On a beautiful, warm Saturday night recently, Len and I headed over to Old Town Alexandria for dinner at the Majestic Café. You may remember my mentioning that Mrs. Obama hosted a birthday dinner there for her mother, Marian Robinson, this past summer.
Of course we had to check it out. (This is my favorite kind of “blog homework.”)
The Majestic, with its art deco facade, dates back to 1932, and is a Virginia state landmark. It boasts “pure and simple food in rustic American style” — wholesome, fresh, locally sourced ingredients — farm-to-table goodness that seems to be the credo these days of foodies in the know.
You enter through the bar to access the long dining room.
The interior was unremarkable, not “historic” as I had envisioned, but the food and service more than made up for it. Our servers were exceptionally friendly and attentive; Len and I noted they all looked uncommonly intelligent (both men and women were tall and lean with black rimmed glasses). We could have easily pictured them at a marathon reading of Proust. Okay, Len swore one female server resembled Olive Oyl, but that’s just him. Do you like to cast people you see in restaurants for future stories or films? ☺
Everything except the butter is made in-house, including breads, chips, pickles, and pasta, and they like to remind you that even the water is filtered in-house. They love to refill your water glass the minute you take a sip, and every time you finish a course, they carefully wipe your table polish it to a high gloss. Yes, this may well have been the cleanest, shiniest table in the history of the world.
Being thus coddled by the wait staff (and the lovely hostess was also very pleasant), we drooled over the menu, which offered lots of comfort food: meat loaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, creamy tomato soup, crabcakes, grilled chicken, hanger steaks, calves liver (yuck).
Len started with fried green tomatoes (goat cheese, caramelized onions, fresh beets):
followed by the Chesapeake Bay seafood stew:
I had a mixed greens salad (pomegranates, vinaigrette dressing, caramelized onion, chopped nuts), which was perfection:
followed by roast pork (brussels sprouts, apples, onions, bacon):
This was the best roast pork I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant anywhere — fork tender and moist, with the perfect sauce. Seriously, we’re talking foodgasm. Couldn’t stop saying, “mmmmmm, mmmmmmm, mmmmmm.”
Now, dessert was a different story. We passed on the coconut cake, mousse, bread pudding, and pear tart, deciding to split an order of apple fritters. It’s fall, apple season, right? The fritter itself was yummy, but they rolled it first in brown sugar, then finished it off with confectioner’s sugar. Much too sweet for me.
Still, we definitely plan to go back. Besides the food, it’s definitely a great spot to pick up characters. Len and I found the other diners fascinating, too — clearly we need to get out more. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the other restaurants frequented by the Obamas.
To see the complete lunch, dinner, and special Nana’s Sunday Dinner menus at the Majestic, click here.
Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.