Sometimes you gotta venture out of your comfort zone to try new things. For a belated birthday brunch, I recently took Mr. X-sXe to Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna, VA—that exotic state where you can still get plastic grocery bags for free.
The dining space is tiny, probably less than 10 tables with no separate foyer/entrance area. We went for the brunch tasting menu. The food was consistently good: a gooey mac and cheese with panko, a savory mushroom crepe, cauliflower with Thai sauce and a sprinkling of scallions. But there were a few hints that the menu needed more thought.
The feast launches with a charcuterie plate—something I don’t necessarily have an appetite for first thing in the morning. Also, my stomach was hoping for some respite from the parade of heavy dishes coming out back-to-back. I craved a salad or fruit dish to cut the fat in this meat-and-dairy show. (Mind you, the set menu does change regularly.)
And now we turn to the most important part of the meal: dessert.
Yuzu-lime tart (above photo)
Wow, right? This was beautiful—its marshmallow peaks perfectly torched, blanketing the citrusy filling on a thick graham crust. Perhaps this wasn’t the chef’s intent, but anytime I see “lime” on a dessert menu, I’m hoping for some mouth-puckering action. Here the sweetness of the marshmallow fluff actually overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the yuzu-lime filling. Note: we ordered this separately from the tasting menu.
Waffles with Nutella and vanilla bean ice cream (part of the brunch tasting menu)
Sure, this elevates the waffles you’d get at the breakfast bar of a Comfort Inn. But is it good enough to warrant being on the menu of a nice restaurant? I’m leaning towards no. I was curious whether the Nutella was from the jar or made in-house. The menu didn’t elaborate on this point, but it tasted like the jar stuff (which is NOT health food, despite what the ads claim. Hence the class-action lawsuit. #onlyinAmerica).