One In Vermilion (Four, Actually)

Virginia again? How do we keep ending up in the Commonwealth? Okay, it isn’t that often, and they do have some fine restaurants, some different experiences than one finds in Wheaton, and we enjoyed a recent visit to Vermilion (1120 King Street, Alexandria). Good food was a given, and we liked the ambience too, especially the exposed brickwork upstairs, but the wonderful service really put the place over the top for us. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful, especially in the downstairs bar area, where we waited for our table and then returned after dinner to linger over cocktails. I am not supercritical when it comes to service, but it can make an otherwise okay meal good (or disastrous), and in this case it made a good meal great.

Vermillion is big on local products, sustainability, etc., and the food quality is excellent, starting with the bread basket, which included a couple of choices, best was what seemed like a hybrid classic dinner roll/buttermilk biscuit, sweet and soft and hot and happy. One of the better breads I’ve had at any restaurant. We each were next bestowed an amuse bouche, a delicious bite of beef tartare atop…something, I don’t remember, but it was very good, we all wished there were more.  Unlike Queen Victoria, we were indeed amused.

Ol’ Vicky also famously said “I will be good” and that was true on this night, too. Main dishes lived up to expectations but I wouldn’t say exceeded them.  Pork loin and belly was nicely sliced and arrayed amidst a melange of feta, pine nuts, peas; good but not great.  The “pekin duck” across from me disappeared quickly, I think that was the overall winner.  Charcuterie and mushroom ravioli were, like the pork, about the expected level of quality.  Overall, a fine meal made excellent by the service (and by the company!). Also, the bartender and bar staff really know their stuff: highly recommended.

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