying worldly cheeses and platters of this type.   If you want to get a glimpse before dining, they have more than one location but the  Dinner Menu in Leesburg is wonderful.

When it comes to their wines, it goes without saying that their name says it all!  The fact that they offer numerous non-domestic wines too from all around the world, I very much appreciate.  After several years ago giving up US wines (unless they are produced by a local, small vineyard that I know), I made a break because they did not agree with me.  I have plenty to choose from at The Wine Kitchen, and a variety is so important in a restaurant today.

What also makes the Wine Kitchen so unique, is the offering of a smaller size portion of plated food (smaller plates).  They are certainly hearty enough, and I find them to be the  ideal portion.   The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg was one of the first to offer what I deem "gourmet" food in a lighter quantity and at a reasonable price.  The best part of this concept for me, I do not go home stuffed and feeling like I spent a fortune on dinner and a glass of wine.  Nor do I feel guilty not able to finish and having to bring home food I did not need to pay for in the first place. 

The small plate concept is smart amidst a Town filled with busy, working locals, tourists on a budget venturing out, and simply people that like to go out to eat without spending a fortune . . . the Wine Kitchen has gotten it right, in my opinion, and they are filled to capacity every night for dinner because they have.

Because I originally wasn't keen on a few aesthetics of the restaurant (when they first opened up), I didn't feel compelled to return over and over if I was venturing out on a busy weekend night.  If you arrive early for your reserved table or you do not have a reservation for even one of their bar stools, you have to find a comfortable place to wait and it's not easy.  Their bar is not your typical restaurant bar, so it's too awkward to stand behind it because of those having dinner.  This leaves you in an open area amidst on-looking tables of diners and no comfortable place to lean and wait . . . this has been my only criticism of this beautiful restaurant to date.

The Wine Kitchen is a hot spot in Leesburg and you need to wait it out - your table, the food and the wine are all well worth it and your  experience will hopefully be FABULOUS.

Enjoy yourself - Mary!

The Wine Kitchen - Leesburg
7 South King Street
Leesburg, VA  20175
(703) 777-9463
The Wine Kitchen

Mary Dionisio Roberge - you can also find my blog on my Realtor web site with McEnearney Associates in Leesburg VA

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Live and play in Leesburg - view a beautiful (historic) home for sale in downtown Leesburg!

See one of the most beautiful examples of a historic home (built in 1780) in downtown Leesburg and only steps away from all of the wonderful restaurants, shops and businesses I love to talk about and voice my opinion on this Blog.

Mary Dionisio Roberge

You can also find my blog on my Realtor web site with McEnearney Associates in Leesburg VA

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fabulous - my local perspective on Chimole

CHIMOLE  Tapas Bar & Restaurant - Unique, delicious Honduran Food, ART and DANCING!

If you have not been to the newest, happening restaurant and bar on King Street in the Historic District of Leesburg, you are missing out!  Filled with such "energy," the live music and style of this special restaurant causes one to pause and ask "AM I IN LEESBURG?"  We are lucky to have it. 
The food is excellent, and after going through some growing pains very early on due to the "instant" attraction of locals to this very festive restaurant, you won't be disappointed and should try it again if you have not been recently.  The food is homemade by the owner who buys the best ingredients, and I can attest to this having bumped into her grocery shopping!  Yovanna has a warm and welcoming personality that adds just that extra touch to make you want to come back time after time. 
CHIMOLEShe has music often . . . but on Friday nights (yes they're back!) it's one of my favorites (Toto Rivera & Alex) who bring energy to the evening with American/Latin live music.  The dancing begins after 8:30 pm or so with live music and ends with even those who claim to have "two left feet" dancing in the aisles.  Enjoy dinner and music or pop by after dinner elsewhere and unwind.
One of my favorite attractions of this cozy restaurant and bar is the international artwork adorning the adjoining gallery walls, also a part of Chimole.  Take a stroll with a glass of Jovanna's wonderful wine offerings and fall in love with a piece or two and bring it home.  I did!  To get a glimpse of the atmosphere, Take a peek and tell Yovanna that Mary sent you!   
The uniqueness of this restaurant and wine bar does not stop at your musical and visual senses, the wine selections are meaningful and well-priced.  One of my favorites is a Tempranillo blend, and I am very particular about my wines.  She offers organics as well.
Do not miss out on this classy, warm restaurant that now has an outdoor area for the warmer months and a fire going for those daring souls who enjoy the outdoors all year round.  The back patio will grow and have a bit more work done in time, but I for one will be frequenting it. 

Enjoy yourself -  Mary Dionisio Roberge

You can also find my blog on my Realtor web site with McEnearney Associates in Leesburg VA

Monday, December 17, 2012

The New Lounge at Palio Ristorante Italiano - Revised in February 2015!

The Friday before Thanksgiving, a couple friends and I stopped by the new lounge at Palio in downtown Historic Leesburg.  I need to share . . . it is truly gorgeous. The exquisite tile floors glisten, the chandelier sparkles, and the unique custom wood bar beckons you to sit and stay awhile.  The owner, Michael O’Connor, has really outdone himself and proves why he is a strong advocate for bringing good food and atmosphere to Leesburg.

For those who are familiar with the original, smaller bar area, this is so much more: more tables, more bar space, music and more socializing.  The bartenders are very personable and they really know their wines.  Check out this Peach-tini that my friend ordered - a full bar available:

And of course, what would a trip to Palio be without the food? A cook, and half Italian myself, I know good Italian food when I taste it. Palio has gone through a few Chefs, and after a few recent visits, their food was delicious and the menu much more diverse.

During a past visit, we tried the delicious Squash Soup which was rich, creamy and could have been a meal in and of itself.  We also had the Buffalo Mozzarella, and I mean the REAL deal.  It is luscious, melt-in-your-mouth goodness served on a bed of delicious greens and beautifully presented.  The portion was plentiful, and you haven’t had real Italian Mozzarella until you’ve tried this.  It reminded me of Italy.  Next we had the Calamari, served with a home made marinara sauce.  Calamari can easily be overcooked to the point of chewiness, but at Palio is comes out tender and just right.

All in all, it was a great night in just the kind of friendly, yet upscale, lounge atmosphere that Leesburg has so badly needed. Be sure to stop by the next time you are out on the town!

2 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia
Palio of Leesburg

Enjoy yourself -  Mary Dionisio Roberge
You can also find my blog on my Realtor web site with McEnearney Associates in Leesburg VA

Friday, October 26, 2012

Superior Nails

This family-owned nail salon is by far the best in town. Paul and his wife treat their customers like gold. They are obvious veterans of the business and had a salon in Sterling for many years before moving to Leesburg. They will get to know you and remember your name. My daughter loves that they are very “detailed” and do great designs that match her nail color really well!

Not only is the service excellent, it is very reasonably priced - $40 for a mani/pedi that comes with paraffin wax. Personally, I think it’s the best pedi massage I’ve had.

The environment is also very relaxing, with soothing music playing in the background.  Plus they allow you to relax as you want while sitting in the pedi chair. This is not just a nail salon either - they also cut hair, do waxing and more. Most importantly, it is extremely clean and overall top notch.

Superior Nails is located just off Battlefield Parkway in the Exeter Shopping Center, where the new 7-11
is located.

700 Fieldstone Drive NE, Leesburg, VA 20176
(571) 918-0926

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Travinia Italian Kitchen - a marvelous spot in Leesburg!

Travinia Italian Kitchen has been a great addition to Leesburg's growing restaurant scene.  With live music, outdoor seating, welcoming and fashionable decor ambiance, and great food, Travinia is sure to be one of Leesburg's hot spots this spring and summer.

First, the food: Their menu features delicious Italian comfort food and Travinia's own special dishes.  While they went through a rough patch with their food I noticed, it has been great again for the last couple of months!  Here is a sampling of  my own favorites:

  • Rigatoni Bolognese: Braised Short Ribs in a red sauce with a dollop of Mascarpone (an Italian Cream Cheese that melts beautifully and in your mouth!) tops this exquisite dish, all served over a hearty bowl of Rigatoni.
  • Veal Scaloppini: Simply delicious and plentiful!  I go a more Italian traditional route and have red/marinara sauce over just my Capelini instead of the veal sauce which is a lemon butter with artichokes, mushrooms and pancetta. 
  • Polo Isabella: Chicken Breast (add risotto, yum!) and goat cheese with a lemon butter sauce served over a bed of spinach.  This is a favorite of many of my friends.
  • Mussels: The mussels I had came in their own "nontraditional" sauce which I loved.  A wonderful treat which I highly recommend - you will not want them to take your plate if there is bread left and scooping up the sauce using your shell/spoon is a delight!
  • Margherita Pizza: My daughter gets this almost every time and loves it.  Served with fresh mozzarella and plum tomatoes.  A great kid-friendly dish that adults will enjoy as well.
  • I've enjoyed the Caesar, Spinach & Goat Cheese and Granny Smith Apple (not what you think) salads which are all good and plentiful.  When ordering one to accompany your own Entree, "share."
  • One dish I do not recommend and commented on to a waiter for the kitchen (as did several friends who I asked not to judge them on this dish!) is the Butternut Squash Ravioli.  Why?  Simply because they are served in butter, and it is too much and does not compliment the ravioli.  Butter turns to oil too when heated for a while, so if you love Butternut Squash Ravioli as I do, ask for a sauce substitute like a "light cream."  I'd love to see them pair these with a light Sage Cream Sauce I make for my own yellow squash ravioli which would compliment it and not overpower the delicate flavor of the squash. 
Next up, ambiance: Immediately upon your entering the restaurant, you are greeted by a lovely atmosphere with plush couches and a hostess who treats everyone who arrives like gold.  I believe she has been there since the restaurant opens, and she is an incredible asset to their team.  Now that it is warm outside, you have a number of seating options:  1) indoors at gently curving rows of tables and spacious booths; 2) outdoors on the patio where there are fire pits that add charm and fun to the restaurant; or 3) the bar area, which opens up to the outdoors in the spring and summer for some wonderful breezes.  If you choose to sit indoors, you can see your food being prepared through the glass divider to the kitchen.

On the weekends, allow for a wait time, but do not be dissuaded from staying - Travinia has a spacious waiting area with plush couches and their wait times are often shorter than they say they will be.  Kids and adults alike are able to sit much more patiently than in such a relaxed environment.

The background music is lively without being loud, so it is always possible to have a conversation with your friends and family while you dine at Travinia.

And speaking of music - Travinia has live jazz every Wednesday from 7 to 10pm.  I so was pleasantly surprised to find this out when I was at dinner one evening, so we decided to stay longer to enjoy the fun duo that was performing!  And coming soon, there will be a band every Friday night from 10pm to 2am with the dining area cleared for dancing.  I can't wait for the fun to begin!

Be sure to check out this happening and delicious restaurant the next time you treat yourself to an evening out.  You will not be disappointed.

1605 Village Market Blvd SE, Suite 104, Leesburg, Virginia

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Los Tios Grill - MEXICAN!

Los Tios Grill is an authentic, family-owned Mexican restaurant and the staff is all kind, professional and very welcoming.  This cozy restaurant sits in Market Station on its main level (below Fireworks) but fills up nightly with hungry (then satisfied!) locals and visitors.  The moment you walk in, you feel the upbeat energy, as friends and family laugh and talk together, and the perfectly mixed margaritas flow.  Whether you choose to sit inside or out on the patio, you are sure to have a great time!

Atmosphere is not the only thing that makes Los Tios such a don’t-miss restaurant.  The fresh, high-quality food is incredible, and the portions more than generous!  The meal starts with warm tortilla chips and an excellent house salsa brought to your table as soon as you arrive.  Then your choices range from the usual Mexican fare like tacos, lightly fried chimichangas, sizzling fajitas, and more, to more upscale choices like their Pollo Mexicano (chicken breast topped with shrimp and a fresh cilantro sauce), and even a selection of Salvadoran dishes. 

In short, this wonderful Mexican restaurant is a cut above the rest, and will win your heart with its friendly charm and flavorfully fresh food.  Check it out the next time you have something to celebrate, or when you just want to celebrate the joys of good company and excellent food.