Two Palate Dining: Taste of Reston

Big Bowl Sampler Plate Taste of Reston
Big Bowl Sampler Plate- peanut noodles, pot stickers and chicken spring roll

She Said: Taste of Reston

Food festivals are really fun. You get to try all sorts of things from different restaurants. The atmosphere is usually really fun and the smells in the air are delicious. We had visited Taste of Reston last year and we really enjoyed Taste of Vienna that we had attended earlier this year, too.  But, Taste of Reston wasn’t as much fun as last year. Many people provided the exact same items that they did last year. If we already knew we didn’t like something then we didn’t want to try it again! Here’s what we did sample (and my rating’s for it)

Big Bowl– Peanut Noodles (8), Chicken Spring Roll (3) and Chicken Pot stickers (10)- We first tried Big Bowl last year at Taste of Reston and we’ve eaten there once since then.  The peanut noodles were great! The noodles had just the right amount of texture without being too hard and had a great spicy, nutty taste to them. I love Big Bowl’s veggie spring rolls, but I didn’t like the chicken ones. I don’t really enjoy eating cold meat so I think that may account for my preference of the veggie rolls. The chicken pot stickers were sticky and slightly crisp on the edges and inside was a blend of (warm!) perfectly spiced chicken and veggies. We got samples of all these items on a combo plate. But, after we saw the somewhat poor selection offered by other vendors we headed back for another order of pot stickers to share!

Uno’s- Pepperoni Pizza (8) and Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel sauce (1)- I really liked the pepperoni pizza. I’m not usually at all a fan of Chicago-style pizza but this pizza was really good. The tomatoes weren’t too obvious because they were cooked until very tender. I hate feeling sturdy pieces of tomato in my pizza sauce. The cheese was creamy and salty. There was also just the right amount of pepperoni.  I hated the bread pudding. I had never eaten bread pudding before and was really excited to try it.  It was mushy and strange. I might have liked it but I also thought it was really bland. I’m a huge caramel fan. My favorite ice creams are all caramel or have caramel in them (we even tested store bought brands!)  I love salted caramel even more. The sauce was given in a very skimpy portion and had no salt taste whatsoever.

Flippin’ Pizza- Pepperoni Pizza (0)- this pizza was sad. The crust was dry and cardboard tasting. The sauce was bland and there were only a few tiny pieces of pepperoni on it. We ate it because we had purchased it and coming to this festival was lunch. I was not a happy girl to have wasted the calorie intake on this.

Melting Pot -Chocolate Covered Strawberries (10)- I love Melting Pot. I miss it. It’s so yummy but it’s so expensive! Last year I wondered if getting a strawberry from them would even be worth the effort. Would it give you just enough of a taste to be satisfied? I thought they were wonderful! The strawberries were really fresh and juicy. Their milk chocolate always tastes like what I imagine the chocolate waterfall in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tasted like. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and oh, so creamy!

Vie de France- Pan Au Chocolat (0) and Madeline (0) – This stuff was bad. It had that horrible fake chocolate taste like something from theme park. The Madeline was stiff and almost dusty tasting. The pan au chocolat tasted like fake butter and it wasn’t even warm. It was hard and not delicious in any way at all. They gave me a coupon and I certainly have no intent of ever using it!

I enjoyed some of the food but I didn’t find anything new and exciting. I got samples from a few places that I either already like or would like to try eating a meal at. And I also had to eat some really bad pizza and fake pastry. I might go to Taste of Reston again, but I would need to see some different vendors or some different samples to convince me to come back!

Overall Rating- 3

Flippin' Pizza's Pepperoni Slice
Flippin’ Pizza’s- Where is the Pepperoni?!

He Said : Taste of Reston

When we went to Taste of Reston last year it kick started our new found love of food festivals.  We were amazed at all of the different booths, and unique things to try.  We liked quite a bit of what we tried.  Fast forward a year, and it wasn’t as fun.  It felt like there were less food booths and more local businesses promoting themselves instead.

What about the food?  Overall, it was less varied, and not as interesting.  Here’s the blow-by-blow account of the food that we did try.

We started the day off with something we knew would be a home run.  Big Bowl was our favorite new experience last year, and we liked it so much it eventually inspired us to go there and cover it for this very blog!  This year they brought the same options: peanut noodles, chicken spring roll, and chicken pot stickers.  They were everything we remembered from last year.  The peanut noodles, were very spicy, but very refreshing.  I loved the other two options as well.  Since we got the sampler, they even gave us a coupon for a free appetizer on our next visit.  How cool is that!  We liked it so much, and so much more than everything else, that we came back later for another round of pot stickers.

This is when Taste of Reston started to lose its shine.  We walked up and down the assembled restaurants, and started to have trouble finding anything that was really that exciting.

Our next stop was another favorite from last year, Uno Chicago Grill for a slice of pepperoni pizza and a serving of their bread pudding with salty caramel sauce.  Again, it was just as we remembered it.  I’ve always loved Uno’s, and their deep-dish pizza, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed the slice.  The bread pudding was very sweet.  The caramel sauce worked well over top of it, but I don’t think there was enough of it, and I don’t know about the “salty” description.  I’m finding more and more, that salt doesn’t work as a prepackaged ingredient in anything salted caramel; it has to be added separately (and liberally) to make its presence known.

After some more wandering, and hemming and hawing, we decided on our first actually new food of the day.  Flippin’ Pizza was represented by one of their food trucks.  I was very excited because I love pizza, and I love food trucks.  According to the side of the truck, this pizza was all natural, and voted the best in DC.  After eating it, I don’t know how anyone could vote that this is the best the DMV has to offer.  Have they not had Donato’s?  We found them at the Vienna food festival (which in and of itself was more fun), and have enjoyed very much them since.  We have to go out of our way for them, and still have made the effort.  The pizza from Flippin’ Pizza is not very good.  There are very few pepperonis, and something about the bread didn’t taste right.  The claimed tie to New York pizza appears to be just that, a claim.

This is when we decided we’d had enough.  We started towards the exit with dessert on our minds.  When we passed by Melting Pot’s booth we couldn’t resist their chocolate dipped strawberries.  All illusions of trying new delicious food were gone; we just wanted to feel satisfied enough to make it to dinner.  We made one more attempt at a culinary adventure on the way out.  We stopped by vie de France to try some French pastries.  Their menu was pretty confusing for a food festival, but we figured out how to spend all of our remaining tickets on a chocolate croissant and a madeleine.  The chocolate croissant was good.  It was very chocolate-y, and rich, and the croissant itself was very light.  The Madeleine was a different story.  It was too dense, and too dry.  It was pretty gross.

This was not the experience we were hoping for.  We enjoyed it last year, but we probably won’t go back next year.  We’ll just eat at the restaurants we already know we enjoy at Reston Town Center.

Overall Rating-3

Big Bowl-10

Uno Chicago Grill- 8

Flippin’ Pizza-1

Melting Pot- 8

Vie de France- 4

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