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Found 7 results

  1. I don't see a thread for Lena's Wood-Fired Pizzas & Tap at 401 E Braddock Rd, near Braddock Metro Station. Friends and family opening was this weekend, and soft opening reported for today. This is said to be a partnership between management of The Majestic/Virtue and the Yates family. The space looks great. Large bar. Extensive outdoor patio with fire pit and gas heaters.
  2. I look at this as "new opening" experience, but not a good one. Mia's had been open about 10 days when I dined there last Sunday evening. It retains the layout established by Carluccio's: The bar is in the back left of the 1st floor, with dining tables at the front. The former bakery area is now a pizza oven and "bar style" seating for dining. The main kitchen and a dining area on the second floor. Overall, I liked the decor and interior look and feel. The menu looks great, though our food was a mixed bag, as was the service. They have a number of issues to work out in these early days. We arrived for a 7:30 reservation at 7:21 and were told (unapologetically) it would be a few minutes before we could be seated. The place was busy, but I didn't feel welcomed at all by the host. (Perhaps he was trying to accentuate an air of exclusivity and buzz. Hmmm.) I initially thought the bar was in the front by the host stand -- and it was full. But this is bar seating at the pizza oven. There's no bartender there. So we left and had a drink at Pizzeria Paradiso, to return in a little while. When we returned we were seated with our party. Where to begin? The service was ok, with exceptions. The food was a mixed bag, as were the drinks. Definitely a lot to process here -- for me and for Mia's. They have a nice cocktail and wine list. I enjoyed their camomile tea-infused Negroni and we ordered a nice bottle of wine (delivered by a manager with radio in her ear and on her hip). But the Bellini was a problem for one of our companions. They had eaten at the bar a few days before and enjoyed Bellini's there. But this one was different. The menu lists "prosecco, peach purée, orange juice, lavender bitters." They believed the original was either missing the bitters or had much less. And the same for the orange juice. They found this one disappointing. The four of us ordered a spinach salad and capresse to share, with 2 pastas, eggplant parm, and a pizza (which looked like a "flat bread" to me). First the salad arrived. We saw a Capresse coming at the same time, but it wasn't delivered to our table. It was ~10 min before we asked about the capresse almost as one was arriving. The spinach salad was fine; solid. The Capresse has some of the best mozzarella I've tasted. Very fresh and delicious. But it was served with grape tomatoes, and not enough of them for the generous cheese slices. I could swear I saw slices of tomato on the first Capresse I saw, but not sure. About the same time as the Capresse arrived, the pizza arrived. The pizza's are rectangular and cut diagonally thought the center, and perhaps two more times--I didn't really study it.. Again, it seemed like a flatbread, though I didn't taste. (I'm not familiar with rectangular Italian pizza, maybe that's a thing.) Unfortunately, that meant that one us had his dinner too early. I ordered a "spicy" shrimp Diavolo with fettuccine (the online menu shows this as "LOBSTER FRA DIAVOLO"--that was not on offer). Other meals included RIGATONI ALLA CALABRESE, and EGGPLANT & PORCINI “POLPETTA”. The house made pastas are delicious. My pasta was light and delicate, despite the wide noodle. The Calabrese was a very tasty sauce and the pasta was a bit more al dente but delicious. I liked the eggplant, though I'm not much of a connoisseur in that department; our companion found the portion too large and the breading a little too much. Now back to the shrimp. It was devoid of spice. The only hint of spice was the red pepper I shook onto it. The tomato sauce was flavorful and fresh tasting, but the chef forgot to add several spices I suspect. That was another disappointment. The pasta dishes were still tasty enough that we took home what we didn't eat. When our waiter came back we chatted with her about all of these observations and we got nothing more than "oh, sorry" this and that, as well as an exaplainaton that the pizza kitchen is separate from the main, so food might come out differently. Uh, ok, it's still a poor experience. What annoys me is that after trying to give genuine, helpful feedback we go no acknowledgement. We should have been comped the Bellini at a minimum. Maybe offered a discount on the check or on a future visit. The manager should have been called to talk with us (they were NOT remotely busy by this point). We were told how the staff had trained for a month before opening. I think they missed a few things in training. I also wonder what the management trained on. I also have to mention that the seating is too tight in the tables by 1st floor windows. There is barely enough room for waitstaff to get between the tables perpendicular to the windows and the chairs of patrons seated in the tables parallel to the windows. I was bumped at least twice, my sweater was brushed off the back of the chair, as was my wife's coat. I looked a the layout and wondered what the managers were thinking. I saw staff struggling to get through the gauntlet of patrons' chairs and window tables with less than 3 feet of clearance. The divider between dining and bar should be moved 2-3 feet toward the bar. I want Mia's to succeed and I'm generally a fan of Alexandria Restaurant Group's efforts and what they bring to the community. This location has a history of being difficult -- it's sad to think about how long it's been vacant over the past 15 years. I note that there are several Italian restaurants on this block (Il Porto, Landini Bothers) and a pizza restaurant (Pizzaria Paradiso). So I have to wonder whether an Italian kitchen is what the 100 block of King St needed. Is this a slap in the face? The gauntlet thrown down? I'll leave that for others to decide.
  3. I can't find a corporate address for Alexandria Restaurant Partners, but it seems like they got their start in Florida and Georgia, and have recently been on a tear in Alexandria, acquiring and managing numerous restaurants. The Corporate Executive Chef, Graham Duncan, was the opening Executive Chef at the original Founding Farmers before moving on to McCormick & Schmick's - he has been with Alexandria Restaurant Partners since April, 2015. In August, 2015, the group named Lisa Marie Frantz, who worked under Duncan at Founding Farmers, Executive Chef of The Majestic. The Majestic closed for an eight-week renovation, and reopened under the guidance of Gaby Hakman, who was previously working in Miami. Somewhere in the middle, The Majestic's kitchen was run by Jorge Pimentel, who has worked at numerous DC-area restaurants. Of note is that Alexandria Restaurant Partners now controls two restaurants previously managed by Eat Good Food Group, The Majestic and Virtue Feed and Grain, whose kitchen is now overseen by Santiago Lopez, who came up from one of Alexandria Restaurant Partners' restaurants in Orlando, Café Tu Tu Tango (now it's all starting to make sense). The partners' PR representative, at least for some of their restaurants, is Heather Freeman. Palette 22, which opened in Shirlington earlier this year, has already seen a large turnover in staff, with much of the opening team now gone. This management and ownership group formed just last year, and has grown very quickly, seemingly not hesitating to move personnel when needed. They're acquiring control of restaurants more quickly than they can keep their website current. Alexandria Restaurant Partners has stormed into the area with blinding speed, and there appears to be no sign of letting up, as Vola's Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge are scheduled to open this year inside The Torpedo Factory. With the bankruptcy of Barracks Row Entertainment, Alexandria Restaurant Partners appears to be acquiring restaurants faster than anyone with the possible exception of Mike Isabella Concepts. Good luck to everyone, and call me when the derechos have calmed.
  4. Had a very nice meal at Palette 22 on Friday night pre-theater. This will be my go-to before a show there. The restaurant was bustling, and I would definitely say get a reservation, at least on the weekend. (I heard someone ask and there was a 40ish minute wait at 6 p.m.) We couldn't get a table outside - the weather was nice and those tables were full. We started with Roasted Cauliflower (ras el hanout, golden raisins, mint), which was good, though I have had better (I like it when it's deeply roasted, and a little bit of a creamy sauce is nice). It had almonds which aren't on the online menu, and they definitely enhanced it. Next was Peruvian Style Grilled Octopus (olive oil, garlic, lemon, paprika, thyme, gold potatoes), which was fantastic. It was tender, not chewy, and the texture and flavor of all the ingredients worked together extremely well - a red pepper (some heat but not a ton) on top of the octopus, on top a little pile or cake of potatoes). We also had a Wild Mushroom Flatbread, which was excellent and full of meaty mushrooms. Then we had Vietnamese-Style Sugarcane Shrimp (lemongrass slaw, ginger-lime sauce, butter lettuce), which was spicy and tasty. We had Pan-Fried Watermelon + Halloumi (harissa spice, pomegranate molasses, mint), which was so good we ordered another serving. There were triangles of watermelon, browned on one side and with a rich flavor, on top of triangles of halloumi cheese, which wasn't too salty as it is sometimes, and the dressing was tangy and terrific. All the parts complemented each other perfectly. For dessert, we had that second order of the watermelon, and Sweet Tamales (golden raisins, cajeta), which was the only dish I didn't think really worked. It had a nice flavor, but the texture was a little odd. We will definitely be going back.
  5. The Waterfront Market & Cafe held their press preview last week and friends and family grand opening on Sunday. The official public opening date has been announced as next Tuesday, November 26. Based on photos from the various events, the space looks great and it should be a very nice addition to the quite limited options located directly on the water. There's definitely a push to draw locals in with the "back to your waterfront" tag line. The menu will include custom sandwiches, salads, prepared gourmet items, beer and wine to go (or drink there), fresh sushi, pastries, etc., with similar items available for purchase at the retail market. More specifics here, via LocalKicks. Jody Manor, the owner of Bittersweet Cafe and Catering (in business since 1983), knows a thing or two about creating a sustainable, successful business, so here's wishing him a long run in this latest venture. I'm looking forward to checking it out soon after it opens!
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