Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Category Archives: Virginia

Silver Diner

Logo on Mug
Most of the restaurants I go to are carefully researched before I dine. I usually like to check what the history of the restaurant is and if there is a common complaint by detractors. A quick scan of the menu, if available, lets me know if there is anything out of the norm or especially interesting.

There are times that eating at a restaurant is just a matter of necessity. Desire to eat is the main motivator for dining out after all. While in Virginia, MG and I really needed some breakfast. Normally, finding someplace to eat is a relatively easy proposition. On Saturday, June 30, 2012, the feat was a little more challenging. There was a blackout. Most restaurants were without power and thus closed and without customers.

Amidst navigating the streets without traffic lights, MG and I found a place with power. Since they had power, they had a huge line of customers leading out the door. That place was the Silver Diner.

I asked one of the other patrons on the huge line, “Is it usually this crowded on a Saturday?” She replied that they were usually busy, but not quite as busy as this day. Nevertheless, the line was moving briskly.

This outpost of the Silver Diner is a very big joint. They had three people at the front desk to seat diners. Unlike some places where the greeter is also a waiter or waitress, the greeters are solely employed as greeters. There is no time when someone on the line is waiting to be attended to, there is someone there at all times.

Farm to Table
A placard at each table advertises Silver Diner’s farm to table philosophy. What was very surprising was the very affordable prices. Many farm to table establishments will charge handsomely for their fare. The prices at this diner were very close to whatever any standard diner would charge. Looking about at other tables, they did not skimp when it comes to portions. Furthermore, everything looked and smelled great.

Steak Omlette
I got the Philly Steak Omlete ($10.99). It is filled with sliced ribeye, grilled onions, jack and American cheese, and scallions. I went with egg whites ($1.29 extra). The ribeye is sliced very thin, almost like lunchmeat. They are not skimpy with the meat, and they piled it into the omlete in generous amounts. The eggs were cooked perfectly, fluffy and light. There was enough grilled onions to add to the flavor, but not enough to overwhelm the other ingredients. It was a pretty awesome omlette.

Instead of toast, there was a biscuit on the side. It tasted fantastic.

The homefries were pretty good. They could have used a few more minutes on the griddle to crisp the outside more, but they were still quite good. I was impressed.

Caramel French Toast
MG loves her starcy breakfast. While I tend towards eggs and omletes, she desires pancakes and French Toast. Her eyes went directly to the Caramel French Toast ($7.49) topped with fruit ($2.49). She was pleased with the dish. There was some form of fruit dipping sauce with toast that complimented the caramel very nicely.

I think the toast could have been a little more crisp on the outside. MG though that the toast could have used a little more time in the batter. Nevertheless, we both agreed that the bread did taste wonderful. The caramel is applied in a small enough amount to compliment,but not overwhelm.

Side of Bacon
Along with her French Toast, MG got a side of bacon. There was nothing exceptional about it, but it was properly cooked and served in a decent portion.

If you need something simple, but very good, Silver Diner is a fabulous option. The dishes we got were pretty simple, but they were executed very well.

Silver Diner
11951 Killingsworth Ave
Reston, VA 20194
(Google Map)


Ray’s Hell Burger

A burger that is a favorite of our President? I gotta’ try this.

Ray Outside
Ray’s Hell burger is located within a small strip mall. They do not have a large sign, so you better know the address. If you need a landmark, look for the 7-11.

Enter, and you will join a long line. There is giant menu on the wall, and handout menus as well for you to decide your order by the time you get to the cashier. An employee is also available to help you decide as you are in the queue.

There are four basic kinds of burger (taken directly from their menu):
1. Grilled – Seasoned with Our Secret Steak Blend
2. Au Poivre – Seared with a Black Peppercorn Crust
3. Blackened – With Spicy Cajun Spice Blend
4. Diablo – Grilled with Our Spicy Chipotle Sauce

After choosing your burger type, there are a plethora of toppings. Just the variety of cheeses is a little dizzying, from American and Swiss to Mustard Seed Dutch Gouda to Aged Danish Bleu. Some of the more exotic toppings include Roasted Bone Marrow with Persillade and Seared Foie Gras with Truffle Oil. Of course, cost varies greatly depending on the topping.

My Ray Burger
Everyone has their own special preference in their burger. How will it be cooked? What sauce? What toppings? Personally, I like a bacon cheeseburger, cooked medium. It’s my “go-to”. I decided to go with Ray’s Grilled Burger ($6.99) with Vermont White Cheddar ($1.00) and Applewood Smoked Bacon ($1.50). As a twist I decided to get it topped with Ray’s Heck Sauce. The Heck Sauce is something like a Russian relish.

Ray’s burger is properly cooked. I asked for medium, I got medium. The burger itself is juicy and tasty but not very exciting. I believe the bun is a brioche. It soaks up the juices well and holds together nicely. The bacon was thick and tasty. The Heck Sauce was a bit of a disappointment. It’s tangy, but doesn’t really compliment the burger well. When I added some ketchup, the additional salt really helped the burger pop.

MG Ray Burger
MG got a grilled topped with onions, pickles, bacon and cheese. She also enjoyed it, but it did not make her toes tingle. What was exceptional was the Sweet Potato Fries (large $3.00). They were crisp and delicious. The regular fries (small $1.75) were nothing to write home about.

If you make the trek to Ray’s Hell Burger, I would recommend piling on the toppings. Unlike many other burgers I’ve tried, the meat in this one plays very well with others. Go for the additional spices of the peppercorn crust and roasted garlic. Ray’s is definitely worth a detour. It is not too far from the downtown DC area. The vibe is completely casual and there is some parking available in the strip mall lot. Another branch is opening in the same strip that also serves wine and beer.

Ray’s Hell Burger
1725 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209
(Google Map)