What makes Arlington’s Family owned, sustainable restaurant Northside Social what it is?
On what was supposed to be the perfect patio evening last night, it started to mist. Our Green Drinks Arlington group was a little bit disappointed about that, because we were all so excited about the adorable patio set up at our latest gathering place, Northside Social. Green Drinks Arlington highlights local sustainable venues around Arlington, and Clarendon’s newest sibling in the Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall family was the obvious choice for a wine and coffee happy hour.
Tucked away in the back room on the first floor (sort of the opposite of the patio evening we’d imagined), our group was quite comfortable nestling into the comfy living room style room, sampling some of the many decadent, and tasty wines, coffee drinks and well proportioned food plates. We ordered some of the house-made ricotta and honey tapas, several people had the grilled cheese (the perfect comfort food) while drinking perfectly paired wines. While we weren’t the only group there, we certainly were made to feel that way by the wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable staff.
Among them, General Manager, Alison Christ -who remains calm cool and collected, as she juggles dozens of tasks simultaneously- comes out to discuss what makes Northside Social such a breath of fresh air in the Northern Virginia Food scene. The fact that she took a good amount of time to chat with us about Northside Social’s sustainable philosophy was well worth the misty evening outing!
What makes Northside Social a different breed of restaurant? Well, they have 50 employees, of which only five of them drive cars! I looked over my shoulder and noted Alison’s delicate bicycle tattoo on her bicep. Now that is hardcore! This intensely car free work place speak volumes for the walkablitity and alternative commuter options for the Clarendon area and even Virginia Square and Ballston Area. These five drivers match numbers with 5 masters degree holders in the Northside Social family! A highly educated, and dedicated staff make running this sustainable restaurant a snap! It was a wonderful thing to hear that what they “cannot source locally, they will make themselves,” such as the house-made ricotta mentioned before; it was divine.
On the sustainability front, Northside Social works with a number of sustainable farmers such as Polyface Farms, a family owned and operated farm who delivers all of their grass fed, organic meats and eggs to Northside. There is something quite obviously different about a farm fresh egg! Trickling Springs Farms out of Pennsylvania is utilized for all of their grass fed, hormone-free, fresh and luscious luscious dairy products. The cows are literally milked after the order is placed and then delivered next day to Northside Social! No wonder their lattes are so amazing!
As a wine and coffee bar, Northside Social offers organically grown, free-trade coffees from the Counter Culture Coffee roaster out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Alison is not only the GM, she is also the Director of Wine; so, she works to connect with local, national and international vintners who produce organic and biodynamic wines. Alison told us about the incredible nature of biodynamic farms, which are farms which are run in the most sustainable manner possible. She got really excited about it actually! “Biodynamics is really cool! You just go on the property and never have to leave…. it is its own mini-ecosystem.” 90% of the wines that Alison has selected to feature at Northside Social in Arlington are from small family owned vineyards.
Family owned, and family friendly, Northside Social has taken sustainable restaurants to a whole new level. It has comfy seating inside, formal and informal, a sophisticated wine bar upstairs and a relaxing and beautiful patio to watch the time go by with a glass of wine, or a great cup of real coffee. This is a place to discover in its many layers.- Much like their logo, which I just realized is a coffee cup stain over a wine cup stain. Clever, Northside Social… Clever… I think that one of my favorite things is that the crew practices what they preach and have a very deeply entrenched sense of community. A month or so back, they hosted a gallery opening with some local artists and just continue to amaze with there dynamic placement in the Arlington Community. They have been nominated for the 2010 ABBIE awards and are continuing to be a popular meeting spot in convenience Clarendon in Arlington. Keeping with the theme of sustainably run businesses and communities, Northside Social offers all of their coffee grounds for people to take for composting! They also sell the Trickling Springs milk products and wines that they feature in their restaurant.