On my recent trip to the Washington DC area, I stayed at my parents’ place in Arlington, Virginia. I’ve been to Arlington around 4 times over the past 10 years and each time I visit I find it nicer. What I’ve discovered is that over the past few decades the areas around DC have under gone a transformation (and continues to evolve) from suburban sprawl to well defined sectors centered around a metro station (to encourage the use of mass transit). Interestingly, this layout can be seen in Shanghai with its very well developed metro system. In addition to an accessible mass transit system, the urban village design is a way to develop a great area where interactions between people and environment take center stage. To achieve this, the area is one of mixed-use, commercial and residential, where city planners pay attention to coordinated streetscapes, location of commercial facilities, neighborhood preservation, urban open spaces and plazas, and historic preservation. A perfect example of the urban village design can be found in Arlington in an area called the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor (RBC). The 3-mile corridor is divided up into 5 sectors:
- Rosslyn: a first-class office and business center
- Courthouse: Arlington’s government center
- Clarendon: the center of the “urban village”
- Virginia Square: residential, cultural and educational facilities
- Ballston: a new downtown
My parents’ condo is located in Rosslyn. It’s very conveniently located to DC. A quick jog across the Francis Scott Key Bridge and you’re at Georgetown University, the shops on M Street and hop on the metro at the Rosslyn metro station to visit the Mall, monuments and museums. In the very near future, one will be able to take the metro to the upscale shopping center, Tysons Galleria.
Because Rosslyn is the business center, there are many high-rise office buildings and the local businesses cater to the 9-5 workers who commute to Rosslyn. So, not much happens after 5pm. Dining options are limited. However, my parents did happen to find a place called Mele Bistro located just half a mile from their condo in the Courthouse sector of the RBC.
Mele Bistro is a French-Italian bistro. This place, formally known as Village Bistro, has been under new ownership and management for about 1.5 years now. With its location in the Courthouse sector, it’s a great place to have a business meal or meet up with your friends and family for dinner, especially if you live in the nearby residential sectors, Clarendon or Village Square. This modern bistro is located in a small shopping center on Wilson Blvd., the main thoroughfare through the RBC. There are a few outdoor tables surrounded by a small garden of herbs and a couple potted fruit trees. The inside is warmly decorated with modern, colorful accents and white table clothes giving the cozy bistro atmosphere a touch of sophistication. I was amazed at the variety offered on the menu- pizza, salads, pastas, beef, veal, chicken, and seafood entrees, and of course dessert. It made me very happy to see a wide selection of seafood options on the menu. Mele’s menu changes daily and they encourage you to call for the most up to date menu offerings. Wild fish from Hawaii is flown in daily and fresh, local items abound on the menu, too. More importantly, Mele uses organic produce and grass fed beef, makes their own tomato sauce, and does not use MSG or soy products. Dining on fresh, unprocessed food of high quality is Mele’s top priority.
Everyone at the table ordered a seafood entrée- Greek Dorade with diced vegetable risotto, Seafood fettuccine, Canadian Mussel linguini…I ordered the Sautéed North Atlantic Baby Bluefish with fettuccine dill and capers. Each entrée was uniquely plated. Attention to color and presentation was apparent. Mine was prepared very well- the fish was nicely browned with flakes of tender meat underneath, placed on a tricolored bed of fettuccine dotted with diced tomatoes and coated with a delicious herb sauce. The entire dish was drizzled with a really delicious green sauce- I’ll call it Mele’s Special Sauce, which provided another perfect layer of flavor. Just look at the photos to see all the colors and flavors!
Luckily, we still had enough room for dessert. I’m not saying that the portions were small, in fact, they were just right and reasonably priced. It’s always a shame when I get over stuffed and can’t have dessert. Take a close look at the desserts and the details will make you want to dig into the photo for a bite. Once again…a nice presentation…it’s the best way to end a meal (along with a nice cup of coffee; surprisingly, they did not have cappuccino).
You can tell when a restaurant takes pride in what they serve and this is obvious at Mele Bistro. I’m glad that there’s such a restaurant near my parents’ condo because then we don’t have to venture far for a great meal. Stop by Mele Bistro when you in Arlington, VA.
Dated visited: June 18, 2014