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Culinary Backwater no more, Alexandria stars at Rammy Nominations

Jordan Wright
By Jordan Wright
Posted on Mar 26,2009
Filed Under Restaurants , Local Tastes,

Photo by Roy Wright/Local Kicks
BIG NIGHT FOR BASTILLE: Christophe and Michelle Poteaux of Bastille
Restaurant in Old Town, finalists for the region's top Upscale Casual restaurant
and region's top Pastry Chef, respectively.

Twenty years ago Old Town Alexandria had three Greek Restaurants, two Irish pubs, a few colonial food restaurants and not much else. The Greek spots were all lined up along King Street, west of Washington.

Back then the whole town shut down by 10 pm and anyone seen later than that strolling down King Street, who wasn’t coming out of Murphy’s Irish Pub, was probably going to rob you…because everyone else was snug in their beds.

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
LOTS OF ENERGY AT NRG: Michael Babin, co-owner
of Del Ray-based Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Stu
Ellis, celebrated bartender at NRG's Eat Bar and Tony
Chittum, chef at NRG-owned Vermillion had a big
night with their nominations.

Those days are long gone and Alexandria today is as vibrant and dynamic as any cosmopolitan city. Last night at the RAMMY Awards in Washington DC the finalists featured seven chefs and/or their restaurants in Alexandria.

Michelle Garbee-Poteaux and Christophe Poteaux of Bastille (which I favorably reviewed in Local Kicks back in January); Shannon Overmiller of Majestic Café (owner Cathal Armstrong also of Restaurant Eve); Tony Chittum, Vermillion; Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar Old Town; and Robert Wiedmaier (whom I interviewed here last month) of Brabo in Alexandria and his other outposts Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck in DC.
Clearly we’ve come a long way to achieve such stardom in the area’s culinary galaxy.

But the unsung heroes in this business are the first and last line of defense in any dining establishment…the servers. They can make or break any meal regardless of the herculean efforts of 40 chefs in the kitchen. Jose Bermudez of Alexandria’s Evening Star Café in Del Ray is a finalist for restaurant employee.

Bravo to Jose and to all of the chefs, restaurants and their staff who made the cut.

It was a lively group of food industry giants who sampled award-nominees’ hors d’oeuvres like chicken liver mousse from Art and Soul and a special 2009 RAMMY cocktail made with Surreal Vodka called “Jasmine Nights."

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
STAR-STUDDED EVENING: Allan S. Horlick, president
and general manager of WUSA 9 and Lynne Breaux, president
of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington,
at Tuesday night's Rammys at the Ritz Carlton DC.

Gracious RAMW President, Lynne Breaux, celebrated with the nominees and very chic in Gucci patent leather loafers (new chef gear?) “Top Chef” runner-up and local favorite, Carla Hall, cheered on her fellow chefs. I mentioned I’d read about her upcoming appearance at National Harbor’s Food and Wine Festival this June. “I think I’m doing something with hamburgers, “ she mused.

Whatever she does it’s all good.

To those here in town not in that rarefied culinary air, the countless wonderful restaurants in Alexandria from Old Town to Crystal City and Del Ray to the Eisenhower Corridor that serve our community and our visitors, we at Local Kicks salute you and your efforts with our reviews and profiles, and urge all of you to let us know your favorite dishes, drinks and dining spots with your comments and suggestions as we launch our own Local Kicks Restaurant Awards this summer.

E-mail the writer at


1.5 oz. Surreal Classic Vodka

1 oz. chilled jasmine green tea

1 oz. agave syrup

0.5 oz. fresh pressed lemon juice

1 dash of ginger simple syrup

a handful of smashed ripe red raspberries

Shake all ingredients together and serve in a classic martini glass. Garnish with an edible jasmine flower.

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