Restaurant – Copperwood Tavern

I used to live in the cute little neighborhood of Shirlington.  It’s a neighborhood centered around a retail center of shops and restaurants that was the first large suburban shopping center in the DC area (opening in 1944), and even one of the first of it’s kind in the country.  With the addition of a grocery store, a branch of the public library, and the Signature Theatre, it’s a great little community.  It’s especially nice if you’re within walking distance, and it tends to be a little less expensive than other similarly walkable communities because it’s not directly on the metro line.  What it does have going for it is an extensive bus presence, with a large station that spiders out to Alexandria, downtown Arlington, and connects to various nearby metro stops.  Basically, I could go on and on.

The real point is that recently the Boy and I met up with some of my family in Shirlington for a belated birthday dinner.  Going into DC would mean definitely fighting traffic, so we decided on something a little more central, and with more parking availability.  I am fairly familiar with the restaurants in Shirlington as I’d made it a goal to eat at almost all of them in the time that I lived nearby.  So it wasn’t too much of a challenge to choose Copperwood Tavern as our dinner location.

The idea behind Copperwood Tavern is farm to table, which feels like it’s probably a gimmick in most dining establishments.  Except Copperwood lists all their farms proudly at the top of their webpage and their menus, and then when you look at their protein lists – includes unusual meats and cuts that really could only have come from a farm.  I mean, how often do you see rabbit and duck on a menu alongside other staples like chicken, beef and pork?  And by the way you guys – I didn’t have the braised rabbit this time, but I have in the past, and it’s very tasty (if you like rabbit).  But every meal starts off with a plate of mini cornbreads accompanied by delicious honey butter.  It is so tempting to eat them all up, but you don’t want to spoil your appetite!

I didn’t manage to get pictures of our appetizers, but my mom and the Boy started off with a half-dozen chilled oysters to share, while the rest of the table enjoyed a plate of fried goat cheese and Virginia ham.  The Boy ordered the spaghetti squash, which I had been tempted by.  He let me try a little, and it was very good – I’ve tried making spaghetti squash a few times, and it has never turned out that nice.  There was also a side of Brussels sprouts for the entire table to enjoy that was placed right in front of him.  These are really tasty (though perhaps a little sweet for some), but it’s a relatively large side.  Definitely for sharing, and if you’re getting more than one side, you’ll need to have around 2 people per side dish in order to not have too many leftovers.

I ordered the brown ale butter chicken which was heavenly.  The sauce on the chicken was just the right amount of thick and creamy without feeling like you were guzzling butter.  I only managed to eat half, but with the cornbread, the appetizers, and the side of grilled asparagus that I shared with my grandma – I didn’t feel like I had been denied too much.  Besides, I got to take it home and enjoy it again later!  For those who aren’t interested in taking home leftovers, here’s a warning: look at the serving sizes.  A few of the proteins list an exact weight, and that can be useful in deciding whether you think you’ll finish a 14 oz double pork chop (which my grandmother did not, despite how much she was enjoying it).  But if you like taking home restaurant leftovers…maybe look more closely at that.

Since we were doing a birthday celebration, there had to be dessert.  Having filled ourselves mostly on dinner, we ordered 2 desserts to split between the five of us – the chocolate decadence (lots of chocolate cake, mousse, and other yummy things) and the strawberry cake.  Neither appear to be on the dessert menu currently on the Copperwood website, but they were both very good.  While the chocolate decadence definitely earned points for having a nutella-esque flavor, the strawberry cake was the clear favorite for having such a light and fluffy texture – perfect for a summer evening.

It’s definitely a fun night out.  The cocktails are good, they’ve got a decent beer list, and there’s also outdoor seating.  Going on a night where the weather was nice (which meant more people than normal sitting outside than in) meant it was a little quieter inside.  In the winter or closer to the weekend things can get a little busy and loud, but if you’re still digging the farm-to-table thing, and enjoy drinking out of mason jars, this is definitely an establishment worth a visit.

Details: Copperwood Tavern, 4021 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA.  Reservations online; Second location in Ashburn.

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