50 Best Restaurants 2012
By Stefanie Gans / Photos by Jonathan Timmes / Illustrations by Matthew Hollister
Maple Ave – Ranked #6
Modern American | $$
147 Maple Ave. W, Vienna; 703-319-2177; mapleaverestaurant.com
The doctrine of today’s urban kitchens managed to zip around the Beltway, 30 miles out and around and into a humble space on Vienna’s main strip.
The menu can stay grounded in classics, like a baked mac and cheese, but finesses the outcome with nutty (Gruyere) and sharp (cheddar) cheeses with longer, funkier, twisting noodles and salty panko crumbs that tear into the creaminess below.
Firey, little wings (this is what a chicken wing looks like without growth hormones, by the way) bathe in creme fraiche and chili paste for a bar snack that belongs nowhere near unappreciative drunkards.
Larger plates can offer delicately spiced scallops with an overlay of barely wilted peashoots or a leg of lamb, inspired by Morocco, that arrives deboned for eating ease.
A tangy yuzu (Asian citrus) key lime pie-in-a-round delights with singed housemade mini-marshmallows.
The room is tight—with an even more snug parking lot around back—and provides little atmosphere, but Vienna is better for the arrival of this scrappy mom-and-pop shop with an eye toward honesty and ingenuity.
MUST TRY: Crème fraiche wings
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