Looking for a getaway in Virginia?

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Riverfront house in Heathsville, VA

For booking click here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8123738

In early August a group of friends and I decided to take a weekend off and rent a house in Heathsville, Virginia to decompress from our work lives D.C.  We found this house on AirBnB and it worked out pretty darn well for us, so I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the work week.

Located two and half hours from D.C., this house easily held the 9 of us staying there.  The host was very generous, attentive, but also left us alone to enjoy our weekend once all the rules were covered (there weren’t very many).  It should be noted that the house is the owners actual residence that she rents out, so it’s furnished like a real home and not a summer home.  Here are the details of the house.

  • 4 bedrooms (2 queens, 2 doubles), 1 living room with queen pull out couch, 2.5 bathrooms
    • great historic architecture; each room is “themed” by different countries the family has lived in.  For example, the son’s room was British themed, one of the adult bedrooms was Australia themed, etc.
    • It’s a bit of a hike for the two people who get the kids rooms upstairs FYI, and the ceilings are pretty low in those rooms
  • Fully stocked kitchen with plenty of dishes, silverware, and cooking supplies
  • A/C in every room except the hallways which was key since it was ridiculously hot out
  • Grill on the back patio for use
  • Sun room (which we didn’t use because it was too hot)

In addition to the house itself, the property offered several activities for us to entertain ourselves with.  (The videos below were provided by Kristal Ernst Przeklasa)

  • A beautiful salt water pool with basketball hoop was where we spent most of our time
    • There is a Bluetooth speaker attached to the pool house which provided the tunes for the weekend, along with plenty of towels and chairs provided by the host
    • One thing to note:  At the height of summer, the salt water pool gets pretty warm.  Like almost bathwater warm.  So if you want to go for a icy, refreshing swim, you’ll need to do that in the morning
  • A soccer net and huge field to play football/bocce/croquet/etc. surrounds the property
  • There’s a quick walk to the river (although down a steep and rocky hill, so be mindful of that) with the owner’s kayaks, and cages for crabbing available

In the immediate area there’s one neighbor who isn’t very close, so noise isn’t a factor.  The house is also a 10-minute walk to Athena Vineyards, which wasn’t anything to write home about in terms of their wine, but the $5 tasting of ALL their wines (I think it was 8 total) is a steal.  They are however turning it into a cidery at some point.

If you need supplies, such as food, sunblock or bug spray (something only I and not necessarily the group needed because all the f**king bugs were attracted to me), there’s a Wal-Mart and Food Lion a 10-minute drive down the road.  (Some of the photos were provided by Victoria Zapata and Chad Barrington)

Quick Hits: Bad Saint

Bad Saint
3226 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
Hours: Sun, M, W, Th 5:30-10; F & Sat 5:30-11; Closed Tuesdays

I’m going to take a quick pause from Denver stuff to let you in on a well-known D.C. secret at this point.  Bad Saint is excellent.  I’ve passed by it numerous times on my way to soccer and have been meaning to try it out for a while.  Tonight, I finally made it.

They don’t take reservations and the restaurant seats only about 15 people, so expect to wait (1.5 hours for 2 seats tonight), but there are plenty of places to grab a drink in the area and they’ll call you when your seats are ready.

The atmosphere was what you’d expect from a hipster, Filipino restaurant.  I really felt like it belonged in Brooklyn, NY more than D.C.  That being said, there was nothing pretentious about it and it felt pretty homey.  You could feel the love from the staff for the food that they serve there.  Our waitress talked about the changing menu being like an art where the flavors will always be complimentary regardless of the fact that the options are different every night (depending on what’s in season, what they have, etc.).  And to be honest, you do feel the care that’s put into the dishes.

It’s weird to review this place because the food I had probably won’t be on the menu when you go.  Regardless, if some variation of what I had is available, I’d highly recommend it.  I had the Tocino, which consisted of slow-cooked pork, fried egg, and garlic rice (and fresh greens which wasn’t noted on the menu).  It’s a pretty incredible feat to be able to create different, well-liked dishes enough to constantly get rave reviews.  I loved my first experience; the true test of this place will be if I feel the same way with the new dishes I try the next time I go back.

Quick Hits: Chaia

Chaia
3207 Grace Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Hours: M-W 11-8, Sat 10-8, Sun 11-6

When I first heard the idea of a vegetarian taco shop in Georgetown, my immediate reaction was one that any meat eating person would have: That doesn’t sound good.

I was wrong.

Chaia’s tacos are in fact very good.  Using some interesting combinations of hearty vegetables, the tacos have a ton of flavor and you won’t be left feeling hungry afterwards.  There aren’t a whole lot of options, but the three that I tried were all quite good (all with corn tortillas).  I put them in order of my favorite here:

  • Creamy Kale + Potato with pepperjack, poblano crema, green sauce + pickled onions
  • Winter Squash with caramelized onion, ricotta salata, chipotle yogurt + mint
  • Mushroom with feta, red sauce + cilantro

Do I still think tacos with meat are better?  Yes.  However, my view of what typically makes good taco filling has been significantly altered and I can honestly say that I’ll be going back.

Gaggan and Above Eleven

We had our first fancy dinner of the trip at a restaurant called Gaggan, which was recommended by a friend of ours.  They define their cuisine as “progressive Indian” and it’s hard to argue with that description.  Very similar to the dinner we had a Komi in Washington, D.C., the meal is various courses with each course being a bite or two of very unique and interesting flavors.  The presentation of each course was excellent as well.  The menu comes in three sizes: large, medium, and small.  We each got the medium menu, which costs 2800 baht.

Overall, the experience was great, but you’ll see as you read on, it was almost completely ruined at the end.  Here are the course highlights:

So as you can see, I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT GET THE OLD FASHIONED. It literally almost ruined what was an excellent meal up until that point.  The drink came out in a smoke filled jar, and when the cover was lifted (very dramatically by the waiter I might add), cigar smoke filled the room.  The drink tasted like an ashtray.  Biggest miss by a restaurant that I’ve experienced ever.  This place would have had an A-, but gets a B instead because of it.

So after that horrible drink, we clearly needed another.  We headed to Above Eleven, another one of Bangkok’s rooftop bars.  This one was located on Soi 11 near our hotel which made for an easy walk back.  Above Eleven didn’t have as good a view as Sky Bar, but it was a really nice place to have a drink.  The rooftop is actually 3 levels there (you need to look a little bit for the staircases which are enveloped in ivy), and the vibe is very relaxed.  The theme of the place seemed to be going for a New York City rooftop with a mix of brick everywhere, couches, white Christmas lights wrapped all around, and lounge-y jazz music playing.   Definitely a good spot to go to unwind, and was a perfect spot to enjoy our last night in Bangkok.  Coming up: On to Laos!

Quick Hits – Toki Underground, Washington, D.C.

I’m not usually the biggest noodle soup fan, and that applies to Pho, Ramen, whatever.  It tends to never give me that satisfying full feeling after I’m done.  Toki Underground changed that.

Located on the growing H Street corridor in Washington, D.C., Toki Underground’s entrance is kind of hidden.  Look for The Pug dive bar and the door to Toki Undergound will be on the left.  Despite the name, the restaurant is located upstairs.  It’s not large so there will be a wait; leave them your cell number and they’ll send a text when your seat is ready while you wait with a hipster beer downstairs in The Pug.

When we were seated, our waiter thoroughly explained all the items on the menu and gave us an overview of how each ramen was different (along with his personal favorites).  I went for the Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen, and my friend got the Red Miso Ramen.  Both were excellent.  I preferred the broth in my Taipei Curry Chicken as it was a bit creamier than her Red Miso, which was a little saltier with that miso taste.  The pork belly however in hers was a little better than the chicken (though the chicken was still very good and I devoured it happily).

As for the cocktails, you gotta try the Toki Monster if you’re a whiskey person.  It’s essentially their version of an Old Fashioned, however they give you a little pork belly skewer to pair the libation with and it is a banging combination of delicious.  I definitely plan on going back to try the other items on their menu.  Toki Underground — well worth a visit.

Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen
Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen

Quick Hits – Rose’s Luxury’s Pork Sausage, Habanero, & Lychee Salad

Hey folks. This is the first of my new “Quick Hits” series which I’m going to use for short reviews since I’ve experienced a lot in my travels that don’t really require a full blog post.  For this entry, I want to highlight the single best dish I’ve had in Washington, D.C.

Rose’s Luxury in the Barrack’s Row region of D.C. has a changing menu, but the one constant is their Pork Sausage, Habanero, and Lychee Salad.  Truth be told, when I went to Rose’s Luxury, we didn’t even order it.  They had brought it to our table by mistake, but when they realized it wasn’t ours, in a classy move they told us, “It’s on the house”.  I’m glad they made the mistake.  The salad, while it does sound weird, was amazing.

It comes in a bowl with all the ingredients separated which you have to mix together.  The first scoop I ate blew my mind, it was the strangest mix of flavoring that worked perfectly.  Spicy, and sweet.  Meaty and fruity.  Soft, but a little crunchy as well.  It’s worth going to Rose’s Luxury just to try it.

Pork Sausage, Habanero, and Lychee Salad
Pork Sausage, Habanero, and Lychee Salad

 

Little Serow

1511 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036

Hours
Tuesday-Thursday: 5:30-10:00 PM
Friday-Saturday: 5:30-10:30 PM
Sunday-Monday: Closed

I’m going to say this right off the bat: Little Serow is my favorite meal experience in Washington, D.C. up to this point.  More than living up to the hype, Johnny Monis, the head chef of the famous Komi restaurant (which is regarded by many as the best restaurant in D.C.) has created a cheaper, Asian restaurant right next door.  For $45, you get a pre-fixed menu consisting of mainly Thai flavored cuisine.  And you’ll be hard pressed to find a better $45 meal anywhere else in the city.

In order to find the restaurant you’ll want to find and face Komi first; Little Serow’s door is the unmarked basement door to the lower left.  Keep this in mind: there will most likely be a very long wait.  They don’t take reservations, so you have to put your name on the list with the hostess.  In most cases, there will be a line JUST to put your name on what usually is a 2-hour wait list.  From what we heard, on the weekends that line can even be as long as 20 minutes.  It is a ridiculously long wait time to be sure, but it’s worth it.  Just plan accordingly, and plan on having a drink at one of the nearby bars while you wait.  They will text you when your table is ready, so you can go as far away as you want.

The restaurant itself has very limited seating; there’s only about five tables that seat 4, three tables that seat 2, and one communal large table that seats about 12.  The atmosphere is like being in a minimalist kitchen with dim intimate lighting.  The music is not too loud and all the waitresses are dressed like mothers or Laura Ingalls’ look alikes.  And they were great; perfectly attentive without being too intrusive.

I would typically give a review of each individual food item, but because the menu routinely changes up, there’s no real guarantee that what I’ve tried will be on the menu for you.  The menu apparently changes up on a weekly basis.  After doing a little research though, it does appear that there are a few staples that are on often regularly on the menu, including the pork ribs on ours.

So even though there’s no point giving individual critiques, as a whole the food was DELICIOUS.  There were so many flavors that felt totally new, yet familiar at the same time.  The food was very, very spicy too – I cannot stress this enough.  The side of vegetables and sticky rice will be your best friend throughout the meal.  Our dinner ended up being 7 plates with a small dessert.  The standouts on our menu were the mushrooms, which were a unique flavoring of sweet as you first eat it and then spicy as you finish it, and the pork ribs.

To sum it up – try this place.  It’s not going to kill your wallet at $45 and you’re guaranteed to experience flavors that you’ve never tasted before.  I plan on going back to try some different plates and it only takes a quick look at its critics, Yelp, and TripAdvisor reviews to see a communal appreciation for the place even though several different meals were sampled.  For me personally, if Little Serow was this good, I’m more than curious to know what his even more prestigious Komi restaurant is like.  It looks like I’ve got something new to save up for.   Grade: A

UPDATE: I emailed the restaurant to get a better idea of how much the menu changes.  They responded very, very quickly and told me that one item usually changes a week.  So if you want to make sure you go back and have a totally different menu, I’d give it a couple months in between visits.

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