by Kristen Lane
I recently had the pleasure of dining at one of Ashburn’s more catchy dining establishments, Ford’s Fish Shack. A favorite to the local crowd and always said to be one of the best restaurants in town, I was very excited to try them out for dinner.
Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted and taken promptly to our table. The bar was all hustle and bustle for their seemingly popular Happy Hour – actually, it was packed. The ambience is reminiscent of Coastal Maine, in a good way. This is clearly a very versatile spot as it welcomes everything from the 9-5 commuters to the family of five, trying to make it an easy going evening.
Our waiter Matt was very quick to come to table and grab our drinks and answer any questions. I happen to bring a few unexpected guests, my two boys, to assist me in trying some of the dishes. We started with an order of 1 lb of the Angry Mussels; let me tell you, these were probably some of the best mussels I have had in years. They are served with Ciabatta Bread, Garlic, Chorizo, Tomatoes and Onions. The Mussels were each tender and melted in your mouth. The sauce they are served with made for not only the perfect pairing for the Mussels, but the Ciabatta Bread dipped in that sauce is to die for! You won’t want to stop till the plate is empty.
Rumor on the Street (or rather suggestion from Matt and the other friendly servers who assisted us) is that the top two dishes are the ½ Rack and Tail for $24.00, and the Lobstah Roll at Market Price. Also the Fish and Chips was named one of the 40 dishes in DC by the Washington Post.
I went in for the Lobstah Roll. At first sight I could see that the meat was amazingly well portioned, I even wondered if the meat was so chunky it would be too hard to eat! After my first bite, I quickly realized that I would be taking a fork and knife to it, I didn’t mind. There was so little mayo dressing, yet just enough to add a good flavor without hindering the delicious lobster. The lobster was cooked to perfection – I couldn’t have been happier. The kids both enjoyed their own dishes. One ordered the ½ lb of snow crab legs. I felt for a kids meal, it was a great portion and presentation. The crab legs were a little tricky at times to get the meat effectively, but with my help, he managed, and yes – he ate every bite! My other child couldn’t go wrong; Mac and Cheese. This was no Craft Easy Mac – it tasted homemade; there were no leftovers from either of them, seriously, unheard of.
If you have room, and I suggest you try to save some – get dessert! I ordered the seasonal Key Lime Pie. There was a very thin graham crust and the pie was thick and decadent, you may need to share this, but you won’t want to.
All in all this was a nearly flawless dining experience. Compared to other dining options in the area, going for a smaller, more personalized establishment is always pleasant and this is a great change of pace. I understand their brunch is also fabulous, I will certainly be back very soon.
Owner/Chef Tony Stafford and wife, Ana, opened the Ashburn location in September, 2010 and the South Riding location in 2013.
Prior to Ford’s, Tony served as Executive Chef for a handful of restaurants from 1997 to 2003, including Artie’s in Fairfax and Rock Bottom in Arlington, VA. He went on to become a Managing Partner at Bonefish Grill in Centreville, VA.