Northside Social

3211 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA  22201
Northside Social on Urbanspoon

They say breakfast is the important meal of the day which I hope isn't true (yes folks, that's called denial) since I tend to just have coffee and maybe a bagel or muffin.  The owners of Liberty Tavern also own a couple of restaurants situated close by called Lyon Hall and Northside Social.  Lyon Hall is meant to be your typical French cafe and Northside Social is a coffee and wine bar.  More importantly, Northside Social is open at 6 a.m. which is early enough to get a good, casual breakfast in with plenty of time left to get to work.  Since I don't really eat much for breakfast, I decided to go a couple times this week to make sure I get a fuller experience.

The first thing you notice (and even when I drive by at around dinner time) is that this place is always busy.  There's generally a line to the door for people waiting to place an order and while usually the orders are small (coffee, muffin, etc...), there's only one barista so a bottleneck inevitably occurs.  The only drawback to this is that the food usually comes out a lot quicker than your coffee so there's potential for the food to get cold.  I wanted to try their french press regular coffee but I'm a sucker for lattes and I ordered one both times I went.  I didn't think you could really tell the difference between places like Starbucks or coffeehouses like this one.  But, when I drank into the latte here, it was bold, rich with a tinge of bitterness and definitely more layers of flavor than your average latte that you can get anywhere. I'm not surprised that there's a difference rather how big the gap really is.

I got a chance to try both their sausage and egg sandwich and their oatmeal.  The sandwich was a maple sausage patty with a poached egg (sourced from a local farm) with some lettuce and cheddar cheese on top all in an english muffin.  The egg was poached perfectly and just runny enough to cover the rest of the ingredients.  The sausage was savory and sweet but there was a hint of something being too sweet which I couldn't put my finger on.  I suspect it was the cheese combined with the maple syrup flavors in the sausage. While I enjoyed the sandwich overall, there were some bites that were off-putting.

The oatmeal (and I've always been a big fan of oatmeal) were steel cut Irish oats mixed with fresh fruit.  I know oatmeal is relatively simple and easy to make but this bowl was maybe the best bowl of oatmeal I've ever had.  They added the right mix of cream and brown sugar to give you a smooth and velvety texture while adding some sweet overtones without adding too much that the natural sweetness of the fruit doesn't make it too much.  The fruit include grapes, pineapple, honeydew, and cantaloupe.  The chunks were a nice size so you could get a nice chunk of fruit with a heaping spoonful of oatmeal.  Unfortunately, I only enjoyed it for a short period of time as it disappeared before my coffee was even ready and I had to take my coffee to go since I had no reason to sit down anymore.  My coffee wasn't actually ready but they had a latte sitting up there that no one had claimed so they let me take it.  I wasn't particularly that hungry but the oatmeal was friggin' amazing (though my mom would probably be embarrassed if she saw me eat like that).

A good alternative to diners, fast food or Starbucks for breakfast is hard to find.  It is, after all, the most important meal of the deal (hah!) and while I know most people are in a rush to get to work and sleep probably takes priority over making time to get a bite to eat, I would argue that stopping at Northside Social is worth those extra few minutes.  The coffee is a notch above than most places and made with great care.  The food is comforting and hits the right spot to help you face the rest of the day.  I always stopped off at the Starbucks on my way to work but now that I finally visited Northside Social, I think I'll be changing that routine and coming here.


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