Restaurant Review: American Fare at DC’s Copperwood Tavern

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It’s no secret that Washington, D.C. was recently coined the “Restaurant City of the Year,” by Bon Appetite magazine. But with the endless amount of dining options that are available inside the city limits, both DC-natives and visitors alike often forget that a world exists outside of the perimeters of the nation’s capitol – and a quite impressive one at that.

I recently snuck away from the hustle and bustle of a busy work week to experience the Village at Shirlington — a quaint and charming collection of boutique shops and restaurants in the D.C. suburbs of Arlington, Virginia.

One restaurant in particular caught my eye after a long and stressful work day: Copperwood Tavern.

Copperwood Tavern, a new American-style eatery that recently planted its roots in Shirlington, serves locally sourced American fare small plates, meat plates, high-end pub grub & one scrumptious brunch in its rustic, cabin-style digs.

Working with local farms including True Farms (VA), Rappahannock River Company (VA), Highbourne Deer Farms (PA), and others, this farm-to-table oasis features some of the most unique and satisfying comfort foods that the DC suburbs have to offer.

Additionally, Copperwood Tavern is a beer, wine, and spirits lover’s dream. The restaurant’s 30-ft bar offers 24 kinds of draft beer, 30 small-batch whiskeys, a superb wine selection, and southern Virginia’s famous white whiskey, otherwise known as moonshine, that you can also order right at your table. Yes, I said that correctly: moonshine.

I taste-tested multiple dishes prepared by Executive Chef James Duke, as well we cocktails currently featured on Copperwood’s extensive menu that are highlighted below. (Hat tip: Make sure you read this post hungry!)

As any proper dinner experience should start, I was served a couple rounds of cocktails (it is also worth noting the adorable names that Copperwood has coined each of the cocktails featured on their menu).

“The Southern Sparkler” came first which contained Georgia Peach Moonshine, House made Pear Syrup, and Sparkling Wine. It was a refreshing burst of fruity flavor that was the perfect drink for end-of-summer weather.

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Being a southern girl at heart, I also had to try one of the many different selections of whiskey that Copperwood offers. I went for the “Jefferson’s Groth Cask,” first — a 90-proof bourbon that is extra matured in French oak barrels. It was the smoothest, richest bourbon-whiskey I had ever sipped on (and that is without having to add water or sugar).

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For bites, the waiter served a plate of warm and fluffy sweet corn bread muffins with a side of honey orange butter (it has fresh orange bitters in the butter, folks!) Certainly not a typical plate of bread and butter, but in all the right ways.

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Next up was a gorgeously arranged plate of “Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Burratta,” that consisted of colorful and juicy sliced heirloom tomatoes that came to rest over a bed of fresh basil pesto, and was topped with a giant ball of creamy burratta cheese.

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For our first course of many was a plate of creamy, dreamy, piping hot “Spring Spaghetti Squash”. This dish had all the components of one made by an award-winning Chef,  including firm slices of heirloom tomatoes, softly grilled green onions and red peppers, micro greens, and melted grana cheese.  All of the components worked together in perfect harmony to create one of the most magical and unique dinner dishes.

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The second course consisted of two plates of Copperwood’s “Rockfish 23” that featured a juicy filet of rockfish topped with romesco sauce, habanero micro greens, and charred lemon slices over a bed of beautiful bright green basil oil. For readers who are pescatarian or simply prefer fish over red meat or chicken, this dish is pure perfection.

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The third and final main dish that was served consisted of an impressive cut of dry-aged ribeye steak cooked medium rare and topped with burgundy sauce and hand churned herb butter. As an added bonus, a bowl of button mushrooms marinated in beer-butter sauce served as the perfect accompaniment to the juicy red meat.

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Just as my pants were abut to burst at the seams, Copperwood’s extremely talented pastry chef, Brandon Blomquist, made a visit to the table to present some of his beautiful (and most importantly edible) works of dessert art.

Petit versions of some of Copperwood’s most popular sweets made a debut:

“Southern Pecan Pie,” with a delicious deep dish nut crust base, and topped with Bowman Brothers bourbon caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream;

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“Summer Berry Cheesecake,” with creamy cheesecake and gooey hibiscus swirl served over a crisp bed of ginger crust and topped with a white chocolate-covered gooseberry; and

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“Flourless Chocolate Trio” cake, with Minted Raspberry, Milk Chocolate Mouse, and Raspberry Couli (a thick pureed fruit sauce).

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For patrons located a bit further outside of the immediate DC suburbs who would still like to experience the fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce Copperwood offers, the restaurant recently opened up second, larger location in Ashburn, Virginia in One Loudoun at 20465 Exchange Street.

To help support a local business that educated its customers on the importance of consuming foods fresh and rich in nutrients, stop by one of Copperwood Tavern’s two locations today. Don’t forget to tell them that East Coast Contessa sent you.

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23 Comments
  1. Rebecca Bryant says

    What a gorgeous plated meal. I bet it tasted just as good and it looked. I love when chefs take pride in presentation as they do taste.

  2. Karen Coghlan says

    I would love to eat there… Everything looks delicious…

  3. Mrs Major Hoff says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! We sometimes fly into DC or VA and had no idea where to eat or where to go. This looks fabulous. I’ll add it to our list of places for our next visit. Thanks so much!

  4. amer says

    I can’t wait to go back to DC. You’re right amazing restaurants. All your pictures look tasty.

  5. terristeffes says

    That dessert! Wow! I want to devour all of them! Which was your favorite?

  6. Michelle Myers says

    Finding a new restaurant is always a treat and the cheesecake looks delicious! Glad you found such a lovely dining spot!

  7. Kim says

    Such pretty plates! All of that looks so good. I’m horrible about food blogging because I just dig in!

  8. almostindianwife says

    Oh wow. This all looks amazing!! I agree with Kim! My husband is always taking pictures of his food and I’m usually already half way done when he starts!

  9. taylorannes95 says

    Those look great!!! I always forget to take a picture of my food before I eat it 🙂 I am sure you enjoyed those drinks!

  10. Esme Sy says

    All the food looks amazing. I bet they’re all delicious. I wish we lived closer.

  11. Roxanne says

    Gorgeous photos! Isn’t it amazing what luxury food can be- it’s almost like eating art!

  12. tp keane says

    wow, that food looks so amazing. I’ve never been to copperwood before, but I’ll have to keep an eye out for one near me.

  13. Heather says

    Well I am officially hungry now. This looks amazing! I might have to make some cornbread muffins today…

  14. Amanda Love says

    I had no idea DC was names restaurant city of the year. I love trying out different restaurants and it would be nice to pay DC a visit some time soon! I’m glad you enjoyed your dining experience here at Copperwood. The food looks incredible.

  15. Julie @ Girl on the Move says

    I love discovering new restaurants and I particularly like going out in DC…this definitely makes me miss living on the east coast!

  16. Liz Da Ponteiz says

    I was in Washington, DC a few years ago and really enjoyed the city. The restaurants stood out as we had a great experience at every place we went to. Great pics! Looks like you found a gem.

  17. CourtneyLynne says

    Omg every last dish looks absolutely amazing!!!!! We visit DC often so I will have to try some of these dishes myself!

  18. Nicole Escat says

    Wow! I want all of these foods. I want to go there and indulge!

  19. The Belly Rules The Mind says

    The treats look amazing. We moved from there a couple years ago. Definitely miss the food scene but no the traffic.

  20. Rachel Catherine says

    Wow! that looks like an amazing meal. The butter for the cornbread sounds so good, but everything looks really delicious.

  21. Amber NElson says

    That looks really fancy. I love cornbread! I haven’t had it in years though!

  22. Mistle says

    All of this food looks amazing!! I am needing a steak now!!!

  23. Whitney S. says

    All of this looks so amazing!! I would love to eat all of this right now. Nom Nom Nom!!

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