I’ve been to Two Nineteen in Old Town Alexandria a few times now. And each time, sadly, has been one step less in my dining experience.
The first time I had dinner there was in May with my mother-in-law. I’d been wanting to try this French restaurant situated in an old Victorian home first built by Lewis MacKenzie and I wasn’t disappointed. The filet mignon with bearnaise sauce was exquisite, the wine was expertly chosen, and the creme brulee sublime. Since my wife appreciates fine dining as well, I resolved to return with her in tow so we could enjoy it together.
Fast-forward to July and an early Friday evening dinner. It took a while to be served, which I chalked up to being the start of the dinner shift. The soups were good – French onion for her, She Crab for me – but again, extremely slow service. My wife’s salmon (a chef special) came, along with…a chicken dish markedly different that what I’d ordered. (I’d wanted the chef special of a stuffed chicken breast with crabmeat.) After some discussion with the waiter, my order went back in. Meantimes, my wife’s salmon was not a fresh cut and overcooked and dry. We waited nearly 15 minutes for my corrected dish; by the time it came I was ready to leave and head somewhere else. It was worth the wait as the chicken was cooked to perfection and entirely delicious. Dessert was offered for free for our inconvienence but sadly, the creme brulee was cold and soggy (save the carmelized top) and my wife’s pie was pretty on the plate but bland on the tongue.
We returned to Two Nineteen in September with our friend Diane – who’d wanted to go back during her visit in April, but the restaurant was closed for vacation – and we hit the Sunday brunch. I was willing to overlook our last experience as just a bad service day, since at least my entree was so good.
Sadly, the slow service continued. It took nearly 30 minutes in a half-full restaurant to get our orders taken and another 20 to see food in front of us. While my eggs benedict were okay – I still compare them to the exquisite steak benedict at the Carlyle – my wife’s mushroom omlet was very rich and a bit soggy. Diane’s eggs benedict were also nothing exceptional, though they weren’t awful, either.
I really want to like Two Nineteen. The interior is gorgeous, if a bit crowded in the front section. And when the chefs are “on,” they’re really ON in their cooking. But it’s too sporadic and coupled with a much slower service speed, just not worth a repeat visit to me. I can appreciate a laid-back service as much as anyone, if the food is prompt and worth savoring. But when it takes nearly 30 minutes to take a table order…
It’s one of the few restaurants along the King Street corridor that serves French cuisine; just be forewarned that it may be hit-or-miss during your visit. I hope it’s a hit for you; I think next time we’ll head down the block a bit and dine elsewhere.
Two Nineteen is located at 219 King Street in Old Town Alexandria near the corner of Fairfax and King Streets.