My obsession with restaurant research generally yields positive results. But I must admit, it’s exhilarating when I stumble upon a restaurant and have a stand-out meal. Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, Virginia takes me by surprise with its diverse menu, bold flavors, and low-key vibe.
Maple Ave Restaurant (MAR) isn’t exactly a sleeper. It is listed in Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurants 2014, and on DC Eater’s current list of 38 Essential Restaurants. Inexplicably, I ignore it, considering Vienna geographically undesirable.
This all changes when a trip to the outlets in Leesburg puts Vienna in our path. Location + timing+ availability = Maple Ave Restaurant.
We enter Maple Ave, and I am taken aback. The restaurant is a wisp of a space, with only a handful of tables. In another life the building may have been a dry cleaners. It’s hard to tell. Now it’s a warm and cozy spot with an Asian-influenced American menu by RAMMY nominated Rising Culinary Star of the Year, Chef Tim Ma.
I peruse the options and regret not having more people in our party. Larger groups at surrounding tables are receiving a parade of delectable dishes. While we ponder our choices, the waiter hands us a homemade scrapbook where diners write notes, including their recommendations. This leads me to chicken wings.
Crème fraiche wings are emboldened with Korean chili paste, oyster sauce, and scallions. They capture my heart with their crisp exterior and just the right amount of heat. I am striving for leftovers, but it’s a challenge.
I decide to make a meal of two small plates, although an entree of scallops with coconut risotto, scallions, and basil ice cream has tremendous appeal. Caramelized okra, garlic lime chili sauce, fish sauce, and white scallions is unique and addictive, and pairs quite nicely with the wings. I don’t look back.
My husband has seared steelhead with red quinoa salad and wasabi melted butter. The crispy quinoa and the moist fish make for a stellar combination.
Yuzu lime pie leaps off the page as a must-have. My husband and I share a serving of the adeptly-made, citrusy-sweet, marshmallow-covered dessert.
I can’t help but think about the missed opportunities I’ve had to dine at Maple Ave Restaurant. I don’t hesitate to travel to Tyson’s Corner for shopping, and it’s just minutes away from the restaurant. I am chagrined by my lack of awareness of this gem of a place. I’m paying attention now, Maple Ave Restaurant. Don’t be surprised if you see me again soon.
Maple Ave Restaurant, 147 Maple Avenue W, Vienna, Virginia