The new Lorton Station area restaurants
It doesn't seem like there are many chowhounds in this area but there are quite a few new restaurants, non-chains which is nice, that have opened up in Lorton Area. They seem to be making an effort to be more diverse and get a wide variety of food: Chen's Bistro, Pane E Vino, Fireside Grill (flatbread, fresh meats, woodburning fireplace), Tokyo One--steak house, My Karma Indian, Hong Kong Cafe, an independent coffee shop, along with Z Pizza, Glory Days, Caribou coffee. I have had a chance to try out:
Chen's Bistro: Owned by the same people who own House of Dynasty in Kingstowne. The first couple of times we thought it was pretty good, a little overpriced, standard Chinese American food. But, the quality has quickly gone downhill. I don't know what's going on but I've heard from quite a few others who feel the same way. From their website, I just noticed they have dimsum options, too.
Fireside Grill: I love the idea of this place and wish it was as good as it sounds. It has nice decor but I would not go for the food. I have to say that I've only been once and it was for lunch so they could be having an off day. I had a grilled flatbread chicken and bacon sandwich. It was okay. But, it came with this side slaw type salad that tasted like plastic--I think they must have stored it in heavy plastic or something because it was a strong flavor that covered up anything else. My husband had the flatbread pizza w/ shrimp and pesto. It was bland. Odd because pesto is usually such a strong flavor but this didn't have any. I love the concept, though, and it is very nicely done. There is outdoor dining and something along these lines is much needed in the area. I would go back but need to get over that plasticy salad first.
My Karma: I love this place. It's already packed nightly. Basic indian food and they do indian inspired chinese. I love that it's not heavy and greasy. We stuck to the basics the first time naan, chicken tikka, chicken korma, aloo ghobi. The aloo ghobi is probably my favorite. Too often, it ends up in an oily bed (as I've found at Bombay Bistro) but this was nice and light. I like the chicken korma, too, but don't remember ever having bad chicken korma. Dishes aren't at all spicy for if you like it spicier, I'd ask.
I've heard good things about Tokyo One and that Pane e Vino does basic Italian American well but not the fancier things. Z pizza is okay as chains go but be prepared to wait. The last time we went, we waited over 45 minutes for two pizzas and have not been back since. At other Caribou Coffees I generally find decent coffee but had a cup of sludge here. These are new restaurants, though, and have their kinks to work out. Anyone else tried any of these new places? Ugh, I've tried to link to some of these places but the addresses are too new and it's not allowing me to do it. It's really nice to have so many new options where there were so few before.
9000 Lorton Station Blvd, Lorton, VA
C R Chen's Bistro
9020 Lorton Station Blvd, Lorton, VA
We liked both Fireside and Pane -- mainly because they are so close to our home! we do lots of dinners in DC at all the great places so they don't compare naturally but we ate at the bar at Pane and although the bartender was pretty ditzy the food was good and the wine decent. Fireside was pretty good -- and pretty inexpensive.
My husband and I went to My Karma last night on a fluke--we were heading back to DC from my in-laws' house in Dumfries, VA and I had remembered reading about it on this board so we thought we'd try it. And we enjoyed some great Indian food!
The meal started with an amuse bouche of corn fritters (like hushpuppies). I thought they were okay (but I'm typically not a huge hushpuppy fan) and my husband loved them.
We took the advice of the Washington Post review (which is plastered throughout the restaurant) and ordered the Tikki. These were great--like Indian-style knishes. The chickpeas and yogurt were great accompaniments.
For our entrees we shared the Lamb Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken, and Baigan Bharta. The lamb and eggplant were both among the best we've had. Neither was oily, and both were served with some matchbox slivers of ginger on top. The butter chicken was good but when we ordered the waitress asked if we wanted it mild, medium, or hot. I've never been asked this before when it comes to butter chicken. My husband doesn't like spicy so we went for the mild, but after tasting it realized that the medium would've been better and a bit more flavorful.
We also got a roti and a garlic naan which were perfectly cooked, and the garlic naan had just the right amount of garlic on it.
We had enough of the lamb, eggplant, and breads leftover to bring home and are planning to eat that for dinner tonight. Oh, and the waitress was nice enough to give us some fresh rice as well (my husband finished our initial serving).
Service was great, and the atmosphere was pleasant. My one complaint was that there should have been some rugs or plants or something else in the dining room. It's a decent sized space, but I could hear a full conversation from the other side of the restaurant. Something is needed to absorb some of the sound.
Overall we enjoyed and will certainly go back the next time we're in the neighborhood! I think this is one of the better DC-area Indian places (from those we've tried) and might even be worth the drive down I-95 from the city...
Pane e Vino ia great. Good food, friendly people, nice decor. The Sunday brunch is outrageously good. My brother-in-law told one of the owners that it was worth the trip from Denver to eat there.
CR Chen's is now closed. Pane e Vino, their next door neighbor at Lorton Station Town Center, bought the space and expanded. Pane e Vino is using the new space for overflow dining, wine dinners, and private events. They have also added La Bottega - the Italian Store where they will feature cheeses, wines, gourmet products and their house-made gelato. All this will be opening soon, definitely by Thanksgiving 2008.