By Tom Sietsema Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009
There are lots of reasons to applaud this nautically themed Great American Restaurant, among them the enthusiasm customers encounter on the telephone and the smiles they find at the door. If the hosts at Artie's, in Fairfax City, ever have a bad day, they don't let on. The cooking bears a similar spirited style. I'm talking about sweet crabmeat served as spiky golden balls with roasted corn and a creamy ginger sauce; a colorful chopped salad blended with buttermilk dressing; a respectable cheeseburger; and fish that run to grouper tickled by a hickory fire and served with what looks like potatoes but turns out to be (surprise!) mashed cauliflower. Notes to the kitchen: Can you go a little easier on the dressings and sauces? And turn up the heat on the "firecracker" shrimp? Fans of inches-thick prime rib know to get their fill Thursday through Saturday, while lobster bisque lovers mark their calendars for Friday and Sunday. Thoughtful details abound: There's moist carrot bread in the brunch basket, chilled plates for the salads, and dates marked on boxes of leftovers. All this, plus model boats, and red- or green-leather booths in two handsome dining rooms.