With the holidays in the rearview, it’s easy to feel like all the celebrating and festivity is over for a while. But take heart. Alexandria’s Winter Restaurant Week returns for another go-round the week of Jan. 26-Feb.4, and with it come deals from eateries across the city. Here are few to make plans for.
Del Ray Café, 205 E. Howell Ave.
The cute little eatery, not half a block from Mount Vernon Avenue, sports a hefty, hearty Restaurant Week menu this winter. Take advantage of the café’s $35 three-course prix fixe menu and feast your eyes on a plethora of options. Whereas so many restaurants pare down their offerings for the week, Del Ray Café uses the time to show off many of its jewels, starting with the DRC salad, a wintry mix of mesclun lettuce with apple, caramelized walnuts, and a raspberry vinaigrette, among other first-course favorites.
Move on to the entrée and choose from the likes of jumbo lump crab cake, perched atop a bed of saffron polenta, or chip in a little extra cash and order the lobster risotto with lemongrass sauce. Vegetarians won’t be left out in the cold; the organic pea and heirloom carrot risotto with mascarpone cheese is a feast for the senses.
For dessert, choose from profiteroles, chocolate mousse, or crème brulee. Or – better yet – go with a group and try all three.
Hank’s Pasta Bar, 600 Montgomery St.
Up for some Italian food? Hank’s Pasta Bar has your number. The north Old Town restaurant is taking advantage of the $35-per-person tasting menu to offer a three-course showing of some of Hank’s best. The popular spot tends to run on the pricier side, so the tasting menu offers quite the bang for one’s buck.
For the first course, choose between the likes of lentil and sausage soup, meatballs with basil pesto, or a trio of crostini. Then select an entrée: with choices like fettuccine with clams in a white-wine sauce, bucatini carbonara and spaghetti squash marinara, there’s something for nearly every palate. Finally, finish things up with a hearty winter panna cotta, tiramisu, or — for a taste of the tropics in the dead of the season — a slice of key lime pie.
Live Oak Restaurant, 1603 Commonwealth Ave.
Get in touch with your Southern side at Live Oak, situated smack-dab between Rosemont and Del Ray. The restaurant is making good use of its tasting menu for Restaurant Week, featuring a smattering of good eats that will certainly leave you fat and happy – and looking forward to your next visit.
Start off your culinary journey with the likes of fried green tomatoes — a classic — or deviate a bit in homage to the season with some butternut squash soup. (Coming with a gaggle of friends? Make someone order the deviled eggs — you won’t be sorry.) Then move on to the main event, with a selection ranging from shrimp and grits to a cast-iron pork chop. Going meat-free? Good news: The vegetarian gumbo is chock full of okra and its allies, and includes some vegan sausage for heft.
You’d be remiss not to order the buttermilk chess pie for dessert — but don’t give short shrift to the strawberry shortcake, either.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.