Thanks to CityEats, I recently held a contest for a dinner at The Majestic in Alexandria. The contest winner was Maya Barak, who creatively described her dream dinner at the restaurant. Her entry was so good that I asked if she would follow up by writing a review of her real dinner at The Majestic. Here’s her review. I think you’ll agree that her win is well-deserved.
Guest post by Maya Barak
Begin dream sequence. It’s a cool December evening set atop a hazy sky. We roll through Old Town Alexandria, passing by quaint little shops with brightly colored awnings and row after row of softly glowing trees, branches bare except for the dozens of tiny twinkling white lights delicately looped around them. As we turn the corner we’ve arrived. But this isn’t a dream. This is my Dream Dinner at The Majestic.
Walking through the doors, the restaurant is nostalgic-chic, a slightly more casual version of Rick’s Cafe straight out of Casablanca. For just a moment I imagine dining tableside with Ingrid and Humphrey. Back in the real world our eyes move from the darkly lit cool blacks and grays of the bar to the soft golden hues of the dining room. As we glide into our seats both our waiter and The Majestic’s manager, who is extremely pleasant, welcome us and offer to help us select a bottle of wine. Next comes the fresh baked bread and butter. “It’s delicious,” my companion tells me as he takes the first bite. I’ll have to trust him as I can no longer indulge in gluten-filled treats like freshly baked bread, cookies, or cakes. He manages to down the whole half-loaf before we’ve even placed our order, so it must be great.
Sipping on a crisp white wine, we place our order: The Royal Fixe, please. The Royal Fixe is The Majestic’s answer to restaurant week year round. For just $35 we are treated to an appetizer, main course, and dessert of our choice. We attack the menu, carefully selecting dishes in order to try more things. The final list makes our mouths water:
Potato Croquette with a Fried Green Tomato, Fried Egg and Melted Onions
Wild Mushroom Soup with Red Pepper Relish and Creme Fraiche
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Red’s Veggie Plate with a surprise assortment of farm fresh vegetables
We hold off on desert–we’ll see what we’re in the mood for when the time comes.
Waiting for our food, we finish our first glass of wine and move on to the second, easily slipping into a state of complete comfort facilitated by the high-class homey feel the Majestic exudes. We chat softly and people watch, pondering whether or not the couple sitting to our left is on a first date–this seems like a perfect date-night jaunt.
The appetizers arrive, well, the potato croquette arrives. We share it while waiting for the soup. It is unbelievably rich yet crisp and bright, with just a splash of heat from the shockingly orange sauce drizzled around the plate. Sunshine colored yolk seeps from the fried egg as the first fork hits. We each build the perfect bite: egg, crunchy whipped potato, and green tomato. This is our favorite dish of the night. The mushroom soup follows. It is hearty, earthy, and perfect for a chilly night, but perhaps better accompanied by a crusty baguette and a warm fireplace.
Out come the entrees. As soon as the butternut squash ravioli hits the table, the sweet aromatic scent of brown butter and sage hits my nose. Heaven. Although I can’t try the dish in its entirety, unable to delight in the large fluffy pillows of whipped butternut squash before me, my companion offers up a tasty alternative. Carefully cutting open a piece of ravioli, he manages to remove the filling, graze it across the plate (guaranteeing an ample coating of brown butter sage) and offers it to me. The filling and sauce are so good they could (and should!) be served as a side. Red’s veggie plate is monstrous, piled high with yukon gold whipped potatoes, fried green tomato, green beans with shallots and thyme, brussels sprouts with onions and thyme, sautéed mushrooms with thyme, and thyme peas and tomatoes in a light red sauce. Notice anything odd about the list of items included on the plate? Could it be, perhaps, that everything is covered in thyme? Now don’t get me wrong, I love thyme and tend to think it goes with anything (veggies, pizza, eggs, etc.). That said, I don’t love when the only thing I can taste on my plate is thyme. However, aside from too much thyme, the vegetables were well-cooked and the potatoes were hearty–like the kind your grandmother might make at Thanksgiving.
Stuffed to the brim, we soldier on to dessert. We opt for creme fraîche gelato supplied by Docelzza (so you know it’s good, and if you haven’t tried Dolcezza’s Argentinian gelato, churros, and alfajores stop reading this right now and go get some!) and the Cheese Lover’s Board with an assortment of American artisanal and farmstead cheeses and housemade accompaniments. The gelato is tasty and refreshing, a subtle finish to a heavy meal. The cheese board disappoints. Now both my companion and myself are big cheese fans. In fact, I’m what you might call a (hardcore) cheese snob–if it comes already shredded or wrapped in plastic, it’s not real cheese in my eyes. While there were a few different cheeses on the board, both soft and hard, we could only stomach one of them. The housemade accompaniments–some jam and crackers–were good.
Walking out of The Majestic, we are completely satisfied (despite a few snafus here and there). The food is comforting and homey, the ambience is classy yet cozy, and the experience is not pretentious in the least (which can be a problem when dining in Metro DC). What’s more, we have ample leftovers to take home. In short, dining at The Majestic is like dining at your grandmother’s house–that is if your grandmother was Greta Garbo and her house was a chic art deco restaurant dating to 1932.
The Majestic, 911 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia