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Brabo, in the Lorien Hotel in Old Town Alexandria - Chef Sebastien Rondier Assumes the Position

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There will be some culinary changes at Brabo.  Today is the last day for Harper McClure as executive chef at Brabo.  Not sure who is going to take his place, but if the past is prologue, it will be someone adventurous in a nicely restrained way and will fix great foie gras.

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Grover and I and two friends celebrated (?), mourned maybe, Chef Harper McClure leaving Brabo by taking advantage of the Brabo five course tasting menu last night. The food was a tour through Harper's vast (and scrumptious) greatest hits. From the multiple courses, and there were many, the octopus, the beef cheeks, the beet salad, the crudo, more food than I can possibly remember, there was not one single dish that didn't win praise from the person lucky enough to get it.  There was a lot of sharing, lots of plate passing, lots of great wines, and the usual verbal interchange with the gregarious and outgoing (in both senses of the word) Chef McClure.  Harper, where ever you land when you decide to go back to the kitchen, we'll be there.  Thanks for the great food, the wonderful friendship, and the professionalism you brought to the kitchen.

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3 hours ago, Finatic said:

Sebastien Rondier 

Merci.  It sounds like Robert has found another rising star of the food world to helm Brabo.  We're looking forward to a new chef, new foods, and good times at Brabo.

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17 hours ago, Escoffier said:

Merci.  It sounds like Robert has found another rising star of the food world to helm Brabo.  We're looking forward to a new chef, new foods, and good times at Brabo.

Did Robert find him, or did Kimpton find him?

I'm pretty sure Robert is no longer going to be associated with the Lorien.

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15 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Did Robert find him, or did Kimpton find him?

I'm pretty sure Robert is no longer going to be associated with the Lorien.

That's a good question.  I'll try to find out the next time I'm at either of the two restaurants (Tasting Room or Hotel Dining Room)

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We had dinner at Brabo last Friday night.  We ate in the hotel dining room at 7 pm.  I was surprised how few people were there.  Neither one of us can eat like in thee old days, so we each just ordered an entrée. I ordered the scallops which were served with mussels over risotto together with a few chips.  At first I could not tell what the chips were.   It was chorizo which had apparently been ground finely, the formed into a very thin layer and baked!  Very clever! The scallops were cooked perfectly and the whole dish worked well.  My gf ordered the lobster thermador.  Our initial impression was that the portion size was very small.  Mixed in the thermador were roasted (I think) chestnuts.  They seemingly added no flavor to the dish, and had an unpleasant mealy texture.  When the waiter noticed that my gf had pushed the chestnuts aside, he offered a side of bok choy to her.  A nice gesture!

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Okay, here's the scoop.  Robert W. and Brabo are no longer a couple.  Happened over a year ago.  The new chef is Sebastien Rondier who worked closely with Alain Ducasse at restaurants like Adour at St. Regis in D.C. miX On The Beach in Puerto Rico, Benoit Bistro in NYC and Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo.  He' was born in Southwest France.  He's now been at Brabo for about a year. Brabo has been changed and now both the front dining room (the more informal bistro) and the back, formal dining room share a common menu.  There are daily "specials" like the cassoulet on Tuesday (which is great!).

N.B: Some of Chef Sebastien's background was shamelessly cribbed from the Alexandria Patch with no malice aforethought

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Sometimes there's a reason why a website won't list the chef's last name (or, a reason why the chef doesn't want their last name listed) ...

Screenshot 2018-07-07 at 23.03.53.png

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I have to give BRABO high marks for the meal we enjoyed with out of town guests this past week. 

The dining room was about half-full on a Thursday evening. The staff was gracious throughout. We were seated at a circular 6-top, and conversation was easy.

The appetizers that landed on the table were the grilled octopus, fois gras terrine, and the French radish dish. Not a flaw anywhere, and that radish dish blew me away.

My main was the perfect steak frites with the 8oz bravette, and Lady KN selected the sea bass. We emptied our plates, and we weren't all that hungry. 

We accompanied the meal with 4 bottles of their featured wines at about $54 a bottle, so the final bill of $630 all-in with tax and tip seemed like a bargain for 6 of us. That was a damn satisfying meal in a pleasant setting with a great deal of ambiance and comfort. And the food was really very good, perhaps some of the best food in Old Town.

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1 hour ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I have to give BRABO high marks for the meal we enjoyed with out of town guests this past week. 

I can't remember if we talked or not. This past summer, I dined at both Brabo and Vermilion: Brabo was very good, and Vermilion was disturbingly mediocre.

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I can't remember if we talked or not. This past summer, I dined at both Brabo and Vermilion: Brabo was very good, and Vermilion was disturbingly mediocre.

Your suggestion was the reason we went to BRABO instead of Vermilion, and I owe you a debt of gratitude.

We went to BRABO on Thursday night, and it wasn't crowded at all. The out of town guests were staying at the same hotel, so it was an easy walk downstairs for them. The next night, my son checked in on Vermilion and there were no reservations available. Maybe it was because Friday night in Old Town is hopping....

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