The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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Jacques Haeringer: L'Auberge Chez FranC˛ ois, Great Falls Launched in 1976 by renowned chef Jacques Haeringer's father, iconic Alsatian restaurant L'Auberge Chez François possesses a staying power Haeringer attributes to "value, top ingredients, and top service." "For the money, it's worth it," he says. Utilizing ingredients sourced from more than 40 farms, the chef de cuisine's cooking is inspired by the bounty of the seasons (he says he's inspired on a daily basis in his own garden to talk to the vegetables, which he jokes don't ask for days off). Loyal patrons flock to Haeringer's dining room for his Dover sole, chou- croute (Alsatian pickled cabbage), and Chateaubriand steak. No dish disliked by Haeringer will pass muster, but the ones that do are paired with the mostly French wine list. In addition to featuring several hundred bottlings and 25 by-the-glass selections, L'Auberge Chez François' bev- erage program offers Crémant cocktails like the L'Apéritif du Patron with Crémant d'Alsace, Framboise, and Chambord. Over the course of 43 years in the business, Haeringer says he's witnessed exponential growth in the area. He doesn't buy into the concept of celebrity chefs, who he half-jokingly advises to "get over [themselves]": "We are here so folks can come in and enjoy them- selves," he explains. "All in all, it's been a tremendous ride—we are still having a good time." Classic dishes like souffles are popular at L'Auberge Chez Francois. Jason Maddens says he launched his restaurant, AhSo, to fill what he saw as a gap in northern Virginia's dining scene. Jason Maddens: AhSo, Brambleton Loudoun County has no shortage of residents with money to spend on dining out, and as a native of the area, Jason Maddens wanted to fill what he saw as a gap in a restaurant scene brimming with chains and corporate-driven spots. "City-style, chef-owned and -operated places were few and far between," says Maddens, who has worked alongside renowned chefs like the late Michel Richard. "I wanted to give LoCo residents an option for upscale dining that didn't involve schlepping down to D.C." Maddens opened his American bistro AhSo last December after previously serving as a founding partner of Clarity in nearby Vienna alongside Jon Krinn, who also appears on this list. At his new restau- rant, the practice of sourcing from local farms means Maddens and his staff "let [the ingredients] tell [them] what's going to be on the menu," he says. The dishes change constantly, but mainstays include a braised pork shank cassoulet and a vegetarian take on spaghetti and meatballs. Largely focused on lesser-known and regional producers, the wine list features 115 selections by the bottle and nearly 30 by the glass. The cocktail program, overseen by lead bartender Phil Duong, mirrors the kitchen's focus on seasonality, but the Orange You a Spicy One with vodka, blood orange puree, and lime-habanero syrup is a perpetual palate-pleaser. Assessing northern Virginia's culinary prospects, Maddens believes the future is bright in his neck of the woods. "This area is poised to become a dining destination unto itself," he says. The seared scallops are a popular first course at AhSo. november 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  105

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