Monday, September 3, 2007

Alexandria: culinary hotspot?

The New York Times has a great article talking up Alexandria as a hot new dining destination, giving brief reviews and even a map for the foodie tourist.

But for those of us who aren't tourists, Old Town has been a great spot for years. Most special occasions in my childhood were marked by a trip to the Chart House, a large preppy restaurant right on the river that features fabulous clam chowder, a lush salad bar, and classic steak and potatoes fare. That place has been there for years, as has the equally great Bilbo Baggins, a homey self-proclaimed "global" style eatery with awesome wine and beer and sustainable food practices. (Owned by Hobbit obsessed hippy-boomers, I guess?) The last time I went there I had potato gnochi with an apple sage cream sauce, an awesome glass of white wine, and a great conversation with the waiter (if not with my date).

While both of those restaurants are moderately pricey and consistent, the new crop that the article focuses on are considerably more glitzy and experimental, drawing away top chefs from the district and offering less of the safe, corporate fare that spots like the Blue Duck Tavern and Jaleo have been tending towards lately. I recently went to the very affordable Rustico with Sara, and with its spoon mosaics and lofty ceilings it seemed worlds away from the wood-paneled charm of a place like Bilbo Baggins. We had a wild mushroom pizza with goat cheese, and some fries with an amazing fire-roasted tomato sauce. It also offers a charming "mosaic" menu, which is a tapas-style menu of smaller plates matched with a complimentary beer. Not as appealing to me because of a distinct lack of vegetarian options, but definitely a treat for the beer lover in your life.
For the general booze-hound, Restaurant Eve is not to be missed. I recently read an article in the Post about their sommelier extraordinaire, Todd Thrasher and his skills were confirmed by a cocktail visit. (New Age Gibson, anyone?) As for the food, I'll have to wait until my next paycheck comes in, but its also supposed to be wonderful. Can anyone attest to this, or any of the other stops lauded in the Times article?


Priya said...

Great Post Tina!

I've always wanted to try Rustico--good to know about the veg options.

Ms. P said...

I'd like to check out Restaurant Eve. It's run by the same guy that owns PX, no? Anyone up for it?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lea said...

Great work.