Wednesday, October 25, 2006

TWO RESTAURANTS, ONE ADDRESS: Visitors to 2761 Washington Blvd. in Arlington will soon get to choose between two menus under one roof: the modern American fare typically served in the 100-seat Tallula (703-778-5051) and a chalkboard list of snacks, plates-to-share and changing entrees in the adjoining lounge, which is poised to be made over into a second dining room and rechristened EatBar by the middle of next month.

The food for both will be orchestrated by chef Nathan Anda, who hopes the forthcoming EatBar becomes "a destination where people come to eat three, four times a week." His lures include hot dogs, "a real burger," tater tots and their condiments (all made in-house and served in red plastic food baskets), charcuterie and cheese plates, a pasta and "a cut of the week," such as a venison chop. Anda says the prices will be budget-friendly, between $3 and $7 for the finger food and no more than $15 for a main course. Fans of the lounge's wine program can continue to sip pretty: Its 70 or so wines by the glass will be poured in the casual new venue.

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE ARE SEATS FREE: Being the businessman that he is, restaurateur Tony Stafford doesn't like the sight of vacant tables in his sprawling Bonefish Grill (6315 Multiplex Dr., Centreville; 703-815-7427). Yet plenty of booths in the chain seafood restaurant's 50-seat bar routinely go unused when customers notice cigarette smoke there. "They turn down immediate seating," sometimes waiting an hour or longer for a table in the dining room, the managing partner reports. As a result, the establishment is going smoke-free Nov. 1. With winter on the horizon, and hoping to retain regulars who smoke, "I've promised to buy them a heater for the patio outside."

Stafford, the former chef of the all-American Artie's (3260 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax), is learning the front-of-the-house ropes in preparation for opening a restaurant of his own down the road. His tinkering with the menu at Bonefish has won praise from the corporate office in Tampa; the recipe he developed for crab cakes, built mostly from jumbo lump crab, has been picked up by all nine area branches of Bonefish Grill and is now their best-selling entree.

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