By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
With winter almost behind us and the sun providing more warmth and brightness each day, it’s a great time to start getting outside more — including when going out to eat. So the timing is perfect for the Lazy Dog’s opening in Chantilly, which includes a nice, large patio. This restaurant, part of a California-based chain, opens fully to the public on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, at The Fields at Commonwealth near the intersections of Route 28 and Westfields Boulevard. And “the public” in this case includes dogs, too, which are welcome to dine outside! We had a chance to try out the restaurant today. Here is what you can expect.
A cozy environment
Wood beams, earthy tones, a fireplace, leather barstools, and high ceilings give the place the feel of a nice western lodge. In fact, that is the tone founder Chris Simms was going for, to recreate the look and feel of a ski lodge he’d visited in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The seating and decor is comfortable but not too casual, polished but not posh. Decorations, kept to a minimum, keep the Western and dog motif.
From the hosts at the entrance, the servers, the bar staff, and the managers, we heard the same thing: hospitality is key. While the restaurant looks to stand out with its creative, from-scratch American dishes, everyone we talked to emphasized that service, and making their guests feel like they’re home, is their priority (and our experience proved that right).
Comfort foods, creative dishes, and large portions
Lazy dog provides American fare, including many traditional dishes. Steak, chicken, fish, burgers, bowls, salads, pizzas, salads, appetizers and vegetarian options are among the offerings. But the food is not the same ol’, same ol’ — along with classic comfort foods such as mac-and-cheese, chicken quesadillas, fish and chips, and pot roast, the menu offers bison burgers and meatloaf, a kung pao bowl, and even a PB & J burger (yup, a burger with peanut butter and jelly). On each table are bottles of specialty sauces Lazy Dog makes.
We got to try the steak salad, buttermilk chicken sandwich, chicken pot pie, and chicken cordon bleu, all of which were very good. While entrees tend to take center stage at any restaurant, at Lazy Dog the appetizers and side dishes were surprisingly good.
The crispy deviled eggs, brussels sprouts, and “bacon candy” were fantastic, as was the wild rice that came with the chicken cordon bleu: loaded with slivered almonds, mushroom slices, and peas, it was so tasty I could have that as a meal in itself.
Next time I hope to try the mini corn dogs, sweet potato tots, Alaskan halibut, and lemon chicken, but I’ll have to come with friends to share the food. All entree portions seemed large, including the “hangover burrito” friends at a nearby table were enjoying.
Many restaurants’ desserts seem to be the same: several chocolate choices, ice cream, and cheesecake. Thankfully Lazy Dog bucks that trend with options such as s’mores, pineapple upside-down cake, carrot cake, apple-huckleberry pie, and butter cake. My son ordered the banana pudding and gave it very high marks. The dish is prepared individually so the vanilla wafers stay crispy, which only made it better.
Fun drinks and Lazy Dog brews
Drinks include traditional beverages plus fun options such as the “DIY mimosa flight.” That will get you a bottle of champagne plus four mixers: peach-raspberry, grapefruit-orange, and huckleberry juices. I had the coconut mojito, which I’d worried would be too sweet, but was surprisingly light on the palate.Non-alcoholic drinks include citrus seltzers and sodas.
Lazy Dog also makes its own beers (it also has a beer club), and you can have a six-sampler flight for about $9. Beyond its brews, its beer selections include some from mainstream brands and local (Northern Virginia) breweries.
A dog-friendly patio
Okay, I don’t have a dog, but I think this is an awesome addition: a patio that is not just dog-friendly but “dog-encouraging.” From the big paw print on the gate to the special “pup menu,” dogs get a special welcome here.
Lazy Dog provides free water bowls and two menu options for dogs. We met Mia, a beautiful and friendly dog whose owners said happily chowed down on the chicken dish.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a pup, though: the patio is not just for them, and the restaurant has strict rules about leashes and behavior to keep the peace.
And with the big fire pit with lots of comfortable seats around it, how can you be anything but relaxed?
- If you’re allergic to dogs: no worries, dogs are allowed only on the patio (inside only service animals are allowed).
- If you have food allergies: Lazy Dog can provide a separate menu for those with gluten sensitivities (but the kitchen is not entirely gluten free). Several dishes have peanuts, but those are easy to avoid since the menu lists all the items (my son has a peanut allergy and he still had a huge selection of “safe” dishes available).
- Calorie counts: the menu clearly specifies calorie counts for all food items.
- Prices: Prices are reasonable, especially for a place with a nicer ambiance than many casual restaurants. Soups and appetizers are around $5-8, salads $12-18, entrees $10-20, and desserts $5-8. Lunch specials are available daily until 4 pm, and there’s brunch on Sundays.
- Late hours: Lazy Dog is open until midnight daily!
- Coming soon: Lazy Dog will open another restaurant in Fairfax, at Fair Oaks Mall, in April 2020.
Disclaimer: My family was invited to a “friends and family” event where we received complimentary meals and drinks. We purchased additional items at our own cost. The opinions expressed in this article (written for information, not out of obligation) are my own.