River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar – Hiding Out in Hollin Hal
By the Gastronomes
River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar – Hiding Out in Hollin Hall
This hidden gem located on Fort Hunt Road in the Hollin Hall Shopping Center is definitely a place you should put on your “to dine” list…if you haven’t already done so. Chef Caroline Bruder Ross and her husband Bill opened River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar in the fall of 2013 after jumping through the many hoops that Fairfax County required and it was well worth the effort. While many restaurants located in strip malls get overlooked, River Bend isn’t one. Now almost 8 years later and surviving the pandemic, River Bend is a very popular neighborhood eatery.
Billing themselves as an “American Bistro with Mediterranean influences”, River Bend has created a very nice niche in our local restaurant community. In our humble opinions, the menu is “just right”. It offers a variety of dishes that range from comfort food the likes of the Cotsold mac & cheese with crispy fried onions to the healthy poached salmon over a warm lentil salad. Unlike many eateries with extensive/overpowering menus, Caroline and Bill have opted to keep things simple by offering a nice range of snacks, starters, entrées and sides that fit on one page. Both the lunch and dinner menus have very attractive price points. Lunch $8-$15. Dinner $8-$28.
Everything served in this Bistro is fresh and the bulk of it is locally sourced taking advantage of the seasons and the local farmers markets. You won’t find anything that comes out of a can or that is frozen – with the exception of the sorbet and ice cream – in this establishment.
We have been dining here regularly since the day they opened and have yet to get bored with the selections. The menus change slightly with the seasons but most of the favorites remain available – ie. the cheese burger. One of our new favorites on the spring menu is the Benedictine spread. For those of you unfamiliar with Benedictine, it is a classic appetizer/spread/dip of cucumber and cream cheese served with toast points. This dish was introduced at the Kentucky Derby in the early 20th century. If you are an oyster fan, River Bends source provides delicious versions. The soup here is also a good choice. Potato and Leek is a constant with a “soup of the day” that varies from refreshing to hearty on any given day. Two of our very favorite dishes feature Caroline’s signature tagliatelle pasta. It stands alone on the lunch menu but is paired with a perfectly roasted chicken breast with wild mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce on the dinner menu. It is hard to describe how good this is – you just have to experience it for yourself. While the chocolate cherry chess pie is an award winner, our favorite dessert is the fruit cobbler of the season served with a scoop of ice cream. In season now is the strawberry rhubarb version with fresh peach coming this summer and back to the apples in the fall.
River Bend has a full bar, a good beer selection and an extensive international wine list. Caroline is very knowledgeable when it comes to wine and her experience in the business transcends on to the list. This truly is a wine lovers place. There is a vintage for all palates and all at a very reasonable price point.
Brunch is served on Sundays from 11:30 am-4pm and features classic eggs any style with your choice of meat and home fries as well as eggs benedict, pancakes and George Washington’s Grist Mill grits in addition to most of the offerings that appear on the lunch menu.
River Bend is open 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner. Treat yourself to the short drive down the Parkway and a nice meal. See what they have going on for Father’s Day in their ad in this issue.
River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar
7966 Fort Hunt Road