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Alexandria Restaurants in The New York Times

September 3, 2007

A Town Takes Its Place at the Culinary Table


ALEXANDRIA, VA., is only 10 minutes by car from downtown Washington, but the two restaurant scenes once felt decades apart. On one side of the Potomac River, you had nouvelle American bistros and fancy steakhouses packed with Washington insiders and their hefty expense accounts. On the other, there were Applebee's and stodgy French dining rooms seemingly preserved in amber.

But the past is catching up. In recent years, young chefs and ambitious restaurateurs from Washington have crossed the Potomac and planted their knives in the Old Town section, where the Federal-style row houses date to when George Washington rode up from nearby Mount Vernon to talk of cutting ties with Britain. Drawn by the area's new professional class, lower rents and a blank culinary canvas, fashionable new spots are serving dishes like oysters with beer jellies and sourdough flan with fresh sardines — offerings that were unthinkable not long ago. more