Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dinner with friends at Cheff Geoff's

Dinner with friends at Cheff Geoff's

Dinner with friends is a rare event in our lives these days, so if Hubby and I make such plans, we love having great company and a delicious restaurant experience.  Thus was our plan this past Saturday, April 9th, 2011.  The first part we had covered.  We were dining with another couple we know, Ellen and Steve, whose company we love.  The second part, however, was an unknown:  Cheff Geoff's restaurant in Vienna near Tyson's Corner.*  And happily, it made the cut and then some. 

Cheff Geoff's is nestled in a cul-de-sac just off the Hermes and Tiffany Shops at Fairfax Square near Tyson's Corner. A simple red awning marks the restaurant, and if you drive up to it, valets will park your car.  Or park nearby on your own if you prefer, which is what we did.

We entered a moderately-sized space with Modern/Asian-inspired, minimalist decor, walked past the bar and were seated at a corner booth. Have I mentioned how tired I am of colonial decor with flowery wallpaper, waitstaff in bonnets, and fussy beribboned bouquets?  That atmosphere dominates a lot of "good" restaurants in Virginia, but lately I have craved the opposite.  So I liked this place already.

Our waiter "Joel" was a real sweetheart - funny, personable and knowledgeable about the menu.  We should be so lucky as to have him serve us the next time we come.  Thanks, Joel!

The menu at Cheff Geoff changes seasonally, my friend informed me.  
Here was the breakdown for my husband and myself this time:
The food was presented artfully and whimsically.  We all shared a very mild and chunky guacamole with plantain chips - a yummy and creative combination underscored by the chips, which were stacked into playful vertical positions to mimic fries.
Also ordered to share were sliders - adorable mini-cheeseburgers, soft rose-toned ground meat (just like traditional meat loaf) with buttery buns.  
Fried calamari came with 3 dipping sauces and lemon, attentive little details that  made us curious to sample the squid dipped in each sauce.
Drinks:  Citrus Derby (did I really drink two?!) and an Apple Martini.  Not too sweet, but well-balanced on the tongue.  Our friends selected drinks from the extensive beer, wine and spirit list. 
I chose the mahi mahi fish tacos with a marinated salsa and soft corn tortillas.  Spiced just right, though by now I was fairly satiated by the appetizers.  So it says a lot the entrees that I savored them so thoroughly. 
A word:  If you come here, you MUST try the sweet potato fries--heavenly!  Even my husband, who usually only tolerates these tubers on Thanksgiving, ate them with gusto.  And our waiter brought them instead of the regular fries, at Steve's request, without fuss.  It is a real plus when the staff accommodates the  patrons this way.
I sampled Hubby's pork chops with blueberry butter, and they were full-flavored in a way that complemented my lighter "fish-dish".  Ellen ordered a dish with a different interpretation of pork, grilled, with the charcoal-edged flavor of meat cooked on open flame.
Dessert:  Our waiter, Joe, brought the platter and I joked that I would say, "Okay".  He explained each selection, and then left the platter and went away!
So there we were, with a tres leches cake slice, a chocolate souffle, dulce de leche ice cream and chocolate crunch, still-warm sugar and cinnamon donuts, and an overall feeling of indulgence as we sampled everything.  I am partial to the tres leches cake, so that is the most pleasurable "sweet" memory.  And oh, those donuts!

 Prices here range widely, from $7.99 appetizers to $45 entrees and everything in between.  In the words of my friend Ellen,  "It's anything you want it to be.  Budgeted appetizers or splurgy gourmet dinner.
Cheff Geoff is a lively place - it really fills up around 7pm, like most places in Northern Virginia, so book reservations or be prepared to wait if you go on Friday or Saturday.  Don't come here for a quiet dinner, because the atmosphere is too energetic for that.

I love its fun vibe. Cheff Geoff is cosmopolitan with fresh, fusion food, a nice splash of elegance with Joie de Vivre, and in my opinion this is the best combination for a good restaurant.  Chef Geoff takes food seriously enough to make it good, but has fun enough that it is not pretentious.  You get the sense that the chef and waitstaff work hard and enjoy what they do -- a welcome attitude in this time and place.

I'm having lunch here in a few weeks.  Will let you know about that too!

*There are three more Cheff Geoff's locations in the Washington, DC area.

Cheff Geoff's Tyson's
8045 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182