A three-sided gas fireplace encased in stone with a wood mantle sits at the entrance warming the café. Above the mantle a sign reads “Escape to a higher taste.” To one side of the blazing fire is a small lounge area, complete with a sofa and two upholstered chairs.
The café feels like a country lodge, with its mixture of wood and stone. The earth tones of clay red and forest green coloring the walls, as well as the wooden beams lining the ceiling do nothing to curb that feeling either.
Four flat screen televisions are placed in various corners; three are displaying CNN and the other ESPN. The exterior glass wall allows patrons to watch the traffic on Lee Highway pass, but it is seen and not heard. Along with the other light fixtures, mission-style lamps hang from the ceiling and brightly illuminate the space. Seating includes both booths and tables, with a separate glass-enclosed room sectioned off to the far side of the café which could be used for meetings or private functions.
Lining the back of the restaurant is a long counter where you place orders and pay. The servers give you a number to display on your table and bring the food to you when it’s ready.
The blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich ($7.09) is served blackened, topped with roasted seasonal vegetables on a potato roll and served with a side of Cajun remoulade sauce. The fish is fresh and the sauce is tangy, but the small roll and slight piece of fish resembles more of a finger food than an entrée for an adult. It was oddly tiny and lonely on the big white plate.
A Rio Grande Flatbread sandwich ($7.69) comprised of grilled chicken breast, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomatoes with poblano spread arrives warm, with the cheese just slightly melted. The pepper jack cheese is spicy and provides a mild bite.
The Bear Café House Salad ($5.29) is made with greens, cucumbers, mushrooms, red peppers, red onions, tomatoes and homemade croutons. It is a rather large portion and all the vegetables are crisp.
To complete the meal, a slice of Chocolate Thunder ($3.49) — a dark chocolate cake — looks a bit pricey, but is tempting. The thick chocolate frosting is rich and chocolate chips on top are a nice addition to the texture, but the cake is dry and far from the moist dessert I craved.
Bear Rock Café is part of Bear Rock Franchise Systems, Inc. They operate a central restaurant headquartered in Cary, N.C. Bear Rock currently has 38 locations, including one in Shirlington, and more than 150 signed franchise and area development agreements across the United States.
While the new Falls Church location in the Westlee Retail Center — it resides on the crossroads of Westmoreland and Lee Highway — doesn’t currently have WiFi, their other cafes do, and the manager confirmed that it should be coming soon to the Falls Church eatery. If you want to sit by a nice warm fire and enjoy good sandwiches and salads, Bear Rock Café fits the bill. It is a chance to escape from the city and into a warm lodge that serves breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Bear Rock Café
Westlee Retail Center
2200 N. Westmoreland Street
Arlington, VA 22213
703-532-0031 (p) • 703-532-0443 (f) • WiFi
Mon. – Sat. 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun. 7a.m. – 8 p.m.