Dinner in the Shire

After a long day stripping windows on Saturday, I went down to the Old Town Waterfront in search of some grub. Something about the smell of saw dust always puts me in the mood for seafood, so I tried my fav spot The Fish Market. The holiday crush was in full effect after the “boats w/ christmas lights” parade however and I couldn’t get a table. So I ended up wandering and found myself eating in a little restaurant that I never, ever thought I’d step foot in.

I always assumed because of the name that Old Town’s Bilbo Baggins Global Restaurant was a wheat-grass, granola, hippy-trippy type joint. The kind of place where earthy types went to eat and drink after a hard day working at the used book barn or the flower shop. But much to my surprise it was far from that.

Bilbo Baggins is a really cozy, culinary oasis. The main dining room has got this great lodge feeling to it, all wood beams and rustic. It reminded me of a BBQ beer-hall I went to in rural Quebec once. The tables are crammed pretty close together but that worked in my favor. As I reluctantly sat down to order my skepticism dissolved after catching eye-fulls of other patrons’ wonderful looking plates of meats and potatoes.

The menu is mostly meat dishes prepared with imaginative garnishes and seasoning. Almost every dish comes with a variety of mashed potato and an exotic combination of fruit and vegetables. Being the original meat-and-potato man I couldn’t believe how wrong my impression was of this place.

The atmosphere was warm, cozy, and festive. I could almost see Sam and Frodo raising a glass in there after dispatching that rascally ring. Our waitress was cute and cudly, almost as if she were a hobbit herself. Needless to say, it was a setting I am hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the DC area.

But it was the food that really sold me on this place.

The Duck and Shiitake Spring Rolls appetizer was terrific. Hand-made blend of flavors that was out of this world.

The Lobster and Shrimp Bisque needed a little pepper but otherwise was the perfect warm-up after working on those windows out in the cold.

For our main plates we tried the Wild Mushroom Beef Filet w/ garlic spinach and blue cheese mashed potatoes, and the Cinnamon Porkloin with fruit chutney and butternut squash. Both main dishes were perfection. The grilled porkloin was best when mixed with a little squash and apple – combining texture and taste for a really fun and delicious dish. My filet was a good sized cut prepared just shy of melt-in-your-mouth. Mixed with the mushrooms and sauce each bite of my steak was one bite closer to food nirvana.

We rounded the meal off (and our stomachs) with an unholy pralines ice cream sandwich that looked too good to resist. The desert was huge and totally share-able.

In addition to the dining room, Bilbo Baggins also has a pretty nifty looking bar that features a long list of international beers, ciders, and wines (but no Old Winyards or Miruvor!).

The bill was around $75. Which is more than we would have paid at the Fish Market but the extra bucks were worth the unexpected discovery and the gourmet meal.

Bilbo Baggins
208 Queen Street
Old Town, Alexandria, VA

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