Fun, United States

Date Night: A Taste of Vienna

Every once in a while, we venture to the suburbs of Virginia to try some new places and get further away from the city (okay, and I was also dog sitting, and home decor shopping).  Yesterday, we took advantage of the day and enjoyed both lunch and dinner out, in my hometown of Vienna, VA.

With the explosion of the D.C. Metropolitan Area food scene, it’s no surprise that this little town has taken advantage of the growth.  Below are our experiences with where we dined yesterday.

Lunch – MOD Pizza

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There’s an old shopping strip mall that used to hold some of my childhood favorites: a local family-owned grocery store, a Chinese restaurant, and an old drug store with a malt shop in it.  Today, it houses a strip of great new, quick, restaurants that provide a little something for everyone – including MOD Pizza.

Per their website, back in 2008, The Svensons wanted a way to go out for pizza but not wait forever to get it.  Thus, MOD Pizza was born.  What started as one shop in Seattle, now has locations all over the US and the UK!

But what makes this story even better is their hiring practices.  Not only do they offer above minimum wage and full benefits for their employees, they also offer employment to special needs and second chance people.  It was this part that truly made me want to come back again, to support one of very few businesses that keep an open mind (and the pizza is great too).

When my boyfriend and I went into the shop, we were greeted by a very nice, very enthusiastic team.  They explained to us that you pay for the crust (yes, they had gluten-free), and all of the toppings are included in the price.  For $25, we got two 11″ pizzas and two bottles of birch beer.

The pizzas are cooked in 800 degree ovens, which means within 7 minutes of the order being placed, your pizza is ready to eat.  Even the gluten-free crust comes out perfect!  Note: If you don’t want to order in the store, you can order online, or through their app, and pick it up!

Gluten-free friendly score: 10

Dinner – Clarity

In an older business complex in the heart of Vienna, sits a new concept, called Clarity.  Jon Krinn – the famed chef who helped to establish 2941, and eventually Inox (which shut down in 2009), is the mastermind behind this new place.

Clarity marries a hometown feel with artisanal dishes for an upscale experience in a rather suburban area. We ordered the Belgium Endive salad with blood oranges, Pork loin with sweet potato, and veal with yukon gold mashed potatoes and mushrooms. (Note: the menu changes seasonally.)  We also ordered the “Espress” (an amazing Espresso Martini) and the “Not Your Mother’s Apple Pie”.

Overall, the experience was slightly above average.

What was great:

  1. The drinks – the bartenders do a phenomenal job with not just the creation of your drinks, but the cocktail menu as well.
  2. The service – the servers were all incredibly attentive and very nice

What made it not exceptional:

  1. We both ordered meat that should have been tender enough to slice right through but unfortunately, the meat wasn’t cooked to expectation and the knives were incredibly dull.
  2. The menu descriptions didn’t truly capture the essence of the dish.  For example, my pork loin had a very smoky flavor – not a favorite of mine.  I had no idea that was part of the dish.  I ended up eating very little of it.
  3. The space tries to be everything to everyone.  The lighting, decor, and layout lend itself to more of a mom and pop restaurant than an upscale place.

My suggestion: Go there for the drinks.

Gluten-friendly scale: 8

 

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