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Red's Table at South Lakes Village Center

Red's Table Reston. Photo by Astri Wee

I love eating out, and so when locally owned Red’s Table opened up in South Lakes Village Center, I was thrilled. The restaurant space is one of the best in Reston—from the covered patio, diners have a view of Lake Thoreau. It is magical.

What I also love about Red’s is that they are committed to using regionally grown produce, meat and dairy. We have access to so much great quality food in the mid-Atlantic region, and it makes me happy when chefs embrace that and create seasonal menus focused around it. I knew I would like Red’s when I saw that their goal is “to stand out by use of quality ingredients in fresh and simple preparations. We will always offer the highest quality food we can source in the region. We will never offer factory farmed meats and all of our proteins are traceable to the source.”

From baking their own bread to making their own mustard, Red’s Table pays attention to the details, and it shows in the food. Oh the food is so tasty! Owners Matthew, Patrick and Ryan Tracy are Reston locals—they actually went to South Lakes High School, and like spent many a day down at the dock by Red’s patio. When they had the opportunity to take the space over and create their dream restaurant, they knew they needed the right chef to bring it all together. Enter Chef Adam. He also grew up in the area, and then traveled a bit while attending culinary school and cooking in some great kitchens. He brought together everything he learned to create the menu that Restonians have quickly come to adore.

As the weather starts to cool, spending an evening on the patio is definitely something to put on your to do list. Red’s Table is open daily from 11 a.m. until Midnight. They take reservations, which is always a good idea because this place is rocking! Click here to reserve your table.

PHOTO CREDIT: This photo is courtesy of the amazingly talented Astri Wee, a Reston local who specializes in family portraits and food photography. 

The Sweetest Condo Townhomes in Reston: Ivy Oak Cluster

I love Ivy Oak cluster. I think condominiums are a fantastic option for homeowners who don’t want the responsibility for the exterior of their property. But for many young families, a high-rise condo isn’t really an option either. In Ivy Oak Cluster, families can home their home and let someone else worry about the roof.

Ivy Oak Cluster has 96 condos built in 1970/71. The two-story townhomes have three or four bedroom townhomes. They are well designed, feeling much larger than they are. Each also has a nice backyard space, many of which are fenced. For young families, the neighborhood has a large common space with a wonderful playground.

Ivy Oak is located off North Shore Drive in North Reston, close to Temporary Road. That’s the road that connects North Shore Drive and Reston Parkway. Ivy Oak is about a ten-minute walk to Reston Town Center. There is a path that runs between the cluster and the Sallie Mae property, and it leads right out to Old Reston Avenue. Take a left, and then a right on the W&OD path, and Reston Town Center is pretty much right there.

Ivy Oak is also close to both Whole Foods and Harris Teeter, and has easy access to the Reston metro station.

But really, the best thing about this neighborhood is the people. It’s a friendly community. If you want a condo that doesn’t feel like a condo right in the middle of everything, check this neighborhood out.

3 Tips to Getting a Great Appraisal for Your Home

Appearance matters when it comes to selling your home. I’ve heard so many stories of people’s appraisals coming in significantly lower than comps in the neighborhood would suggest simply because the lawn hadn’t been mown and the house needed a fresh coat of paint.

It may not seem necessary to spruce up the house for an appraisal, especially if you managed to get a good contract on it without doing those things. But you need to remember appraisers are people, and they are just as influenced by physical appearances as buyers are. Your house has to look it’s best when the appraiser comes through lest they appraise the property much lower than it’s worth. For a small investment, you can make sure your deal doesn’t fall through based on a bad appraisal.

Here are three tips to getting a great appraisal for your home.

1. Address the curb appeal.

The appraisal starts the moment the appraiser sees you home. Make sure the exterior of your house looks good — mow the lawn, do some weeding and lay down fresh mulch. If your home needs a good power washing, do it. Many Reston homes tend to collect algae on the roofs (a downside of the wooded communities); it looks awful and is easy to clean.

2. Make it Look Its Best.

It’s important to keep the look, feel, and condition of your property as updated and cared-for as possible. While the appraiser probably won’t look under your couch for dust bunnies, she will look at overall how clean the home is. That means you need to get the cobwebs out of the corners and clean the fingerprints around door handles. Replace the old vinyl floors and wash your windows. All of these things affect the value of your home, and they add up.

This is also a good time to do some of the upgrades you’ve been thinking about. Paint, new carpets, lights, and plumbing fixtures are relatively low cost upgrades that can make a huge difference in your appraisal.

Here is a secret of the trade: appraisers often value houses in $500 increments. Repairs that should be made count against your property. Fixing leaky faucets, stained drywall, and cracked windows all cost less than $500, so you automatically make a return.

3. Make it comfortable and inviting.

Tidy up; don’t make the appraiser trip over toys or have to move furniture. And make sure the temperature is comfortable—not to hot and not too cold. Yes, that really matters! Using you heat or air conditioning is also a tip off that these items are in working order.

These things are all relatively easy, quick fixes that go a long way toward improving the outcome of your appraisal.

Great Labor Day Weekend Plans in Reston

Are you planning on avoiding beach traffic and staying put this Labor Day weekend? I don't blame you. I don’t even plan to leave Lake Anne Plaza. In fact, one of the reasons my non-profit, Friends of Lake Anne, started the annual Jazz & Blues Festival was to bring great music to our favorite spot. Ten years later, it is one of the highlights of the summer, due in large part to the work our fellow sponsors (Lane Anne Merchants, the Reston Community Center, and Reston Association) do to make sure it is a stellar event.

So grab your suntan lotion and a lawn chair, and head down to Lake Anne Plaza on Saturday, September 3 from 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

This year we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary! It seems like just yesterday that we hosted the first one. Over the years, we’ve had so much fun, we can’t just keep it to one day. So Lake Anne Jazz Week starts Friday, August 26 and will conclude on Saturday, September 3rd (Labor Day Weekend) with the 10th Annual Jazz & Blues Festival. 

You read that right—it’s a whole week! Throughout the week, we have a variety of jazz themed events from live music to a free feature film classic (Jazz on a Summer’s Day) on August 26 at 7:30 p.m. Now that I think about it, this would be a great week for your family staycation. Just a suggestion.

Jazz & Blues Festival Line Up (September 3)

  • 1:00PM Adrian Duke

  • 2:00PM Mykle Lyons Sextet
  • 3:00PM Chip Bubeck
  • 4:00PM Integriti Reeves
  • 5:00PM Clarence Penn
  • 6:00PM Sam Gunderson
  • 7:00PM Dixie Power Trio

Jazz Week Merchant Activities

There is always more to Jazz week than the music. The Lake Anne Merchants have a ball coming up with specials and fun things to do all week long.

  • Chesapeake Chocolates, Wine, Gifts and More –
    September 1: Virginia Wine & Cheese Tasting (6:00 p.m. – 7 p.m.).
    September 3: Wine and Chocolate Tasting (2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.). Free.
  • PetMAC Pet Nutrition Center – Jazz up your pet with 35% off all collars, leashes and apparel
  • Reston Art Gallery – Browse locally created art at Reston Art Gallery & Studios at Lake Anne Plaza.  Get 10% off a variety of musically themed art in various media such as acrylics, oils, watercolors, pastels and even mobiles and collages. You may even get lucky and get to see the artist at work creating a masterpiece!  Refreshments will be served.
  • Reston Museum – 20% off special edition Robert E. Simon martini and Bloody Mary glasses, each one etched with the signature of Reston’s founder.
  • Reston’s Used Book Shop – 50% off on all jazz and blues themed books.
  • Samantha Hu, Medical Chi-Kung Therapy – Free consultations during Jazz Week.
  • small change Consignment – All musical toys 20% off during jazz week.
  • Kalypsos Sports Tavern – Acoustic music on the patio Friday and Sunday 5-8 pm. 
    Friday night “The Vandelays” at 9:30pm.
    Saturday Sam Gunderson performs immediately following his Jazz fest performance (9:30PM).  
    Look for a special menu for Jazz fest week as well as Jazz Week drink.

All this takes place Lake Anne Plaza (Waterfront) – 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston, VA 20190. If you see me walking around with my adorable French bulldog, stop and say hi! Or peek in the Lake Anne Coffee Shop — that’s where I spend most of my free time as we prepare to open our doors.

Cedar Cove Cluster, South Reston

cedar cove clusterI may live on Lake Anne, but I really do love Lake Audubon. It is hands down one of the most idyllic places in Reston. One of my favorite communities on Lake Audubon is Cedar Cove Cluster.

Cedar Cover Cluster is a neighborhood of 66 townhomes more or less across the street from South Lakes High School. They are cedar-sided, 3-story homes with three or four bedrooms and garages. While only about 20% of the townhomes are direct lakefront property, they all have lake access.

Built between 1980 and 1989, Cedar Cove Cluster is located on Cedar Cove Point off South Lakes Drive in South Reston.

Not only do residents have lake access, this super family-friendly neighborhood has a huge playground for the children. Walking through Cedar Cove Cluster on a beautiful day with a gentle breeze rustling the many trees, you feel a bit like you’re at a resort. Yet, you are just minutes from the Reston technology corridor, the Reston Metro station, and the Dulles Toll Road. South Lakes Village Center (home to a few of Reston’s favorite mom and pop restaurants) is just three quarters of a mile up the road.

Cluster residents attend Sunset Hills Elementary, Langston Hughes Middle and South Lakes High School.

Homes that border the lake don’t come on the market often, so when they do, you need to act fast! This neighborhood is worth it.

Summer Ridge Condos, North Point, Reston

North Reston's Summer Ridge Condominiums are not only beautiful inside, the contemporary exterior design has charming cross gabled roofs — the front facing gables are above a column of recessed balconies. The meticulously landscape common areas are a lovely and peaceful view from those balconies. Even with parking in front of the buildings, this just doesn’t feel like a condo community.

Summer Ridge is located off Lake Newport Road just west of Reston Parkway. In fact, it’s just a few blocks from North Point Village Center, so you can walk to grocery store and restaurants. Reston Town Center is less than two miles away, and is easily walkable if you feel inclined. Also within walking distance of Summer Ridge is the Lake Newport Recreation Area with Reston’s only Olympic size pool, or Autumn Wood pool, which has a little more shade. Both are great after a summer walk along the RA paths!

The neighborhood consists of about 170 units built between 1987 and 1988. The neighborhood is laid out with 17 two- and three-story buildings looping around Summerchase Circle and Summerchase Court.  

The condo development features three different models, all of which are modern and feel spacious, despite their modest footprints. Want an open floor plan? They’ve got it along with large picture windows or glass sliding doors opening up to a back patio or balcony. The fabulous design makes you feel like you’re in a much larger space than you are.

  • June Model = 665 square feet with one bedroom and one bath
  • July Model = 952 square feet with two bedrooms and one and a half baths
  • August Model = 1042 square feet with two bedrooms and two baths.

These condos are great for singles looking for a beautiful, but smaller space away from Reston Town Center, but still accessible to everything. Take a look at them today!

Reston VA on Foot

Even in this heat, Restonians love walking. Seriously. Of course, lately I’ve noticed they’re doing it very early in the morning before the heat index gets too high. One of the best features of Reston is the 55 miles of pathways that Reston Association maintains. You can get anywhere in Reston by foot — the path may not always be straight, but if you want to, you can go wherever you want. And you won’t have to cross very many streets to do it.

Reston Association has a comprehensive map of all the trails online, or you can go to the RA offices and get a print version of it. The Fairfax County trail buddy is an interactive map of all the streets and paths, and provides a great way to plan a route before you head out in the heat.

If you want to really get to know Reston, wandering the paths is the best way. Here are some of my favorite walks to get you started.

  • Walker Nature Education Center and Glade, South Reston. From the Center, follow the trailhead and see where it takes you—you have several options. You also have the option of just hanging out at the Center and learning about the wildlife in Reston. But if you do decide to walk, there is a short loop around the property (probably ½ mile), or you can venture off on the RA path that follows Glade. Whatever you choose, you will feel like you are miles from civilization.
  • Lake Anne to Town Center, North Reston. This walk is just shy of 1.5 miles, winding through two of North Reston’s original neighborhoods — Hickory Woods and Coleson Cluster. It’s fun on Saturday mornings in the summer to shop at the Farmer’s Market, then walk up to Town Center for brunch (or park at Town Center, walk to the Farmer’s Market and then walk back — talk about great exercise!).
  • Tall Oaks to Lake Fairfax Park, North Reston. Did you know you can access Lake Fairfax Park from Tall Oaks? A lot of people don’t, but it’s a great way to get to all the biking and hiking trails without dealing with all the summer traffic in the park. The park loop takes about half an hour — longer if you’re with a dog who needs to investigate all the great smells. Park at Tall Oaks Village Center, cross under the underpass and head toward the wooden bridge. When you hit a dirt trailhead, take a left and follow the trail into Lake Fairfax Park. You’ll cross a little creek and then the path opens to what is a large loop. Go left or right and just follow it around.
  • Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston. This loop is just over two miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau (where I guarantee you’ll decide you want to live) and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch at Red’s Table or Cafésano.
  • North Point Loop, North Reston. This is a four-mile loop for those who want a little more exercise. I like this trail because it gives you a sense of the North Point community. These trails take you through several charming neighborhoods, and you’ll notice an abundance of RA pools and tennis courts (in fact, if you do this in the summer, pop into one of the pools for a refreshing dip). After your brisk walk, cross the street over to North Point Village for coffee, ice cream, or a hearty lunch!

Ready to hit the trails? I’m most often on the trails around Lake Anne; maybe we’ll see each other.

Brewing Beer, Building Community at the Lake Anne Brew House

Lake Anne Brew HouseCraft breweries — the American version of a neighborhood pub — are as hot as coffee shops, and I’m thrilled to have a new one at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston. The LAKE ANNE BREW HOUSE embodies everything that is romantic and wonderful about a small business. It has a product the community has been craving; it has committed owners who want to create the best brew house possible while fostering community; it is sited in a place that needs more of both of those things.

What they do: LAKE ANNE BREW HOUSE sells its small-batch, hand-crafted beers directly to loyal customers from our nano-brewery taproom. You won’t find this (delicious) beer anywhere else… unless you take a growler home with you.

Since the day the LAKE ANNE BREW HOUSE opened in May, Restonians have made sure they have a difficult time keeping the brews in stock.

The owners are a husband and wife team — Jason and Melissa Romano. Jason is no newcomer to this craft — in fact, he has received accolades for many of his signature recipes. The BREW HOUSE is a way to scale production to meet the demands of a growing craft beer drinking market.

Melissa is an Architect and designer, and that is obvious the minute you walk through the front doors. The space is beautiful.

Jason and Melissa have a shared goal: to provide an inviting location for the community to gather and appreciate a hand-crafted selection of exceptional beers.

And what, exactly, are those beers? Their flagship brews are Live-Work-Play IPA, Reston Red, Brown’s Chapel Brown Ale, Lake Anne Skinny Dip Kolsch, and Simon’s Stout. Due to their small capacity, they may run out of a listed beer before they have a chance to update their website or Facebook page. So, really, you just need to be there when they open on Thursdays to make sure you can get what you want.

Did I mention the patio? Yes, they have a great one right on the lake. There are few nicer ways to spend a gorgeous summer evening that with friends supporting a local, small business.

Their hours of operation are Thursdays 4pm – 10pm, Fridays 4pm – 11pm, Saturdays 10am – 11pm and Sundays 12pm – 5pm. To find it, use your GPS to 11401 North Shore Dr., Reston, VA 20190. Then just walk to the plaza and head toward the sound of laughter.

Maybe I’ll see you there?

The Clusters of Moorings Drive, Lake Anne Reston

moorings drive restonHave you ever parked on Moorings Drive on your way to the Reston Farmer’s Market and wondered what kind of houses the street leads to? Let me tell you — it’s a wonderful mix of the different styles of Reston town homes. This neighbor is not only charming, it’s quiet and close to everything.

The first cluster on your left is Brookshire, one of the first clusters built in Reston in 1964 and 65. It’s one of Reston’s smallest clusters and has an impressive ratio of green space to homes — 5 acres to 26 homes. Lush green foliage, magnificent old oak trees, interconnecting paths and recreational areas surround the cluster. These two and three bedroom townhomes feature an average of 1,500 square feet of living space.

Then comes Chatham Colony Cluster. This is also a small cluster, with about 45 homes that each has a wooded backyard. These colonial style townhomes have brick exteriors, shuttered windows, and two designated parking spaces. With three bedrooms and full basements, each home offers plenty of space for growing families and empty nesters alike. And like most Reston homes built in the 1970’s, each has beautiful hardwood floors and large windows.

Next on the tour is Wyndmere Cluster, the newest addition to this area. Like all of the townhome clusters off moorings, residents have access to Lake Anne.

Finally, there is Moorings Cluster, built between 1971 and 1972. These spacious three- to five-bedroom townhomes have fantastic views of Lake Anne (70% are direct lakefront properties). Unlike many lakeside townhouse communities, each of the 50 homes in this neighborhood has a garage.

All of these clusters off Moorings Drive have easy access to main roads and public transportation. This is the kind of neighborhood where you can take full advantage of everything Reston has to offer — you can walk to Lake Anne, jog on the nearby Reston Association paths, or be at Reston Town Center in a matter of minutes.

It’s also close to ballparks, pools, tennis courts, the sprinkler park (off North Shore Drive) and more. Many residents have small boats and canoes that they take out on Lake Anne, enjoying a leisurely paddle to the plaza for concerts, festivals and dining. In the summer, residents can walk to the popular Farmer’s Market and Reston Market. Neighborhood residents attend Reston’s Lake Anne Elementary, Langston Hughes Middle and South Lakes High School.

Summer Fun Reston Style

paddle boats on lake anneOne of the things I always talk about is how much Reston has to offer everyone — adults and children alike. I was thinking about this as I chatted with my friend Susan who grew up here in the 1970s and lives here today. She said many of her favorite childhood activities are still things she loves to do — walking down to Lake Anne, swimming in the pools and boating on the lakes.

Susan offered to talk to some of her friends who grew up here to share their favorite activities. I hope this list inspires you to get out and enjoy all that Reston has to offer.

Susan has wonderful summer memories of walking down to the Lake Anne Pharmacy, splashing in the fountain, and dangling her feet off the pier. If she wasn’t doing that, she was exploring the Reston Association paths or lounging at one of the swimming pools. It seemed like summer in Reston lasted forever.

Rick Morgan remembers summer days fishing off the pier at Lake Anne, eating peanut butter sandwiches and buying Coke from Larry at the pharmacy.

“My father would drop me and my brother at Lake Anne on his way to work, and pick us up on his way home,” said Morgan. “If you remember two red-head boys hanging out at Lake Anne all summer in the late 70s, that was us.” (Susan remembers seeing them in the summer.)

These days, Morgan still enjoys Lake Anne. While he no longer spends the whole day fishing off the pier, he loves paddling his hand-made canoe across the lake on his way to the Reston Farmer’s market on Saturday mornings.

Canoeing isn’t the only way to enjoy Reston’s lakes — paddle boarding is quickly becoming a favorite summer activity. Of course, if you don’t have a canoe, barge, or paddle board to explore the lakes, you can rent a paddle boat or kayak at Lake Anne.

Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau offer the opportunity to tie up and enjoy lunch or dinner at an outdoor patio. But if bird watching is what you want, Lake Audubon is the spot. During a leisurely paddle, you’re likely to see heron, loons, cormorants and more.

Lynn Kessler says the walking trails around the Nature Center are one her family’s favorite nature activities.

Summer concerts at Reston Town Center and Lake Anne are fun ways to spend an evening with friends and family. The entertainment style varies, but it’s always free and always a great way to get out and enjoy a beautiful summer evening. Kessler says her children love the water spouts at the west side of Reston town Center.

This summer, hanging out at Red’s Table at South Lakes Village Center and Lake Anne Brew House at Lake Anne joined the list for several people. And even though it hasn’t opened yet, people are anticipating the arrival of the Lake Anne Coffee house.

Yes, Reston is a wonderful place to have a grown up, and a wonderful place to see children (of all ages) enjoying the activities we all loved when we were young.