Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Atmosphere: Gargantuan bustle. Price range: Prime rib from $5.95. Lobster prices vary. Steaks and seafood in $8 range. Reservations: None. First come, first served. Credit cards: Major. Special features: Accessible entrance for main dining room. Children's menu. Highchairs and booster seats. Free parking.
There are some restaurants that refuse to budge -- literally -- as progress goes on around them. Such is the case at Tom Sarris' Orleans House.
First, the little diner in the back parking lot was torn down, then the whole neighborhood shifted to make room for new access roads around the Rosslyn Metro station. Yet, Tom Sarris' still stands. 'Why give up something good' should be its motto.
If restaurant dining is to offer quality for affordable prices, as well as southern hospitality, then you will be amply satisfied at this stop.
Prime rib dinners for under $6 may be had in Keokuk, Iowa, but rarely in Washington -- except at Tom Sarris'. On top of that, the salad is not an extra and potato is not an add-on -- the price includes the complete meal.
Unless you like long waits, you might want to consider eating early. People seem to enter in droves and linger over coffee refills.
Decor runs the gamut from a knight's semi-shining armor to the horns of a prize animal. Probably the most noticeable center piece is on your table -- the display of prime ribs ready to be sliced.
Some of the tables are with linen cloth; others without. What is present is a polished restaurant routine.
Many choose this restaurant for a salad bar that sits on a riverboat replica. There are many nice touches associated with this feature: a whole crew devoted to the salad bar's appearance and replenishment; glass dinner plates, something you haven't seen in a while, and a salad selection that should please everyone from the traditionalist to the imaginative diner.
At opposite ends of the boat sit mounds of cheese cubes -- some are regular cheddar but also present is a surprising mountain of feta and Greek olives. There are plenty of choices for non-lettuce lovers and the table is complete with sliced bread.
One can order the salad bar as a meal in itself ($5.25 or use this visit as a stepping stone to a whole meal. The menu is fairly straight forward with only two appetizers, neither of which we felt was necessary.
A pleasant surprise was the children's coloring menu. The entrees include a visit to the salad bar which eliminates any parental anxiety about bring an extra plate -- another example of full service attitude.
Our 6-year-old chose wisely with the Charlie Brown fried shrimp ($3.95) that comes with fries and a soda -- an instant winner. They were lightly breaded and good sized. The portion was unusual for a children's menu.
Our son, on the other hand, felt his nine-and-a-half-year-old appetite would starve with the Flintstone prime ribs ($4.50). So he ordered the regular cut at $5.95. He was right. His was a fairly lean portion that had been soaked au jus; more than I would have liked but perfect for him. He was delighted.
Adults with large appetites may not feel this portion is sufficient. My husband ordered a mammoth cut for $9.95 that included a healthy sized piece of meat and a meaty bone. The best of both worlds and a good buy.
The entrees come with an oven-baked potato that fulfills all your starch needs without having to order something else.
There are a number of fish dishes that sound good, but this is a meat and salad house and that is what we came to sample. Scallops, flounder and trout are available, but I tried a steak since everything else centered around the ribs.
I chose the New York sirloin ($8.95). It was perfect for my tastes -- it was thick and had been trimmed of all excess fat.
From the separate dessert menu, we tried a few different items. Ice cream (75 cents) and pecan pie ($1.50) were more successful than the cheese cake ($1.75). The pecan pie was loaded with pecans to allay any doubts of its heritage.
Our meal for three adults and two children with wine, desserts and coffee totalled $52.04 which includes tax and tip.