How on Earth can you have a family restaurant, that’s famous for its meals and excellent service, turn into a nightclub during the evening hours? Ask the folks at P.J. Skidoos in Fairfax, Virginia. This is the only establishment that I’ve seen being able to effectively bridge both gaps, and its pretty amusing to even think about it. During lunch or dinner, I love to take my wife and son here, for one of their fine meals, that can be had for a reasonable cost. Then that same night, I might go “bar hopping” with my buddies, and we will end up here, and get hammered beyond belief. There’s a dance floor, and a large bar that’s whole area can hold up to several hundred guests. Yet during the day church groups dine here for their famous Sunday brunches, and many community groups get together for meals.
P.J. Skidoos has been in business for a long time. It is not some faceless corporation, but rather it is family owned and operated. The majority of its revenue seems to be its lunch and dinner menu, and this restaurant is almost always busy. It doesn’t mean you are going to have to wait a long time for a table, but there are times where it might be five to ten minutes. The host or hostess will keep you informed, and even though there are a lot of people in the dining room area, its not as loud as some other places are. Perhaps it is due to excellent soundproofing materials, or by the fact that the room is spread out in a certain shape, that keeps noise to an acceptable medium.
My personal favorite, and the meal that generates lots of recommendations for this restaurant, is the Prime Rib Meal. It is served in a few sizes, but I always go with the 16 ounce, and always have it cooked medium rare. This delicate and mouth watering steak, that practically melts as soon as you bite it, has a pink color that’s hard to find elsewhere. It has such a flavor to it, that it could be described as rich, and you won’t leave hungry after having this. You get two sides with this for $16.95, and its hard to find such a tasty meal at such a low price in the area. Usually the sides I get are their Cinnamon topped sweet potato, and their green beans, that have a dash of butter and pepper upon them. Of course, this meal wouldn’t be right, unless it has a beer to go with it. You can select almost one hundred foreign and domestic brands.
Do you like seafood? Apparently this restaurant seems to offer this cuisine to the masses, and I’ve been fortunate enough to try their Crab Cakes. They are fried golden brown, and are as good as any I’ve had from the nearby Chesapeake Bay Region. Its amazing how large they are also. A lot of restaurants will give you two that are small in size, but these generous crab cakes will leave your hunger far, far away. If you would like something more traditional, eat either the stuffed trout or the glazed salmon. The orange salmon is about eight ounces in size, is served with vegetables, and is only $13.95. That’s hard to beat on value, and its smothered with red peppers that give it a bit of spice. It won’t offend anyone that’s not into hot food, but the extra bite makes it even more delicious than it would be plain. The steamed vegetables make an excellent pairing, and the wine selection is extensive. You can have wine served by glass, or purchase the whole bottle. If you want to drop over $100 a bottle, they do have Dom perignon.
The staff is very attentive, and I’d say at the most, each server has four tables maximum. Even with that small number, there are other employees who will refill your drinks, and I’ve noticed an “expeditor” in the kitchen guaranteeing efficiency during peak periods. Most of the time your food will be to your table in less than twenty minutes, and appetizers average around eight, leaving plenty of time to get a snack before the main course. The booths and few tables with pull out style chairs are very comfortable. There’s plenty of room, and high chairs are available upon request, although they did on one occasion run out of them. They were kind enough to bring us to a pull out style of table, so that we could keep the stroller as a chair for our young son. If you have children in the five and up years of age category, there’s a decent children’s menu, and there are coloring books with crayons provided to keep them from being antsy.
At night, the dining room is shut down around 10pm, and the bar scene goes on until 2 a.m. The front lobby area becomes a dance floor, where either techno/dance style music is pumped in at a loud volume, or there’s even an occasional band. Most of the bands have been really good, and even though they are local, they do a fine job in providing entertainment with original songs and covers from famous artists. There is no door fee, and the crowd is a mixture of everyone from their early twenties to sixties. Its about a fifty-fifty split ratio for women to men, and on Thursday nights, there are a lot of beautiful sorority gals from nearby George Mason University. That tends to be “college night,” so expect a younger crowd, but Fridays and Saturday nights are “anything goes.” It gets crowded, but I’ve never witnessed any type of hostility. Its very polite, and even though you might have to wait awhile for a beer from the busy bar staff, you might meet someone interesting nearby.
Due to Virginia’s laws changing, you now have to smoke cigarettes and cigars outsides. Thankfully, the restaurant has provided an outdoor patio next to the bar for this. You can even drink your beers, mixed drinks, or glasses of wine out there. This is great when the weather is nice, and it is a place that you can go if you get overburdened by the large crowds inside. The prices for beer and mixed drinks are very reasonable. In fact, even on my wildest of nights, with tip included, I’ve rarely spent $100 for “liquid refreshment.” Although they are incredibly busy, most of the bartenders will remember what you are having, and deliver fantastic service even though rushed. PJ Skidoos is located at 9908 Fairfax Boulevard Fairfax,VA 22030, and can be reached at 703-591-4515. It offers the best of “both worlds”, and I fully recommend it for a meal with your family, or partying the night away.