Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Tale of Two Alexandria Restaurants

Both made lovely cocktails. Both were a bit loud and very busy on the weekend. Both attracted a tourist crowd. Both featured interesting architectural details. One made us very happy. The other reminded us of how bad touristy service can be.

The good place was The Majestic. The Majestic has been around since the 1930's and has a cool iconic neon sign. The place was packed on a Friday. Since we did not have reservations and we like bar action, we opted for the bar. Two bartenders were busy crafting a variety of cocktails. They were cool under pressure and handled a few difficult customers with a practiced diplomacy. We had tasty food and were never treated like a tourist. A warm, friendly atmosphere.

Happiness is a Well-stocked Bar
I appreciate a well-stocked bar
Guacamole - slightly hot
Red's She-Crab Soup
She-Crab Soup - very tasty
Virginia Skirt Steak with Fries
Virginia skirt steak with chimichurri sauce

The Columbia Firehouse is indeed an old firehouse converted into a restaurant with a huge Victorian era bar and exposed brick on the dining side. Wonderful space. Unfortunately, our waiter seemed to be someone who knew he was waiting on tourists and that he could get away with nonchalant behavior. I wanted a wedge salad, but did not want blue cheese dressing (hubby gets violently ill just smelling the stuff). I asked about a creamy substitute. No options. Hubby decided to get onion rings that came with a buttermilk goat cheese dip. When we got the app, we realized that the dip would have been perfect for the salad. The onion rings however used the very outer skin for some of the rings - not a good practice since these were tough and inedible. The dinner menu featured fried chicken, but as we discovered after we placed our order, the sparkling wine we wanted was not available (other options were way too expensive). Extreme disappointment and a lesson re-emphasized for me: Order the wine first and then order the meal once the wine choice has been confirmed. The rest of the meal descended into a desultory downward spiral. Plates set down with inaudible explanations on sauces or features; asking about dessert before the meal ended; long wait time for the check. In the end we realized this place was nothing but a tourist trap.

Empty Table
How Columbia Firehouse left us feeling - empty

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