Birthday Dinner

Hi dee ho, chickadees (and, uh, chicka…dudes?)! Happy Friday! It’s an especially happy Friday for me, given that I had an absolutely wonderful birthday yesterday — thanks in large part to all the wonderful messages I received from you all! You guys really know how to make a girl feel special. 🙂


So, as you might have guessed, Sean did not in fact end up taking me Taco Bell for my birthday. No, he surprised me by taking me to 2941–a truly awesome (and swanky!) restaurant that I actually visited for the first time last year for my Mom’s birthday.


2941 is in the Fairview Park area in greater Falls Church. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but in a really beautiful location because of it. It’s on the edge of a lake, and has waterfalls and stone paths and koi ponds (oh my!). It was February the last time I came, so it was already super dark when we arrived. This time, I got to appreciate the scenery for a bit before the sun went down!


To start, I ordered a glass of Oregon pinot noir (the best!) before we tucked in.


The restaurant focuses on french/italian-style haute cuisine. It was a real FEAST! Everything I tried was sol, so delicious–just see for yourself!


The bread basket included three kinds of bread: a classic french bread, a soft wheat, and an olive loaf. The olive was my favorite! I totally ended up picking out the extra kalamata olives from the leftover pieces of uneaten bread, hehe.


We also ordered an appetizer of calimari. I know it seems a little random, but honestly this may have been the best calimari I have ever, EVER had. The breading wasn’t heavy, but was super crisp (I’m thinking it must have been panko) and the sauces were just delightful–a tomato coulis and a light honey mustard that I think were supposed to be a play on ketchup & mustard. I demolished these little squiddos.


2941 also orders both 2nd course-sizes and full-entree sizes of their pasta dishes. This Hawaiian prawn risotto just sounds too incredible NOT to try, so Sean and I ordered a small size to share. Oh. My. Lanta. The risotto was perfect–creamy and lemony and tangy and delicious–and the prawns were absolutely to die for. I almost–almost!–wish I had just ordered a full-sized version for myself. Luckily, what I did end up choosing as my entree was without a doubt the right choice.


I got the roasted duck breast, served with zucchini and asparagus, and it was PHENOMENAL. Perfectly cooked, tender, flavorful… I was getting pretty full by this point (for obvious reasons, haha) so I ended up taking half home. Which means I GET TO EAT IT AGAIN FOR LUNCH AND I’M SO FRAKKING EXCITED OMG.

Aaaand recomposing myself… yes, I obviously loved this dish. I think it’s a tie between the duck and the risotto for best dish of the night.


In true Gretchen form, I also insisted we order a side of Brussels sprouts, because evidently I am incapable of seeing them on a menu without ordering them. They were quite good, but I still think I make ’em better. 😉


Of course, since it was my birthday and all, we couldn’t NOT sample a dessert! We got the crema fritta, which was a rich cream inside little crisp triangles, with root beer caramel (!!) and a cocoa nib ice cream. Really rich and tasty, and the perfect size to share.


I had forgotten from my last visit here that you get complimentary beignets at the end of your meal, so Sean and I each had one little lemony donut hole to polish things off.


And I capped off the night with a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea. Whew.

So, as you can see, the night’s meal was pretty incredible, though I’m sure I’m MORE than paying for it today. Hahahaha, between last night’s dinner, tonight’s Melting Pot excursion with Ai Rei and Aileen, and my birthday party tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to want to weigh myself again. Lololol.

Oh! And I can’t forget to tell you the BEST PART OF THE ENTIRE DAY! Yes, better than dinner last night, better than the free birthday scoop of pistachio almond ice cream I got from Baskin Robbins… check out the present my boyfriend gave me:



He got me a Vitamix.

*cue my complete and total freakout*

I am so flipping spoiled. I love it I love it I love it I love him I love him I love him. AHHHH!! And yes, I totally cried when I opened the box and saw what it was. Straight up burst into tears, just like I did when my brother got me my KitchenAid mixer for Christmas a few years back. What can I say? Evidently extravagant kitchen appliances are the true way to my heart.

There may be some of you who are shaking your heads or scratching your chins in confusion. What’s so special about a blender? you’re thinking. Well, to start, this is no mere blender. Sure, it blends. But it does so much more. You can COOK SOUP in this blender. You can make ICE CREAM with this blender. This blender can CHURN BUTTER. IT CHURNS BUTTER PEOPLE.

So, yeah. All in all, I’d say that 25 is shaping up to be one of my best years yet. Thanks again for all the birthday love, friendos! See you on the (post-Quarter Quell) flipside!


Last night my family (sans my sister and her husband who are in Australia right now — the punks) went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday!


My dad made a reservation at 2941, which is a fancy-schmancy restaurant that I’ve heard scores about but had never been to. The restaurant recently finished a big renovation and redesign, and it looked great.


As I understand it, 2941 used to be traditional French cuisine (not 100% sure about this?) but it now has a more modernist neauvou-French vibe to it. The restaurant is in Fairview Park, which is just slightly off the beaten path in the greater Falls Church area, but I can see why it’s tucked away back there. It’s on a lake, with fountains and waterfalls and a freakin’ koi pond out front. Our reservation was pretty late (8:00) so it was really dark, but I can definitely see myself wanting to go back when it’s still light enough to be able to take in the scenery a little bit more.


As this was yet another special occasion (aren’t they all?), I’ll tell you right off the bat that this wasn’t the healthiest meal ever. But all things considered, I think I did pretty well! We started off with a bottle of pinot noir that my dad ordered for us all, which was actually very delicious (I’m still pretty scared of red wines, haha).


Before ordering a couple of items off of the “Nosh” part of the menu (essentially small plates/tapas). We went for the black truffle mac & cheese croquettes (!) and the calamari with a romesco dipping sauce. Be proud, I limited myself to just one croquette (though I could have easily inhaled all six) and a few pieces of calamari.


Since 2941 does small, appetizer-sizes of all their pasta dishes and I really wanted to try one, I got a starter salad as well as a small pasta for my entree.


The salad was a pear and endive salad with a walnut vinaigrette and — I kid you not — blue cheese marshmallows. I know. I KNOW. They were amazing. The waiter said they make them in house and they were SO amazing. Blue-cheesy, salty, and a little bit sweet, they melted in my mouth and… augh. So good.


The pasta dish I chose was a fresh buckwheat pasta with pancetta and mushrooms. I had absolutely NO idea that it would come out with a butter sauce on it as well, but oh how it did. Literally, the “sauce” was just melted butter. And it was drenched in it, as you can see. Don’t get me wrong, it was frackin’ amazing but also probably the least healthy thing on the table, haha. Oops, a happy accident! I also got to try my dad’s lamb loin and it was really fantastic. I would probably get that next time.


After our dinner plates were cleared, my mom opened up her presents and we perused the “Naughty” menu for our dessert options! As with all gourmet restaurants, the portion sizes here were basically perfect and I wasn’t stuffed to the brim, so I could actually fathom the idea of dessert.


I opted for a single scoop of pistachio ice cream (my favorite!), which came with a little sliver of biscotti (a nice touch). I did, of course, get to sample some of the other options too though…


Of which my mom’s caramel-pineapple eclair was my favorite. The vanilla bean ice cream it was served with? To die for.


They also brought out a little tangerine sorbet, uh, thing as an extra birthday treat for her! I thought it was a little bit bitter, but it had great presentation and was a nice surprise.


And finally, if ALL of that weren’t enough, at the very end of the meal they supplied us with fresh glazed beignets. They were soft, pillowy, and still warm. Drool.


So there you have it! Yet another decadent family celebration that, paired with Sunday’s Super Bowl snackage, is sure to inform quite the disappointing weigh-in tomorrow, ahahaha. Not that I’m complaining, per se, just preparing myself, hehe. FYI: 2941 is still in “soft re-opening” mode, so from now until February 9th they’re taking 12% off of the food portion of your check if you’re interested in checking it out over the next couple of days!

How do you prefer to celebrate your birthday? Dinner at home? New restaurant? Old favorite? I am ALL about trying new restaurants for my birthday — ones I probably wouldn’t go to just for any random occasion. Birthdays of the past introduced me to amazing places like Volt and Zaytinya… as well as a less amazing experience at Founding Farmers. Who knows where I’ll end up this year come April — I’m happy to take suggestions!