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Posted on Apr 12, 2013 in Food | 18 comments

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!


  1. Happy Birthday!!! It looks like you had a wonderful (& delicious) day!

  2. Happy Birthday!

    Also, from the looks of the picture, the calamari breading appears it might be cornstarch? Cornstarch is used for breading when you want to get a light, but shatteringly-crispy crust.

    • Ooh! I would never even have thought about that! You might be right — the breading was so light and fine, I didn’t even think it really could be bread crumbs/panko because it had such a smooth texture!

      • Yep, sounds like cornstarch then! You should try it out with thin chicken cutlets for fried chicken! Tastes great if you marinate or brine the chicken in something Asian-y first (we like a combo of soy, mirin, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and thai chiles or sriracha). Then just lightly bread your marinated cutlets and fry them up.

  3. AH! That’s so awesome 😀 Congrats! Sean rocks.. Hang on to that guy 🙂 Happy Birthday, again!!

  4. So. Jealous. Of. Vitamix.

    I am amused by how excited You are about this.

    I can’t wait for Melting Pot. All that stands between me and this dinner is a plane. Come on!

  6. Oh the Vitamix. OH! So jealous right now.

  7. I love everything about this, but for some reason I’m fixating on how beautiful your calamari photograph is.

    P.S. Maybe it’s just me, but you look super Asian in that wine glass pic.

  8. AHHHHH AWESOME BIRTHDAY!! I always ask for expensive kitchen items when it comes time for people to gift me! It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

  9. I love 2941. Cute dress – happy bday! 🙂

  10. Those dishes all look amazing – so fancy and tasty! Food has gotta look good and this definitely does!
    Happy birthday! 🙂

  11. DANG girl, what an amazing gift! Word on the street is just by adding water to a Vitamix and hitting pulse, you get champagne. Hilarious that you cried about the gift, although I probably would have cried even if someone near me had opened that box (and then I would have taken it and ran away as fast as one can with a super sharp blender on hand).
    And double DANG, you look great in that dress!

  12. Where did you get your dress? You look fabulous!

  13. Mmmmmm calamari, (said in Homer Simpson voice). One of my all time favorite foods but I can’t tell, from the picture it looks like it was just the tubes. Were the tentacles there too? Either way I have to give you credit, girls are sometimes afraid of squid. Sexist I know but its true. Tell me, how do you feel about octopus?

  14. Holy Shit! That’s an amazing present! I’m a little jealous.


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