Atmosphere: Humorous and fun family-oriented restaurant.Price range: Sandwiches and hamburgers in the $3.75 to $6.50 range, and entrees in the #3.95 to $8.95 range. Credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, American Express. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, noon to midnight; Friday and Saturday, noon to 1 a.m. Reservations: Not needed. Special considerations: No one under 21 years old is admitted without a parent after 8 p.m. on any evening. Highchairs. Accessible for the handicappd.
A family trip to Fritzbe's always has been reason for adults to brace themselves. In both the Fairfax and Annandale locations, eating at Fritzbe's is like having a meal in a funhouse. That's hard on the digestive process, no matter how good the food. And the food is good at Fritzbe's.
But the new Fritzbe's in Reston, while not breaking the circus mold completely, has modified it considerably. The result is a less frenetic atmosphere and food that is even better than that served at the other two locations.
Not that the Reston Fritzbe's has gone completely straight -- far from it. There are old posters and photos on the walls, there is a jukebox and every booth is different.
Our booth had a centerpiece consisting of a carnation in a Perrier bottle, a poster advertising Finck's "Detroit Special" overalls -- that "wear like a pig's nose" -- and a W. C. Fields' "Wit and Wisdom" poster -- "Anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad."
The menu is a 16-page combination of humorous sketches, glib sayings and food descriptions. We spent so much time looking at it that our waiter came back twice before we were ready to order.
For starters, I enjoyed the French onion soup ($2.25) covered with a thick layer of melted Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. Equally enjoyable were the fried, breaded zucchini sticks ($2.25) my wife ordered. The order was plentiful, and we munched on them throughout dinner. My two sons did not order appetizers.
The boys were impressed that their soft drinks were served in tall carafes. At first, they actually thought the carafes contained wine, but were only mildly disappointed to find out otherwise.
Fritzbe's main courses cover a broad spectrum of tastes. There's chicken walnut salad ($4.95), omelettes from $3.95 to $4.75, a variety of hamburgers from $3.75 to $4.50, and 13 different sandwiches from $4.25 for a New York Grille (hot pastrami, cheese, cole slaw and dressing) to $6.50 for lobster and croissant. There are also specialties that include smoked Canadian backribs ($9.95), New York sirloin strip steak ($9.95), fettuccini amandine ($5.25) and numerous other items in the $3.95 to $8.95 range. In short, there's something for everyone.
My sons disdained a rather limited children's menu (burgers for $2.25, grilled cheese for $1.75 or a hot dog for $1.95).
Instead, my 8-year-old son had Dottie's Double Dip ($4.95), a huge hot roast beef sandwich with melted Swiss cheese. Dad gladly helped finish it.
My 10-year-old son's order sounded like something from the Jack Nicholson movie "Five Easy Pieces": "I'll have a bacon cheeseburger, without the cheese but with a pickle," he said.
"The bacon cheeseburger, hold the cheese, right?" said the waiter.
"But with a pickle, please."
"We don't serve pickles here," said the ever-patient waiter.
"Then just a bacon cheeseburger without the cheese is okay," my son said.
He enjoyed the results: he ate all of the thick sandwich.
My wife's lobster and croissant sandwich was a feast. The lobster chunks in a light dressing were thick and plentiful.
My New York Grille was heaping with thin slices of lean pastrami and melted muenster cheese. It was served on grilled rye bread.
All the sandwiches at Frizbe's come with some combination of French fries, homemade fresh fruit -- we had honeydew and grapes -- or zucchini sticks.
Desserts (huge) range from $1.95 for carrot cake to $2.95 a number called The Outlandish (warm brownies, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sause, whipped cream and a cherry). We all nibbled on Fanny's Frozen Fruit Fantasy ($2.25), which consisted of ice cream, covered with peaches and red raspberry sauce. Great!
The bill totaled $35, including tax and tip.