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Evening Star Cafe is a can't miss neighborhood gem down in Del Ray. For starters, the place is enormous and truly embodies the meaning of something for everyone. If you're looking for a night out for a few cocktails, Evening Star has two lounges and an open air porch that offers happy hours during the warm months and a wine store adjoining that boasts over a 1,000 wines from all over the world. And the wine store also offers their own private seasonal wine pairing dinners! If you're looking for a delicious meal, try the wine pairing dinner or the main restaurant. There are also dining menus in the Lounge areas as well.
I went in to Evening Star recently with a girlfriend to celebrate our birthdays. We sat in the main restaurant for dinner and I was happy to discover that not only did they have a variety of delicious cocktails that were gluten-free, they also had some unique gluten-free options on their menu for dinner and dessert. The restaurant is known for their unique Southern flair which led me to a salmon dish with eggplant and black beans. What arrived was a delicious salmon dish I'd never seen before. The salmon was prepared perfectly and the blending of flavors was one I'd never create on my own, but found to be quite tantalizing to my taste buds. I was then rewarded after with a gluten-free brownie with raspberry sorbet. Again, I was temporarily thrust into food ecstasy. The sorbet was homemade and was creamy and flavorful. The brownie was also moist and fudgy. I found myself thinking that if the restaurant's regular menu was this innovative and delicious, I wonder what comes out of the kitchen at the special wine pairing dinners next door. I definitely need to check out the next one offered. Overall, I was beyond pleased with my entire experience and strongly recommend you all trying Evening Star Cafe next time you're in the Del Ray area.
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In a society that is now beginning to focus more and more on how what we're eating effects our bodies, stores like Healthway Natural Foods become vitally important. I always shop at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but I needed vitamins the other day and decided to wander into the Healthway Natural Foods in Springfield. I am so glad I did!
It was refreshing to find sales clerks who actually knew what they were talking about. Not only did the guy understand the limitations of Celiac disease, he was able to steer me towards the best vitamins that are entirely gluten-free and also would work best with my thyroid medication. He also proceeded to have an interesting and extremely knowledgeable conversation with me about autoimmune diseases in general and how other symptoms could be related etc. I ended up walking out of the store forty-five minutes later with three different types of vitamins (a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C supplements) as well as with a bunch of specialty gluten-free products I'd never seen on any other grocery shelves. I steered clear of them that day, but they also sell gluten-free beauty and spa products.
I strongly suggest you check out these Healthway stores, the sad reality is that with this shop sharing a parking lot with Trader Joe's they're getting less and less foot traffic.They have already had to close some of their locations because they just can't compete. With gluten-free packaged foods becoming more and more available on grocery shelves, many people believe that specialty stores like this are unnecessary. However, they don't realize the importance of informed sales clerks and personal attention. I learned a lot that day about how beefing up other areas of my diet could help alleviate some of other symptoms. Although the workers at Trader Joe's are always pleasant, I sincerely doubt I would have received that kind of information or attention. We have to keep that in mind and remember the smaller, locally owned shops and the benefits they bring us. It'd be really sad to see places like this become extinct.
The Merrifield Mosaic district is turning into a "happening" new spot for restaurants and night life. Many of which are receptive to the gluten-free community. I went to the new Matchbox restaurant last night and was quite pleased with my experience. For starters, my server was a friendly and helpful individual who answered all of my questions knowledgeably or went right back and asked the chef. I was provided with a gluten-sensitive menu (I'm noticing more and more restaurants calling it that these days to cover their backs) and ordered a delicious steak cobb salad with green goddess dressing. The steak was cooked perfectly and I was extremely pleased.
The only thing I will mention is I think they're missing the mark in not providing gluten-free pizza or sandwich options yet. Although their salad offerings are extensive, the restaurant is known for their pizza and sandwiches. I don't always want to be on my best behavior and have to order a salad while my friends chow down on their delicious pizza.
One plus side for feeling like I was on my best behavior while ordering that salad, was I had no qualms about ordering dessert. And Matchbox did definitely make dessert worth my while. They offered a gluten-free cherry pistachio cheesecake that was to die for! So maybe I retract my earlier statement if it means I can order that cheesecake every time :)
Overall, Matchbox is definitely worth checking out if you're over in the Merrifield area. In fact, you just might want to head over there just to see all the new offerings the Mosaic district has. There's tons of great shops and even a huge new movie theater. Just yet another example of an urban area that's springing up out of nowhere here in the NOVA area. Enjoy!