Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Closer Look: The Majestic

Twenty five years ago, one of my favorite stomping grounds was Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Times have changed. I’ve grown up and moved on in life. But on a recent visit home for Thanksgiving, I had the occasion to have lunch with my friend Karen, who I hadn’t seen in over 13 years. Since everything old is new again, we decided to dine in Old Town Alexandria. On that beautiful Sunday afternoon, standing under the art deco façade, we made our way inside of The Majestic on King Street.

The Majestic is sleek, modern and comfortable—a perfect blend of timeless class and contemporary style . . . and a Virginia landmark.

Between rounds of playing catch-up, Karen and I found the time to peruse the menu (which turned out to be the dinner, not the lunch menu). It was interesting to note that all of The Majestic’s food is made in house—except the butter, which is made locally, compliments of the Amish (and its sweet, creamy butter, too!)—which lends itself wholeheartedly to sustainability and the locavore movement.

The ‘Little Tasty Sides’, also known as the appetizers, didn’t entail a mountain of selections, but what was there sounded intriguing. However, Karen and I played copycat and both ordered the Butternut Squash Gnocchi with brown butter, sage and truffled Fontina cheese. The initial taste was savory—too much so. The salt content was overpowering enough for us to send the dishes back. The chef, however, redeemed herself by preparing new plates—sans salt—and it turned out the be an enticing and creamy start to the meal. The lack of salt allowed the true flavors of the butternut squash to stand out, and the addition of sliced roasted garlic nearly compelled me to lick the bowl clean.

The main course included such dishes as Chesapeake Bay Stew, Wild Mushroom Fettuccine with shallots, garlic, fresh herbs and Fontina cheese, and Seared Quail. However, taking our queues from our taste buds, I opted for the Seared Scallops while Karen put her adventurous hat on and tried the Braised Korabuta Pork Cheeks, a part of the pig that she had never tried before.

The cheeks sat atop a mound of Brussels sprouts resting in a chestnut puree and house cured bacon. Tender enough to cut merely by touching it, the pork yielded to a knife effortlessly and was infused with a rich, hearty flavor.

The russet-colored beauty of the seared scallops was only outmatched by the deliciousness of the mollusk. Firm and opaque, the five large scallops were draped on potatoes, olives and roasted shallots in a dense, aromatic Romesco sauce. I could have easily eaten twice as many scallops as were on the plate without any major compunction.

While the portions weren’t particularly massive, they did allow us to leave room for dessert. My first inclination was to order the seasonal Moist Pumpkin Cake but, instead, I went for the Beignets—served with Bourbon Sauce and Chocolate Sauce for dipping—because, as assured to me by the waitress, “it’s phenomenal.” Well, not such a phenomenon after all. After recently visiting New Orleans and experiencing a true beignet at the perfect source, I should have known better. Not that The Majestic’s beignets were bad, mind you. It’s just that once you’ve had the best . . .

The Majestic Coconut Cake surrounded by coconut crème anglaise that Karen selected was a triple layer of self-indulgence on a plate. It happened to be one of the menu items at The Majestic that Karen had been hearing so much about as of late. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to the hype and, while not a major disappointment, was not all that was hoped for.

So-so dessert is not the be-all and end-all. The Majestic’s cuisine is diner-friendly and a fine example of rustic American fare with a home-cooked flair. Through Chef Shannon Overmiller’s use of fresh, local ingredients, all prepared in-house, a great meal is only a fork away.

The Majestic is open for lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30pm-10:00pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm and Sun 1:00pm-9:00pm. For dinner, The Majestic is moderately priced with starters ranging $4.95-$11.00, first course $9.25-$14.95, and main course $19.95-$27.00. Lunch prices vary slightly with starters from $4.50-$11.00, first course $8.50-$13.95, and main course $11.00-$21.50. On Sundays they offer a special dinner—it changes monthly—that is served family style.

The Majestic
911 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

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