‘The Meal Train Diary’ of a Grateful Food Editor

What local restaurant dishes did food editor, Debby Critchley, enjoy while on her "meal train" dining adventures? Find out here!

Alexandria, VA – It’s good to be back! For those who are unaware, I took a bad fall and ended up needing a shoulder replacement. Typing with your non-dominant hand is not easy but I’m getting better. Let me give a shout-out to Wayne Hulehan for creating a Meal Train. For those not familiar, this app allows folks to sign up to provide meals for those needing help. The Alexandria community stepped up and kept this foodie very happy. I won’t mention anyone by name, but I have had amazing wild rice soup, mac ‘n cheese, ravioli, and spinach and cheese enchiladas that made me swoon.

Restaurants stepped up too. RT’s, 3804 Mt. Vernon Ave., provided their amazing She-crab soup, probably the best in the area. A dinner of their Crab and Crawfish Stuffed Flounder was stuffed with crab and crawfish imperial with a crab butter cream sauce. Accompanied by great shoestring-style French fries, it was a meal fit for a king (queen). I suggest you order soon for takeout or community delivery for a great meal of Cajun and Creole flavors.

Have you tried Delia’s Alexandria, 209 Swap Fox Rd.? You should! You will forget about Buffalo wings once you try their Herb Grilled Wings covered in a chipotle honey sauce and accompanied with a Greek vinaigrette and a sweet parsley cucumber sauce that beg to be mixed. And if there is any sauce left, grab some veg and finish it off. Their Grilled Lamb Chops are amazing, featuring domestic lamb, olive oil, lemon, crushed garlic, rosemary, oregano, sautéed broccolini, and Greek fries. They will be erecting a tent for outdoor dining very soon while also offering curbside takeout.

BRABO, 1600 King St., provided me with a herbed roast chicken that tasted like the chicken grandma would make. So juicy and flavorful! It included a white bean cassoulet with braised fall greens, and red wine sauce. Pate De Campagne was fabulous with its petit salad, grain mustard, cornichons, and grilled rustic bread. Throw in an amazing pumpkin cheesecake and I’m was a happy camper!

Taste of Asia, 362 S. Pickett St., has kept me happy with all sorts of dishes including Singapore noodles, hot and sour soup, dumplings, and sushi to just name a few. Judy Lu is making sure I never go hungry.

Do you like quiche? There are four varieties offered by MB Bakery on the Go, 3103-3107 Colvin St. I don’t know what’s better, the fillings or the crust. I admit to saving some crust for my last bite. You can find their wide variety of baked goods at the Old Town Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or by calling in an order for pickup or delivery.

The crew from Aldo’s Italian Kitchen, 2850 Eisenhower Ave., was generous also. The restaurant is open Monday through Fridays for lunch and dinner. Dine inside, outside on the patio, or carryout. There are so many fabulous items on the menu, it’s hard to choose. The Aldo’s Arancini with three of their fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella and sausage will make you blow you away. The San Gennaro Sausage sammie is not your usual sausage and peppers. Imagine instead, a sloppy joe mash up of sautéed peppers and onions served on hero bread. A knife and fork is recommended!

Keep on Smokin!

Although pizza seems to be a really popular option during this time, BBQ has lots of options. Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ, 220 N. Lee, is open for pickup and delivery. Arlington is really smoking up a storm with several new offerings including Ruthie’s All Day located at 3411 5th Street South. Chef Matt Hill wants this family-friendly restaurant in Arlington Heights to be one that you can bring your kids. Offerings include smoked pork shoulder, brisket and sticky spareribs served family style befitting his North Carolina roots. There are several of seafood options including scallops and trout, along with chicken, burgers, and steaks. Vegetarians can enjoy a smoked honey nut squash. Customers can order to go from a counter and have full-service dinner during the weekdays. Full-service brunch will be available on weekends. Neighborhood Restaurant Group is opening a BBQ pop-up, Mountain Song Barbecue at Columbia Firehouse, 109 S. St. Asaph. Oak and hickory will flavor a variety of meats under the direction of pit master Matt Deaton.

Cha Cha Cha Changes

Favorite French chef of BRABO, 1600 King St., has left to open a coffee shop and patisserie, Grounded Coffee, 6919 Telegraph Rd. Chef Sebastien Rondier and his wife will be providing delicious sweets along with a variety of coffees and teas in a cozy country French setting. Taking his place at BRABO is Urbana DC Executive Chef Ethan McKee. Trained in classic French and Italian culinary techniques and acclaimed for his healthful menus, Chef Ethan is known for his light, fresh dishes with indulgent flavor inspired by the Italian coast and beyond. Congratulations to all of you. The word is now out that the former site of Pizza Paradiso, 124 King St., is becoming a hip Detroit-style pizza joint, Emmy Squared. They are also well known for their burgers. The new owners are planning to serve more pizza by using a conveyor belt pizza oven with a reduction of table seating and a larger bar area. No reopening date yet!

Ada’s on the River, Robinson Landing at 3 Pioneer Mill Way, will be opening in early 2021 will feature fresh seafood, vegetarian dishes, and more. Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP) has been planning this new dining experience on Alexandria’s waterfront for the last three years. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor dining with a 267-seat capacity. The patio will seat 105 diners and the indoor area will seat 162.

Kudos

Congratulations to Makeda, 516-A S. Van Dorn, Royal Nepal, 3807 Mt Vernon Ave., and Rus Uz, 210 Swamp Fox Rd. for being named to Northern Virginia Magazine’s Best Restaurants. Makeda is serving Ethiopian food, Royal Nepal features Nepalese and Indian, and Rus Uz offers Russian and Uzbek food.

One last note. If you are a fan of McDonald’s soft serve, you can now find out if your local store’s machine is broken. Check out mcbroken.com – it will check your location against nearby locations for availability!

Be kind, support local businesses, and tip, tip tip!

Until next month, eat well and enjoy.

Do you have the inside scoop about food in the Alexandria are, let me know at debbyc@thezebrapress.com

ICYMI: Shuck Yeah!

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