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Virtue Feed & Grain, Old Town Alexandria - Chef Santiago Lopez Comes From Cafe Tu-Tu-Tango in Orlando - Eat Good Food Group Departs On Apr 1, 2013


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Here goes with my first post (I did do an intro as well). We went last night for the opening party and had a great time. Usual suspects from Eve were there and it was packed.

The building is incredible. It's not only expansive but it is well done with a lot of attention to detail. The beer cocktails were perfect for the hot afternoon and early evening party near the Potomac. The beer taps downstairs are above the bar which we thought was neat. With two full bars upstairs and downstairs, no one in Alexandria is going to be thirsty.

The food was being passed and everything from the sausage to the wings were good. The menu looks like a winner and is exactly what Old Town needed. Plenty of flat panels but located in the restaurant thoughtfully and tastefully well. There really is something for everyone regardless if you are an Eve patron or a visitor to Old Town. I think they are going to do very well.

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Should not one page on their website list an address or a phone number?

It says "106 South Union Old Town Alexandria" at the bottom of all the pages I checked. It's not written in a typical address style, though.

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It says "106 South Union Old Town Alexandria" at the bottom of all the pages I checked. It's not written in a typical address style, though.

That is so completely weird. I cannot see that on any page I view. I am using Internet Explorer 7, which is likely the culprit. It also will not load the menus.

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You can also click on "Hours and Address" at the top of each page.

Was that there yesterday? :D I tried clicking on "Contact," thinking it would have that information (it didn't), and I thought that was the last link on the right. When I first looked at the site yesterday, everything loaded fine, but when I went back later, I got a bunch of error messages on pages I was able to see fine the first time. I gather they're still working on the website B).

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Was that there yesterday? :D I tried clicking on "Contact," thinking it would have that information (it didn't), and I thought that was the last link on the right. When I first looked at the site yesterday, everything loaded fine, but when I went back later, I got a bunch of error messages on pages I was able to see fine the first time. I gather they're still working on the website B).

That definitely was not there yesterday. I can now read the address at the bottom of the page using Internet Explorer 9.

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We went for dinner Monday night with some of my coworkers who were from out of town. The space is very attractive and fits the ambiance well. The menu is a bit unusual in that it only lists the name of the item with no description or ingredient list. Even after a google search, I can't tell you what Shaggers Pie is.

First, it's obvious that they just opened and that things aren't running as smoothly as they (hopefully) eventually will.

I had a near perfect mojito after a 15 minute wait for our drinks to arrive. I had the duck confit which was good but, unfortunately, the majority of the potatoes that came with it were undercooked. My wife ordered the macaroni and cheese with ham, the fried calamari, and the pigs-in-a-blanket. The macaroni and cheese was tasty but nothing out of the ordinary. The calamari were perfectly cooked and came with a very good dipping sauce. We spent part of the meal trying to figure out what exactly was in it. The pigs-in-a-blanket didn't work for me. It had too much pastry surrounding it and not enough sausage.

My coworkers seemed to enjoy their rockfish and pork shoulder but I decided to be polite and not eat off their plates.

Despite the missteps we experienced, we enjoyed our time and do plan to go back.

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I went twice last weekend. Friday and Sunday night. Friday, I came with a buddy and we grabbed two seats at the bar. The whole place is beautiful and had a good vibe. We ordered a few draft beers and I had the Farm-House Chicken and chips. Their bar menu is limited but the chicken hit the spot. It was big, flavorful and juicy. We had good service and a good time. Such a good time, I made reservations to bring my SO on Sunday night.

We got there at 6:00 pm and tried of few of their hoptails. I wasn't sure what to expect with beer and hard alcohol mixed, but the "hoptail with no name" is delicious. It has a number of ingredients including gin, makers mark and hefewiezen. We ordered the mac and cheese and the loaded potato skins as apps. The mac and cheese was great, the right amount of cheese and the smoked ham was a great compliment. The potato skins were good, but didn't really stand out. I ordered the chicken pot pie and the SO ordered the steak and chips.

This is where I have to agree with above that things aren't running as smoothly as I hope they eventually will. The food took a really long time to come out. First the waiter apologized, then apologized again, then one manager apologized and then the other. When it was all said and done it was over 90 minutes to get our food. Once we got it, i thought the chicken pot pie was very good. The pastry puff is on top and I would describe it as a hardy soup underneath. The chicken and veggies were very good. The steak and chips looked good, but the SO took two bites and didn't seem to like it. I think it might of had to do with her losing her appetite. The manager came by again and took the steak off the bill. I was disappointed because I really wanted the SO to have a great experience because she has been looking forward to the opening for months. Looking forward to giving it another shot after they are able to get their feet underneath them.

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Was there last Sunday with SO and a friend from Vegas. Food is alright but a little on the pricier side, and they skimp on the bread, even for dishes that beg for it - bone marrow, cheese, pate. 'Service has not found its stride' is an understatement. Slow, surly and slightly shocking -- no warning that the kitchen closed and we never got to order entrees - that was a first for me. We left hungry and upset. I *so* wanted to love this place, too. :mellow:

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I had a perfectly pleasant business lunch here today on what I think might have been their first full day of lunch service. Despite the mention in today's food section it wasn't as crowded as I had expected. From talking with our server it sounds like they acknowledge that service wasn't perfect out of the gate but it seemed smooth and speedy enough today.

My grilled ham and cheese "Toastie" was fine but the shared potato skins were much more than the typical bar standard despite the standard ingredients - potato, cheese, bacon, scallions, sour cream. The toppings weren't there as an end of their own but in full service service of the potato.

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I had a perfectly pleasant business lunch here today on what I think might have been their first full day of lunch service. Despite the mention in today's food section it wasn't as crowded as I had expected. From talking with our server it sounds like they acknowledge that service wasn't perfect out of the gate but it seemed smooth and speedy enough today.

My grilled ham and cheese "Toastie" was fine but the shared potato skins were much more than the typical bar standard despite the standard ingredients - potato, cheese, bacon, scallions, sour cream. The toppings weren't there as an end of their own but in full service service of the potato.

Was the lunch menu (and prices) the same as the dinner menu?

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My Boss was there for lunch today. His report was mostly to do with the physical set-up of the place. He's a big, broad-shouldered guy and felt very cramped. Also complained about the noise level, that it was hard to carry on a conversation. He didn't say what he had to eat, but did say the food was very good but small portions and pricey for the serving size. He likes good food, he just doesn't like to pay the prices that come with better ingredients and skilled BOH staff. His verdict -- he'll go to Overwood or Union Street for business lunches in the future......which makes it sound like Virtue is a perfect place for me!

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I am almost at a loss for words here. Over the years, I have more than enjoyed my time at Eve, Majestic, Eamonn's and PX. And, I assume that over the next few months that Virtue Feed and Grain will improve and that it will be as crowded as any place in the area and that it will be impossible to get a table. However, I simply cannot see anyone from our group of six returning to the restaurant, there is just not any reason for us to head back there.

The space is incredible, I am thoroughly impressed with how it looks. It is absurdly loud, but we were there between 8:00 and 11:00 PM on Saturday night, so I understand that this is the way that it is going to be. The service was hectic, at best, and comical at worst. But, again, I can let that slide because our waitress was clearly brand spankin' new and she seemed to be nervous as hell. I would expect that to improve over time, so honestly, that doesn't effect my impressions of this restaurant. What does, however, effect my impressions of Virtue Feed and Grain is the food that we had last night, which was across the board bad.

Starting off with the good, we all thought that the fried calamari was excellent, so they get points for that, but that's pretty much it. The chopped salad was almost offensive to send out. It was small and devoid of any flavor or seasoning. There was no salt and pepper on the table, which is fine, but we asked for some several times and it never appeared, so the tasteless salad went mostly uneaten. The pastry on the pigs in the blanket was good, but the sausage got completely lost in the dish, we were basically eating puff pastry. The mac and cheese was dry, very dry, and again there was no seasoning whatsoever. I believe that the smoked ham was there to add the salt component to the dish, but there wasn't much of it, so it barely made a difference. The garlic mushrooms, other than the salad, was probably the biggest disappointment at the table. I know that these mushrooms didn't come from Sysco, but they reminded me of the kind that sports bars grab from the freezer and dump in the deep fryer. The artichoke and crab dip was OK, but the bread that was served with it was so bad, I mean SO bad, that we ate the dip with our forks instead. The duck confit was dry as a bone. The roast pork shoulder was tough, extremely tough, so tough that parts of it we couldn't cut with our knives, but we loved the carrots that it came with. The salmon was average, it was cooked very well, but the leeks had disinegrated on the plate while the potatoes were severely undercooked. Desserts weren't much better. The chocolate cake had a good flavor, but parts of the icing were very grainy. The cake/pie concoction that they came up with sounded intriguing, but fell completely flat. The apple pie with ice cream was a joke. If you thought the mac and cheese or duck confit was dry, this pie was significantly worse. On top of that, it had no flavor, no sweetness, no anything.

We didn't partake in the cocktails, or hoptails, but we did drink several bottles of wine, all of which got served warmer than they should have been. The wine list wasn't impressive, but I know that this isn't a wine place, so that is OK, but please serve wine close to the temperature that it is intended. Also, please serve your coffee hot, or at least mildly warm, and please bring it with the dessert, not after we are done eating it.

For the six of us, with tax and tip, we walked out of there spending about $375. That total is fine for me, giving the setting and the amount of food that we ordered, so the value is there. But, in the end, the food left us no reason to go back.

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Was the lunch menu (and prices) the same as the dinner menu?

It looks like there is only one menu.

He's a big, broad-shouldered guy and felt very cramped.

Interesting, because I am a pretty big guy myself and when they seated us I thought, "Wow, what a big comfortable chair. I wish more places had these."

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Had dinner here tonight with two friends. I can echo most of the previous comments -- the two bars are lovely and attract a good crowd, the interior downstairs and upstairs are among the nicest in Old Town, right up there with Columbia Firehouse, and the din tends to the noisy end of the spectrum.

Service was OK tonight, but the growing pains are still evident. One of my companions ordered the leg of lamb, and was treated to a beautifully cooked steak and fingerling potatoes. He didn't complain and actually enjoyed it very much, but somewhere else in the dining room someone who ordered steak got leg of lamb.

I went with the ox tongue salad and the Cuban sandwich as my dinner. I enjoyed both, but something was missing in the ox tongue -- sliced thin, but not well trimmed with spots of glands and fatty gristle here and there. It was set off with some arugula and there was a hint of underlying sauce with mustard and capers. But there was a dull thud on the palate, not refined or refreshing. Maybe a spritz of lemon on the greens or a hit of sea salt on the sauce would have brought it up a level or two. My Cuban sandwich was interesting. I ordered it because I'm still in search of the best Cuban sandwich in the DC area. I can't say I found it tonight, but it certainly is in the top ten. The bun wasn't pressed, but it was toasted, and the ham/pork/cheese/pickle/mustard interior was bright and satisfying. This isn't the genuine commodity, but it's a nice sandwich.

The other items on the menu appeared too heavy for 100-degree weather. I just couldn't get into a chicken pie pie or a shepherd's ("shaggers") pie or anything braised tonight. But the food was enjoyable enough to merit a return visit, and the crowd indicates to me that this place will be here for a while.

The last time I was in this building, I was buying a book at Olson's....

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Hit up Virtue for the 2nd time this weekend. Still packed and bustling, we beat our reservation by 30 minutes and hung out in the upstairs seating area. Loved the fact that there was a server ready to hit us with drinks and water and we didn't have to fight at the bar for a drink, and it was nice that they had no problem transferring the drinks to our table. Service was great - no snags like I saw in my first visit.

Food was again excellent. Deviled eggs are near perfect, the calamari had an ideal texture. 2 of our mains were good - the Shaggers Pie and the Scallops. One was great, the braised pork shoulder. Based on the previous negative review of the pork (I haven't ordered a single item from the other negatives), maybe it's been lucky timing, I was curious. But nobody even glanced at a knife after that pork hit the table - it was tender and the vegetables delicious. A rustic, simple, satisfying dish and easily the best of the 3.

Bread pudding was just ok, the only slight disappointment on the night.

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Where does the name of this dish come from? I know what shagging means - but shagger in relation to pie?

I believe it would be shagger in relation to lamb / shepherds. "SheepShagger" is a common insult - generally to rural folk in the UK / Eire (and shepherds).

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I had a great sandwich the other day here for lunch. The Pope's lunch. I was cheating on all accounts. The bread was fantastic, the mix of arugula, proscuitto and mozz and tomato was very refreshing. I liked the homemade potato chips and the greens were nicely dressed. I am always looking for nice and decently quick lunch options so this should be great as it is a block away. they have lots of happy hour specials on twitter, looking forward to going to one.

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Went to Virtue today, first time, for a light lunch. Oysters on the half shell, pickled beet root, egg mayonnaise.

Let me say this about the oysters. I don't know what the ordinary presentation is like, but I very much liked to look at what they brought me after I said "no cocktail sauce, just lemon." The six oysters were presented with a segment of lemon between each oyster, on crushed ice, which was very very pretty. The oysters were very small, but they were very fresh. But I do have complaints. No small fork. People, one does not eat oysters on the half shell with a dinner fork. Not good. Also, the oysters were not separated from the shell. People, when oysters are presented on the half shell, the oyster shucker should run the oyster knife under the oysters to loosen them from the shell. I had to do this myself, using a dinner knife. Not good. Also, while most of the oysters were clean and without shell, a couple of them had bits of shell. Not good. For $16 per half dozen, not good, at all.

Pickled beetroot, basic pickled beets, somewhat spicier than my grandmother's. Three bucks. Fine.

Egg mayonnaise, one hard boiled egg, some mayonnaise, and some dressed spring green mix. Mayonnaise tasted like Hellman's, my favorite, althout it probably was made in house. For six bucks, eh.

I did see other people getting what appeared to be lovely sandwiches and the like. Not what I ordered so cannot complain. They appeared to be having a wonderful time. I had a pretty good time. Lovely ambiance.

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Getting a table tonight was not as difficult as in the past. We settled in for a lamb feast, which was excellent. The leg of lamb was perfectly cooked to medium rare, sliced diagonally and served over a smattering of perfectly roasted fingerlings with an occasional roasted garlic clove. It was really very good.

Before the lamb, we had the baba ghanouj special and the bone marrow. The latter was really good and I would order it over and over again. The marrow was perfect and set off nicely with a garlic-herb sprinkle on top of the trio of bones. There was even gnaw-able meat caked to the outside of the bones, a mere bite or two of jerky-like treat. And the baba ghanouj was very tasty and thick, but for some reason came with no bread. When we checked with our waiter, he mentioned that the kitchen had changed the way they served it, so now it came without bread. Huh? Baba ghanouj is a dip, made for eating communally with bread, not scooping with a spoon. Even the waiter realized how silly this was, and quickly ran off and fetched us a plate of bread slices.

Note to Todd -- baba ghanouj should always be served with bread, preferably fresh pita. And a few olives would be nice too....

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I have gone here several times and haven't posted. This place is RIGHT by my office. I kind of like that. I love the pork shoulder with winter vegetables, it's like a warm embrace of pork in a little pot of goodness. The vegetables are tender but not mushy and all had good flavor. I really like the pope's lunch, cuban isn't as good to me flavorwise, but the pope's lunch has just the right sandwich balance. And the bartender is in big trouble with me for NOT telling me the special was a pulled pork sandwich one day before I ordered. BIG TROUBLE. I normally always sit at the bar and they are very nice whether I order wine, cocktail or iced tea at lunch.

I don't know why I haven't made it for hh yet.

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And the baba ghanouj was very tasty and thick, but for some reason came with no bread. When we checked with our waiter, he mentioned that the kitchen had changed the way they served it, so now it came without bread. Huh? Baba ghanouj is a dip, made for eating communally with bread, not scooping with a spoon. Even the waiter realized how silly this was, and quickly ran off and fetched us a plate of bread slices.

Note to Todd -- baba ghanouj should always be served with bread, preferably fresh pita. And a few olives would be nice too....

:blink:

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Work was a disaster today so decided to treat myself to a late lunch here today. Arrived a little after 1:00 to find a pretty full place but the bar on the 1st level ws pretty empty so I settled in. Had a conference call later in the day so settled for an iced tea as I looked over the menu. Asked my friendly bartender about the specials and he highly recommended the special rost beef sandwich with homemade chips and side salad. Turned out to be great selection, the salad was Alice portion and perfectly dressed, chips were crisp but maybe a bit to salty, the sandwich had a nice portion of thinly sliced roast beef with horseradish on some fresh bread, well worth the $12 in my opinion. Loved th space and can't wit to return and try out more of the menu.

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I had an underwhelming experience here today for my first visit. This was particularly unfortunate as I had been really looking forward to this place. To my taste, everything was bit too twee and precious. Most of our lunches (the Pope sandwhich, chili cheese dog an pigs in a blanket) were perfectly fine and inoffensive if not inspired. The wings were undercooked, mushy and nasty. And, holy crap, the mark-up on the beers! $9 for a seasonal Blue Mountain draft ?! The atmosphere was interesting but I felt I was paying the interior decorator's bill with everything we ordered.

On somone else's tab, sure, I can enjoy myself. But not a value by any stretch.

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First visit to VF&G today for lunch. Sometimes--often even--I'll do a first pass at a new place purposely without looking at the buzz or feedback first. Not with Virtue. For no particular reason, I paid close attention to this thread and to other writeups available online during the past several months. Generally, it seemed as if the place was getting panned for service and food miscues quite a bit in its first couple of months. As a HUGE fan of the Armstrongs and all their other places, I decided to wait until a few months went by and, hopefully, the feedback became more consistently good.

HEADLINE

Great space, inconsistent food, friendly service and low prices (not the same as great value) combined to be just enough that I'll go back and give it another shot (or two). But, at least at this point, now 6 or 7 months since opening, VF&G disappointed some relative to the amazingly high bar long established by the owners with everything else they've done.

WITH THANKS TO ANOTHER DR MEMBER

Of all the posts already made upthread, one from jiveturk21 most aligned with some of what I experienced so I'll quote from that below to organize my own thoughts.

I am almost at a loss for words here. Over the years, I have more than enjoyed my time at Eve, Majestic, Eamonn's and PX. And, I assume that over the next few months that Virtue Feed and Grain will improve and that it will be as crowded as any place in the area and that it will be impossible to get a table. However, I simply cannot see anyone from our group of six returning to the restaurant, there is just not any reason for us to head back there.

The above is more negative than what I experienced but it resonated because I'm a HUGE fan of Eve (bistro and tasting room), Eamonn's (my god; hands down the best fish and chips to be had anywhere 'round these parts) and Majestic (much better under the Armstrongs than it was previously) and it's those strong feelings and the associated expectations that drove most of my disappointment today. I'm not "at a loss for words" (then again, neither was jiveturk as it turned out ;) ) and, as already written above, I will be back. But still, so wanted this to wow and it just didn't.

The space is incredible, I am thoroughly impressed with how it looks. It is absurdly loud, but we were there between 8:00 and 11:00 PM on Saturday night, so I understand that this is the way that it is going to be. The service was hectic, at best, and comical at worst. But, again, I can let that slide because our waitress was clearly brand spankin' new and she seemed to be nervous as hell. I would expect that to improve over time, so honestly, that doesn't effect my impressions of this restaurant.

The space really is great. it's great for a few reasons. First, it's spacious and comfortable. Not sure what the hubub upthread was about the chairs but agree with another poster that they were amply sized and comfortable. Two floors, good spacing between tables and nice ceiling height all contribute to the spacious and open feel. Likewise the cool and sturdy staircase one takes upstairs. Second, the use of natural woods and, especially, all the restored materials from the pre-Civil War structure are great. Love that. Finally, the windows ensure plenty of light and views which, combined with the prime location right by the harbor, make for a wonderful venue.

Service for us was entirely fine but I can't say with any certainty whether it has improved over time because the place was surprisingly empty today at high noon for lunch. That notwithstanding, we were well taken care of. Our waiter seemed to be very dedicated to the job, was able to answer questions about the menu and was attentive without overdoing it throughout the meal.

What does, however, effect my impressions of Virtue Feed and Grain is the food that we had last night, which was across the board bad.

Our experience was better than jiveturks thankfully. But it was a bit inconsistent. More specifically, we had:

- Deviled eggs (3 halves for $3): meh. I'm a bit of a deviled egg hound (you know, along with random other things like milkshakes and oysters, etc) and these were very forgettable. Too much salt and piled way too high with mayonnaise-laden yolk. The swirled filling was about 3 to 4 times the height of the egg and just didn't have a distinctive flavor.

- Rockfish with concannon something: very generous piece of rockfish with a mashed potato/kale/'one other component' side called concannon. The concannon tasted more like ordinary and starchy mashed potato so I tried it and then avoided in favor of some mac & cheese. Fish was slightly overcooked but not too bad. Enjoyed the fish and finished it.

- Farm house chicken with fries: my dining companion had this. it looked very good with a golden and crackly skin. She seemed to enjoy it but couldn't get through more than a third of it or the fries. Huge portion. I tasted a bit and thought it nicely seasoned and cooked. Palena's roast chicken's lofty reputation remains safe at the top of the pecking order but this version was respectable and worth ordering. The fries appeared hot, crispy and golden but can't speak to the taste since I didn't try one.

The mac and cheese was dry, very dry, and again there was no seasoning whatsoever. I believe that the smoked ham was there to add the salt component to the dish, but there wasn't much of it, so it barely made a difference.

- Mac & cheese (I think $6?): I'm with jiveturk here. Boo. Or, maybe more precise to say blah. Mac & cheese is another one of my things. if it's on a menu of a new place, I'll always order it to benchmark. This one was disappointingly ordinary. Elbow macaroni. Different from jiveturk, mine was a bit soupy but I'd have to think the one I was served today was a different version from that one. No idea what kind of cheese(s) are used but very mild and without any sharpness. Agree with jiveturk that the small bits of ham don't do a lot to flavor it.

Overall, the food was more distinctive for the portion sizes (big) than for memorable flavors with the chicken maybe being the one main exception to that rule.

OTHER BITS

We didn't get any drinks or beers but imagine they're a highlight since that's a real strength of the company. Also, given the portion sizes, dessert simply wasn't possible.

VALUE

We spent only about $50 for everything above and a cup of hot tea. That's very reasonable; inexpensive even. But I can't call it a great value simply because the food quality isn't what it should be.

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First visit to VF&G over the weekend. I must say it appears I dined at a different restaurant than many of the other reviewers. I had a truly good meal which I thought was an exceptional value for the food quality and portions we received. My guests and I split the calamari and the deviled eggs for starters. The calamari, as noted here, was outstanding. Perfectly crisp and cooked well, lots of tentacles and a large portion. The deviled eggs seemed ok (I don't really like them in general, so I won't comment), but the others enjoyed them.

For mains I had the corned beef sandwich, my one guest had the smoked haddock chowder and the other guest had the roasted chicken. The corned beef came with a small salad and fresh-made potato chips. I thought the corned beef, while not jewish-style, was tender and outstanding. The style was more like brisket on a sandwich than corned beef. The salad was nice and lightly dressed and the chips were very good. It was a hearty meal for $9. The smoked haddock chowder my guest had was very good. The bowl was filled with shrimp, salmon, haddock, clams and oysters. The broth was a bit heavy with dill flavor, but overall it was a rich and hearty chowder. For $15 it seemed like a steal. Lastly, the roasted chicken was a half of chicken served with a salad and fries. The fries were the same as those served at Eammons and were hot and crisp. The chicken was very good. A very nice crisp skin, very juicy meat, and it was coated with some sort of light sweet sauce which was nice. Probably not as good as Palena's chicken but still very good. The portion was huge and made for a nice dinner last night. We finished sharing a slice of German Chocolate Cake which was enjoyable - moist, rather dense and heavy on the coconut.

I didn't find the prices on the beer list to be particularly offensive and the beer list was very large. The decor as other have noted is gorgeous. Service was good and attentive, with a touch of "Eve Cockyness" that Armstrong's restaurants have.

Overall, a superb meal and i'll be back many many times.

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As someone who eats here on a very regular basis, I definitely think both sides are completely correct. I think some menu items are pretty spot on 100% of the time: Pope's Lunch, Roast Pork Shoulder, Roast Chicken, etc.

I think other things aren't the best: Shagger's Pie, Shrimp Roll.

And some things really inconsistent: Cuban Sandwich, Calamari. I've had it good, but when it is bad it is bad.

But I think so long as you order well you can have a good meal. This is meant to be a casual place. Kind of a pretty pub. So I think if you go expecting the bells and whistles of Eve, you are going to be disappointed, it's just not that kind of place. I love it for lunch because it is just a great casual place to hang out. And the food to me is a good value. I am just more careful in ordering now because some things are stellar and some things not so much. But for what it is I think it is a great addition to the 'hood.

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Mr. MV and I visited Virtue for lunch on Saturday. We started with a glass of Prosecco to celebrate (and drown our sorrows!) our foray into a kitchen renovation (yikes). I got the cuban sandwich and how cute is that little fryer basket that holds the crisps?! The sandwich was ok-- I've had better. I think there's something that needs to be punched up as it fell just a little flat to me.

On the other hand, Mr. MV got the Confit of Duck over Lyonnaise Potatoes and wow, that was good. The duck was so tender and the skin beautifully lacquered. The potatoes were done perfectly. He about licked the plate.

We had such a wonderful, relaxing time and had to ask ourselves why we a) took so damn long to get to Virtue in the first place and B) don't make it a habit to enjoy our Saturdays in this way.

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Before I forget it again, I wanted to post a picture from my visit there about a month and a half ago. The meal was a very positive experience overall, but the standout for me was the smoked haddock and shellfish chowder, on the menu now for $16. This is an outstanding soup, and pretty affordable, given how full of seafood it is. And every piece of that seafood was cooked perfectly.

post-66-0-78474900-1334802724_thumb.jpg

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Before I forget it again, I wanted to post a picture from my visit there about a month and a half ago. The meal was a very positive experience overall, but the standout for me was the smoked haddock and shellfish chowder, on the menu now for $16. This is an outstanding soup, and pretty affordable, given how full of seafood it is. And every piece of that seafood was cooked perfectly.

That's what I had on my last visit, and it was fantastic - I had forgotten all about this until I saw your post. The chowder also looked almost identical to your picture (which is good because I thought I might have gotten an extra portion) - it's a fine value at $16 and a definite bread-dunk.

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Had a belated Admin Professional's lunch here today with the boss and coworker. My first time and I quite enjoyed it., although the lunch menu had been edited since the last time I had checked it out online, as I was thinking of trying the crubeens or tongue salad, and those weren't on offer anymore at a weekday lunch.

The patio was packed when we got there, so we ate inside, and it was a bit chilly from the A/C cranking thru with the open doors.. The food was spot on. We started by sharing an order of calamari, delivered so very quickly that I wondered briefly if we had gotten someone else's order. Crisp, tender, thin cornmeal crust and perfectly cooked squid, and a large portion with an ample cup of rosemarie sauce on the side. Between the 3 of us, we didn't finish it off. Boss got the shrimp roll, coworker got the cuban, and I went with the ploughman's lunch. Coworker is a very unadventurous eater (as well as difficult to please generally) and had never even heard of a cuban sandwich before. I described the generics of one, and she decided to try it, and she liked it. She really really liked it. Boss had eaten here previously and did not have a good experience then but was much much happier this time -- apparently the tables have been moved a little farther apart so he didn't feel crowded, and he thought the sandwich he ordered was a very generous portion. To my eyes, it looked a little soupier/creamier than I would prefer for a shrimp salad, but he liked the moist factor. My ploughman's lunch was a deviled egg half, some pickle slices, a chunk of cheese, thinly sliced apple, a little mixed greens salad, smoked salmon, corned beef and dark bread, all good to very good. I didn't love the salmon -- but then I never love salmon, it's just not a preferred fish for me; it was fine in its preparation. I also got a shandy to drink and enjoyed that as well -- sort of a very bright & kicky lemon-lime soda flavor with OJ added.

All in all, a definite thumbs up, but I'm going to have to get back there and try the less conventional items.

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Took the office here for happy hour tonight, probably 10 of us. Really solid happy hour deals on bar food here. Buffalo wings, potato skins and chips were a big hit with the younger crowd, I think bar snacks are 4.50. Not many beers on special for happy hour which was disappointing, maybe only Amstel, Rolling Rock and 1 other. It would be nice if they added some of the draft beers to the specials. The 2nd floor back room with pool table and open windows overlooking the Potomac has to be one of the best spots in Old Town combined with a great beer list. Happy hour runs from 5:00-6:30

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I am almost at a loss for words here. Over the years, I have more than enjoyed my time at Eve, Majestic, Eamonn's and PX. And, I assume that over the next few months that Virtue Feed and Grain will improve and that it will be as crowded as any place in the area and that it will be impossible to get a table. However, I simply cannot see anyone from our group of six returning to the restaurant, there is just not any reason for us to head back there.

As you can see, when I wrote this one year ago, I was very disappointed with my experience at Virtue. However, since that time, there have been a multitude of positive comments from this community as well as from many of my friends. Thus, as it was dinner club night and Old Town is very close to our new office, I picked Virtue as the location for our party of eight last night. In short, I wish that I revisited what I wrote a year ago instead of being disappointed at Virtue again.

The setting is still great, perfect for a Tuesday night as it wasn't too crowded and, thus, not very loud. Beers were enjoyed by most at the table, they were all very happy with the selections. The wine list seemed to be unchanged from my previous visit and, if it did change, it was still short and uninspired. I give them credit for not serving our multiple bottles of syrah (pretty bad) and zinfandel (quite good) too warm, but I would still like to see more of an effort here. As was the case with my first visit, we had a server in training. Again, I don't have a problem with that, but the person training that server has to be around much more as the new server clearly needed help.

However, in the long run, all of this wouldn't have mattered if the food was great, but it just wasn't. Deviled eggs as an appetizer was the standout with the whipped yolks almost touching the ceiling. The Filipino style chicken wings were a good value, but the only flavor that I seemed to taste was soy sauce, making it too one note. The chips (fries) were undercooked and soggy, even if served piping hot. The cheese plate was actually quite good, but not served with enough bread or accompaniments. So, we ordered the bread basket, which had plenty of bread (seven or eight slices) for the $3 price tag, but the bread was across the board dry and only came with two pats of butter for the entire basket. We asked for more butter several times, but it never came. As far as the entrees are concerned, I only tasted my own (collard green ravioli with veal sweetbreads) and it was a mixed bag. The sweetbreads were awesome and I enjoyed the pasta itself, but the collard greens held too much water in them making the already watery sauce a puddle once I cut into the ravioli. On the flip side, the desserts (bread pudding, buttermilk doughnuts, cookies and cream) were outstanding, particularly the cookies in the cookies and cream dessert.

In the long run, I will always frequent this group's restaurants, in fact, we have eaten at Eve and the Majestic in the last month, but I simply will not return to Virtue again. It may have been an off night, again, but I can't keep spending money hoping that they will get it right the night that I happen to show up.

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New lunch deal being offered by Virtue. Posted on their Facebook page. No menu on website anymore, except for a note saying new menus coming soon.

Leave the AC nest for $10!?

Yup! The Irish/American megapub will serve a $10 lunch at its bar, with such daily changing offerings as mussels with fries or kielbasa and salad. Add two bucks for iced tea or a cookie (Monday-Saturday, 11:30 AM-3:30 PM).

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In an early-in-the week, peak dinner hour evening, we were crazy to aim for a table at Virtue without having made reservations. A quick look at Open Table warned us of what we might encounter. As walk-ins, the estimated wait time was 20 minutes, but a few sips into our cocktails we received the text that the table was ready. Score!

As others have noted, Virtue showcases a gorgeous and interesting setting. It reminds me of a smaller Woodberry Kitchen. The upstairs was closed this evening, and we were unable to view a purportedly stellar layout.

We also encountered friendly and enthusiastically helpful host staff. In a joint like this one that is often packed to the gills, hosts that go out of their way to be friendly are a professional breath of fresh air. They are not being nice because they have to---the restaurant does not need your business on this particular evening; and whether or not they seat you the host will probably get paid the same amount. Such hosts are being nice because they want to, or so it seems, and if there is some other motive don’t tell me, I’m rocking out my Pleasant Fiction.

The volume was above my preferred decibel level, so I won’t be back, but had fun trying the venue with an adventurous out-of-town relative. Here are a few highlights from the scene, minus price points that have faded from long-week memory:

Lemony Laurel: It turns out that during my quick stint at the bar, I ordered the last of the available roasted lemon, citrus vodka, bay leaf and Galliano-enhanced cocktails. A delicious summer quencher, I wish I could have had another with dinner, highly recommended.

Crubeens; crispy pigs feet: I tired to order these, but they were out. Drat (muc?).

Bone Marrow, see photo: An inviting presentation, but I noted my unmet anticipation for a wave of garlic, shallot, or other seasoning to come through. A righteous use of my salt shaker remedied the initial blandness, but I doubt I would order this again except for novelty.

Seasonal Pickles, see photo: A Tip for the Virtuous---slice these suckers before serving! The flavor was an outstanding array of punchy rice vinegar, hint of fennel frond and dill seed, but slicing the rolly-polly onions and root vegetables was a real challenge. Twice I had the sliced bits shoot across the plate and onto the floor of another table. I was deeply amused, rather than annoyed, but a quick look at my moniker explains why. My main struggle was to resist the urge to turn the venue into a full-on food fight, summer camp cafeteria style. The pickles were served with roasted peanuts, adorable and quintessentially Virginian...and probably aerodynamic!

Sweetbreads with Collard-Stuffed Ravioli: I enjoyed the ravioli, a perfectly al dente, honorable flour packaging of a cherished leafy green. But the butter sauce robbed the offal of the classic crisp edge I’ve enjoyed during visits to Restaurant Eve, and the seasoning seemed muted. I would not order this again, but it was a refreshing change of pace to have sweetbreads available on a dinner menu.

Roasted Chicken Breast and Leg Confit: Impossibly moist chicken, a massive portion served in a rustic casserole dish, with mushroom ravioli as a much-enjoyed highlight for my dining companion. She turned leftovers into a rave review omelet the next morning.

Service was friendly and prompt, with a server-in-training in tow who was learning more about the newly debuted menu. The pace was noticeably rushed at the end of our meal. It was clear we needed to be going on our way and turn the table; this packed and high-decibel venue is not the place to linger.

(unless some wayward table inadvertently zings a flying pickle towards your head)

(and if that happens to you, don’t duck)

(try to taste it instead)

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