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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thing 105: The Majestic Cafe

I've been sitting on this one for about ten days which is a big no-no, especially when writing about a meal, because little details start to slip away. What did the wine taste like? How was the soup? I remember that I liked the cheese, but why did I like it so much?

So forgive my faulty memory and let me say simply that the Majestic Cafe on King Street in Alexandria is really lovely, with fantastic food and extremely knowledgeable and attentive service. The Boyfriend and I had a long, relaxed dinner date and lacked for nothing, enjoying ourselves tremendously.

Briefly, because some of the details are starting fuzz out on me, we started with cocktails. The Boyfriend got a maple syrup and bourbon deal, which was a bit strong and sweet for my liking, and I got a champagne cocktail that tasted like lemonade.

Cocktails at the Majestic

We split an appetizer of local oysters, lightly fried and draped with a lemon aioli. We know they are local because when I asked their origin (I tend to prefer Pacific oysters, which I've learned through extensive experimentation at Ebbitt's) our lovely waiter told us that he wasn't entirely sure, but the man who harvested them lived near enough somewhere in Virginia to drive them to the restaurant himself, which sure meets any local and sustainable food requirements you may have of your appetizer.

Fried Oysters at the Majestic
My entree is where things really got exciting. I ordered a whole trout fillet persillade, which seems to mean dusted in parsely and bread crumbs and lightly sauteed, then placed over a compote of fennel and orange that I long for still (and have tried to replicate without success so far) and served with a side of brussel sprouts sauteed with fat bits of smokey bacon. You have never dreamed that brussel sprouts could taste so good.

Trout Persillade at the Majestic
The Boyfriend got the Chesapeake fish soup, which had big hunks of shrimp, scallop, mussels and white fish, a thin tomato broth and celery and fennel. It was (over)seasoned with Old Bay and a bit salty, but overall quite enjoyable.

Seafood Soup at the Majestic

And finally...dessert! Majestic, which is owned by the same couple that cook at Restaurant Eve, Eamonn's and the PX, shares a pastry chef with Eve and you must leave room for dessert. After considerable debate, I went with the cake of the day, forgoing a caramel lemon tartlet that I must go back for someday. The cake of the day was too good to resist, three layers of soft white cake, with vanilla pastry cream between the layers and iced in chocolate ganache. The Boyfriend ordered the cheese plate, which had some lovely cheeses (which I can't remember anymore, but I believe the blue was particularly good) as well as some homemade accompaniments, including some pretty great candied cashews.

Cake of the Day at the Majestic
Cheese Plate at the Majestic

It was a really great meal and our service made it better. I want Dave (no relation) to get all the praise he is due, for he was attentive to our needs without being annoying, and really knowledgeable of the whole menu and the wine. He helped us pick out a really perfect, light pinot noir to go with our seafood dinner. In addition to his help about the oysters, he guided me towards choosing my winner of an entree, and when The Boyfriend mentioned there was a heavy hand with the Old Bay in the soup, he took it very seriously and promised to relay it back to the kitchen. I'm sure that all the staff are trained to the same high level of service and that this is part of the appeal of the place.

It's meant to be a neighborhood joint, though it is a touch pricey to eat there often. But the food is homey and the open kitchen in the back of the restaurant is fun to watch. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Coming Up: Cherry Blossom Picnic