Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! That's the sound of peanut shells under your feet as you walk to a table at Logan's Roadhouse in Manassas.
Children of all ages will get a kick out of a place like this, where a bucket of peanuts is brought to the table, and a bare concrete floor is acceptably messy.
People bring friends for a birthday celebration and embarrass them by having the waiters scream "Yeeeeee-haaaah! Let's hear it for ReBEHHHH-kaaaa, who's 19 today!"
The fun doesn't end inside. There's a large outdoor deck. It may not be romantic--it faces busy Sudley Road--but it overlooks a man-made pond and has a resortish feel. Imagine you're on vacation.
Meat eaters have to love Logan's: Smells of grilling steaks abound. What's the house specialty? Any of the steaks and meats.
The soup of the day was stuffed green pepper. We were intrigued and asked for a description. It didn't look very good or smell very good, our server said, wrinkling her nose.
We opted for fried green tomatoes as an appetizer instead. Six slices arrived in a basket with what we were told was Grey Poupon bistro sauce. We waited for small plates that never arrived; the slices were too hot to eat with one's fingers.
When they cooled a bit, we dug in. Hidden under cornmeal-batter were tomatoes so thin you almost couldn't find them, and they were red.
But the server was right, the meat was perfect. A $13.50 mix-and-match combo plate of grilled chicken breast and eight meaty pork ribs arrived on a huge plate, bathed in tangy barbecue sauce. We'd ordered a baked potato side, but the chicken was on a bed of rice. All the chicken and shrimp came with rice, our server said. But that wasn't on the menu, and there was no way to avoid ordering all that starch otherwise.
The $7.25 petite sirloin was seasoned with something similar to Mrs. Dash's, with a sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper. It was perfectly cooked, medium-well. The skin-on fries, an option with all dinners and sandwiches, were tasty. The sweet pototo with brown sugar and cinnamon added a nice touch to the dinners.
The yeast rolls are addictive--three-inch-wide warm squares to slather in whipped butter. No surprise that Logan's sells the rolls for carryout, a dozen for $2.50. They would be ideal to serve at your backyard cookout as well as at your evening dinner party. Our server offered us more after we'd devoured the three served with the meal.
The restaurant offers 11 salads, ranging from Caesar with grilled salmon to mesquite-grilled chicken. You can eat for as little as $2.95 here (for a bowl of chili), but you'd be hard-pressed to spend more than $17.95 for an entree; that's top price for a 22-ounce Porterhouse.
Logan's came to the Washington area in summer 1998. It's headquartered in Nashville and has more than 30 restaurants throughout the Southeast, all modeled after roadhouses of the 1940s and 1950s, with a bare-bones look and wood-planked and concrete floors. There's pink lemonade, though, and a jukebox stocked with country music to show the kids.
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* Address: 7731 Donegan Drive (off Sudley Road in Bull Run Plaza), Manassas.
* Telephone: 703-369-0244.
* Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
* Credit cards: Accepts Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express.
* Prices: Our bill for two came to $34.28 with tip.
* Kids' menu: Meals under $3.
* Low-fat selections: Some.
* Health-conscious: A few items.
* Atmosphere: Casual.
* Downside: Noisy when crowded, but not too bad.
CAPTION: All diners at Logan's are greeted with a complimentary bucket of peanuts. As a main course, ribs, potatoes and vegetables make a hearty meal at the restaurant, which takes pride in its finely cooked meats.
CAPTION: Logan's Roadhouse was constructed in the style of the Southwest's dusty stopovers from the 1940s and 1950s. On the restaurant's covered patio, Robert Collette helps his grandchildren Chantel and Sean Collette shell peanuts, which they toss into an adjacent pond to a flock of Canada geese.