100 Best Restaurants 2010: Willow
Comments () | Published January 1, 2010
Happy Hour 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Willow
Address: 4301 North Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA 22203
Phone: 703-465-8800
Neighborhood: Arlington, Arlington, Ballston
Cuisines: Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 10:30.
Nearby Metro Stops: Ballston-MU
Price Range: Expensive
Dress: Upscale Casual
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Fried veal sweetbreads; lobster agnolotti; lemony fried chicken; flatbread pizzas, including the signature Willow, with fontina, thyme, lemon, and truffle essence; a perfect-for-sharing fisherman’s platter with fried shrimp, scallops, lobster, calamari, p
Price Details: Lunch appetizers, $6 to $13; entrees, $8 to $16. Dinner appetizers, $7 to $14; entrees, $18 to $32.

Cuisine: Briny scallops get a hit of sweetness from a dice of butternut squash. Creamy-sweet smoked tomato bisque goes tart and grainy with a zesty olive tapenade. Chef Tracy O’Grady plays with flavor and texture on her seafood-centric menu, and more often than not her pairings come off well. Her years with Bob Kinkead have also made her a master fryer; shrimp, scallops, and sweetbreads are all done to a golden turn.

Mood: This sprawling space, with its dramatic drapes and oversize burgundy lamp shades, is more fun when full; the bar/lounge has an intimate vibe.

Best for: After-work get-togethers and dinner with gal pals—the rooms are spacious, and the menu abounds in high/low options.

Best dishes: Crisp fried veal sweetbreads; lobster agnolotti filled with sizable chunks of lobster and berthed on a “butter” of lobster roe and sherry; lemony fried chicken; flatbread pizzas, including the signature Willow, with fontina, thyme, lemon, and truffle essence; gorgeous farm lettuces with shaved Manchego and citrusy sherry dressing; a perfect-for-sharing fisherman’s platter with fried shrimp, scallops, lobster, calamari, pickled fennel, and spiked rémoulade; seared day-boat scallops with butternut squash two ways, diced and in ravioli.

Insider tips: Desserts have been disappointing lately, and the wine list is full of underwhelming picks. When making a reservation, ask to be seated in the main dining room; the two annexes, often used for private events, feel B-list.

Service: ••½

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Moderate to expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/01/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews