OZ Restaurant and Bar: Service, Food and Restrooms! Oh my…

I never had a taste or even an idea of Australian food before. But I will say that the brunch at OZ Restaurant & Bar looks WAY more appetizing than what I found on the first page of a google search for Australian Breakfast. I was tempted to try OZ because this restaurant is co-owned by Ashley Darby of The Real Housewives of Potomac. On the show, people didn’t have nice things to say about it. In fact, we always saw OZ as this empty establishment that served unfamiliar food. Our impression was that Ashley and her husband were struggling to break even on their investment and that caused problems in their marriage. However we need to keep in mind that this IS television. Therefore, I decided to check out the restaurant for myself. The yelp ratings weren’t horrible…So how bad could my experience really be?

I picked Sunday because its $35 for bottomless brunch and I am greedy. I went with two of my cousins and some friends. Thankfully we had a reservation because it was a full house. I absolutely loved the decor. It was very inviting with details of bamboo and ivy. Up front are these two stuffed Koloas that we couldn’t help but take selfies with. Oh and I can’t forget the live band. I loved that! So far so good…

Our table for 6 was smack in the middle of the main dinning area. We waited a while before we were greeted by our server. Then out from the curtains in the back comes Ashley’s brother, Zach. Out of all people HE was our server. It’s like they knew I was coming. 馃槢 I have seen him on the show a couple of times so I let him know immediately that I knew who he was. I am not sure if that was a good idea but I thought it would be fun to stroke his ego a little bit. He was a cool kid and he smiled a lot. I am not sure if the “Caz God” was feeling himself after my comment but he wasn’t very attentive to my table AT ALL. He could have been easily been overwhelmed because he appeared to have more tables than the other servers. Well once the rest of my party arrived, we asked Zach for more glasses and another bottle of Champagne for our Mimosas. After waiting FOURTY THREE MINUTES we finally gave up and asked the next server we could find. That server was Alima. Before we could even finish, Alima apologized and came to the rescue with not one but two more bottles for our table. It was THAT simple. After all, bottomless champagne is included. You’d figure they would be readily available, right? Little did we know…we were going to need to be tispy to deal with this place.

In terms of texture, this was between a crepe and a pancake. Not bad…
Breakfast Mac at OZ Restaurant
Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? This pasta was al dente and a bit on the salty side…Nah it was salty AF! But the presentation was nice.

Spaghettiand Egg

As if the service wasn’t slow enough…things started to get strange. My cousin decided to try this dish for herself. When it finally arrived, it looked like the picture to the right.

Our ENTIRE table busted out laughing like a bunch of hyenas. I couldn’t believe my eyeballs. The garnish wasn’t even the same. Not to mention it looked absolutely gross. Of course we sent it back. Then out comes the manager on duty…I believe her name was Ava or Eva. She asked us what was wrong. I mean, YOU TELL US! What happened back there? Were y’all ready to go home? Did chef Brad approve of this? She said they ran out of Orecchiette pasta so they substituted it with freaking spaghetti. Lol A mess.

I even asked her if she thought that was acceptable. And guess what? SHE REALLY DID think it was OK! How? Everything took 30 minutes anyway. I am sure if they communicated the issue with us we could have waited for the right pasta or ordered something else for the time being. Moving on…

Chicken and Doughnuts at OZ Restaurant
This particular dish was on the show. It is certainly an interesting combination of foods. I actually thought it was OK. This would be a runner up to the next dish. The donut is nothing like an American one though. More like a muffin or sweet biscuit.That is slices of mango on top from what I recall.
French Toast at Oz Restauant
This was the only memorable dish to me. Very good! If I were to order a full size brunch plate, this would be it.
Omelette at OZ Restaurant
I had to have eggs. Probably over cooked for some people but it was fine.
Brekkie Taco at OZ Restaurant
Ugh… I recall McDonald’s burritos being better than this and I haven’t had one of those in years. Another disappointment from something that was suggested to us.
Basically left over french toast. Definitely didn’t taste like bread pudding either.

One thing I had that isn’t shown was the Watermelon Rocket salad. I love watermelon but I have to be honest and say it wasn’t as good as the salad I had at Succotash.

Overall, the service was slow as a sloth. This was my first experience at a restaurant where the servers were cool as a fan but terrible at their jobs. The bus boy Alexander actually felt more like our server. Poor thing was so confused. OZ did very little to make up for it either. I was very honest with Zach about my feelings, to which he said he would “take care of us” but in the end…nothing was comped, added or discounted to my table. Turns out he was only joking because he didn’t really “have that kind of pull”. And for that reason, I didn’t even give a full 20% tip. Oh and it took 15 minutes or more to get the check. We had to ask for it. Sadly we were one of the last people there. Can you believe they had the nerve to suggest more than 20% that on the bill? HA! If that wasn’t enough… on the way out, both stalls in the bathroom were unusable due to bodily explosions.

I truly believe the employees let the buzz from RHOP get to their heads. Aside from Alima everyone (including the manager on duty) was oblivious to how bad it was. All I could do is laugh it off. My experience was nothing to write home about… but yet I did. 馃槢 Only for you guys! Oh and chef Brad showed his face a few times. That was the best part. I might be crazy enough to try dinner or happy hour another time but honestly… I don’t live close enough to make it a priority.

One last note: The Bottomless Wycliff Brut only retails for $5. I don’t know much about champagne but I do know I caught a headache from this one before I even got home. LOL Looks like I need to hit up “Champagne Charrisse” and her room for some real bubbly. 馃槢

Update: The Oz Restaurant Instagram page was following me since last year (They even watched my IG stories)… That was until I wrote this review. I thought I was pretty fair…but whatever. I think an apology and invitation back would have been more appropriate, don’t you?

So my question to you is… have you been or will you go to OZ Restaurant and Bar? I would love to hear…

The Mother of All Baby Showers – Luxe Edition

I was recently I was invited as a VIP correspondent for the 5th Annual Mother of All Baby Showers in the DC area. I had a good time getting pampered, showered and drinking mocktails with others moms and moms to be. We all came together at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel for a night of treats and informative sessions about the latest trends and products in both the parenting and blogging industry.

The Key Note speaker was Maria Bailey. That name should ring a bell if you are a blogger. She is the host of Mom Talk Radio and Co-Founder of Mother Nature products.

 

Mother of All Baby Showers Maria Bailey

Around the floor there were tons of great brands such as:

Chicco that featured their latest Fit2 infant car seat that can expand up until age 2

A post shared by Fatima & Noah (@offthepotomac) on

Yummy Randy Cakes in Virginia

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And the story telling assistant Solu Publishing.

This product allows you to share memories in a story format, using recordings and such. I found this cool because something I never shared is that I save voicemails of my elders. I honestly dread the day they will no longer be here and when that time comes, I would like to hear their voice again. This product is the perfect tool for a sentimental person like myself.

The #MOABS event was similar to a convention or job fair with vendors throughout the space. I had a chance to connect one-on-one with representatives and after every speaker, there were major raffle giveaways. And guess what?

I won the final (sort of) grand prize of the night!

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So yea… I went home with a loaded VIP Baby K’tan diaper bag, Comb铆 car seat, Comb铆 stroller and an HP All-In-One printer. Sweet right?

The only thing is…I am not pregnant.

Yet 馃槢 lol

Based on the reactions on social media, I would say you guys are ready for Noah to be a big brother. But for now I guess I will have to share some of these goodies with a few moms to be. Make sure to visit #MOABS to see if there is an event coming to your area!

 

Competitive Edge

Competitive Edge Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

Competitive Edge is a new athletic performance center聽located in Woodbridge, VA. The 18,480 sq. ft. space is specifically聽designed to accommodate a variety of sports with trainers and equipment that will condition young athletes (and adults) to excel in their desired sport. Accommodations include: Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Football, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track & Field, Vertimax Resistance/Jump Training and Wrestling.

However, there聽are two major programs:

Baseball聽which offers athletes hitting and pitching sessions, in addition to private lessons.

Competitive Edge
Courtesy of Competitive Edge

Speed & Agilityto improve聽speed, strength, agility and athletic performance in sports such as basketball, football, track and field, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, baseball and softball.

Competitive Edge
Courtesy of Competitive Edge

You don’t need professional goals to be a member.聽Competitive edge also offers supplemental school programs聽for students in kindergarten through 12th grade during school, after school or the during the summer break. This is a great way for children to keep busy while developing a healthy lifestyle.

It has been one year since聽Competitive Edge opened its doors and Noah and I were happy to help celebrate.聽This recent anniversary event was open to the public. Like most parties, there were lots of goodies and freebies. Guests were given free assessments, food tastings,聽massages, nutritional coaching and membership specials. There were also training stations throughout the facility which included聽Virtual Golf, Sports Performance, Zumba, Vertimax Assessments and a Curveball Machine. Here is a short clip of the facility and some of the fun Noah had that day:

The facility includes 7 indoor batting cages, pitching tunnels, a half basketball and mini-tennis/volleyball sports court, running speed lanes, and a weight room.

We all know that parents of athletes spend a lot of time on the sidelines as their kids train. Competitive Edge has created an environment where parents can multi-task as their kids practice. You can relax in the parent lounge, use聽wi-fi聽to catch up on work-emails or you grab an exercise class upstairs in the Edge Studio.

Competitive Edge Studio
Courtesy of Competitive Edge

Speaking of the聽Edge Studio….this area聽also serve as a unique multi-use space聽for your next special event. Whether you are hosting ceremony or birthday you can rent this 2,200 sq. ft. space in addition to the batting cages.聽There are several party packages that you can choose from. And if party planning, decorating and catering is not your thing, those聽services can聽arranged for a fee as聽well.

Special thanks the聽Operations Manager,聽Shanel Evans for the invitation. Shanel has two of three children who are athletes themselves. She first聽started with a youth track club for seven聽years but was looking for a better space for the kids. It was only聽natural for her to become a聽Co-Partner at Competitive Edge.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Competitive Edge, and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.

Santa's Flight Academy Fair Oaks Mall

Access Granted: Santa’s Flight Academy In Fair Oaks Mall

During the holidays, lines can get pretty long as families wait to take聽pictures with Santa at the mall. Lucky for the DMV,聽Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, VA is taking this traditional experience to a new level.聽You little ones are less likely to be restless because they will be training for Santa’s Flight Academy聽before they see Santa himself.

 

 

During this process kids will create their own聽flight badge that will be scanned聽at several interactive stations. Yes, this is more than聽just pretend…these machines actually recognize your child’s name. Isn’t that cool?

 

Santa's Flight Academy Fair Oaks Mall

 

Here are some聽of the things your little cadet will be doing during training at Santa’s Flight Academy:

  • Taking measurements for their flight suit.
  • Verifying their identity.
  • Filling up Santa’s sleigh.
  • Choosing Santa’s gift route – adjusted to weather conditions.
  • Powering up the sleigh with their Christmas cheer. If you hear screams coming from around聽center court in the mall, don’t be alarmed. LOL
  • Celebration and dance party before meeting聽and taking pictures Santa (Prices vary based on package).

 

Santa's Flight Academy Fair Oaks Mall

 

Want to see more? Visit our Instagram page聽for a video of our son, Noah in training.聽If you visit聽Santa’s Flight Academy, let us know by tagging聽#OffThePotomac.

Disclosure: I was invited for VIP breakfast with Santa and preview of Santa’s Flight Academy in Fair Oaks Mall聽courtesy of Northern Virginia Housewives.I have volunteered to聽share my experience with you.

Willams Sonoma Provisions Tableware

Set Your Table Fancy and Give Thanks with Whole Foods Market for the Holidays

*Disclosure: I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market and was compensated for my work but all words and opinions are my own.*

 

I was recently invited for an聽exclusive tasting at Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes. The event was located upstairs in聽their beautiful Enoteca Wine Room. I would actually love a table like this in my home. It was聽set with dinnerware from聽Williams Sonoma聽and the聽center piece from their sister store, Pottery Barn.

 

Whole Foods Wine

 

Each year Whole Foods puts out a list of Top 10聽11 or 12 wines and I was lucky enough to try quite a bit. If you know me personally, my picks of the night were predictable. I loved聽the Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc (White) and the Andover Estate Pinot Noir (Red). Sparkling anything is usually聽not my favorite but the Camino Calixo Cava聽did a great job cleansing my聽palate between tasting and before dessert. Somehow I ended up going home with a the Santa Juila Malbec Del Mercado. It’s聽bigger bottle may or may not have had something to do with my decision. LOL I mean…with it being聽Thanksgiving聽and my birthday next week, I am ready to celebrate. 馃槈

 

Williams Sonoma of Fair Oaks聽really set the tone with聽an elegant display of their products. Growing up I always remembered there being so much food and people during Thanksgiving that we would just grab a paper plate and eat where we could. Now that I have a family and home of my own, I look forward to setting our table real fancy. What about you? Do you ever get around to dressing your table like this for the holidays?

 

Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving

 

Williams Sonoma of聽Fair Oaks聽 also complimented the evening with simple聽tips for stepping up聽your table decor. The two major keys were:

  1. DON’T be”matchy”.
  2. DO聽have fun and聽use different textures, linens and colors.

 

Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving

You don’t have to spend a lot either. Start with your everyday plain dinnerware then聽add pops of color like shown above.聽Pictured is the聽French White Porcelain layered with the聽Plymouth Collection from Williams Sonoma.

But if all this decorating stuff goes over your head, Williams Sonoma will come out to your home for FREE and help you. That includes working on your menu and聽with the dinnerware you already have. No purchase necessary.

 

Whole Foods Nova Thanksgiving

 

I don’t know about you but eating is an experience for me. I need my food to look just as good as it tastes and Whole Foods Market passed the test. I don’t have a favorite because everything was good. Just like on聽Thanksgiving, my plate had A LOT of sides and just a little bit of turkey. My聽favorite side is Mac and Cheese. Sadly it wasn’t served, but the good news is that Whole聽Foods Market聽does have a pretty good Mac & Cheese which聽can be聽included in one of your dinner packages. If聽time or talent is not on your side, don’t be ashamed to聽buy a few items or an entire meal. Right now their Traditional Turkey聽Dinner is on sale which聽feeds 6-9 people聽for only $89聽(add聽$10 if you want聽all organic). The turkey however is聽uncooked. So聽please don’t forget to聽give yourself enough time to throw it in the oven before your guests arrive. Oh and聽the plastic boxes too! 馃槈 Nobody has to know you barely lifted聽a finger. 馃槢

Remember…whether聽you’re聽the guest or the host, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Spending time with our family and friends is just as important.

 

Even though Thanksgiving overshadows my birthday every year, it’s hands down my favorite holiday!

Now who’s ready to eat? Whole Foods Market is now taking orders!

Visit聽shop.wholefoodsmarket.com聽and make your in-store reservation or purchase online by November 22nd, 2016, and receive $10 off your next 2016 holiday order of $75 or more.

Valid only in USA. Limit one coupon per customer.

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Great-Falls-Park-Virginia

Inside Great Falls Park, Virginia

Sings:

Do you know what today is? (It’s our anniversary).

Tony Toni Tone聽

One year ago today, 聽I decided to start over. To refocus my energy into to things that made me happy again. Off The Potomac is a direct reflection of my effort to do so. To some it may seem cheesy celebrating a blog anniversary but to me it is a chance to look back on my journey, admire my growth and take pride in what remains consistent. I am going on my 12th year of sharing pieces of me and I have no regrets. But unlike my past blogs, I can look all 85聽posts that proceed this one and smile. This is really聽who and where I yearn be. Blogging will always be therapeutic – a place where I have been the most vulnerable and accepted. I appreciate every view, comment and share. Who knew that a girl who couldn’t stop talking about missing Brooklyn would have a blog dedicated聽to love her for the DMV?

I wanted to celebrate my anniversary with a place聽I should have come 8 years ago. Great Falls Park in Virginia. It’s perfect聽since I love the outdoors and many of us in the DC area get our drinking water from the Potomac River. It is honestly a shame that I have lived and worked so close to this park for years. I drove by this place and took for granted that I would get around to it one day.

Admission is $10 for cars and $5 per walk-in. But don’t trip on the cost because it is worth it – especially if it means keeping this place in good hands.

 

THE VISITOR CENTER

Great-Falls-Park-Virginia

 

THE OUTLOOKS

OffThePotomac_Great_Falls_Virginia - 10

 

THE TRAILS

Great-Falls-Park-Virginia

THE PEOPLE

Great-Falls-Park-Virginia

 

 

THE GLORY

Great-Falls-Park-Virginia

 

Of course you know I enjoyed every bit of it. So many trails and levels of terrain. This is a great local place to satisfy your hiking needs. Although its consider kid-friendly, I wouldn’t recommend 聽exploring like we did with a child as young as ours. There are three outlooks that are relatively safe but for small children, its best to utilize the inner, less scenic trails with kids. Noah gave me a heart attack a few times because he is fast and fearless. I hate to sound morbid but adults do die here every year. Go back to “The People” gallery above you will know聽why. Some of it was illegal but聽enjoyed watching them all. I wish I had more time to watch that guy set up his climb….

Well I hope you enjoyed year one of life “Off The Potomac”. Cheers to a few more… 馃槈

Roswell-Plantation-Ruins-Gloucester

Historic Landmarks: Inside The Rumored Haunted Rosewell Plantation Ruins in Gloucester, VA

If you have been a reader since day one, you would know that every summer we go to my family house in Eastern Virginia. Normally we treat it like a Summer home and just go down there to relax but this year I wanted to be a tourist. So I stumbled across the Rosewell Plantation as frequently visited site.

The Rosewell Plantation is located way off the main road so the more you drive, the narrower the streets become as the trees begin to close you in. There were still homes along the way but all I could think of was how long of a carriage ride this would be and if my car broke down during the present day, how would I get out?

 

Roswell-Plantation-Ruins-Gloucester

 

We first stopped by the visitors center where we saw a short movie and received a quick history lesson while looking at some of the artifacts that were recovered from the mansion.

Some facts:

  • Ancestral home to three generations of the Page Family – one of the first families in Virginia.
  • The mansion took 34 years to build. Once completed in 1725, it became the largest mansion in Virginia and one of the finest homes in American during the colonial times.
  • It took the labor of around 300 slaves to upkeep the grounds.
  • A huge fire claimed the property in 1916 and here is what is left it today:

 

Roswell-Plantation-Ruins-Gloucester

 

Can you imagine living in a home with 17 fireplaces?

 

Roswell-Plantation-Ruins-Gloucester

 

Beforehand, I had no clue of the reported paranormal activity. I am not into haunted things so I really didn’t feel anyone else’s presence but I will say that once I made it on the main grounds, the bugs and soggy soil made my desire for exploration pretty difficult. Noah wanted to go down this trail towards the ice house but I couldn’t do it. Nothing in me wanted to see the remains that bad so we turned around back to the car.

 

Roswell-Plantation-Ruins-Gloucester

 

The spooky stories include sightings of a little boy who died helping with construction, a woman floating down the front steps and of course the sounds of working slaves (that may have even been buried behind the walls). I wasn’t trying to stayed long enough to see for myself. I guess you can say I was spoked out after all. But what I did find bordering the property were thousands of shells that seem to have made its way from the York River.

 

OffThePotomac_RoswellRuins_Gloucester - 3 (1)

 

There is a story behind this but I forgot. 馃槢

 

OffThePotomac_RoswellRuins_Gloucester - 2 (1)

 

A part of me wanted to take a shell home but I looked over to my left and saw this…

 

OffThePotomac_RoswellRuins_Gloucester - 1 (1)

 

and thought “Nah…do I really want to take the chance of bringing negative energy home?” LOL

 

Despite what is engraved on this very headstone, there are conflicting reports on where the bodies actually remain. I don’t know what to believe but I did put the shell back where I found it and went about my merry little way. 馃槢

 

The most interesting thing about it all is that when I was discussing my family history and names… guess what name came up?

 

PAGE. 

And there was no way my ancestors could have been the owners. We even have vintage luggage with the Page name:

 

 

For more information about this historic landmark, visit Rosewell.org

Holmes-Run-Alexandria

Scenic Trails: Holmes Run II in Alexandria, VA

I feel like I am giving away a secret here. I use to live in Alexandria and Holmes Run II聽was my escape. I believe my husband and I came upon this location on a bike ride one year and I have been going back ever since. It was my place to ride, run, and sit peacefully for a few hours at a time. I visited here all throughout my pregnancy and when Noah was for, 聽it only took a few weeks before I returned. What I am sharing with you is聽only a potion of the easy 6-mile trail. You will cross water at least four times and there is also small playground towards the end…that’s if you REALLY want go with kids. lol

 

Holmes-Run-Alexandria

 

There is so much green that聽even the hottest day won’t keep you away. You can come for the shade, dip your fit in the water and watch trout pass you by. If you’re lucky, you will even see a Blue Heron or two. 聽I will warn you… when you look up Holmes Run it will take you to the other side towards Cameron Park. That’s not where this one is. All this serene beauty can be found towards the end聽of the trail (North side) with an entrance on Columbia Pike. Very easy to miss.

 

Holmes-Run-Alexandria

 

More than likely you will find a favorite spot off the trail and just stay there. I went to mine and found I had some company. You ever see someone alone and just wonder what is on their mind? Don’t worry, I left him alone.

 

Holmes-Run-Alexandria

 

Since I聽started going to yoga again, it felt like the perfect time to break out a tree-pose with Mother Nature. When聽I get outdoors, I am happy…even if the mosquitos love me.