Jump to content

Portner's, American Seafood-Based Pub on S. St Asaph Street in Old Town Alexandria - Closed


Recommended Posts

Scott Johnston said:
By the way. I had a excellent plate of fish and chips with a Guniess last night at Portners in old town

I was about to post a comment with regard to Portner's fish and chips yesterday on the Gordon Biersch thread, but I figured it would be off topic (there is no "where do you go for good fish and chips thread"). But yes, the fish and chips at Portner's are good. I think they use halibut and I think they use a beer batter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quickie review of Portners:

Biscuit Girl and I had dinner there last week. It was a random pick based on driving around Old Town until we saw a parking space in front. Probably should have stuck with the pub-grub type dishes, but we were in the mood for something different. We both got Caesar salads, which were on the limp side and the dressing mediocre. I had a bowl of the soup of the day, New England clam chowder. It was made with cream and was overly rich, tasting more of cream than clams.

Biscuit Girl got the 'appetizer' fried calimari. This was the highlight of the meal. It was an enormous portion, so we asked the waiter if it was a dinner portion or an appetizer, and he said "No, we only have one size." It looked like at least six squids had given their lives for this mound of fried goodness. It was tender, tasty, and had a nice spicy sauce for dipping in. I would go back for this.

[As an aside, when the charge came through on my card, it was billed as Hamburger Hamlet. I checked their website, and sure enough they list Portner's as one of their restaurants. I had no idea. Have they always owned Portner's or is this a recent development?]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JimRice said:
[As an aside, when the charge came through on my card, it was billed as Hamburger Hamlet. I checked their website, and sure enough they list Portner's as one of their restaurants. I had no idea. Have they always owned Portner's or is this a recent development?]

No, HH has always owned Portner's. I think they opened in something like 1983-84 and got their initial manager from the Chevy Chase HH.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lydia R said:
No, HH has always owned Portner's. I think they opened in something like 1983-84 and got their initial manager from the Chevy Chase HH.

Here is what I am hearing about Portner's:

Quote
The owner of the property that is Portners, also owns Union Street. He and the guy that owns King Street Blues are going to turn Portners into a high-end steak restaurant

edited to add, I think Portner's is in an old firestation, not a townhouse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Portner's is now closed. The next incarnation of that old firehouse will be a "high end steakhouse." Portner's first opened in 1981 and was operated by the Hamburger Hamlet people. The owners of the real estate, also restauranteuers (Union Street Pub, King Street Blues) will now take over as the operators of the establishment. 26 years is a good long run for any restaurant and I will miss it. The bar was always reliable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Portner's..... I've been there so many times, but I don't remember many of them. To me, its beauty was in its reliability for being open after everything else (except Bullfeathers) was already closed.

Actually, when I think about it, I have celebrated a lot of somewhat important events there:

1. Lunch after graduation from college, during which 1 bottle of jager was consumed by 4 people (ouch, to be that young again. Actually, I'm glad those days have passed).

2. Bachlorette party on a night when 6 inches of snow fell. We couldn't really go anywhere, so we drove the .5 miles into Old Town, skidding through the middle of the deep white streets while barhopping. As there were no cabs available that night, all the guys had to follow us around so they could drive us home. Incredibly lame, and unsurprisingly poorly attended.

3. Celebrations after the rehearsal dinner with all of the people who could actually brave the weather to get to town.

And, they had a good beer cheese.

I will miss the place....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lackadaisi said:
I will miss the place....

<sniff, sniff> Me too! That's where I met my +1! We haven't been there much since, but as lackadaisi says, it was a reliable late-night haunt (usually when one should have known better and headed home to bed rather than continuing to drink MORE...).

I also have some fond memories, mostly of times spent in the bar with a good friend who has since moved far away.

What will happen to Harry the bartender (and all those regulars)? He is an Old Town institution IMHO... I hope he'll be back in the new steakhouse incarnation (I could see him in a place like that) or land somewhere close by.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/6/2007 at 3:55 PM, christopherc said:

Found in What's New in Alexandria: "Bookbinders Seafood Restaurant, 109 S. Saint Asaph Street - Summer 2007"

Is this old news that still remains on their site?

It's old news now. :)

Columbia Firehouse is at 109 S. St. Asaph St. nowadays. 

Does anyone know what year Portner's opened? I'm almost certain it was before 1980, which would put it on our Oldest Restaurants in the Washington, DC Area list, and I'd love to include it if I can find out the date.

Incidentally, Portner's was named after Robert Portner's brewery, open from 1869-1919, which is reportedly making a comeback later this summer - someone please feel free to start a thread for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, DonRocks said:

It's old news now. :)

Columbia Firehouse is at 109 S. St. Asaph St. nowadays. 

Does anyone know what year Portner's opened? I'm almost certain it was before 1980, which would put it on our Oldest Restaurants in the Washington, DC Area list, and I'd love to include it if I can find out the date.

Incidentally, Portner's was named after Robert Portner's brewery, open from 1869-1919, which is reportedly making a comeback later this summer - someone please feel free to start a thread for it.

My gut is that it roughly opened between the late 70's  (77, 78,79 estimate) possibly the first year or two of the 80's, but earlier than Lydia R suggests above.  It was, as she notes, owned by Hamburger Hamlet (HH)  I  was friendly, worked and socialized with the East Coast VP (eastern half of the US) for HH who had opened Portners and several HH's in this region and some other cities including Chicago and Atlanta.  BTW:  reading the comments from those above is a personal trip down memory lane. I hit up Portner's bar and restaurant in the 80's, but was not a regular.  The place was beautiful, different, unique as it was a converted firehouse with its atrium spaces creating a great visual environment and more to the point it was a quality bar and restaurant for the period, its style and price points. 

Now as to uncovering the actual opening date...as you attempt to do ...that is a tough little nut as you are trying to recreate the wheel.  I'd research it under the name Ralph Capobianco Alexandria VA.  He opened the place and research would find old partners and Alexandria based business people who were around at that time.  Would Alexandria government keep old tax or official records from that time?  Would HH which went bankrupt or was sold or merged into another entity maintain records from those days?  I bet there are Alexandria based f&b people from that time who would recall it.  They would have to be in their late 50's into their 60's and 70's at this point in time. Can you access the local media from those years?  

But damn, that was an excellent bar.  It would be like so many of the popular acclaimed restaurants/bars of today throughout the region only without such an inventive menu, food or beverage.  Ha ha, I spent about 1/2 my evenings in Alexandria for a period in the earlier 80's, but my g/f wasn't a bar person...so I didn't get there as much as I would have were I on my own LOL.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

JG said in a post above that Portner's opened in 1981. I can't confirm this, but assume it's accurate.

While the original brewery wasn't in the same spot, the great-great-granddaughters of Robert Portner are following the family tradition and opening Portner Brewhouse in the West End of Alexandria later this year.

For those who know and love him, rumor has it that the incomparable Harry can be found behind the bar at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant...

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, goldenticket said:

JG said in a post above that Portner's opened in 1981. I can't confirm this, but assume it's accurate.

While the original brewery wasn't in the same spot, the great-great-granddaughters of Robert Portner are following the family tradition and opening Portner Brewhouse in the West End of Alexandria later this year.

For those who know and love him, rumor has it that the incomparable Harry can be found behind the bar at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant...

Thank you Jackie!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...