Note: I was invited to a media tasting at Tupelo Honey Cafe to sample the food & drinks that I mention in this post.
Last month I stopped by Tupelo Honey Cafe, a Southern-focused restaurant that started in Asheville, North Carolina and has since expanded to various locations along the East Coast. Their latest outpost is in Arlington, not far from where we live. Southern food is truly my down-home comfort food, the food that I crave when I’m feeling weepy, like when I found out that The Mindy Project got canceled by Fox. Coincidentally, it’s also the food I like to eat the most when I’m giddy, like when I found out that The Mindy Project was resurrected by Hulu. Make up your mind, Hollywood, and stop toying with my emotions!
Anyway, because I love Southern food, I couldn’t resist stopping by Tupelo Honey Cafe to check out their new offerings. I was most taken by their “Ode to Eleanor Roosevelt” sparkling sangria cocktail, a blend of white brandy, triple sec, sparkling wine, Jack Rudy Elderflower tonic, thyme and citrus sour, bitters and garnished with fresh thyme sprig. The cocktail, a refreshing wine cocktail with floral, tart and herbal notes, is only available at the Arlington location. The food, while not other-worldly, is perfectly serviceable Southern food that should appeal to a wide variety of appetites.
During my visit, I tasted a variety of their dishes, from the jumbo lump crab cake (above left), which was clearly the standout of the evening. The crab cake was dense and packed with large lump crab meat, breaded only just enough to give a satisfyingly crunchy exterior. The grilled Frenched lamb chops (above right) were also solidly tasty, covered in an slick mint chimichurri sauce. I could have used a stronger mint flavor in the chimichurri, but the lamb chop itself was cooked to a perfect medium rare.
While Tupelo Honey Cafe in Arlington had only been open a few days before I visited, the restaurant was packed to the gills. I can see how, given its convenient location near the Courthouse metro station, it’s an easy stopover on the way home for young professionals commuting back from DC and a convenient, friendly dinner destination for folks with young kids. The bar area was crowded with 20 and 30-somethings mixing and mingling in large groups, and the hubby and I found ourselves reminiscing back to a time when we’d just haul into a bar after work to while away the evening hours with our friends. Tupelo Honey Cafe is a great setting for just that sort of non-occasion — the kind of place you want to be in your neighborhood, just so you have a convivial place to meet up.
Make sure you order plenty of those sparkling sangrias, too. That’ll make the time pass really quickly.
Tupelo Honey Cafe | 1616 North Troy St. | Arlington, VA