Willow Restaurant

If you haven’t been able to tell already, I definitely live in the Arlington area (sorry for all the Virginia-focused posts lately! I promise to try and mix it up in the coming months with more DC-friendly ones, but hopefully this is at least convincing people that there are a lot of good options across the border as well).

Last night, I spent Valentines Day dinner at Willow Restaurant in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington.

The restaurant definitely caters to an older crowd as far as Arlington is concerned (this was my second time dining here); probably because it is a high-end and pricier option for the area. Serving contemporary American cuisine, Willow’s dishes are  hearty, flavorful and feature large portions (be careful about ordering several courses- we definitely over-did it this past time!).

What has impressed me the most about Willow both times however is the exceptional service the restaurant offers. Both of my servers have been gracious and attentive (but not too attentive) and made excellent recommendations. Due to the wind last night, the power in the restaurant kept flickering in and out causing some of the orders to get backed up. As compensation, a server immediately brought out Gruyère cheese puffs with truffle butter. We could not have been more pleased!

For our appetizer, we selected the crab cakes. We expected the standard smaller portions of most area restaurants, but these cakes feature jumbo lump and are very lightly breaded (almost flash fried)– pretty much all grab! They come plated with bacon, mushrooms, a mustard fumet and roasted brussel sprouts. The real star of the dish is the crab itself however (juicy, plentiful- definitely a mouthwatering and rich experience). You can see why we were already starting to feel full after this course! I’ve also had a salmon carpaccio last time I dined here that was also excellent.

We also ordered soups- the French Onion (very, very rich) and a lobster bisque. Both were served a little too hot (borderline scalding), but once they cooled down were very enjoyable.

For the main entrées, we selected the seared Day Boat Scallops with potato ravioli (came with this phenomenal mustard and parsley sauce, mushrooms and bacon- really complimented the flavor of the scallops) and the Pan Roasted Chesapeake Flounder (cooked to perfection, very large cut of fish, served with a delicious butternut risotto, gnocchi, and lobster agnolotti that literally melted in your mouth).

Needless to say we passed on dessert.

Recommended for: Romantic dinners, special occasions, expensive night out (in a twenty-something’s opinion)

Pros: Intimate setting, PHENOMENAL service, rich food, big portions, good quality, menu full of variety (also feature flatbreads and starter salads)

Cons: Expensive, not kid-friendly (if you’re a family), parking is tough (there is a discounted parking garage for $2.50 which is not bad for the area), tables for two are pretty small