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Tom Sarris' Orleans House
By Phyllis C. Richman
Washington Post Restaurant Critic
From The Washington Post Dining Guide, November 1996

| 1213 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.
(703) 524-2929

Hours of Operation and Prices
Lunch: M-F 11-3:30; Entrees: $5.50-$13
Dinner: M-Sat 4-11, Sun 4-10; Entrees: $5.50-$15

Other Information
• Credit Cards: All major
• Dress: Casual
• Reservations: Recommended for large parties
• Parking: Validated garage
• Metro: Rosslyn
• Handicapped accessible

The quantity/price ratio is as good as it gets here. For one low price, you can have all the salad you can eat (with cheeses added at dinner). For $1 more at lunch you can add a half-pound hamburger. For a few dollars more you can have the salad bar with rib roast (on the bone ) and potatoes. The surprise is that it's not bad.

All this, of course, is no secret. So even though there are two duplicate salad displays to speed the line, it goes slowly. No wonder. Crowded onto the huge cart of ice are nearly 30 salad fixings, six dressings plus some psychedelic-red vinegar and oil and stacks of bread. You start with a mid-sized glass plate and face two bowls of lettuce nearly the size of bathtubs. As you pile on the usual shredded carrots, mushy tomatoes, finely sliced peppers and onions, broccoli and cauliflower, you come to a few show-stoppers. Hominy, small, brown pea beans, chopped, cooked kale and pickled green tomatoes slow down the line for gawkers. Green and wax beans, corn salad and chickpeas add more familiar variety. But there are no luxury items - no olives or anchovies.

The raw stuff is kept fresh, since the turnover is so swift. But most of the rest is canned and bland. On a salad bar, that's easily remedied. Pickled hot peppers can liven up the mix. And for extra crunch, the croutons keep company with fried chow mein noodles. Besides, once you bury your vegetable mound in thick, creamy dressing, everything melds into a generic salad taste anyway.

Mushy canned vegetables? Who cares? I've had a lot worse roast beef dinners at four times the price.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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