Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Features

A Look at the New Menu and New Chef at Evening Star Cafe

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Shrimp & Grits at Evening Star Cafe
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Anytime a long-standing restaurant with an already stellar reputation “revamps,” I have to hold my breath a little and scrunch my face waiting to see what the outcome is. That’s not to say I don’t trust the judgment of the fine folks over at Neighborhood Restaurant Group, because I do. But there are so many variables that go into renovating a space and renovating a menu. The result at the new and improved Evening Star Cafe? Fantastic.

For starters the newly decorated digs are eclectic, funky and inviting. The warm yellow, textured wallpaper make this neighborhood gem feel cozy, while remaining completely cool. And I’ve already mentioned the mason jar light fixture in the back bar at the Majestic Lounge that I’ve fallen in love with. If you’ve been to other NRG restaurants, you’ll feel right at home in the new Evening Star Cafe.

Under the direction of executive chef Jim Jeffords, the Del Ray restaurant has definitely augmented its southern feel with dishes such as boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits and of course, a buttermilk fried chicken. I’d describe Jeffords’ menu as elegant southern with a twist–the portions are southern-sized, but the presentation is beautiful and nothing falls into the stereotype of southern food being oppressively heavy and over-fried. The menu is organized so there are a few snacks (think kind of like bar bites), small plates (appetizers), entrees and then there are sides available to share if you’re really craving more grits or sunchoke mash.

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Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Evening Star Cafe Remodels and Reopens with New Chef

Photo courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie
Evening Star #1
courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie

The first restaurant in the Neighborhood Restaurant Group got a major facelift over the last few months and officially reopened last night on December 8th. Evening Star Cafe now has a newly redesigned and refurbished dining room and bar which was led by Hailey Designs, LLC. The same company also designed Rustico and Buzz Bakery, two other NRG establishments.

The remodeled space combines retro furniture, such as chrome-accented tables, along with a double-sided banquet for a little bit of a 1950s diner feel. In the neighboring Majestic Lounge attached to the restaurant, staff and neighbors in Del Ray have donated trophies which line a case from the floor almost to the ceiling. When you go, also check out the cool lighting fixture made out of about 180 mason jars. Washingtonian has a slideshow with pictures of the newly renovated space.

In addition to a new space, the restaurant is now being led by executive chef Jim Jeffords who is incorporating a stronger southern flavor on the menu. Jeffords recently came from CityZen in Washington, DC. Some highlights on his new menu include a moultrie sausage dish, a risotto with housemade tasso ham, mustard greens, black eyed peas and parmesan, as well as a classic buttermilk fried chicken.

There’s no word yet on where the previous executive chef, Will Artley, has decided to go, though Twitter confirms he’s staying in the area.

Looking ahead to the new year, the restaurant plans to offer brunch as well as open a 2,000 square-foot rooftop garden where Jeffords will grow herbs and other produce for his menu with the help of Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture.