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Del Merei Grille, Del Ray - Closed


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After originally planning on having a lickity-split lunch my friend and I decided to head up toDel Merei Grille.

The place was about 1/2 filled and we had a pleasant lunch that started with the frickles.

The frickles are thinly sliced dill pickles that are lightly battered and fried until golden. They are served with a spicy remoulade and make for a unique and appetizing starter.

I had the chili dogs with fries and my friend had the meatloaf sandwich with fries. The chili dogs are well, what you would expect for chili dogs. I was surprised to see that they came with a line of yellow mustard on top of the chili. I have never been to the Vienna Inn, so this may be what was served there. Overall a good spot for the lunch rotation.

This might be a good place for a DR.com get together since we can head down to get some custard for dessert! :lol:

Edited by mdt
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A friend and I ate at the Del Merei Grill on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria on Friday evening. Friend hadn't wanted to go because she had had some bad experiences in the Calvert Grill that was a prior restaurant at that location. We shared frickles, fried pickle chips, which were tasty enough but a little goes a long way. I had some excellent braised beef with potatoes and collard greens. She had steak with squash. The service was excellent and the beer and wine fine. It seems to be a pleasant neighborhood place with slightly better parking than in downtown Del Ray. The parking lot is rather small.

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The wife and I could not decide where we wanted to go for dinner on Saturday, so we debated, and finally decided to give SoBe a try. When we sat down and were looking over the menu, I mentioned that we should go back to Del Meresi, and that neither of us ever remembers it when we are trying to figure out where to eat, and that it is too bad since our first meal there was so good. Here is what I wrote on e-Gullet on April 4, 2005 about my first (and so far only) visit:

I have bought some cheese from Jill, so I know that at least when it comes to formage I can trust her tastes. So my wife and I decided to try Del Meresi tonight. Being a homer for Bombay Curry Company I am quite familiar with its location, so I was not going to hold the drab, nee ugly exterior against them. The room itself is quite odd, but it is a victim of its location. It is wider than it is deep. They did there best to dress-up the place, and it was inviting. But who cares about the way it looks, we were there for the food.

We started off ordering the crab-artichoke-bacon dip. What we expected was the normal incepted version that you find at so many restaurants. I expected it to be nothing but cream that tastes of flour with a small piece of bacon, a few strands of crab, and one artichoke heart chopped up, served with warmed crappy bread, you know the type. Oh my, were we surprised. This dip was nothing like we expected. There was a nice crunchy top that hid a cup filled with baby artichokes, and lumps of crab. There was no physical evidence of bacon, but the taste permeated it. This dish has changed my perspective on what artichoke dip can be the same way that Corduroy did to my impression of spring rolls.

There are two different ways to order entrees. The first is to have what the chef has prepared, with the sauce and sides that he would match with the dish. The other is to order the type of meat (or a portabella) along with a sauce and two sides. We went with the later. I ordered a pork chop with blueberry compote, and sides of cheese grits, and southern style green beans. The pork was standard fare, nicely cooked, but a bit tough (what I would expect from the “Lean Generation” pork). The compote was nice, a bit too much allspice, and not as thick as I would make it, but matched well with the pork. My first impression of the grits is that they were too cheesy, but I soon became addicted to them, and while I am still full, I grave another dish of them. The green beans were cooked the way I like them, mushy. I know many people like them to have a snap, not me; I like them best when they have been cooked to hell and back. These are the type of green beans my mother never had to get at me to finish. They were flavored with pieces of sausage, and quite tasty.

My wife’s order the flat iron steak (medium rare), a blue cheese reduction, caramelized onion mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Her steak was cooked perfectly (if you like it that cooked), and the sauce was a beautiful complement to the meat. Many blue cheese sauces tend to be a bit oily and take on the astringent quality that lesser cheese have, not this one, it was creamy, and had a wonderful smooth taste. Her potatoes were not my favorite dish of the evening, they needed more fat, butter or cream (preferably both). We skipped desert, but the bread pudding perked my ears, maybe next time.

The service was lovely. The young lady who waited on us was attentive, and thankfully did not think of us as her new best friends. The two courses and the wine were paced perfectly. They have a very interesting wine by the glass menu. Missing were super market wines, and Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck”. My white Cote’s du Rhone tasted as if the bottle had been opened too long, but the Syrah I had, and the Aussie blend (Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourverde) were quite nice. I did not look at the wine by the bottle list, but if the by the glass selection were any clue, it has to be somewhat appealing.

After tonight’s meal we hope to be back soon.

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First time poster, but a big fan of the site.

Had a great dinner at Del Merei Grille on Sunday night, that followed a terrific dinner there just a few weeks earlier. My wife and I were looking for someplace nice (and not too pricey) to take my parents who were in town, and Del Merei was a perfect choice.

I started with the Chilled Iceberg Salad with blue cheese, carrot and onion tangle and a jalapeno blue cheese dressing. The onions provided a nice sweetness, and the dressing managed to provide just enough spice without being overpowering. My wife and my parents enjoyed the Lolla Rosa salad, which includes rasperries, spiced pecans and a vinaigrette. I didn't try it, but they seemed happy. For dinner, I ordered the Hangar Steak with mushroom truffle sauce and I would easily put it up against the steaks served at any of DC's nicest steakhouses. I believe the rap on hangar steak is that it can be too tough if it's not prepared correctly, but this managed to be an exceedingly tender steak with great flavor. The mushroom truffle sauce was mild, but completely unnecessary. The steak stood out on its own. I also had the horseradish mashed potatoes and the "southern style" green beans. The potatoes were good, but were served lukewarm. The green beans were mixed with bacon and a sweet glaze and were very good. The rest of my party ordered petit filets, which they all raved about. My father ordered the filet and crabcake (unfortunately known as the "Surfy Turfy") and seemed very pleased with both.

For desert, my mother ordered the bread pudding while my father and I each got a slice of pumpkin pie. I didn't try the pudding but my mom reported it was delicious. The pumpkin pie was one of the best I've ever had. It was incredibly creamy with a remarkably strong pumpkin flavor. My wife is not a fan of pumpkin pie, but tried a bite and wound up sneaking a couple more bites. I am no wine expert and won't pretend to be. But Del Merei does have a nice list of very affordable wines. We went with the Trapiche Malbec, which for $18 a bottle, suited our needs quite well.

I have had some friends make the comparison between Del Merei and Ray's the Steaks. That's inevitable, as both restaurants have similar ordering styles (picking your steak and your sauce). A ribeye I had at Del Merei on a previous visit wouldn't stand up well next to Ray's. It was too gristly. But the hangar steak I had on this visit was every bit as good as the hangar steak I had at Ray's. Del Merei also seems to have a more extensive menu -- with about ten additional menu items beyond steaks.

All in all, I'm finding Del Merei to be a very welcome addition to the Alexandria/Arlington area.

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The place was about 1/2 filled and we had a pleasant lunch that started with the frickles.  The frickles are thinly sliced dill pickles that are lightly battered and fried until golden.  They are served with a spicy remoulade and make for a unique and appetizing starter.

I cannot bring myself to order these at Del Merei Grille or Acadiana. Has anyone else tried these things? Are they battered in dill dough? It just sounds like a nasty combination concocted in a psilocybin-induced thrasher-nightmare.

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I cannot bring myself to order these at Del Merei Grille or Acadiana. Has anyone else tried these things? Are they battered in dill dough?  It just sounds like a nasty combination concocted in a psilocybin-induced thrasher-nightmare.

I had them once in Freeport, TX. They were much better then I expected. A little sour, a little crunchy, and batter makes everything better. My mistake was eating these before a 7 hour boat trip in 8 foot seas.

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I cannot bring myself to order these at Del Merei Grille or Acadiana. Has anyone else tried these things? Are they battered in dill dough?  It just sounds like a nasty combination concocted in a psilocybin-induced thrasher-nightmare.

Fried pickles? A Southern staple. Then again Southerners will fry anything. I like them, but my favorite fried oddity is still lemon.

Edited by JPW
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We found ourselves heading back into town from Franconia last night, and I knew we'd have to stop somewhere for dinner. So I consulted the trusty list of places here on DR and came up with Del Merei grill. Overall it was a good experience.

We started with the frickles, and I can say that they are really very tasty, though they could have been fried just a bit longer to attain a better crunch. If you like pickles, you'll like frickles. I followed with a radicchio salad garnished with apples, walnuts, and blue cheese. Everything was crisp and delicious, with a good harmony of ingredients. The dressing was too acidic, however, for such a large portion. by the time I had finished my plate, my palate had been exhausted by the vinaigrette, although I tend to like my vinaigrettes on the acidic side.

At Del Merei the specialty is steaks; you order the cut you want from a list of about 10 options, then your sauce and sides. I found all the options intriguing, but ended up going for the hangar steak medium rare with a mustard-horseradish sauce, served with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes with roast garlic. The steak was done perfectly, as was the spinach (still fresh tasting and green in spite of its creamy preparation), and the sauce had just the right balance of horseradish and mustard. The potatoes were good, but could have used more butter.

My wife had scallops done in one of various attractive ways. They were excellent specimens, but they had been so deeply seared on the grill that the charcoal flavor overwhelmed the delicate natural taste of the seafood, so that its freshness and quality were wasted.

This would have to be my overall criticism of Del Merei: Very good ideas in the kitchen and a commitment to fine ingredients marred by overly aggressive flavoring. The strong flavors of acid, charcoal, and heavy seasoning tended to overwhelm the basic goodness of what the chef is trying to do. This also applied to the kid’s menu: Our son the 4-year-old sybarite had grilled shrimp, which were done to tender perfection but too sharply seasoned and charred for his taste—and he can eat Dijon out of the jar. The exception to this was the steak, which can stand up to this kind of strong treatment, but perhaps the chef needs to adjust his techniques more carefully when dealing with other ingredients like vegetables and seafood.

None of these criticisms, however, would prevent me from going to Del Merei again. Chef Reid is obviously committed to turning out high-quality dishes, and his creativity really shows on the plate. The service was top-notch in every respect and the wine list is very good. I’m sure Del Merei is making many people very happy in the Arlington/Alexandria borderlands, and next time I’m in the area, I’ll definitely give it another try.

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I cannot bring myself to order these at Del Merei Grille or Acadiana. Has anyone else tried these things? Are they battered in dill dough?

We ordered them the first time we went to Del Merei. My wife LOVES all things pickle. She dips her grilled cheese and potato chips in pickle juice, always requires pickles in the fridge, etc. She was not a big fan of the frickles. While the batter was light, they came to the table pretty greasy and it was tough to eat more than a few. The side of aioli was pretty flavourless. In addition, and this isn't a bad thing, one order would easily serve a table of six.

Should say that we live in Del Ray and love the Del Merei Grille. Glad they took the beer cheese of the menu. Yikes!

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My wife had scallops done in one of various attractive ways. They were excellent specimens, but they had been so deeply seared on the grill that the charcoal flavor overwhelmed the delicate natural taste of the seafood, so that its freshness and quality were wasted.
I'm so glad you posted this. That is the exact experience I had with their scallops when I ate there in August. I just chalked it up to a dirty grill or an unexerinced hand. But it seems like it's a continuing issue, unfortunately. It wasn't bad enought that I wouldn't go back. But, like you, I plan to stick to the grilled meats in the future. Edited by Free Wilma
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Well, Rustico's was so crowded last night that we couldn't get a seat in the dining room. After several excellent beers, we started to get that feeling that the beer in our stomachs needed some company. We called over to Monroe's and they could not seat us until 9:30. So thinking about what was was on down the Mt. Vernon Avenue, we decided to give Del Merei Grille a shot and, if they couldn't handle us, then we would move on down the street to RT's. Well, Del Merei said they could get us in in 15 minutes. (Subplot-it's hard to get a seat at a decent restaurant in that area on Friday evening these days).

Del Merei Grill in on Mt. Vernon between Glebe and Commonwealth, right next door to Bombay Curry Company on the ground level of the Calvert Apartment Building.

I was pleasantly surprised. The food is quite decent. I had the grilled (that's gree-layed) pork chop and ordered the tasso gratin and haricots vert on the side. The chop was thick and meaty with a nice coat of seasons and was properly grilled. The gratin was surprisingly good with a smokey flavor from the ham permeating each bite. The haricots vert were only so-so, kind of overcooked. 2 out of three ain't bad. The bread pudding was good as well.

Our server made an error ordering one of our dishes and when the error was pointed out he promptly corrected it and took full blame. It was refreshing.

There's lots of over stuff on the menu that is worth trying and I'll let my dining companions weigh in with their impressions (some will be good, some not).

There is a place on down the sidewalk called Hector's that could be worth a look-see.

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What, no frickles?

Not a frickle to be found at our table. Del Merei Grille seems to be a really nice nieghborhood joint - the bar was crowded with people watching the basketball games (this is a smoking bar btw). It also was the chef's birthday so there seemed to be even more celebrating going on. I enjoyed my sesame crusted salmon - a generous portion, accompanied by roasted garlic smashed potatoes and hericot vert (a fancy name for baby string beans). Nothing fancy about the preparation though - just straightforward and pleasant. A bunch of us had come straight from happy hour at Rustico, so we were already pretty happy about life. Depending on your mood, this little strip has some interesting choices - Indian at Bombay Curry Co., American here, or there is always the Pho King should you be into that.
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There are two things I really like about Del Merei, one is the out of this world crab and artichoke dip, and the other is their beans. I don't consider them over cooked as much as I consider them actually cooked. They are green beans that have been braised with ham, not flash blanched. This is what will draw me back there yet again, as finding properly cooked green beans is almost as rare as finding a well made buttermilk buscuit.

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Thanks, I'm glad everyone enjoyed their meal.

Happy Belated Birthday, Eric! It was a lovely meal, enjoyed with a lively group. Some dude picked out a nice Tempranillo that worked nicely with all five of the differing dishes on the table, and I lucked out by ordering the best dessert (IMO) at the table - a wide warm slice of sweet blueberry pie accompanied by a massive dollop of whipped cream. (The place serves frickles, tater tots & chicken fried steak but not a vat of Cool Whip to be found? Absurd!)

[Oooo, that was good, Crackers!]

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So this morning we got a phone call from dc101. We are the featured Restaurant tomorrow on Elliot in the Morning. Should be a fun show. Mary and I are supposed to be in Rockville by 8am, which requires me being up by 4 to prepare the food! :)

Just thought I'd throw that out there. Is anyone up that early?

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I cannot bring myself to order these at Del Merei Grille or Acadiana. Has anyone else tried these things? Are they battered in dill dough? It just sounds like a nasty combination concocted in a psilocybin-induced thrasher-nightmare.

"Are they battered in dill dough?" . . .classic, just classic.

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I once had frickles prepared for me by a lovely and gentile Southern Lady from Montgomery, Alabama. I believe the original recipe does indeed call for a dill dough, but when frying time came around it had disappeared so an alternative quick batter was improvised. They are most properly served with what she called "Comeback Sauce."

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We tried this place last night for the first time, maybe I made the wrong choice of a dish. The horseradish crusted yellowtail snapper was so overcooked it had the texture of a chicken breast, the crab and potato hash was ok. My wife seemed to enjoy her salmon she picked from the grill selections. I don't think I can ever get over my fish dish to give this place another shot. It's been a long time since I considered sending a dish back, and really wish I had last night.

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We tried this place last night for the first time, maybe I made the wrong choice of a dish. The horseradish crusted yellowtail snapper was so overcooked it had the texture of a chicken breast, the crab and potato hash was ok. My wife seemed to enjoy her salmon she picked from the grill selections. I don't think I can ever get over my fish dish to give this place another shot. It's been a long time since I considered sending a dish back, and really wish I had last night.

Certainly does not resemble my past meals. Why didn't you send it back? Mistakes happen on occasion and things like that can be corrected.

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Certainly does not resemble my past meals. Why didn't you send it back? Mistakes happen on occasion and things like that can be corrected.

Well, looking back I really wish I had. You would think the kitchen would not let something like that get to the customer. I was just tired last night, and really did not want to wait for a new dish. I am sure my wife would have been done by that time. I just took the lost and wasted $18

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There are two things I really like about Del Merei, one is the out of this world crab and artichoke dip,

I notice on the menu that the crab & artichoke dip has bacon in it. That's a surprise. I don't think I've ever seen that before. The bacon didn't overpower the rest of the flavors?

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I notice on the menu that the crab & artichoke dip has bacon in it. That's a surprise. I don't think I've ever seen that before. The bacon didn't overpower the rest of the flavors?
Not in the least bit, it was very complementary to the flavor of the crab. I recently had to suffer through a birthday dinner at McCormick & Schmicks, and one of the appetizers that were ordered was their crab and artichoke dip. After the first bite, I longed for Del Merei's version.
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I don't think I can ever get over my fish dish to give this place another shot.

DLB, I can't stress enough how out-of-character this is for Del Merei. My husband and I have eaten there at least once a week since they opened and we have literally never had a bad dish. I know that Eric and Mary would have been happy to quickly resolve the problem if they had known. I definitely encourage you to visit again - this place deserves it.

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Agreed. I've eaten there twice this year and had great meals both times (and yes, I liked the frickles very much).

Cheers,

Rocks.

We eat there fairly often as well (it's pretty close to our house) and the only time we've had a complaint it was because a table of very loud (on the way to being drunk) guys. I don't know why someone would seat 6 noisy, cackling people by Grover and I and 2 older ladies, but there we were. Fortunately, we only had to sit through about 15 minutes of loudness before we left. We did say something but were told "there's nothing we can do about it" even though there were other open tables. It did leave a bad taste but not from the food.
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by Grover and me?

Long live frickles!

Never chew a frickle with a little slap and tickle. You've got to throw a stone to get the pond to ripple.

Don't forget the comeback sauce! Y'hear?

Gosh Michael, I didn't realize you were there as well...mea culpa...many a slip twixt cup and the lip (and I am totally curmudgeonly when it comes to English usage too)
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Never chew a frickle with a little slap and tickle. You've got to throw a stone to get the pond to ripple.
The official Donrockwell.com Cool For Cats post of the week.

And as for the noisy table - unless the patrons are settng themselves on fire, or having a food fight - what can the restaurant do?

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The official Donrockwell.com "Cool For Cats" post of the week.

And as for the noisy table - unless the patrons are settng themselves on fire, or having a food fight - what can the restaurant do?

Uh, offer to move us to another table in a quieter location? Say "sorry for the drunken louts"? Perhaps not seat them near a table with two older ladies, Grover and me (especially when there are other 6 tops across the room in an area where there are few patrons)? Three suggestions in 15 seconds...not too bad. We neither asked for or expected to be comped anything, just a simple "sorry for the loud customers" would have gone a long way toward making it easier for us to go back. We're somewhat hesitant now.
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Uh, offer to move us to another table in a quieter location? Say "sorry for the drunken louts"? Perhaps not seat them near a table with two older ladies, Grover and me (especially when there are other 6 tops across the room in an area where there are few patrons)? Three suggestions in 15 seconds...not too bad.
Sure, but might they be angering the other table while accomodating you? What if the 6-top got insulted and left? Maybe they made the calculation that you were almost done and they didn't want to approach the noisy people.

I'm not saying they were right. Just wondering what goes into the decision. I can imagine whether or not they were drunk and might make a scene would come into play.

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I went with a friend last Friday night and was completely charmed by a plate of BBQ ribs with collard greens. I'm a BBQ novice so I can't tell you any which style it was cooked, but tender and juicy it was, and even better the next morning over a warmed-up biscuit. Frickles are not to be missed, they are completely addictive. Very worthy wine list as well.

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Hi - I'm new to posting and just happened to try out Del Merei on Saturday night. I'd happily eat a meal of just their side dishes, though I'd be sad to miss out on the very satisfying buffalo hanger steak. My husband was just as pleased with their NY strip. Dessert sounded tempting but for us it's just not possible to be that close to The Fairy Godmother without heeding its call...mmm, blackberry sorbet and a ginger cookie.

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Hi - I'm new to posting and just happened to try out Del Merei on Saturday night. I'd happily eat a meal of just their side dishes, though I'd be sad to miss out on the very satisfying buffalo hanger steak. My husband was just as pleased with their NY strip. Dessert sounded tempting but for us it's just not possible to be that close to The Fairy Godmother without heeding its call...mmm, blackberry sorbet and a ginger cookie.
Welcome to DR.com ladle. Try the pork chop next time.
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