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Notting Hill, in the old Le Gaulois Space on King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Chef Frank Morales Has Departed - Closed

Alexandria Old Town American Brunch Closed

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#1 goldenticket

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:42 PM

We walked by this place last night - a new sign has appeared: Notting Hill Restaurant and Bar. Nice renovations going on inside from what I can see. Any info on what this will be?

Not much info on the web page: http://nottinghillrestaurant.com/

 

Still no specific information about an opening date, but there is a lot more detail on the menu pages.

And a familiar face if you click on the "about" section! Looks like this could be quite an exciting addition to the Old Town dining scene.


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#2 DonRocks

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:20 PM

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#3 Bart

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:55 AM

Where was this thread before you posted to it? 10 pages back? One post in August hardly makes it front page news.

And honestly, I wouldn't have responded to the original post because I don't understand it. It's a bit cryptic for those of us not in know. I clicked on the "about" link and saw a picture of three people, none of whom I recognized. One man's "famillar face" is another man's "huh?"

#4 zoramargolis

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:04 AM

One man's "famillar face" is another man's "huh?"


The man standing on the left is Mark Slater, a frequent commentator on this site. He is a James Beard award winning sommelier who was previously the sommelier at Citronelle, and then the wine director for Michael Landrum's restaurants. He is well-known and a friend to many people who are involved with DR.com.

#5 goldenticket

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:06 AM

Where was this thread before you posted to it? 10 pages back? One post in August hardly makes it front page news.

And honestly, I wouldn't have responded to the original post because I don't understand it. It's a bit cryptic for those of us not in know. I clicked on the "about" link and saw a picture of three people, none of whom I recognized. One man's "famillar face" is another man's "huh?"


This thread didn't exist before yesterday. The post I quoted was in the Le Gaulois thread, which is what was formerly in the space where Notting Hill is opening. Since the opening appears to be imminent, I thought it was time to start a new Notting Hill thread.

One of the people pictured in the photo is Mark Slater, Citronelle's long-time sommelier, more recently with Ray's The Steaks. Sorry to be 'cryptic' - not intentional.

ETA: Zora beat me to this, with much more deatil - thanks Zora!

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#6 Pizzaandbrew

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:12 AM

Another is Chef Frank Morales. Pretty talented crew
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#7 Bart

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:16 AM

Thanks folks!

There's obviously a lot that goes over my head in here! I thought Don was upset that no one posted in this thread since Aug and as you know I didn't know who was the familiar face.

If anyone from Notting Hill(s)(?) is reading this, the website needs work. Most times it's called Notting Hill, but it's also called Notting Hills. The menu has no prices, the drink menu doesn't exist and it seems like there should be some text on the "About" page. Also, if I didn't know better, I'd assume the place was already open. The pictures looked very nice however and I'm interested to try this place. I'm going to be at Vermillion tomorrow night so I'll swing by and check it out.

#8 goldenticket

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:17 AM

Another is Chef Frank Morales. Pretty talented crew


Great - thanks for the additional info! As a very close neighbor, I've been hoping for something good to fill this very lovely space. And, for the last several months, watching and waiting as the Notting Hill sign went up and renovations took place. I guess for locals it is 'front page news'. Le Gaulois was there for a long time and the space has one of the nicest (and only) outdoor, non-sidewalk dining areas in Old Town.

Jackie B.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
Wonka/Dahl/O'Shaughnessy


#9 Bart

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 08:01 AM

Here are some photos of the place through the window. Tables are set, lights are dimmed, but there's no information on when they are opening.

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#10 Mark Slater

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

For the record, I am no longer connected or affiliated with this restaurant.


Beverage Manager, Bastille 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA

manager@bastillerestaurant.com

http://www.bastillerestaurant.com


#11 jiveturk21

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:29 AM

Have they opened yet?  I attempted to make a reservation for December 29th, but got an email back a day or two later saying that it was going to open December 30th.



#12 Mark Slater

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:33 AM

Have they opened yet?  I attempted to make a reservation for December 29th, but got an email back a day or two later saying that it was going to open December 30th.

 

Yes.


Beverage Manager, Bastille 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA

manager@bastillerestaurant.com

http://www.bastillerestaurant.com


#13 Free Wilma

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:05 AM

A group of us went this weekend to try the new Notting Hill in Old Town.  For a restaurant in its early stages, they did a pretty good job.  There were a few bumps along the way but the food and service were both pretty solid. The space is absolutely love.  Very cozy with a fireplace in the main downstairs dining room.  
 
 We started with drinks and I was a little surprised they didn't have a "drinks" menu.  Definitely a missed opportunity which I'm sure will be rectified in time.  The wine list was very limited; 6-7 reds & 6-7 whites.  However, after offering a generous tasting of a couple of the Reds, we settled on a Merlot that made the whole table happy.  
 
One of our biggest problems with the evening was the descriptions used on the menu.  For example, there was an appetizer described as "Revel’s Island Bay Clams Surf and Turf" with Braised pork belly, fennel and preserved tomatoes.  It was a delicious and generous appetizer.  However, the clams were almost an afterthought with the wonderful pork belly really being the shining star of the dish.  We ran into this situation throughout the meal.  I ordered the "Maine Lobster Fondue" with apple wood smoked bacon, creamy rainbow chard, sweet potato croquette, verjus butter.  It was a delicious main dish....but bore no resemblance what so ever to anything remotely "fondue".  It was sweet lumps of lobster claw served over REALLY yummy greens with a nice fried sweet potato croquette.  The word "fondue" brings to mind table side cooking and dipping and that just wasn't the case.  I wasn't disappointed since I LOVED the dish; simply surprised by the presentation.  
 
It was a Sunday evening and there were a few bumps like over cooked hanger steak.  However, that was quickly remedied and the service was quite attentive.  They were out of some of the fishes listed on the menu.  However, they were able to offer Rockfish and Salmon as a substitute for the sold out Halibut and Bass.  I'm sure with time these kinds of minor issues will be ironed out.  
 
Overall, a pretty decent offering in Old Town that I'm sure will improve with a few more weeks under their belt.  

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#14 JuneBacon

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:08 AM

Thanks for the review. Drove by last night after completely forgetting about the opening of this place.  Would love to try it soon.

 

Any comment on the bar? Size? Spirit selection?  



#15 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 01:23 AM

I generally tend to avoid writing negative things about restaurants, because typically hiccups in service or execution happen, restaurants have an off night, or whatever.  Plus, it's just not my style to speak ill of people, particularly hard working people (as nearly all restaurant people are).  And anyway, it's generally unnecessary -- this board is probably the single greatest panel of restaurant critics ever assembled, and issues always come to light without my attention.  But I think I'd do you all a disservice not to share, so here goes:

 

My dinner tonight at Notting Hill was not good.  The service had a couple minor issues (missing bread and coffee), but our waiter was great -- attentive, professional, and above all, friendly.  And the building and room are gorgeous, with a nice fire.  The problem was the food.  We started with a butternut squash soup and a Camembert and salad appetizer.  My companion, a European, immediately noted that the soup tasted like "tinned oxtail broth."  However, as an American, my take was more "Campbell's Beef Vegetable Soup."  I'm not sure if the issue was cheap stock, but the soup was barely touched.  We were hungry, so we ate a bit more of the Camembert, after we cut off the heavy peanut crust that had no business being there.  (It was supposed to come with "braeburn apple peanut brittle," which is rather different than this ghastly combination).  Also, perhaps I am wrong, but the Camembert reminded me of one I've purchased at an average grocery store and was served too cold.

 

With the entrees, we didn't fare much better.  The lobster fondue was an unmitigated disaster.  It was unlike the one Free Wilma was served.  I have no idea if this is what it was, but imagine mac and cheese with frozen spinach and a small--slightly-dirty-tasting--lobster from H Mart and you'd have the idea.  It was a fairly meaty dish, but I'm quite certain that I've never before left that much lobster on a plate.  Our rockfish entree was better, but not by much.  The fish itself was cooked well, though perhaps a bit over what I like.  The issue was that it tasted fishier than rockfish should.  If the skin hadn't been left on, I'd have sworn that it was bluefish (though not a particularly good bluefish).  Given that it was supposedly rockfish, which I've probably consumed more than any other fish (I'm a DC native, and have even hauled in a few big ones in my day), it would seem to indicate a freshness issue.  It was also served with a too-heavy, brown, cream sauce and potatoes.  Upon trying it, my guest reminded me of a longer saying that included "chef's cover up their mistakes with sauce, doctor's cover up theirs with dirt."  I commented that this one appeared to be covered with both.  Between the two of us, less than a third of the slightly small portion of fish was attempted.

 

So, what was good?  The highlight of the meal, by a long shot, was the Garcon Mauvais Bordeaux (2009) -- an average, but tasty, merlot-based Bordeaux.  And the Pedro Jimenez Sherry that, rather than risking pastry, we split for dessert (the pastry chef may be fantastic, but at this point something from a bottle seemed a safer bet).  I also had a regular coffee that was unremarkable but fine; while my guest's espresso was "bad" and went nearly untouched.

 

This meal cost about $155, pre-tip.  Thank god the company, a rather good sport, was worth that much.  And it was a Tuesday night, so maybe this was the B-team.  If so, they should close Tuesdays.  If not, they should just close.  I'm sorry to say that, but the food I had was really that bad:  poorly conceived, bad ingredients, and expensive.



#16 darkstar965

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 01:38 AM

I generally tend to avoid writing negative things about restaurants, because typically hiccups in service or execution happen, restaurants have an off night, or whatever.  Plus, it's just not my style to speak ill of people, particularly hard working people (as nearly all restaurant people are).  And anyway, it's generally unnecessary -- this board is probably the single greatest panel of restaurant critics ever assembled, and issues always come to light without my attention.  But I think I'd do you all a disservice not to share, so here goes:

 

My dinner tonight at Notting Hill was not good.  The service had a couple minor issues (missing bread and coffee), but our waiter was great -- attentive, professional, and above all, friendly.  And the building and room are gorgeous, with a nice fire.  The problem was the food.  We started with a butternut squash soup and a Camembert and salad appetizer.  My companion, a European, immediately noted that the soup tasted like "tinned oxtail broth."  However, as an American, my take was more "Campbell's Beef Vegetable Soup."  I'm not sure if the issue was cheap stock, but the soup was barely touched.  We were hungry, so we ate a bit more of the Camembert, after we cut off the heavy peanut crust that had no business being there.  (It was supposed to come with "braeburn apple peanut brittle," which is rather different than this ghastly combination).  Also, perhaps I am wrong, but the Camembert reminded me of one I've purchased at an average grocery store and was served too cold.

 

With the entrees, we didn't fare much better.  The lobster fondue was an unmitigated disaster.  It was unlike the one Free Wilma was served.  I have no idea if this is what it was, but imagine mac and cheese with frozen spinach and a small--slightly-dirty-tasting--lobster from H Mart and you'd have the idea.  It was a fairly meaty dish, but I'm quite certain that I've never before left that much lobster on a plate.  Our rockfish entree was better, but not by much.  The fish itself was cooked well, though perhaps a bit over what I like.  The issue was that it tasted fishier than rockfish should.  If the skin hadn't been left on, I'd have sworn that it was bluefish (though not a particularly good bluefish).  Given that it was supposedly rockfish, which I've probably consumed more than any other fish (I'm a DC native, and have even hauled in a few big ones in my day), it would seem to indicate a freshness issue.  It was also served with a too-heavy, brown, cream sauce and potatoes.  Upon trying it, my guest reminded me of a longer saying that included "chef's cover up their mistakes with sauce, doctor's cover up theirs with dirt."  I commented that this one appeared to be covered with both.  Between the two of us, less than a third of the slightly small portion of fish was attempted.

 

So, what was good?  The highlight of the meal, by a long shot, was the Garcon Mauvais Bordeaux (2009) -- an average, but tasty, merlot-based Bordeaux.  And the Pedro Jimenez Sherry that, rather than risking pastry, we split for dessert (the pastry chef may be fantastic, but at this point something from a bottle seemed a safer bet).  I also had a regular coffee that was unremarkable but fine; while my guest's espresso was "bad" and went nearly untouched.

 

This meal cost about $155, pre-tip.  Thank god the company, a rather good sport, was worth that much.  And it was a Tuesday night, so maybe this was the B-team.  If so, they should close Tuesdays.  If not, they should just close.  I'm sorry to say that, but the food I had was really that bad:  poorly conceived, bad ingredients, and expensive.

 

Thanks for this review. Thanks because it helps me to make better decisions about where to spend hard-earned money.  Curious (related to the first paragraph and related to all reviews versus just this one): do you think there's a difference between "negative" and constructive criticism?  I've always thought there was. I'd agree the former is unnecessary and, at times, destructive and hurtful. I think the latter, however, can be helpful when truly constructive, fair, thoughtful and factual.  Helpful not only to readers here who undoubtedly value dr.com partly because it helps us to prioritize places with better value or more likely to meet individual needs and prefs.  Helpful also to those places if they're open to substantive feedback they can use to improve and thus be more successful. To me, a site with all positive all the time about all places wouldn't be useful to anyone.  That's my problem with some media outlets (Bethesda Magazine comes to mind) and some blogs.  Point out problems/issues directly but do it nicely? You did that above. You didn't enjoy your meal but told us why you didn't with factual support. You also balanced it with some positive.



#17 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:09 AM

Whether there is a difference between "negative" and constructive criticism is an ideological dispute.  Regardless, by anyone's estimation, my account of my meal at Notting Hill is firmly in the "negative" camp.  There's nothing wrong with writing a negative review, though I think you have to support it with appropriate justification (I almost wrote "facts," but reviews are inherently subjective).  I just hate doing it.  Hate it.  But I don't think I've ever been served four (out of four) dishes that ranged from bad to "what the hell were they thinking"?  And I get a lot from what you all post, so I thought I should say SOMETHING.  Perhaps I went too far, but I hope that it at least spares someone a few bucks.  Walking by the (still packed at 10:30) Majestic on the way back to my car was like a kick in the balls.


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#18 DonRocks

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:26 AM

Both Frank Morales and the lady who was GM have "abruptly" departed from Notting Hill.

 

Apparently, the owner himself was doing the cooking last night. :unsure:


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#19 jondagle

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 01:56 PM

Any more news for this sad story?  We hadn't made it in before the "warnings."  A great space; shame that someone can't make a go of it.



#20 goldenticket

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 03:24 PM

Closed.

I've heard rumors about a potential new owner/manager and concept, but nothing I would feel is appropriate to share. Whatever happens, I hope the next go-round is something that works. It's such a great space, it's a shame for it to sit empty.

Jackie B.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
Wonka/Dahl/O'Shaughnessy






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