Columbia Room Pop Up at PX (Old Town)

The lady and I had plans to go to The Columbia Room for her birthday last year. Shortly before her birthday, we found out we had to move and decided to save that trip for a time when income was a wee bit more disposable. Then, they closed at the end of the year with a promise to be back soon!

Well, several weeks ago we caught wind of the fact that they were popping up at PX in Alexandria. We hopped onto some reservations and waited patiently.

The host recognized us, as we had just been there a month before for our anniversary. Good thing? I think so. We asked to sit at the bar, because why would I pass up a chance to watch JP and Derek work their magic? They’re also both super nice guys, and why would I pass up the chance to chat with them? I wouldn’t. I’ll also admit, it never ceases to tickle me pink that they both recognize me. I’m kind of a big deal (I’m really not).

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IDK just my BFF DB

We both decided to experience the whole menu rather than going a la carte. I wouldn’t have been able to decide which drinks to choose anyway, they all looked incredible.

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So we started with the Cheerwine Fizz. I see what you did there: you’re popping up in a bar in VA and you’re going with the southern theme. Love it.

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The coffee was an incredible balance to the sweetness of the Cheerwine. And if you’ve read my blog at all, you know I’m a fan of the egg white bev. Creativity and unexpected ingredient combinations is my favorite thing about DB bars.

Next was the Cold Apple Toddy. Simple but delicious. And it came with it’s own snack: a roasted apple.

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Simple. Light. The apple was delicious. There’s a story behind the cold toddy- it’s a very historically DC drink. I should have written this post weeks ago and I would have remembered it.

Next up, the Old Virginia Accent. Chocked full of Virginia-distilled Catoctin Creek booze. With this drink came a story about the apple brandy.

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Just perfect. That’s all.

Lastly, was dessert in a glass. The name was toss to Todd Thrasher, the mastermind behind the drink program at PX. We did notice when we were at PX that his drinks had funny, interesting names. This one was perfect: Sincerity is the Most Imitated Form of Flattery.

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Apologies for the dark photo- PX isn’t exactly lit to be food-blogged. This drink was bright yellow, had a delicious scoop of cream, and was garnished with a pineapple leaf and chunk of pineapple. I legit almost ordered a second. So creamy and fruity.

Toward the end of the night, I decided to tell DB that I had plans to do the DB3 in celebration of my birthday the following week. He asked me to email him so he could make sure that they took care of me in his absence. I also wanted his recommendations for which order to visit the bars and suggestions about what to order at each. This man knows how to take care of his regulars.

It was awesome to see our friends on our side of the river, experience the Columbia Room while it’s shuttered, and have an excuse to visit PX again so soon. Add to that Virginia-themed drinks and you’ve won me over. Not that that was necessary at all. Keeping my eyes peeled for another Columbia Room Pop-up…

Columbia Firehouse (Old Town)

When my college BFF, J, told me she was coming to town, I knew I wanted to take her to brunch. My first choice was honestly Evening Star Cafe, but I couldn’t get a reservation for the 3 of us. We could have gone without reservations, but I don’t like taking chances when I don’t have to. So, I explored other NRG options in Old Town. My next thought was Rustico, but one look over their menu revealed that they did not have the Eggs Benedict that J had already told me she wanted. My next thought was Columbia Firehouse. They had 3 different options for Eggs Benny, so I made the reservation.

We got up on Saturday and walked into Old Town from my apartment so I could show J this adorable tiny city that I live in. Like I wrote about in Monday’s post, we hit the Old Town farmer’s market and Waterfront Market to kill time before our reservations.

We walked into a mostly empty restaurant a few minutes to 11, but I’d much always rather be safe than sorry with reservations. Especially when hosting an out-of-town guest. You can’t look like you didn’t plan well!

They seated us in the dining room to the left of the barroom. This was the first time I had been there during the day, so this was the first time I noticed that this dining room was mostly windows on the ceiling! It was nice and bright. I’m glad I wasn’t hungover or anything, I may have needed sunglasses during my meal!

For drinks, J and I started with a bloody marys and, the lady had a mimosa. Both were equally delightful.

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We had worked up quite the appetite after all the walking, so we started with the Rosemary Garlic Fries with 3 dipping sauces: Smoked garlic mayo, buttermilk goat cheese, and ketchup.

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Holy cats were these some delicious damn french fries. We shoveled them in. I think everyone decided that the buttermilk goat cheese dip was the best. Yum.

For entrees, J decided on the Southern Eggs Benny. Fried green tomatoes, poached eggs, hollandaise, on a muffin. It said it came with jalapeños, but J requested it without. It was also served with fried potatoes. She said it was really tasty. I will need to go back and try it for myself. I love some fried green tomatoes!

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The lady had the Croque Monsieur.

 

She said it was pretty good, but about 4x the size it needed to be and was a wee bit dry. After eating the fries, she was only able to eat about half of it.

After much deliberation, I decided on the chicken and waffles.

 

It wasn’t much to look at, but it sure was delicious. It did come with a bird jus drizzled over the waffle, and that made it a little soggy. I don’t think it was totally necessary with the side honey served as a drizzle for the chicken, and butter and syrup for the waffle. All’s well that ends well, it was still delicious. I liked the honey for the chicken.

J and I also decided to go for a second round of drinks. I was sold on the Pineapple Mint Mojito, which had sparkling wine instead of club soda and chunks of pineapple.

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I was expecting it to be more pineappley than it was, but it’s just a good excuse for me to replicate it at home, but maybe with spiced rum and a splash of actual pineapple juice. Sort of a Mai Tai/Mojito hybrid.

J went with the Cucumber Fix Martini. Gin, Cucumber, Jalapeño, St. Germain. It was good, you could definitely taste the cucumber, with a little kick from the jalapeño, and lots of gin taste. It was definitely a slow-sipping drink, and despite being a martini lady, I don’t think she finished it.

 

Overall, I was really happy with my decision for introducing J to all that is Neighborhood Restaurant Group and having a really great brunch. We left feeling satisfied and a little bit tipsy. Now I just have to convince her to come back before the moves to Finland so I can show her a few more of my faves!

  • Favorite thing I had: The fries were really, really damn good for french fries. The buttermilk goat cheese dipping sauce was yummy. The chicken and waffle was also really good, minus the bird jus that soggified the waffle a bit.
  • Favorite thing she had:  She liked her mimosa and the fries as well.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The mussels, the oyster po’boy, the whole dinner cocktail menu
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We’ll probably try to get down there for drinks sometime soon. We’ve been there for drinks, for dinner, and brunch over the period of about 3 years. Time to start the rotation again!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Old Town is your oyster here. You can go shopping or go down to the water and hang out. We did the Farmer’s Market and Waterfront Market before brunch.

Pork Barrel BBQ (Del Ray)

I decided to take last Friday off from work after having a couple of really long work weeks. I had all sorts of grand plans to take a bike ride and do things outdoors, but the weather gods had other plans and decided this would be perfect timing for a nice huge spring storm. It did clear up later in the day, but at that point, I realized that the lady had accidentally taken the key for the storage unit with her to work. That’s ok, I found plenty of other things to do to occupy my time.

At some point in the day, I started getting a ridiculous hankering for BBQ (chicken and potato salad in particular). I’ll blame it on all the summery thoughts brought on by visiting Nicecream Factory earlier in the day. I did some internet research and laid out all the BBQ options in the metro area. Since I was off from work, I was already in Alexandria, so Pork Barrel BBQ came up the obvious answer. When the lady got home from work we headed over to Del Ray.

When we walked into the restaurant, I was surprised at how… nice? it was. I’m not sure why, but I think I just assumed since it was a fast casual place, the finishings wouldn’t be so nice. Lots of stone and wood. There was also a full sized bar that ran the full length of one side of the restaurant. We decided to saddle up at the bar and take advantage of their happy hour specials.

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We started with a couple of $2 “Old School Cans.” They had a selection of about 6 different beers. Craft cans were $4. You really can’t beat that. We went with cheap beer because I was craving a Miller Lite (sometimes that just happens), but they have a pretty decent beer selection.

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Since they were also on special, we decided we’d start with an appetizer of nachos.

 

The cheese sauce on the nachos was a little strange. It sort of tasted like it had been mixed from a powder. But everything else about them was delicious! And whoever came up with the idea to put slaw on BBQ nachos is a genius.

Since the nachos were pretty sizable, we decided just to share on entree. We went with the Build A Platter Combo with beef brisket, ribs, potato salad, and baked beans. It also came with a piece of cornbread.

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It was actually a pretty absurd amount of food. And despite how delicious it all was, we could only finish about half of it between the two of us. The brisket was super tender and the ribs really flavorful, and huge! The potato salad hit the spot and added a nice cool element to the meal. The baked beans were delicious, nice and sweet. The other bonus was the 3 types of BBQ sauce on the bar in front of us. They had a NC vinegar style, a memphis vinegar style, and a classic sweeter BBQ. I like being able to choose, and take different bites with different sauces.

The food was great, the atmosphere really nice, and the server/ bartender was pretty fantastic. I can’t believe it took us so long to eat there. I’m pretty excited to go back.

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything was good, and it was exactly what I wanted. My fave was probably the baked beans. And the NC and Memphis-styled BBQ sauces.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The potato salad
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pulled pork! Well, we had it on the nachoes, but next time I’m craving a pulled pork sandwich, that’s it. the sausage also sounded good
  • What makes this place stand out: I wasn’t expecting such a nice, huge, fully stocked bar in a fast casual setting. This could double as a neighborhood bar! All that was missing was a cocktail menu. OH! I almost forgot! Since they’re connected, you can also order from Holy Cow’s menu from the bar there. Burgers or BBQ, take your pick!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably monthly in the lunch/ dinner rotation. It’s a good, affordable option.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Dairy Godmother would be our usual destination.

Society Fair Date Night Bag (Old Town)

As much as I love to cook, I also love eating food that I didn’t have to cook, in the comfort of my own home. I love the food at Society Fair, but a Date Night Bag gives you a chance to try a wider range of food than they serve in the wine bar or the cafe but the same quality. Of course you can order carry out, but for some reason this is different. It seems higher quality. So for a Date Night Bag, you place your order and pay online basically any time before Friday, pick up the bag up sometime Friday, and take it home and enjoy.

This bag included Curry chicken, basmati rice, Indian Chickpea salad, naan, different chutneys/spreads, coconut chai rice pudding, and a bottle of riesling.

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All we had to do was heat up the chicken, rice, and naan, plate it up, pour the wine, and enjoy. It took all of  5 minutes to get from the front door to sitting down eating a fantastic meal. Well, maybe a little longer, I had to take pictures!

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The naan was some of the fluffiest and softest I’ve ever had and the wine pairing was perfect for the flavor profile of the meal. The curry was just spicy enough. The chickpea salad was great and I’d love to make it myself. I’m thinking it would be a good dish to take a to cookout. The rice pudding was good too, but the chai spices were just a touch strong. There was an anise flavor that was a bit much. But don’t get me wrong, we still ate every bite of it. The whole meal was plenty for both of us and we had one serving of everything but the naan left over.

 

  • How often I order a bag: Every couple of months. It’s perfect when we need a quiet night in but still want really tasty restaurant-quality food.
  • My favorite thing about it: The fact that I just have to pick it up, wine and all. At $49, it’s cheaper than going to any restaurant and ordering two entrees, dessert, and a bottle of wine.
  • Bags I want to try: Like ScratchDC, I like trying things I wouldn’t cook for myself. A little bit more adventurous meals.
  • Why you should try it: Because it’s delicious. And all you have to do is go pick it up. They even do the wine pairing for you. You can also pass it off like you cooked a fancy meal, if you need/want to.

 

 

Holy Cow (Del Ray)

A couple weekends ago, the lady and I were trying to decide on a good, cheap lunch option close to home. I was torn between sushi or burgers. Two very different things, I know. I settled on burgers and chose Holy Cow in Del Ray, since we hadn’t been there in several months. And the name makes me giggle.

It was pretty busy with tons of families. I had been hoping it wouldn’t be so hopping since it was a bit after lunch, but alas. There was not a long line to order, so that was nice. There are several options. They have a menu with several burger recipes and also the ability to craft your own with several meat options besides just beef. I decided to craft my own and I settled on a regular burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, BBQ sauce, and blue cheese. (I did this because most their burgers lack the veggies, and I prefer to balance it out) The lady also went make her own regular burger with the veggies and swiss cheese. We decided to split the smallest order of regular fries.

 

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It did take a while to get our burgers (they give you a playing card to take to a table and bring you your food). So we’re lucky I even have a pic of it, because I was SO HUNGRY. The order of fries was a wee bit small to split, but we made do. And the burgers were delightful. The meat was juicy, and the bun was just the perfect size and thickness for the burger. I sort of want to drop everything and go have one now.

  • Favorite thing I had: Well, my burger. Blue cheese and BBQ sauce were a good combo.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I feel like I should give their turkey burger a try. They also have really interesting burger of the week, combinations. A milkshake!
  • What makes this place stand out: The fact that they donate 25 cents per burger to local charities is awesome! You choose the charity from a huge list, tell them the number, and it’s done.  It also sits beside it’s sister restaurant, Pork Barrel BBQ and has some nice outdoor seating at picnic tables.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): It will be in the weekend lunch rotation.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We checked out Happy Tart, gluten-free bakery just across the street. Neither of us are gluten free, but the treats were pretty tasty anyway.

Virtue Feed and Grain (Old Town)

Virtue Feed and Grain is a place that we discovered last year during Alexandria Restaurant Week. I don’t remember exactly what we ordered (I think maybe I had the skirt steak) but I remember it being pretty solid. The place is a touch pricey, so it took us a while to make it back. I sort of forgot that it was tucked in by the water just off of King St. until P ventured out of the District to there and reminded me about it. I got explicit instruction from him to try the wings, so it went back to the top of the mental list. We stopped by just a couple of weeks ago before our dinner to have a beer. I thought about getting the wings then, but didn’t want to fill up on beer and wings before dinner. But it just so happened that we needed an Alexandria dinner spot the very next weekend. So, a reservation was made and excitement ensued. We toughed out a spring storm and some pretty serious puddles (you know, casual flooding) this night, but we made it into the cozy wood and brick building. We were seated upstairs at a table beside the couches in the center of the room. Our table was a 4-top and had really long, padded, backed benches as seats. It would have been a little awkward for 4 people, but it was a nice set up for the 2 of us. It was super comfy and the lady and I have decided that will be our dining set up when we have a formal dining room. We started the drinks: I had the Wales Banger? I don’t remember the exact name. It was Port City Optimal Wit, some type of liquor, and OJ. IT was nice and light and fresh. She had a Manhattan.   We of course had to start with the wings, as recommended by P. They were giant and juicy and a little sweet and really, really good. We made messes of ourselves and our fantastic waiter brought us wet naps. IMG_0072 For our main entrees, I finally settled on the Salmon with quinoa risotto and micro greens and she went for the Bison Burger with goat cheese. We each had about 3 different things we wanted, but that’s where we landed. IMG_0073 IMG_0077

(Don’t mind me downing that last wing in the background.)

The salmon was pretty good. After eating those really flavorful wings though, the sauce to the side of the salmon lacked a little depth. I added some salt and it helped. My favorite thing in this course was that risotto. It’s something I’ve been meaning to make on my own for a while, and this was perfect. Nice and cheesy and really tasty. I could eat a whole bowl of it. Her burger was also really good. The meat was nice and juicy. The goat cheese was a touch overpowering, but who can complain about cheese?

We were pretty full after our entrees, but the dessert menu appeared and EVERYTHING on it looked way too good to leave without trying any of it. We settled sharing a piece of the Peanut butter and chocolate ice box pie served with macadamia nut gelato. Oh my god. That’s all I have to say. I’d go back for that tonight, if I could. Maybe I will!

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  • Favorite thing I had: The Korean BBQ wings, the quinoa risotto, the peanut butter pie.
  • Favorite thing she had: The wings and the caramelized onions on the bison burger.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The chicken dinner sounded really good. Herbed chicken, polenta, and asparagus.
  • What makes this place stand out: The building is so awesome. It’s rustic, lots of reclaimed wood. I love that the windows open up like doors by some of the tables. The benches at our table were really comfortable. The couches by the bar looked like a great place to hang out.
  • How was the service?: I don’t think it could have been any more perfect. His timing was impeccable. Friendly, but also laid back. It was over 20% tip, good.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next month. I’d love if this place became a regular destination. And I was actually pleasantly surprised that we got drinks, an appetizer, 2 entrees, and a dessert and got out of there right at $100 tip included.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Anything in Old Town. It was a little rainy, so we just went home.

Overwood (Old Town)

We knew about Overwood for a long time before we ever made it through the doors. We rediscovered it during our post dinner walk the night we finally tried Momo. Even though we were stuffed full of delightful sushi that night, Overwood’s menu still looked tasty to us. So, the next time we needed to do dinner close to home, they were at the top of the list.

Our first impression was that the space was cozy. I sort of expected the place to smell like wood fire, since they boast their wood-fired grill/oven.  But alas, no fire. We were seated quickly. We both decided on beers as none of the cocktails on the menu jumped out at us. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Lillini (Vodka, Cointreau, Grapefruit juice) looked pretty tasty to me. I just had already had a beer at happy hour and at our pre-dinner stop at Virtue Feed and Grain, so I figured it smart to stick with it.

We decided to start with the Fried Green Tomatoes, topped with a tempura-battered shrimp. Some of the tomatoes were slightly too green, but the balsamic reduction sauce on the plate MADE the appetizer. I was eating it off the plate with a fork even after the tomatoes were gone. Also, check out that plating.

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For our main course, I was having a hard time deciding between the salmon or something else, and then I noticed the mahi with pineapple salsa, rice, and asparagus on the Daily Specials and had to follow the pineapple. The lady wavered between the meatloaf and the short ribs, but ultimately decided on the short ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

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Hers was very tasty. The mashed potatoes were flavorful, the meat was tender, and the fried onions were a nice touch. Mine, was well, it wasn’t the best and it wasn’t the worst. I think I may have erred in ordering fish at a place where you should clearly order a steak. I don’t prepare fish at home often because the lady isn’t a fan, but I like to order it when I go out. It just didn’t have much flavor here. It was cooked well. The  grilled asparagus was really good. But the rice and the fish were both a little lacking and the pineapple salsa just didn’t have the zing it needed. I did notice that every single table around us had at least one order of scallops and I just wonder if they got a memo that I didn’t. It wasn’t a total loss though, the lady was willing to share a few bites of hers with me. And I get a sneaking suspicion that this place knows its way around a steak. That’s what I’ll be ordering next time.

  • Favorite thing I had: Her mashed potatoes. The balsamic reduction with the fried green tomatoes.
  • Favorite thing she had: The mashed potatoes
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Something off the cocktail menu. A steak!
  • What makes this place stand out: They had a solid beer and wine list.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably sometime later this year.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We hopped over to Pops and braved the tourist families for some interesting ice cream flavors. You could also hit up Virtue Feed and Grain for a post dinner drink. That had been our plan, but due to chronic early-ness we made it there before dinner.