Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Haute Dog and Bunny Hay

We took a trip out to western Loudoun County today to pick up some inexpensive fresh quality hay for our pet bunnies, Hazel and Fiver. While we were in the neighborhood, we decided to stop in for a quick bite at Haute Dog. Its a quaint little place with gourmet hot dogs and sausage sandwiches with a variety of unique toppings.

We've been there several times and have never been disappointed. We got a German Bratwurst with sauerkraut and brown mustard...the bratwurst had a great flavor by itself but then the sauerkraut and mustard added a nice spicy tang.

Also we got the Italian sausage with peppers, onions, and melted provolone. Spicy and cheesy! On the side was an order of crispy tempura onion rings served with a spicy sauce that I think was siracha mayo. Delicious with a kick!

If you're looking for a fancy sausage or a simple hot dog, this place is a treat! I saw someone ordering a chili cheese dog while we were there and it reminded me of my grandma, whom we called Gongi.  My husband looked at me kinda funny and asked, "how does a chili dog remind you of Gongi??" Most of my positive memories about my grandma involve food.  But there was a tiny little drive-thru-only hot dog place in the town near where I grew up.  You could get a hot dog for like $2 or something. They were cheap and greasy and wrapped in wax paper and extremely messy.  We would usually get them topped with chili, cheese, and coleslaw. And they were delicious!! We would pull over in the nearby parking lot and stuff our faces til we almost needed a shower.  Haute Dog isn't quite the hole in the wall place that the drive-tru was but some delicious dogs nonetheless.

Here are some pics of some of our previous visits to Haute Dog...

those look like sweet potato fries!!

spicy jalapeƱos!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Shoes, Cup, and Cork

A Sicilian immigrant named Vincenzo Raneri opened a shoe repair shop in the 1920's. He owned and operated that shop for roughly 50 years before he sold it to someone else who kept it in operation for another 34 years. Finally in 2006, the doors closed for good. At least to the shoe repair business. Then another man had a dream of a coffee shop. With shoes. And wine. And good food. And Shoes Cup and Cork was born!

Even though its now a coffee shop, there are still many remnants of the old shoe repair business in the design and decor of the restaurant. Old shoes hang from the light fixture on the ceiling, brass footrests from the shoeshine station stand in the front windows, and the original Shoe Repair sign adorns the dining area.

But this isn't just a quick stop-in-for-coffee place. There are comfy benches with pretty pillows and board games and crossword puzzles all inviting you to stay, relax, and hang out for a while. And they serve more than just coffee. The menu isn't extensive but they offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and even brunch on the weekends. Not only is the food tasty, they strive to provide fair-trade coffee and use local meats and produce.

I'd been wanting to try it out and had heard good things about it so when I was looking for a quaint unique place to take my mom for breakfast on Mother's Day weekend, I knew this would fit the bill perfectly. I'm sure I've shared before about my love for biscuits and gravy so when I saw this on the menu, it was impossible to pass up. And it did not disappoint.

Perfectly flaky homemade biscuits swimming in white sausage pepper gravy…heavenly! As much as I love biscuits and gravy, I have had some that were not very good. But this was dreamy! It was also accompanied by a small dish of red bliss hash…basically diced, slightly smashed red bliss potatoes with some herby seasoning. I also have a love of potatoes…my favorite vegetable even though some people claim its not a vegetable. There's no better compliment to a delicious biscuits and gravy than a good helping of herby potatoes! Divine!

Sometimes the beverages become an afterthought, a non-event at a meal. But here even the drinks were good. My mom got an iced chai latte, which is usually one of my favorite breakfast drinks. I love the combo of spice and cream. But this time I opted for something slightly different…the London Fog. Its Earl grey tea steeped in steamed milk with a shot of vanilla. And I had to be extra complicated and order an iced version. As much as I love chai tea, Earl grey is a close second. It smells like Froot Loops cereal! Yumma!!

Next time, I'd like to go there for lunch and try some marinated olives or a smashed meatball sandwich or a brie L.T. panini!! And enjoy it outside while playing a game of bocce ball!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pittsburgh Rick's

So Loudound County VA is a bit devoid of decent breakfast places. There's a couple good ones but they are few and far between. One night we were searching for some new local places to try and we stumbled across a place called Pittsburgh Rick's in old town Leesburg.

Its mostly a sandwich joint serving sandwiches in the style of…guess where? Pittsburgh! But they also have a small breakfast menu. You can go as simple as a cup of coffee and a danish or you can get cinnamon french toast or pineapple pancakes!We opted for the egg and cheese sandwich where you can add either sausage or bacon or both!

cool art of Pittsburgh

Hubby got both bacon and sausage, where as I just went with sausage. Now this sausage is not exactly what I was expecting. Its not your traditional breakfast sausage patty you see on most breakfast menus. Its an actual sausage link like you would see on a sausage/pepper/onion sandwich! It was sliced in half lengthwise and boy, was it spicy! A nice hot kick to your morning eggs!

P.S. Apparently Pittsburgh Rick's also has a food truck, which we got to try recently. Yumma sandwiches!  A steak & cheese and a pastrami & cheese...all sandwiches come topped with fries, a light coleslaw, and tomato and there's a little sauce on the side. It tasted like buffalo sauce but was thin and vinegary. Excellent sandwiches!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stone Cove's Kit Bar

It was Friday night. I was in the mood to relax and be at the beach. Since I couldn't be at the beach at that moment, I decided we needed a proper date night at a restaurant that made it feel like we were at the beach. So we decided on Stone Cove's Kit Bar in Herndon. It doesn't have a particularly be achy feel but its not a restaurant we go to very often and it is the type of restaurant we might look for when we're on vacation at the beach. The weather was nice and balmy so it was as close to being on vacation at the beach as we were gonna get that night. I'll take it.

This is a fairly unique kind of restaurant as almost all the seating is bar seating.  There are a couple booth off the side but you really want to be at the huge long bar that takes up the entire center of the restaurant. If you just have a party of 2, you can easily get two regular barstools. If you have a party of 3 or 4 there are a few small bar tables built into the bar itself, as well as a few other regular bar tables surrounding it so no matter where you sit you still have that "bar feel".

Their food menu is fairly small but everything is pretty tasty and filling. While they do offer a few entrees, the main event is flatbreads and small plates. They have quite a few seafood offerings, which we were sort of avoiding. As much as we love seafood, we're waiting to see if hubby might have developed a seafood allergy. Yikes! *Fingers crossed* he doesn't… But there are plenty of non-seafood items as well.

lobster cones from previous visit

also previous visit...crab lettuce wraps in the making

crab lettuce wrap about to be eaten

Pet peeve moment: All small plates are meant for sharing, no matter what restaurant you're in. If you don't like sharing, you shouldn't be ordering small plates. Its kinda annoying when you take someone out to eat for small plates and they hoard their small plates all to themselves and don't even offer to share!…okay pet peeve rant over.

I don't think these are on the menu anymore and I'm not even sure I remember what they are but I know they were yummy!

previous visit: ahi tuna sashimi

Anywho…we began with a Mackinac Flatbread…definitely enough for at least two people. It is topped with bacon, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar cheese, and your choice of steak, chicken or shrimp (we chose steak) and drizzled with a jalpeno mayo sauce. As if all those flavors aren't delicious enough on their own but combined it was euphoric. They cook all their flatbreads in a big stone oven in the middle of the open kitchen that sits in the middle of the bar. What I like most about their flatbreads is they cook the meat separately and add it to the top after they take the flatbread out of the oven. Most of the time, its added before it goes in the oven and it ends up overcooked and chewy. This steak however was medium rare, as requested, and perfectly seasoned. Almost as good as if we had ordered just a steak at a high-end restaurant.

Then we decided to split a sandwich…the Bayou Quarter French Dip.  A toasted ciabatta bread with sliced prime rib that was super juicy and tender, you almost didn't need the au jus…almost! Along with the au jus it was also served with jalepeno mayo for dipping as well. And a bag of chips! While a french dip sandwich is not usually my favorite, I have to say I would most definitely order it again from here!

sometimes I get so hungry and into eating that I forget to take pictures...

If you decide you want to check this place out, make sure you save room for their flatbread s'mores!!

previous visit: we took these home, still yummy hours later!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


BrB…what does it mean? Be right back. Better read Bible. Beach ready babe.

Actually in this case, it means Be Right Burger. Its a littler burger joint on the corner in Reston Town Center. They serve made-to-order burgers, sandwiches, and frozen custard treats. They have a few specials that they've already created for you or you can create your own burger. They also offer veggie burgers and turkey burgers for healthier options and a variety of interesting toppings. Nothing they offer is particularly earth-shattering or unique but all tasty in the right combination.

Hubby took me here on an impromptu lunch date one Friday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous so it was perfect day for lunch outside on the patio. I went for the California burger…topped with guacamole and a chipotle aioli plus traditional lettuce and tomato. A little heavy on the sauce but I'm definitely a sauce girl so I didn't mind too much.

Hubby went for the Wild West burger, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, and bbq sauce, lettuce and tomato. A little smoky, a little sweet. Yumma! The burgers themselves, while I've had better, much better (i.e. Melt and Five Guys…my two favorite burgers ever), these had a nice char-grilled flavor to them. And the fries that were served with them, while again I've had better, I did like that they had a crispy coating and were dusted with garlic powder.

All in all, it turned out to be a deliciously lovely lunch date!