By Debby Critchley
Some friends introduced me to a little gem at 2500 Columbia Pike. Celtic House Irish Pub and Restaurant opened near the first of the year by Michael McMahon (the genial host), Rolando Canales (chef), and a third partner. It features an eclectic menu of good food and drink. There are lots of TVs scattered throughout the bar and restaurant so expect some noise. You can bring your dog and let him roam the mini dog park next to the patio while you enjoy your meal. We started with Irish egg rolls filled with corned beef, cabbage, and carrots served with a spicy mustard sauce. Delightful. I ordered the roast chicken that came with creamy mashed potatoes and nicely cooked fresh vegetables. Loved the food but Chef Rolando needs to learn how to make chicken gravy. The two lump crab cakes were quite good-lots of tasty crab with very little binder. What made them even better was the sweet potato hash. It was nicely seasoned and a pleasing companion to the crab. A nightly special was the Seafood Pasta. Loaded with scallops, shrimp, and salmon with a white wine butter sauce over linguine, it was delicious! Did I mention the bread? It was beyond good. It was a dense yet light version of Irish soda bread. Bartender Kevin pours a good drink and offers a wide selection of beers and wine. The restaurant offers a $6 Wee Ones’ menu too. Weekly specials include the all day Monday $5 Celtic burger and fries, Tuesday is Pie and Pint night for $12, Wednesday features wings and Trivia starting at 8 pm. Thursday is Ladies Night with food and drink specials, and Friday and Saturday feature Chef’s dinner specials. Have Sunday brunch from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm for $16.
Several Zebra staffers attended “Soil to Soul”, a block party fundraiser benefiting the Old Town Farmer’s Market SNAP Dollar Matching Program held at Jackson 20 courtyard at the Hotel Monaco. The evening featured dining and drinks from neighborhood restaurants. We enjoyed seasonal bites from local restaurants that used the best products from local farms. Adam from Jackson 20 hosted a cash bar featuring a seasonally inspired cocktail made with local berries, cinnamon, and brandy. The evening highlighted select Virginia wines and local brews from breweries such as Port City Brewing Company. BRABO featured their house-made pork sausage served on a bed of braised Savoy cabbage and tomato puree. The Grille at Morrison House created a spicy gazpacho with grilled shrimp and garnished with pickled celery and preserved lemons. Vermillion served a late summer harvest salad composed of faro, yellow squash, broccoli, zucchini, and eggplant with a chervil lemon vinaigrette. SELO brought samples of their smoked salmon, bacon, pickled vegetables. They also featured their wild boar pate. Senzu Juices represented Ease Yoga with a selection of six types of cold pressed juices. We were entertained by Dan Barry on guitar throughout the evening.
The Evening Star announced that Keith Cabot is their new executive chef. Chef Cabot brings a refined and regional focus to the Evening Star, with a brand new seasonal American menu debuted on Saturday, Oct. 3. Chef Cabot has cooked at some of the country’s most notable farm to table restaurants. He leverages his relationships with local farmers and will capitalize on the unique resource of the Evening Star rooftop garden where he plans to grow heritage varietals of radishes, lettuces and other produce for the menu. Look for dishes such as Pork Croquettes with shaved rooftop squash, paprika aioli and toasted Virginia peanuts; Roast Chicken Breast with yellow wax beans, marinated cow peas, toasted almonds and madras curry carrot purée; and Rainbow Trout with roasted beets, buttered leeks, potato coins, buttermilk sorrel sauce, as well as the addition of “Family Share” plates like Chili Braised Lamb Shoulder with Grilled Romaine Hearts.
Noe Landini (Landini Brothers, The Fish Market, and Bar Deco) and Nathan Hatfield (Baker from Restaurant Eve, Society Fair, and Le Diplomate) are taking ownership of Mancini’s as you may have heard. Much will remain the same – restaurant and bakery with both indoor and outside seating. They will be adding sales and delivery of bread and other items to additional restaurants in the area. The restaurant and bakery will be renamed Baker’s Bread. Barbara Mancini said in a note to her customers, ”I especially would like to thank my customers whom I tried to serve as best I could, my catering clients, my wholesale accounts, my cooking class students. It’s been a ride. A bumpy, fun-filled, thrilling one. But it’s time to get off this roller coaster and try a new ride. I’m not going anywhere, I still live in the hood, and you can still contact me.”
Clarendon’s newest pizza joint plans to open its doors this month. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, 1119 N. Hudson St. hopes to start serving pizza and beer mid-October, barring any construction delays, according to Tim Miner, the director of marketing for the company. In addition to regular and gluten-free pizza, Brixx serves sandwiches, pasta, beer, wine, and cocktails, according to its website. Brixx does not plan to have any grand opening specials, but will start “business as usual” on the opening day, he said. The restaurant will have wine specials on Sundays and Thursdays and craft beer specials on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Miner could not elaborate on the deals because of Virginia law, he said. The pizza joint also features buy one, get one pizza, and appetizers after 11 p.m.
Rumor has it that Old Town Alexandria may be getting a high-end Japanese restaurant. Chef Yuh Shimomura has plans to open Nasime, a small 20-seat restaurant at 1211 King St., according to planning documents filed with the City. Shimomura trained in Ginza, Japan and has 15 years experience preparing top-notch Japanese cuisine. The location is part of The Lamplighter holdings which will remain at 1205 and 1207 King St. The plans include a 1,000 square foot restaurant with seating for eight at a bar and three tables. There will also be a private dining room.
Capital Teas is planning a new location at 1201 S. Joyce St. by early November. The store will sell a variety of loose teas, tea infusers, teacups, teapots and other tea accessories. It’s tentatively expected to open by the end of fall. “Our Pentagon Row location will have the exact same tea selection of 60 specialty teas and infusions as we have at our other stores, and the same collection of modern and exciting tea-ware, but Pentagon Row will also have a somewhat expanded tea beverage menu to serve our patrons who may be ice skating on the adjacent rink this winter, or who are just enjoying time outdoors,” CEO Peter Martino said. The Pentagon Row location will be the first Capital Teas store to add matcha shots to the beverage menu. Customers will be able to buy matcha shots or add it to other drinks, Martino said. Capital Teas is an Annapolis based chain, and this will be the 16th store to open.
Sugar Shack fans are adjusting to a new schedule. If you didn’t know, the hours are now Sunday through Thursday: 6:30 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday: 6:30 am to 10:00 pm. Slightly different schedule. Same great donuts. If you are missing your Corner Bakery fix in Crystal City, look for two local chain restaurants –Sweetgreen and Taylor Gourmet to take over the space. “The Crystal City location should be opening by the end of the year though we don’t have a firm date to share just yet,” said a PR rep for Sweetgreen.
And, if you haven’t been to the Harris-Teeter in Old Town lately, you are missing some great breads exclusive to the store. Capitol Baking Company is an all natural artisan bakery committed to bringing great tasting breads to people. They bake their breads and pastries with time, love, and only real ingredients. I’ve tried the Challah and Cinnamon Raisin and have enjoyed both. They also feature several whole grain and artisan wheat varieties. I also recommend their Hearty Jewish Rye. Capitol Baking is bringing fresh Bethesda Bagels and Chantilly Donuts to the store too. All are worth a trip to HT.