A few weeks ago I met some friends for dinner at a great new restaurant in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria. Columbia Firehouse (part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group family), and Chef Orlando Hitzig deliver all around--good food, creative presentation and a cozy-chic atmosphere.
The restaurant has a great feel, both iconic and familiar all at the same time. If you're looking for a restaurant that's cozy enough for a Friday night dinner with friends and special enough to show off the city to your out of town guest, this fits the bill.
I was the slightly crazed girl snapping pictures with her camera phone during the meal. I do this all for you people, so enjoy. The name pays homage to the firehouse that use to inhabit the building around the turn of the 19th century. A lush dark wood bar leads you in to the main dining room and then out to a quaintly-beautiful gated patio. I'll be booking the patio for my birthday bash-09, so stay tuned for a party report later this fall. The upper level of the building will also soon boast a more upscale chophouse.
As in life, Columbia Firehouse is made in it's attention to details. The picture above was a beautiful piece of stained glass on the wall above our table (great lighting by the way, very flattering to the complection when dining). And the chandelier below hangs in the center of the patio. It illuminates to also cast a beautiful glow around the tables, but the patio was closed the night I was there.
The details carry over into the delicious food. I highly recommend the mussels (ham, garlic and red pepper was my favorite version). I think one of the most inventive dishes is the fried grilled cheese sandwich, served cut up vertically with a little tureen of cheddar and tomato soup for dipping. To die for. Don't think about leaving without dessert, you would regret it.
An ariel shot of our table that I took from the 2nd floor balcony just outside the old telephone booths that now have been updated with gold plated "Cell Phone Booth" signs. Oh, these times they are a changin'.
The vintage artwork around the restaurant adds to the old world charm, including vintage fashion covers framed above the vanity in the ladies room. Want to recreate at home?...Vintage Vogue artwork can be purchased directly from the Conde Nast online shop, or a quick search turned up quite a few hits on ebay as well. If I can track down the Cell Phone Booth signs, I'll let you know.
Columbia Firehouse also has a truly inspired cocktail menu. My personal favorite was the, ROCHAMBEAU YOU FOR IT (Any cocktail with St. Germain is my go-to this summer), but the Lime Rickey is also quite tasty.
If you're in the area, make sure to check it out. I know that I'll be back often. Probably dining with these two lovely ladies. True devotee followers of the chef...his mother and wife. Hey, it pays to have connections!
Top photo from LocalKicks taken by John Arundel.