Northside Social

Written by on May 24, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Clarendon neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: Chris and I walked by a number of times, always reminded of a distincly Pacific Northwest coffee/cafe culture vibe. My first visit, with Mesbah & Seraj, was late in the evening and I chose not to partake of anything. This time, I was not going to let the late hour stop me!

Type of cuisine: Cafe fare: paninis and pastries, espresso and tea beverages galore! Or, make your way up to the second floor after 5pm, when the wine bar opens “and certified sommelier Alison Christ guides you through an internationally focused wine list. Enjoy housemade charcuterie, artisan cheeses, crostini selections, and other delicious small bites“. The Washingtonian’s Best of Washintgon 2011 boasts: “Best Breakfast Foods in Washington – Best Breakfast Sandwich If there are better breakfast sandwiches in Washington than those at Northside Social, we haven’t found any. Lots of the sandwiches’ high-end ingredients—including thick bacon and English muffins—are made in-house or at sister restaurant Liberty Tavern. Our favorite—maple sausage, a runny poached Virginia egg, and Vermont cheddar—is the best use of a five-spot in the morning.”

Cheese Plate

Ambiance: According to The Examiner: “Northside Social is the perfect place…to eat, caffeinate, and people watch.” I couldn’t agree more! The extensive umbrella-covered outdoor seating on the acute-cornered sidewalk patio is a sure-fire way to attract attention! The sky blue umbrellas, potted trees lining the sidewalk, all set against the brick-red house-shaped establishment create a treat for the eyes, as one makes his/her way into the large-windowed front entrance. Indoors, the eclectic, mismatched, wooden chairs and tables form the perfect study spaces in the dim-lit room. A long set of stairs near the school-like blue-legged, wooden-topped desk holding the necessities of a coffee shop condiment bar makes its way up white-picket banister to the wine bar upstairs. Doting computer geeks are seated throughout, listening to live music at an open mic that has heard better musicians. Behind the counter, the grand espresso machines are legit, white, ceramic mugs set atop to maintain heat for serving freshly prepared, intricately decorated espresso beverages. We make our way to the back room, near the pungent odors of the two restrooms, where mismatched, faded leather couches lack sufficient cushioning, and wooden coffee table is scratched and marked up. Bookshelves against the walls hold limited books, magazines and newspapers that seem to be free for the taking or perusing during a visit to Northside Social. A barquette along the wall gives the semblance of private space for more intimate encounters, the pale yellow walls extending up to the high, white ceilings sparsely decorated with framed artwork by local artists.

What I ordered: The Ranger Cookie Dough Pie ($4). I also sampled a friend’s roasted peanut Peanut Butter Brownie, and tasted a small bite of the savory salted Olive-Goat Cheese Muffin.

Northside Social Dessert

On a return visit, June 14, 2012: Another impromptu, late-night venture brought us back, this time for the crowds and loud music associated with a Latte Art competition. Having just had dinner, I opted for dessert – one to enjoy with friends, the other to bring home for my hubby. First: Peanut-Chocolate-Caramel Tart with a dusting of salt crystals. For Chris: a Cashew White Chocolate Cookie ($6.27 for the two). My dining companions selected the Butter Lettuce, Chickpea & Goat Cheese Salad, as well as a White Bean Soup & Four-Cheese Grilled Cheese combo.

What I loved: The Cookie Dough Pie. What a novel and fun idea! Bake cookie dough, still gooey and chocolately upon emerging from the oven, in the light, flakey crust of a pie. Yum.

Why I loved it: The easy, laid back feel of the space, baristas with a passion and love for coffee, good coffee, and the Seattle vibe.

Cost: Average ($3-$6 per espresso beverage)

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