If it’s been a while since you’ve stopped by Dominion Wine & Beer right off West Broad Street, get ready for a surprise. It’s a lot more than “wine and beer.”
The restaurant’s got a swanky black and white, “feels-like” Las Vegas lounge area upstairs and a beer garden out back where full-service menus of delectable food choices ranging from charcuterie and cheese to Atlantic salmon ($24) are available with 16 wines by the glass and 24 rotating beers on tap.
A few Sundays ago some friends and I enjoyed brunch in the beer garden where we were cooled by a slightly blowing wind and soothed by the visuals of beautiful rhododendrons nearby which matched the mood and the food.
Arash Tafakor is one of Dominion’s owners (with his brother and mom) who said tents for the beer garden went up after Covid-19’s 2020 shutdown and they worked so well, the owners decided to keep them.
My friends and I were happy to be there, outdoors under a tent on a lovely spring afternoon.
We took our chances finding a table since Dominion takes no reservations. Tafakor explained that the restaurant wants to save room for the local community and “make sure our core customers can come in and find a seat for a beer or a glass of wine with a good entree. It probably costs us money,” but the good will Dominion builds is worth it and sure enough, we had no trouble finding a table.
Mary ordered the steak and blue salad ($16) which she pronounced “very delicious” with cherry tomatoes, bacon bits, peppers, greens, croutons and red onions with a blue cheese dressing and Piedmontese steak. She likes her meat cooked medium rare, and that’s the way it came out: “It’s very tasty and I highly recommend it,” she said between bites.
My friend Carl can be a bit of a bore when it comes to trying something different. (Sorry, Carl: Just stating the obvious.)
He ordered his standard cheeseburger ($16) and after he offered, Mary and I helped him with the fries. It didn’t take much coaxing to get us to try them, and besides, by eating Carl’s pommes frites, we could claim we didn’t order them which were, naturally, every bit as good as fries are. (Instead of the potatoes, he could have chosen a salad for the same price which would have left Mary and me fries free!)
Anyway, Carl loved his cheeseburger which came with two patties, pickles, cheddar cheese, red onions and a house sauce on a brioche bun.
Since my first choice of “Canadian bacon benedict” ($12) was sold out, I opted for the “granola toast” ($8 plus $2 for poached egg) which was lots better than the name implies with many layers of complexity (?) and more ingredients than I expected: cotija cheese guacamole, arugula, red onions (which I discarded since who knew what lay ahead that afternoon?), all topped with a caper vinaigrette to make an unbeatable combination. It was not too filling and appealed to me to order daily, but, alas, brunch items are only available Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. — 2 p.m., so there went my planned dinners for a week.
We also ordered a magnificent “shareable plate,” the “exotic mushroom arancini” ($8 or $6 at Happy Hour) which tied with my granola toast for the best choices of the day. (Since I get to write, I get to judge.)
The mushrooms were filled with delectable risotto breaded in panko, Parmesan, herbs, smoked paprika and served with truffle aioli. Their presentation and taste were much better than we anticipated. The mushrooms were soft and moist and although only four in number, they lasted long enough to satisfy us before our entrees arrived and before our innards became loaded.
Since the calorie count for the benedict far exceeded “granola toast,” I was happy the benedict was all gone, but not so much the mimosas.
They are rather standard fare for me at brunch, but the special mango and guava mimosas were sold out that day at Dominion (and the preceding day, a waitress confirmed later), so I had to settle for a “classic.” (Each, $7.)
We had arrived about 1 p.m., so if you’re craving one of the special drinks or that Canadian bacon, better get there before then.
Tafakor was full of praise for the Falls Church community and city government.
“When it comes to supporting small businesses and getting to know local business owners, Falls Church is great” which is not always the case in some localities, he said. “Falls Church is special when it comes to that.” Generous tips supplied by customers during Covid when the shop sold curbside helped to keep his staff. “The neighborhood’s been supporting us,” he said.
He explained that customers frequenting Little City retailers on weekdays show how well the shops are doing all week, not just on weekends. “There’s a steady stream of business on those days.”
Tafakor said the most popular appetizers are the dragon shrimp ($12) and charcuterie platters (prices vary), while top entrees are the Piedmontese ribeye which is sliced to share ($38 for 16 ounces of meat and fries), the salmon, ribeye steak and cheese ($16), and a spicy chicken sandwich ($15).
The nightingale ice cream sandwich ($8) is the favored dessert.
Dominion’s Happy Hour specials (Monday — Friday, 4 — 6 p.m.) include a 20 percent discount on glasses of wine and beer, and discounts on some food, too, like two selections from the charcuterie board ($11) and the beets with herbed goat cheese ($6) which I’m planning to order on my next visit and wash them down with a glass of “Mean Ole Tom” beer from Maine.
I ordered a new bathing suit this spring, and if it weren’t for all these great Falls Church eatins’, I might not have to push, pull and stretch it so much to get it on, plus (no pun) I had to go up a size (!), but hey! We only live once! I’ll have some of your pommes frites, please.
Dominion Wine & Beer, 107 Rowell Ct. Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 533-3030. www.dominionwineandbeer.com Order in, out (curbside pickup), or onsite. Restaurant, Sunday — Wednesday, 11 a.m. — 10 p.m., Thursday —Saturday, 11 a.m. — 11 p.m.; Beer Garden, Monday — Wednesday, 4 —10 p.m., Thursday — Sunday, 11 a.m. — 11 p.m. (Park in the rear where garden is.); Retail Shop, Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. — 10 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. — 9 p.m.