Alexandria Restaurant Week: Columbia Firehouse
A lot of people in the area might not realize that right after DC Restaurant Week comes the Alexandria Restaurant Week. Yes, to many residents of DC (mostly twenty-somethings) this land of Alexandria seems far and away. However, just a short ride down Route 50 and the GW parkway awaits Old Town, one of my favorite neighborhoods in our metro-area (as mentioned in other postings). If you live in DC and haven’t been here yet, you are seriously missing out. There’s a ton of history, shops, restaurants and it’s right on the water. I would probably avoid this weekend with Hurricane Irene coming in, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
We decided to go to the Columbia Firehouse for a goodbye dinner for one of my besties who is about to begin her rotations for medical school in Farmville, Virginia for the month (will miss you!). I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out that this restaurant is a part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group , the owners of some of my favorite restaurants in the DC area- Tallula and Eat Bar, Birch and Barley to name a few. Right now the neighborhoods their establishments occupy include Arlington, Alexandria, and DC proper (Logan Circle to be exact).
Columbia Firehouse is located in the building that Portner’s used to be- a brick building dating back to 1883. There is a beautiful deck for outdoor seating that is intimate and perfect for summer nights. The inside decor takes you back in time with a preserved brick facade in the dining room and ornate wood and wrought iron banisters and lanterns.
The restaurant week menu actually proved to be quite the deal- you had your choice of any of the appetizers other than the chaucuterie and raw bar which of course was disappointing, but you still were able to choose the $11 mussels! Any of their entrees were available and any of their desserts, so a decent selection all said and done.
My friends opted for the tuna tartare tacos, while I went with the mussels with garlic, capers, white wine, garlic and parmesan.
The flavor of the broth was absolutely fantastic and the tomatoes and melted parmesan were great additions. The flaky bread softened perfectly when dipped into the broth, absorbing just the right amount of the delicious liquid. My only critique of this dish was that many of the mussels were unopened. I know there’s a lot of debate on whether unopened mussels are actually “bad”. If anyone has any insight into this, please let me know because according to the interwebs the debate is still pretty split about whether or not they cause food poisoning.
For my main meal, I chose the beef tenderloin, medium-rare, with melted blue cheese, roasted fingerling potatoes and carmelized mushrooms. O.m.g. is all I have to say. Everything was perfectly cooked, the sauce served over the steak was unreal and I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re going to come here.
I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really a dessert fan- but I took a risk and ordered the creamsicle float which looked beautiful (the picture didn’t turn out though), but I had about one sip and thought I was going to die of a sugar rush. It was very sweet and fruity, and just not my thing. My friends ordered the chocolate creme brulee (with cherry sorbet ), the bread pudding, and the rhubarb sundae (picture didn’t turn out again- but this was fantastic- huge chunks of rhubarb!).
Again, I refuse to do specific recommendations based on restaurant week, but based on this experience, I would say Columbia Firehouse is a pretty solid bet if you’re looking to grab a great bite to eat in Old Town. Interested to see what else the Neighborhood Restaurant Group has up it’s sleeve in the future- I have yet to be disappointed!