When I thought about testing RJ Cooper's Gypsy Soul in Merrifield, VA, I realized that the smaller plates and sides looked so good in the online description that it would be a waste to order the more expensive main courses. It's always more risky to take a flyer on a dish that costs around $26, right? This is not the kind of place, though, where you cant trust the onlne menu, and we wound up ordering two beginners and two mains.
Both beginners were 'WOW' dishes: bome marrow with sea urchin, and the pole beans with an egg. No need to traipse downtown and lock ourselves into a tasting menu to get food this great!
But the bigger plates fell into the kind of trap I often see at good restaurants: the bland takes over. The pork belly was a very large piece simply seared, served with 'cape beans' - which tasted just like field peas - and some matchsticks of compressed apple (as we were told), which were kind of wimpy in texture and flavor.
The other main we tried was rabbit, made into a roulade, with a faintly sweet braising liquid and a mild spinach puree. Also turned out to be quite bland.
This seems like a place where many an astounding meal can be had, but at first be cautious and lean toward the smaller plates.