Entries tagged with “Cathal Armstrong”.


 

James Beard finalists were announced today. Though we’re bummed DC didn’t garner any national restaurant nominations, we’re pumped for local chefs Johnny Monis, Cathal Armstrong, and Vikram Sunderam.

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If you’ve ever left one of the Eat Good Food Group’s Alexandria restaurants wishing you could replicate what you just ate at home, consider yourself one step closer.  Tomorrow at 6 PM, Society Fair opens its doors to the public, offering many of the ingredients used at Restaurant Eve, the Majestic, Eamonn’s, PX and Virtue Feed & Grain.  Get ready to raid Chef Cathal Armstrong’s pantries.

We had an opportunity to take a look around as Rob Shinn and his team were getting ready for this week’s opening, and we were like kids in a candy store as we moved from butcher’s counter to coffee station to bakery racks.  Goods we’d only read about before (being unable to find them at local grocers) were all around us.  Where’s Julie Andrews to sing about “favorite things” when you need her?

Lots of pictures and your plan of attack after the jump. (more…)

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When it comes to dining in Alexandria, it’s hard to avoid Cathal Armstrong and his team – not that you’d want to.  Each of the Eat Good Food Group’s establishments offers a different dining experience, from the high-end tasting room at Restaurant Eve to the quick casual bite at Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper.

Until recently, the only thing missing from their repertoire was a laid-back space big enough to gather with friends for a fun night out. That’s where Virtue Feed & Grain comes in.  You can easily fit 350 of your closest friends into the space, though you’re probably better off sticking with six or eight at a time.  Walk in the front door of the former warehouse (and brewery), and you’ll have your choice of spaces where you can settle in with a good beer and a menu that takes comfort food to some new and tasty places.

We visited Virtue for an early dinner last Sunday and then returned for a late-night drink this weekend.  As you might expect, we found two very different but equally welcome scenes.  The constant?  Todd Thrasher’s inventive “hoptails” that take beer-based drinks far beyond the boilermaker and the shandy.

A tour of Old Town’s newest establishment after the jump.

 

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Take it from someone who used to live there: Irish cuisine is not something you usually want to seek out. There is an abundance of fried food, great beer and good cheer and sure these things are great. But let’s not overlook a liberal lack of seasoning and propensity to boil everything. To an American palate, Irish food can taste pretty freaking bland. While living in Belfast, I would often escape with my American and Mexican friends to the nearest source of heat: a local Indian restaurant. We would load up on the spiciest dishes available, eat with tears streaming down our cheeks and walk home fortified for a week of mushy peas and asking a tablemate to pass the pepper.img_4238

Eamonn’s in Old Town is a powerful ambassador for Irish food. Eamonn’s is owned and operated by the Armstrongs, the  same good folks who brought food destinations like Restaurant Eve and the Majestic to the area. If the Armstrong restaurants were a family, Eamonn’s would be the relaxed uncle always ready with a dirty joke and a cigar. It is inexpensive and casual. A meal for one can easily be had for less than $15. On a crowded night, you’ll likely find yourself sharing a table with strangers.

Comfortable atmosphere aside, what makes Eamonn’s good is the fish. This is delicious, fresh fish  – not the type of seafood usually destined for a deep fryer. While the menu offers fish besides cod, such as grouper, ray and prawns, I recommend sticking with the headliner. The cod is crisp on the outside but moist, succulent and flavorful. Red meat is also available for the seafood-averse. On a recent visit, my friend Jeremy ordered the batter burgher – a deep fried hamburger, bun and all. Chicken bites and a batter sausage are also available.

More review and a shout out to the best dessert in DC after the jump. (more…)

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eveAs I mentioned on Tuesday, Robert Weidmaier’s Brabo opens tonight at the Hotel Lorien on King Street in Alexandria and the main restaurant is accompanied by a Tasting Room that will offer a more casual dining experience.

Despite a shared name, the Tasting Room at Restaurant Eve takes diners in a completely different direction.  The centerpiece of Cathal Armstrong’s growing Alexandria empire, Eve’s Tasting Room received the highest ranking for any restaurant outside the District in this year’s Washingtonian Top 100 Restaurants.   Judging by our fellow patrons (an anniversary, two birthdays, and even a proposal), this is a site for special occasions.  They know it, too: when you make your reservation, they ask if you’re celebrating anything. 

Back in December, Elizabeth and I were celebrating something (her birthday), so we headed into Old Town to finally give Restaurant Eve a try.  We had saved the best for last when it came to Armstrong properties, having already eaten at the Majestic and Eamonn’s and enjoying hand-crafted cocktails at PX on more than a few occasions.  That night we were ready to go the Full Cathal with five courses and wine pairings in the Tasting Room.

Highlights (and there were plenty) after the jump. (more…)

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In the Holy Trinity of Cathal Armstrong restaurants, The Majestic lies squarely in the center. Not as come-as-you-are casual as Eammon’s Dublin Chipper, not as high end as Restaurant Eve. Nope, The Majestic is essentially a dressed up diner offering classic American comfort food done well. Done really well, actually.

The Majestic is an adopted child of Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, the husband and wife powerhouse behind Restaurant Eve, Eammon’s and PX. The restaurant originally opened in 1932 but passed through many hands and identities before being taken on by the Armstrongs and their team.  I like what they’ve done with the place.

Like the pink beacon of their neon light, The Majestic extends a warm, casual welcome to all who cross its threshold. The space is long and narrow, with a cozy bar area and buttery yellow walls that warm up the long dining room. The ceiling is designed to disperse sound, so you don’t feel like you need to shout to be heard across the table even when the room is full.  One of The Majestic’s best traits, though, (besides the food, which we’ll get to after the jump) is the kitchen. Situated at the end of the long, narrow restaurant, the kitchen is open with its staff on display. While this is a common trend in restaurants today, what makes The Majestic different is the smells. Unlike Central, for example, there is no glass shielding the kitchen staff from the diners. Walking into the dining room is like walking into grandma’s kitchen just before dinner is served. You may not be able to put your finger on exactly what smells so good, but you know it is familiar.

The environment and food attract Old Town locals and destination diners alike, as well as a few DC-style celebrities. At one dinner in November we shared the dining room with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner

Our favorite menu items after the jump! (more…)

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I need a fix and Jay at the PX is my medicine man.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

PX is the latest brainchild of DC restaurant wonders Chef Cathal Armstrong, wife and business partner Meshelle Armstrong and sommelier/mixologist Todd Thrasher. Leaders of Restaurant Eve and Eammon’s, the trio set their sights on creating an upscale cocktail experience with a throwback to 1920s speakeasy glamour. True to its Prohibition influence, PX has no sign, a phone line that is “family only,” and is admittance by reservation only.  Armstrong and company made a concerted effort to keep this lounge an intimate experience free of crowds and noise: PX holds a maximum of 35 patrons at at time. (more…)

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