ALEXANDRIA, VA- The north end of Old Town is jumping with new restaurant choices. Oak Steakhouse, 901 N. St. Asaph, is now open for cocktail hour and dinner. It is the sixth Oak Steakhouse in the chain from Charleston, South Carolina’s Indigo Road Hospitality. The Alexandria location is the site of the former Old Town Giant. The interior of the restaurant is filled with dark woods with seating in dark red leather. The space is divided into several rooms including a 14-seat bar, and a seating area with a clear view of the open kitchen. The surroundings are elegant yet comfortable and cozy. The menu provides a new dimension to dining out in Alexandria by offering fresh seafood, a raw bar, and a variety of dry-aged beef, including Wagyu. The new development includes West Elm, Row House (a fitness studio), Sisters Thai restaurant, and another restaurant to come.
Just down the street is another interesting taste. If you’ve been to China and lamented our lack of authentic Chinese food, you must try Yunnan by Potomac at 814 N. Fairfax St. The menu features noodle dishes from Yunnan Province, the original home of owner and general manager Zongmin Li. The mixian are gluten free rice noodles that form the basis of Yunnan cuisine and form the basis for the soups and bowls served here. These bowls are made for slurping. The vegan Muogu Shitake bowl of mixian is like eating in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. Filled with mushroom broth, sautéed shitake mushrooms and onion, aged tofu, pickled mustard greens, pickled radishes, purple cabbage, carrots, and spinach, it will transport to you to the little noodle houses that dot the Yunnan countryside. The Grandma Parou is the soup your grandma would make for you, if she was Yunnanese. Its chicken bone broth is loaded with poached and pulled chicken, purple cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, carrots, pickled mustard greens, and braised tea egg. Each bowl is garnished with scallions, cilantro, and chili oil. Cool off with an unusual and refreshing lemon or chrysanthemum iced teas. Beer and wine are also available.
One of Zebra’s favorite pizza places is growing and changing, thanks to its CEO! Washington, D.C.’s prolific and award-winning chef, Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground, Maketto, Brothers and Sisters, and Spoken English has joined &pizzaas executive chef. Bruner-Yang is modifying the menu to include three new categories, including Sure Things, classics with a twist; The Hits, existing &pizza signature pizzas; and Wild Cards, a changing menu of seasonal items. Bruner-Yang is a long-time friend of &pizza CEO Michael Lastoria. Another Zebra favorite, Eric Reid, most recently affiliated the Common Plate Hospitality Group, has left to join the kitchen at Evening Star, 2000 Mt, Vernon Ave., teaming with their executive chef Jonathan Till. Chef Eric helped open Augie’s Mussels and Catch on the Avenue for CPHG. We’re looking forward to his touch in the kitchen.
As announced in an earlier column, the Shoppers in Seven Corners is closing by Sept. 1. It will be converted to a Giant Food after a $750,000 renovation. The Shoppers on Little River Turnpike was also converted to a Giant. There is no word about the fate of the recently renovated Shoppers in Potomac Yards. According to a spokesperson for the owner, UNFI: “At this time, all other Shoppers locations remain open and committed to serving the needs of our customers, while the company continues to make progress working with various potential buyers on the divestiture of Shoppers.”
Speaking of conversions, it appears that the former Bombay Curry Company, 2607 Mt. Vernon Ave., will reopen as a new Indian restaurant. Paperwork was filed in July by Sanjjav Oyuntsetsey to take over the property of Balraj Bhasin. We wish everyone good luck in their future endeavors.
The Study is a new craft cocktail and dining concept launched at Morrison House in Old Town. The new lounge sees itself as a gathering place for locals and hotel guests to escape the bustle of King St. The Study features unique cocktails and a menu of seasonally inspired small plates. Executive Chef Peter McCall also oversees the new menu concept at Jackson 20 Restaurant and The Alexandrian. Chef McCall developed a menu to complement the craft cocktails with small, shareable plates with an emphasis on local product of the season. The Study creates a welcoming and intimate escape, with live piano entertainment Thursday through Saturday night. The Study will also host a variety of specials and local events throughout the year in conjunction with the Old Town community.
Closings are popping up in Old Town. We mourn the loss of Society Fair, 277 S. Washington St. This lovely location offered a gourmet food market, bistro, bakery, butchery, demo kitchen, and catering service. Originally opened by Cathal and Meshel Armstrong as part of Eat Good Food Group, Society Fair was purchased by Nadine Brown and her husband Dan Fisher almost a year and half ago. Many of the dishes offered reflected Fisher’s experience cooking for Armstrong and Brown’s history with Charlie Palmer Steak. Another set of closings were also the creations of Eat Good Food Group. Eamonn’s the Dublin Chipper and PX, both at 728 King St., closed on July 27, partially victims of the cost of doing business in Old Town Alexandria. Owner and cocktail maven Todd Thrasher said, “Rent is just expensive.” In 2006, PX was the first in the speakeasy movement in bars and part of the beginning of the craft cocktail movement. Eamonn’s featured authentic battered cod deep fried to golden deliciousness and accompanied by amazing chips (fries).
Local restaurants are garnering lots of awards and recognition. Eater DC provides an elite list of 38 essential classic and modern restaurants in the D.C. area. This summer’s list includes a local favorite, Peking Gourmet at 6029 Leesburg Pike. This local icon has been around since 1978 and is well known in the metro area for its Peking Duck. They carve a delicious duck tableside, served with hoisin sauce, pancakes, and spring onion slivers from the restaurant’s own farm. Several other dishes feature produce from their farm, including fresh herbs and stir-fried garlic sprouts.
Swing’s Coffee, 501 E. Monroe Ave., has been named one of the metro area’s essential coffee shops. The roastery and coffee shop took over the former location of Gold Crust Bakery in 2013. The Del Ray location coffee bar features single-origin, pour-over coffee and espresso and their signature cold-brewed iced and nitro coffee on tap.
Last but not least, Alexandria Summer Restaurant Week is almost here. For 10 days and two weekends, more than 70 restaurants in Alexandria will offer a $35 three-course dinner for one or a $35 dinner for two during Alexandria Summer Restaurant Week, August 16-25. Some are also offering lunch and brunch specials. Here’s your chance to try out one of those restaurants you’ve wondered about. Look for our full listing of the participating restaurants and what they are offering. Try something new for not a lot of money. You might find yourselves a new favorite!
Until next time, eat well and enjoy.
Do you have a tip or some restaurant news you want to see in print? Just let me know at Debbyc@thezebrapress.org.