Category Archives: Arlington

Bakeshop

It’s hard enough to make it as a bakery today, but to stay in business with the giant cupcake company Crumbs less than a mile away, I knew Bakeshop must be offering sweets that keeps customers coming back.

With a simple name, the inside of Bakeshop keeps it fairly simple, too. A few wooden tables sit inside the crafty shop, and the front counter is lined with cupcakes ranging with flavors from almond joy, 7Up, nutella and of course, red velvet.  Cupcakes aren’t the only thing Bakeshop takes out of the oven.

Other tempting items include blueberry oatmeal cookies, layered cakes (custom orders), cream pies and chocolate chip cookies with an oreo baked inside.

Justin Stegall, who is the face behind Bakeshop, previously worked as a cake decorator in Brooklyn.  After making his way back to Northern VA, his sweets were starting to pop up at local coffee joints. That’s when the buzz started and soon enough Bakeshop was born.

I’m still obsessed with the fall, thus I am still obsessed with anything pumpkin flavored. This pumpkin cupcake topped with the perfect amount of cream cheese frosting. The flavor of the cake was delicious.

I’m still thinking about the cupcake, but another sweet on my mind was the homemade banana pudding. A special for the day I went, the pudding was sold out by the time I arrived. Stegall calls it “one of the best desserts ever.” So, yeah I’m taking another trip back.

You get the local vibe in Bakeshop, and what’s more, you get a friendly vibe. In fact, if you see Stegall in the shop, he encourages you to “Stop by and say ‘whatsup!'”

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Sushi Rock

What sushi and rock music have in common is beyond me, yet somehow, Sushi Rock mends the two together quite well (and not just through the name). Located in Clarendon, away from the nightlife scene, this two floor modern restaurant has an industrial architecture inside decorated with warm tones.

I went to Sushi Rock with a friend on a weeknight and was seated immediately. We were greeted promptly by our server who fit the rock/waiter bill perfectly. Well, he had pierced ears, and in my book, that means he probably wears a leather jacket while listening to Axl Rose. That is my definition of a rocker.

Before I even got my hand on the drink menu, our rocker waiter was back asking if we’d like to start with an appetizer. Two seconds later he was back asking if we had made a decision. Pretty sure I still had my purse on at this moment. I had to politely ask for a few more minutes a couple more times until we were ready to order drinks. Searching through other reviews of this restaurant, the majority of complaints pertain to service.

Above is the “Day Tripper.” Both the drinks and food have rocker themes, and yes, I felt like an idiot ordering every single thing. The Day Tripper has raspberry vodka, blended juices and coconut foam. Doesn’t get much girlier than that! Something tells me our waiter never orders this drink.

For dinner, my friend and I decided to go with three different types of sushi.

The sushi presentation is done beautifully. If I remember correctly, above is the Ziggy Stardust roll. Ugh, I feel like an idiot just typing the name of the sushi. This roll has an interesting twist, rather than fish, this is rolled up kobe beef, asparagus, red pepper and a jalapeno mayo. I like the creativity of this roll, but every bite I found myself thinking “wait, this texture is weird,” and then I’d have to remind myself about the beef. Quite the mind game let me tell you.

Our favorite of the evening was the You Shook Me All Night Long (ugh). As the menu breaks it down, it’s tempura shrimp + avocado + cucumber + crab stick + black tobiko + red tobiko + scallion + Japanese mayo. What’s tobiko you say? Fish roe. What is fish roe you say? Fish eggs.

Fun fact: Roe is a rich source of vitamins A and D, fatty acids and zinc.

If fish eggs or sushi in general aren’t your thing, Sushi Rock also has shared plates that range from salmon to meatball skewers.

It’s a fun place to go with friends while taking in a cool atmosphere. While the service was a tad overbearing at times, sometimes you have to remind yourself that every rose has its thorn (nailed the rock reference!).

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Shilla Bakery & Cafe

 

When the Washingtonian shared their favorite doughnuts recently, I was shocked when I saw one of the picks was only a few miles away from Springfield, VA. Shilla Bakery & Cafe is known for their Korean Bing Soo (I’ll explain what that is because I had no idea) and baked goods.

Located in Annandale, VA, Shilla had a lot of customers around lunch time. They all seemed to be either sipping on the Illy brand coffee or eating Bing Soo. It’s a massive bowl of the Koreans’ take on shaved ice topped with fruit.

While the Bing Soo intrigued me, I was there for the red bean doughnuts. The entrance of Shilla is lined with shelves of breads, doughnuts and a bunch of things I’ve never heard of.


I spent a good five minutes awkwardly walking around trying to figure out what anything meant. Finally, I saw the words doughnut and placed the two in my basket.

Each baked good is indivuadally wrapped with the exception of the cheese danishes that were fresh out of the oven.

I figured two doughnuts was probaby enough carbs for one reviews. Next time danishes and Bing Soo are mine!

Since I had no idea what I was really purchasing when it came two these doughnuts, I guess it makes sense that I actually bought the same doughnut twice. Well, one was sugar coated while one was not.

I recommend the sugar coated one with red bean paste filling. Yeah, red bean. Never even known that was filling, but it actually has a subtle sweet taste and pairs well with the sugary dough. Red bean has been a popular Korean flavoring that comes from boiling down azuki beans and adding honey or sugar to the paste.

When getting a doughnut from Shilla, you can tell the dough is fresh and dense. And hey, if you end up liking red bean paste (which I did) you can also get your fix from the red bean bread, red bean cookies, and yes, red bean bing soo. Patbingsoo to be exact.

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Northside Social

If there is one thing I love more than eating food, it’s eating food outside. It was the outside dining area at Northside Social that caught my eye awhile back.

The locally owned and operated coffee shop and wine bar is owned and operated by the Liberty Tavern Restaurant Group and is located in Clarendon. Fairly new to the area, the restaurant’s laid back feel is evident by the customers coming in with gym clothes while ordering their food at the front counter.

As much as I love eating outside, the heat wave kept me indoors, which led me to exploring the wine bar upstairs. Much of the featured wine is from small family run vineyards that otherwise could be difficult to purchase. The wine bar menu keeps it simple with primarily cheese and meat plates.

You can order wine and beer downstairs, as well as sandwiches, salads, soups and quiches. It’s not unusual to see people working on their laptops or reading a book while sipping on a glass of wine or coffee. Like the guy below, look he’s reading a book and having a beer!

The coffee is also suppose to be a standout, with different types of extraction methods. Those include espresso (their specific espresso machine is only used by two or three other places in the nation), drip coffee, a specialized coffee production per cup method and the french press.

One the 100 degree day that I visited Northside, there were still people crazy enough to eat outside in front of a massive grill. Perhaps the beef brisket they were serving was THAT good. They also have marshmallows that you can toast outside.

If the marshmallows don’t cut it, the front also has cookies, soft serve ice cream (flavors change and are made fresh daily), muffins, scones and tarts that are all made by their very own pastry chef.  I was tempted to try to the walnut coffee muffin.

Given the time of day I went, I stuck to a glass of chardonnay for $7 and the Black Forest ham quiche. The quiche’s flavor was delicious with caramelized onions through and spinach. The crust was thick and flaky, but I would have like this to have been served much hotter. The fruit and simple side salad comes with the quiche and was a nice light side for such a hot day.

When getting up the front counter, my friend asked for the best sandwich they had. The cashier insisted it was the chicken salad. I didn’t have the time to try the rest of their sandwiches to see if this guy was lying or not, but the chicken salad here is quite tasty. I’m not even a fan of chicken salad. When ordering a sandwich, you have the option of side salad, potato salad or chips. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the potato salad.

Much of the food at Northside is local, and you can even purchase local milk from grass fed cows.

I’m looking forward to my next trip to Northside which will hopefully involve a giant cup of their coffee and a chunky monkey scone. Fingers crossed it will be cool enough to eat outside.

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