Alexandria, Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: The Burger Joint


‘DSCF3611.jpg’ courtesy of ‘joelogon’

The Burger Joint (BGR) is the latest in a line of local hamburger shops trying to muscle in on DC-area institution Five Guys by offering a gourmet twist on this American staple. I went to their new Old Town Alexandria location to put these burger peddlers’ wares to the test.

There is no better food than a hamburger. A good steak comes close but really hamburgers take the title with their myriad of configurations. Easily a sit-down meal or a perfect eat-on-the-go, with a few toppings tweaks the hamburger offers all things to all comers (except maybe vegetarians). I have long been a fan of DC hamburger establishments and have been putting new offerings to the test for many years. I guess it all began back when I was accepted to George Washington University back in 1993. While quite happy to have got in, I was secretly celebrating the fact that I would soon be living less than a block from burger heaven, Lindy’s the Bone. Back in those days DC was a tale of two burger shops; Lindy’s Bon Appetit and Five Guys pretty much had you covered. For specialty burger creations it was Lindy’s and for the purist burger experience there was none better than (the now overly-franchised) Five Guys.

In the time I have lived here there have been many new burger contenders. Most notably Hamburger Mary’s (now defunct), ZBurger (not bad), Elevation Burger (yuck), and Ray’s Hell Burger (omfg!). Of those four, really only Hamburger Mary’s and Ray’s Hell Burger stand out and for good reason; Hamburger Mary’s offered truly excellent specialty burgers in a fun and funky sit-down dinner environment; while Ray’s continues to serve-up over-the-top, gourmet burgers in a real, walk-up-order, ‘burger joint’ setting.

The Burger Joint now enters into a field beginning to feel a tad cluttered. After all, Five Guys has expanded all over the city like a fungus, Lindy’s is still quietly rocking the Red Lion basement, and Ray’s is all the rage after the Obama/William’s visit. So how does a new burger shop stand-out amongst such stiff and varied competition? By offering the best pure burger in town, that’s how.
Continue reading

Alexandria, Food and Drink, News, The Daily Feed

New Cheese Guy

Photo courtesy of
‘Cheesetique bliss’
courtesy of ‘meanlouise’

Everyone’s favorite Alexandria based, wine and cheese bar has a new chef.  Cheesetique announced last week that they have hired Josh Andrus, formerly of Minibar, to head up their kitchen. Chef Andrus brings a presumably more sophisticated palate to Del Ray’s local cheesemonger and has already revamped its menu.  New offerings include several cheese centric sandwiches, salads, and small plates.  It’s yet another reason to spend time at this fine establishment.

Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Red or White? Win a Personalized Bottle of Each!

Photo courtesy of
‘Veritas’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

The age old saga: red or white wine? Well, dear reader, you have your chance to weigh in. Do you prefer the hints of oak and honey in your favorite white or the bursts of cedar and cherries in your reds? Does one pair better with your favorite take-out Thai dish than the other?

Last week, we sat down with Lamar Brown, proprietor of Carafe Wines in Alexandria. He was so pleased with the feedback he received from We Love DC readers after his interview, that he’s offered up a chance for you to win a bottle of each – with your own personalized labels! Holiday gifts anyone?

Vote in the comments – red or white wine, and I’ll use random.org to pick a winner. Lamar is thinking he’ll give away a bottle of his Chardonnay and bottle of his Red Zin. If you’re feeling really lucky, he might even tell you the best carry-out that goes with each bottle.

So, red or white? Oh, and please, do tell us why! Continue reading

Alexandria, Food and Drink, Interviews, People, The Features

He Loves DC: Lamar Brown

Lamar

Earlier this week, I sat down with Lamar Brown, engineer and corporate drone by day and wine connoisseur and entrepreneur by night. His cozy shop just off King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Carafe Wines, is the city’s only “micro-winery,” allowing customers to sample and then bottle their own wines. With grape juices shipped in from vineyards in Chile, California, New Zealand, Italy, France and Washington, to name a few, it may not be the most green method, but he’s created a truly unique niche for delightfully aged wines made right in good old Alexandria.

Having lived in Northern Virginia for 10 years, Lamar had a vision to take his extreme interest and admiration for good wine to the next level. His dream was realized two years ago, and now, he proudly allows his customers to make their own wines and their own private labels.

Nestled between a gorgeous marble bar and a bustling fireplace, I sampled the Rosso Miscele Reserve, a Tuscan-styled wine vented from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and later a dab of the Merlot Reserve, a full-bodied wine with hints of red cherries, toasted oak and herbs. Then we sat down to business and focused on Lamar’s storied history with wine, the DC area, and, of course, what wine pairs best with Matchbox sliders.

What inspired you to start Carafe Wines?
Actually, a love of wines, to be honest. And I saw a cool niche. The whole wine making experience actually originated in Canada. I ran into it there, and I worked with a lot of Canadians to bring the concept to DC. I did some research, and DC area is actually the second most wine-centric area in the country outside of California. So, we sell more bottles per capita than anybody. I thought people would get a cool kick out of being able to make their own wine.

So, why do you think DC is the number two area for wine purchases in America? Continue reading

Alexandria, Tourism

Tourism: George Washington Masonic Memorial

Photo courtesy of
‘Egyptian Floor of the Masonic Temple’
courtesy of ‘CathyLovesDC’

While this enormous Masonic temple in Alexandria is visible from all over the city, I finally found my way there this past weekend to explore its inner secrets – and I was impressed. While I know in reality that the mysteries revolving around Freemasonry are highly dramatized, the unintelligible symbols, the A-list of Presidential members, and the immensity of the memorial make for an interesting combination, to say the least. Even if it does require a little imagination to keep the myths going.

The memorial is currently running tours up to four times a day, including weekends, covering all “9″ floors of the building. From the entry hall, up to the museum, then to the Egyptian floor, followed by the Knights of Templar and, finally, the observation deck. Where are the other 4 floors? That only adds to the mystery. In several weeks, the temple is opening the elevators for public use on unguided tours, but for now you must go on a guided tour. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE. Continue reading

Alexandria, Entertainment, Food and Drink, The Features

Modern Gents at Morrison House

Champagne Sabering

"Jason Tesauro sabers champagne" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Maybe it’s easier to define feminine elegance than masculine, but one thing I know for sure – a man can be elegant without losing his swagger. In fact, both complement the other. It’s no coincidence that the men who best epitomize this quality are usually from another era – Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Duke Ellington, Steve McQueen.

Sound appealing? Enter Jason Tesauro, author of The MODERN GENTLEMAN: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice. Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending a complimentary preview of his upcoming series at Morrison House in Old Town. These four courses are designed to give modern gents a roadmap for mixing confidence with class. Or as Jason put it, to give you “a code of ethics even in the dicier areas of vice.”

Want to learn how to saber a bottle of champagne? How to navigate the world of artisan cocktails, stocking your home bar with confidence? How about choosing hand-rolled cigars, carving a bird, learning about custom tailoring, all while wooing the ladies? Covered, in true raconteur style. Continue reading

Alexandria, Talkin' Transit, The Daily Feed, The District, WMATA, WTF?!

Metro Closing Three Stations for Labor Day Weekend

Photo courtesy of
‘middle track’
courtesy of ‘katmere’

Metro’s closing three stations this weekend starting Friday night at 9:30 and won’t be re-opening them until Tuesday morning at 5am. Those three stations are National Airport, Pentagon City and Crystal City, which means that a significant branch of the Metro will be traded for buses this weekend while WMATA refurbishes them. They’ll be stripping out 2,000 feet of Rail, 735 ties, and will be working on the concrete platform structures at National amongst other places. It’s a pretty big deal, so service is going to be drastically affected. The line between Pentagon and Braddock Road will not be operated at all. Metro has detailed the shuttle service via their website, and the appropriate section is below, for those who’ll need to transfer around the problems. Continue reading

Alexandria, The Daily Feed

Alexandria to Name New Chief Today

Photo courtesy of
‘Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade’
courtesy of ‘_rockinfree’

For the first time in the city’s 260-year history, Alexandria will officially name its first black police chief. City Manager James Hartmann is expected to announce the appointment of Acting Police Chief Earl Cook to the position at a press conference later today. Cook has been a member of the Alexandria Police Department since 1979 and was serving as executive deputy chief when former chief David Baker ran into some trouble.

Congrats to Chief Cook on his appointment!

Alexandria, The Daily Feed

Former Police Chief Going to Jail

Photo courtesy of
‘Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade’
courtesy of ‘_rockinfree’

If you recall, just over two weeks ago, the Chief of Police for Alexandria resigned following his arrest for drunk driving, which involved a minor accident. Today David Baker plead guilty to a DWI, which gives him 5 days in jail, a minor fine and the loss of his license. It’s terrible that Chief Baker made the decision to drive drunk in the first place and it obviously sets a very bad example. But I for one applaud his following of the law, after being caught, and doing the time for his crime. Not to mention giving up the career that he had devoted his life to.

Alexandria, The Daily Feed

Chief Failed Four Sobriety Tests

Photo courtesy of
‘City of Alexandria Police Department’
courtesy of ‘cliff1066′

More details coming out about Alexandria Police Chief David Baker’s DUI arrest on Saturday. Apparently, the intoxicated Baker failed four field sobriety tests. Two hours later, he blew a 0.19 – twice the Virginia legal limit – in a breathalyzer test.

Baker told police he’d had two beers 20 minutes before the accident. The chief is 6’1″ and weighs 210 pounds…

City Manager James Hartmann has placed Baker on administrative leave with pay; Baker is due in court tomorrow. An internal investigation is underway and expected to conclude by the end of the week. At that time, depending on the results of the investigation, Baker will know if he still has a job with the city.

The other driver, whose name is being withheld, was taken to the hospital and treated for whiplash and back pain. She was released later that night.

Alexandria, Food and Drink, Night Life, The Daily Feed

New Restaurant Alert: COLUMBIA FIREHOUSE

Photo courtesy of
‘Engine Co. No. 28′
courtesy of ‘flipperman75′

The Neighborhood Restaurant Group (who brought you Rustico, Evening Star, Eat Bar, etc.) has announced the opening of a new concept, the Columbia Firehouse in Old Town. With two different restaurant experiences, and two bars, the Firehouse will be quite the addition to the Alexandria dining scene.

The 80-seat upstairs dining room will serve as a classic chophouse with most of the restaurant’s meats and all of its charcuterie selected, butchered and prepared by Red Apron. The 120-seat dining room downstairs will offer a casual menu with a focus on modern American comfort food, small plates and sandwiches, such as dry-rubbed & smoked chicken wings with buttermilk blue & firehouse bbq sauces, Maryland crab cake with jicama slaw and Dijon aioli, and the firehouse burger.

Columbia Firehouse will also be home to two bars. The main bar, located on the ground floor of the restaurant, will specialize in pure, authentic versions of classic cocktails including Rickey’s, Fizzes, Sazeracs and more. he second floor bar and adjoining lounge will be open for special events, and will allow cocktail enthusiasts to sample a rotating menu of creative concoctions, as well as aperitifs and after-dinner drinks. I’m sure I’ll have much more information for you when it opens.

Alexandria, Arlington, Special Events, The Daily Feed

VA Yoga Week

Photo courtesy of
‘Our Colors’
courtesy of ‘lululemon athletica’

Yogis and NoVa dwellers, take note: this week is Virginia Yoga Week. The Web site says, “Participating studios and independent teachers are asked to offer one free class during the week and one five dollar class each day. Finish this fabulous week with an afternoon of free yoga on Sunday, June 28 from 3-5pm in the fresh air on the Market Square in Historic Old Town Alexandria.”

After the week DC has already had (and we’re not even halfway through!) this sounds like a good way to destress!

Alexandria, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Is Homeless the New Sexy?

Homeless Guy
Homeless in Sugamo 2

by jamesfischer

It’s a slow day here in Georgetown, what with it being early still and thus nobody making too much of a fuss over me being the only guy in the neighborhood without one of those shitty men’s scarves all the pseudo-hip guys seem to be wearing nowadays. Being a bit bored, I decided to look at Craigslist to see what magic I could stir up. As I have said before, I am a big fan of the missed connections because they represent the bit of tension before a relationship blooms or withers.

I found this one, with a woman who admitted to flashing a homeless guy she found rather attractive:

Hot homeless man at 7-corners – w4m – 25 (Alexandria)
Me: driving bright blue car-gave you money and a wink to match. I showed you the tattoo on my boob.
You: ruggedly handsome, tall, clean cut beard, killer smile, jeans had some holes-and a flannel
I was going to ask for your number and I assumed you wouldnt have one. So I guess we will find out if you have a computer eh? If this is you tell me what the tattoo on my boob was.

I like to think I am a reasonably attractive guy and I never get boobs flashed at me in public. What gives, boob woman? What’s a gainfully employed guy have to do to get some cleavage flashing action? I know it’s like a charitable action to do that for the homeless, but don’t think the rest of us wouldn’t appreciate it too.

My guess for the tattoo: a black widow spider. Or a likeness of Charlton Heston. What’s your guess?

Alexandria, Entertainment, Food and Drink, Inaugupocalypse, Life in the Capital, News, People, The Daily Feed

Obama at Dairy Godmother!

Photo courtesy of
‘Fresh & Frozen’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’
Obama hit the Del Ray creamery (well, custard-er-ry, or whatever you call it) Dairy Godmother this afternoon. Good thing I snuck in last weekend for the Bordeaux Cherry,  ’cause after seeing what happened to Ray’s Hell Burgers, lord knows Dairy Godmother will be a packed house for the rest of the summer.

Dairy Godmother tweets “President Obama and his daughters just left. Pres. had a hot fudge sundae and daughters had vanilla cone and brownie sundae with sprinkles.” and “Malia had a brownie sundae with a housemade brownie, van.custard, hot fudge, whipped cream and cherry. Then she gave her whipped cream to dad.”

Happy Father’s Day, Mr. President.

Alexandria, Talkin' Transit, The Daily Feed

Alexandria Fires Up the Money Cameras

Photo courtesy of
‘DSCF6337′
courtesy of ‘lakelandlocal’

Alexandria has powered up their revenue-generating red-light cameras along Route 1, as well as on Duke Street in an attempt to make us all “safer”. While this is probably less expensive than parking a police officer on the corner with a ticket pad, that certainly seems like something that would chasten people for running the light rather than just treating it as an “expensable” behavior like going over your cellphone minutes.

Alexandria, News, Talkin' Transit, The Daily Feed, WMATA

Slow Downs on the Metro this Weekend

Photo courtesy of
‘Moving Red Line’
courtesy of ‘Amberture’

WMATA is warning customers to expect delays on the red and blue lines this weekend due to track maintenance.  Trains will be single tracking between between Van Ness-UDC and DuPont Circle stations, and between Van Dorn St and Braddock Rd stations. Delays on the red line will take place all weekend, while service on the blue line will return to normal during the evenings.

Alexandria, The Daily Feed

Lovebirds and Ducks Agree: Alexandria Waterfront is Filthy as Homemade Sin

Love Note

I found this note on a dock at Alexandria’s waterfront area the other day while my Lovely Wife and I were taking what could have been a lovely stroll. Of course, the jerk who was so upset about pollution as to write this note also was dumb enough to make more litter by leaving it there.

The river is polluted and dirty, littered with bottles, tires, bags, shoes and even dead fish. Yes, apparently it’s even too dirty there for the fish. On our 20-minute walk, I counted no fewer than five fish floating in the filth. That’s pretty messed up.

Take a look at one view of the trash:
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Alexandria, The Daily Feed

Get Healthy, Alexandria!

Photo courtesy of
‘lots of plastic bottles’ courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Tomorrow, the city of Alexandria is inviting residents and visitors to celebrate the launch of Mayor William D. Euille’s “Get Healthy for Life, Alexandria” initiative. Developed in collaboration with local health and fitness organizations, the event is a community effort to encourage healthier eating and living.

The event’s kick-off is at the Market Square Farmer’s Market from 8:30-10 a.m. and features an appearance by former Redskin Roy Jefferson, cooking demonstrations by the Majestic restaurant, various raffles and an opportunity to join the “Get Healthy Alexandria” team for the 50 Million Pound Challenge.

The event is free and open to everyone.

Alexandria, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: The Majestic

IMG00014

Earlier this winter WLDC Author Jasmine, along with another friend and I, headed out for a ladies night in Old Town. We made our way down King Street, and wound up at The Majestic where we snagged a seat at the bar and sipped some very classy cocktails.

The cocktail menu boasts, “Our cocktails are made with fresh ingredients and take a bit more time than most. Thank you for your patience. We promise they are worth the wait!” Having a front row seat to the two mixologists behind the bar, the menu isn’t joking. They bartenders pick fresh mint out of a large bundle and hand crush it carefully for the Mint Julep. Decorative twists are done one at a time, fresh for each cocktail. I was smitten, each drink is incredibly labor intensive, and the longer we sat there, the more impressed I became. Continue reading

Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

The Butcher’s Block Opens

Photo courtesy of
‘The Captain’
courtesy of ‘EssG’

The two foodie trends of Spring ’09 I’ve noticed? Brunch and raw meat. Not necessarily together, thank goodness, but still – breakfast and meat-eries are going strong this year. Adding to the line of new butchers/charcuterie places is The Butcher’s Block, a Market by RW, located at 1600 King Street, next door to sister restaurants BRABO Tasting Room and BRABO.

The Butcher’s Block is “a chef-driven market with a wide selection of value wines, international beers, artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, prime cut meats, desserts, dry goods and home cooking accessories”. In addition to the charcuterie, pates, sausages and terrines, The Butcher’s Block sells prime cuts of rib-eye, fillet, lamb tenderloin, veal chops, pork loin, rabbit and chicken. Chef Wiedmaier sources much of his meat from the region, and he offers braised lamb shank, pork and beef carbonnade that can be purchased with his signature sauces to be heated and served at home.

On your way to a picnic along the Alexandria waterfront or off to Mount Vernon? Customers can schedule to pick up crusty baguettes still warm from the oven, and purchase freshly made sandwiches and seasonal salads for a grab-and-go picnic. Sandwiches come with choice of beverage and potato chips or fruit for $12. Perfect for your next lazy weekend afternoon – a nice thought to get you through the Monday doldrums.