Wednesday, May 18, 2005

SNACKS UNDER AN OPEN SKY: Jonathan Krinn is branching out -- if only to his own back yard.

Last week, the chef of 2941 (2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church; 703-270-1500) began offering "Tapas on the Terrace" on the travertine limestone patio of his high-end American restaurant.

"It's fun for the staff, fun for me and fun for the guests," says Krinn, who launched the service for guests who wanted to dine alfresco. And who wouldn't? The elegant restaurant is surrounded by tall trees and overlooks a lake with a fountain. The chef says the new menu, which changes daily, is "a good way to brainstorm" fresh ideas for his a la carte menu.

2941 stretches the notion of tapas, which are typically snack-size and cheap. Here, the dozen or so savory dishes could pass for light entrees, and they average $12 an item. But these tapas also reflect Krinn's attention to detail and discerning shopping habits. His succulent baby cheeseburgers ($14 for two) feature designer beef, buns baked in-house and taro root chips, for instance. A trio of sweet scallops ($12) are framed in a pretty salad of green papaya, wax beans and citrus. Spring rolls ($7) are plump with shredded duck; pizza ($12) comes scattered with glazed shrimp. Dessert? The choices run to strawberry-mint sundaes and a soup of coconut and tropical fruit.

"Tapas on the Terrace" are available starting at 4:30 p.m. daily and do not require reservations. In the event of unpleasant weather, diners can graze at the bar, where the menu is also presented.

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