Going Coastal

I've been hearing people hype and buzz about Fairfax's Coastal Flats restaurants for several months now. Notably Julia. And her co-workers. And the Arlington V. Fairfax rap battle on YouTube (yes I'm encouraging you to click the links and watch them and laugh). Yesterday, I finally got to experience the phenomenon first-hand at the Tyson’s Center installation of Coastal Flats.

The menu at Coastal Flats is polished and bold American, and it's a very casual atmosphere, no fancier or less busy than mall staple California Pizza Kitchen. The difference is the selections are mouthwatering and memorable: fresh (1.25 pound) lobster roll with grilled corn on the cob, sesame crusted ahi tuna salad, (supposedly dynamite) crab cakes amidst a large number of spectacular-looking fresh seafood dishes. The meat was even tantalizing, with my (eventual gotta-have-it) order of the falling-off-the-bone, absolutely divinely finger-licking outrageous beef ribs with a divine mustard BBQ sauce being the star of the show.

Ok I was going to save talking about those for later but I just can't. These ribs were absolutely show stopping. I can't get over them. Two stacks of four huge, juicy ribs (yes that's EIGHT in total). The crust was crispy and perfect and the meat was so moist, buttery and exploding with flavor, I only stopped eating them to rave about them. Served with some thin and crispy fries (how I like them and can never get them), their famous Aussie rolls for the table and a curious slaw that tasted like it had a hint of cinnamon in it, the ribs were the star but the meal was wonderful in its entirety. Do you think I fell in to the Coastal hype?

I DID, OH YES I did! But I don't care. This place can flat out mesmerize you with taste. I haven't even gotten started on Julia's very authentic and delicious lobster bisque and her favorite crispy goat cheese salad. But did I mention the Coastal hype is only HALF about the food?

There are lots of places with great and interesting menus. Maybe not as good as this one as casual places go, but still. Coastal sets itself apart with its out-of-this-world service – and man that didn't disappoint either. From its swarm of friendly meeters, greeters and seaters to the two or three or four knowledgeable and excitable wait staff who combine to perfect your meal, I couldn't believe the service. Not to mention the managers who are radioed in to every problem in the dining room so they can swoop in and make life wonderful again for any and all distressed patrons. Not bad by my book. Ice teas came with long mixing spoons for stirring under the ice. Ribs came with a wet napkin afterward. Crumbs were brushed off the table several times. And great care was taken for even the slightest of details: did we need our check quickly; in what order would Julia like her salad and soup to be served; and of course delectable descriptions and recommendations of the menu items upon request.

This is not your typical $35 quick dinner out type meal experience. Normally you sacrifice SOMETHING in the food or service compared to, say, a fancy restaurant. Nope. Not at Coastal Flats. They wowie kazowied me with their charm, value and unique flair. I promised Julia this will not be just her “lunch with coworkers” spot any longer. I will be back for the service and hurry back to try yet more of their tempting menu marvels.

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