Archive for the ‘Old Town Alexandria’ Category

Unasked Review: Daniel O’Connell’s


Last Friday, me and the missus decided to dine in Old Town. We were craving Irish food; after our jaunt up in Maine a few weeks back and hitting several New England pubs we were feeling nostalgic for our Ireland walkabout back in 2005 and wanted to try getting back to that setting. Yes, yes, this is Virginia after all, but no harm in trying, right?

I’d read some reviews on O’Connell’s a while back and since it boasted itself as “a modern Irish restaurant in an ancient Irish setting” (from their website), we decided to give it a whirl.

We arrived right at 5 p.m., before the dinner crush on a typical spring weekend evening on King Street. After doing a quick check of the menu out front, we followed the pleasant and cheery hostess upstairs to the third floor. (As an aside, I love it when restaurants post their menus out front – saves me a heap of time of going in, scanning the menu and then bailing because I can’t find anything on it that waters my mouth.)

Seated in a corner along the long banister “corridor” connecting two of the older bars upstairs, the busboy was prompt in getting us water. So we dove into the menu and after some discussion, decided what to eat.

And then waited for our server. (more…)

Chilly but pretty

other vendorsMy darling girlfriend and I are out at the Old Town Fine Arts and Crafts Festival selling some nice mirrors, and while the selection of things for sale are nice – our own included, of course – the weather could be better. It’s hard to believe this is the same event we just sweated our way through last year, given the way my dearheart has put my spare windbreaker on over her coat.

Undeterred by the slight chill are our feathered friends, back again this year. Apparently they’re used to us now, however, as the female yesterday darted up and grabbed the last bit of a crabcake bun right off a plate. Luckily it was a leftover being saved for her anyway, but we still scolded her. Not that it seems to have bothered her – I lifted up the rear of the booth to take a picture and found her right there, apparently waiting for us to have lunch today…


We’ve All Got Something to Say

Photo courtesy of mj*laflaca

So you just finished reading the latest Grisham thriller, or stayed up all night because you couldn’t put down Amy Tan’s newest, and now you’re just itching to tell everyone about how awesome it was. Or what a terrible read it was, so don’t even bother. What options do you have?

Well, a lot, actually. You can find a forum or review site pretty much all over the web these days….except at the library.

Those days are over, at least in Alexandria.

The Alexandria Library now offers patrons and residents a chance to put down their own reviews and thoughts on nearly all of the library’s holdings, which includes books, movies, music, and other material found on the online catalog. The Library has included this functionality as another resource for people to get recommendations and reviews from other patrons on materials to check out.

“Our Library now has a truly interactive mechanism, completely integrated into our catalog,” said Rose Dawson, Director of Libraries. “We know that our patrons are already used to such interaction on many commercial Web sites, but our Library affords its patrons the ability to reserve materials online—and to get those materials at no charge.”

Accessing the catalog is easy. Go to the website and click on “Library Catalog” and start browsing. When you find something you’d like to offer a review on, just type it in. Keep in mind that you’ll need to register to the website in order to do so.

The interactivity of the online catalog is just one more step in building the community, and one that is appreciated from its patrons.

I love libraries, courtesy of mj*laflaca

The Blossoms Cometh

Photo uploaded by Ghost_Bear

It’s that time of year again. Our area’s arguably largest tourist pull, the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yes, yes, everyone’s covering it, from Express to DCist. I won’t bore you with a rehash.

Actually, I come with a few questions.

My lovely wife and I have been down every year since we relocated here and frankly, I love it not so much for the blossoms (they’re gorgeous), but moreso to watch and photograph the people. I pick up a lot of great observation vignettes for my own writing; it’s like hitting the writer’s lotto.

This year, we’ve got a couple of good friends headed down from New York City. They’ve never been to the District and will only be here the first weekend of April. So naturally, I got them all excited about the Festival. It helps they’re both photogs, too, so if you see four people (three girls ignoring the one guy with them) wandering around with extensive camera gear, that’d be us. Picture-taking is pretty much a given. So is taking Metro.

Thing is, I’m trying to figure out what else to do on that Saturday before we head over to Old Towne for dinner and staking out a nice patch of marina rail for the fireworks. There’s the photo safaris, but those cost money and we’re decent photo people. So I think that’s out.

I was also considering the Edo Master’s collection at the Sackler. Or possibly the Japanese Cultural Fair, which promises a tea ceremony, origami and calligraphy demonstrations.

So what should I do? Any readers attended these in years prior? Or should I shy away from other Festival events and take them to the standard DC sites we always funnel tourists to? If so, what would you suggest?

Frankly, I’m stumped. It’s the first time we’ve had friends visit who could only stay two days; normally, we have practically a week to show them around or point them somewhere – this is a bit harder.

Oh, and even worse? They’re amateur foodies, like us. So figuring out good spots to eat is also on tap – suggestions for lunch would be appreciated, since none of the ladies have my appreciating taste for the curbside vendors and their cuisine. Dinner’s already planned, so fortunately I don’t look like a total incompetant to our jet-setting New York socialites.

So, anyone have some great suggestions to help a guy out?

Tidal Cherries, uploaded by bhrome

Clang Clang! Clang Clang!

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Attention, all you Ye Old Towne Alexandria tourists: the King Street Trolley is coming. Announced on the city’s website, the trolley will be running in 15 minute intervals from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends, motoring between the King Street Metrorail and the waterfront. It will stop at all signed stops along King Street, which are about 2 blocks apart.

Oh, and it will ring a very annoying brass bell for as many times as the driver sees fit.

Here’s the rub, though: it’s not on rails (thank heaven). It’s not tied to an electric wire above. So…is it really a “trolley”? According to the press release, “the trolley sports a black and red exterior, rubber tires for a smooth ride, and adjustable paned windows.”

Don’t know about you folks, but from where I come from, that’s called a BUS.

Which is quite appropriate, actually, as the trolley will replace the DASH bus service that ran free on the weekends. The last DASH run will be discontinued after this Sunday’s service.

So let me get this straight….the city council approved and funded a trolley service for a route that’s sort of covered by an existing bus service, but with more frequent runs in a vehicle that isn’t really a trolley but more like a bus?

The service was approved as part of the city’s National Harbor Initiative and will complement the water taxi service offered from the National Harbor Development across the Mighty P. (That service, incidentally, also begins on April 1.) The City Council is hoping / expecting hundreds of new tourists visiting Old Town from these services and, I suspect, try to make it easier for DC residents to cross the river and dine on the Virginia side of the river. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. The shops and restaurants along King Street and the harbor are actually very nice and present excellent food (if a tad pricey).

We’re taking some friends from NYC down there over the next weekend (they’re here for the obvious DC event, the blossoms), so hopefully I can not only get a few photos of these beasties but maybe see if they do indeed alleviate traffic and cart more people down, as the Council hopes.

As long as that clanging bell doesn’t annoy me, that is…

Ode to Cartier Bresson, courtesy of Thomas Hawk

I Love Good Marketing.

mycupisfullthanks.pngI love going into Old Town for lunch. The narrow streets and beautiful buildings, it’s the anti-Rosslyn, an escape from the city, in the middle of the metropolitan area. I try to catch lunch at Overwood a couple of times a month just to have an excuse to wander the area. Walled gardens, brick sidewalks, it’s all there. As I left Overwood today, I caught a glimpse of the business directory for the Crilley Warehouse. Contained therein, aside from another restaurant, were several offices…and a place called The Full Cup.

Oooo, coffeeshop, maybe? Soup restaurant? Nope. It’s Fine Lingerie. And appointments are strictly required. Great, great marketing to think of it that way. Well done, Full Cup, Well done.

Alexandria goes smoke free?

Different states have different rules for how autonomous cities can get with their laws. Virginia is one of those states where if the legislature in Richmond doesn’t explicitly say a city can do something, then the city can’t do it. Since Virginia has a booming tobacco growing industry, one of the things that Richmond hasn’t said cities can do is ban smoking.

But those wily Alexandrians have a plan. Taking a cue from DC, they are considering a ban on public smoking. How can they do this without the ok from Richmond you ask? By playing fast and loose with zoning laws. The Washington Post reported the other day that Alexandria officials are going to create a de facto ban on smoking with land-use permits. Richmond allows cities to issue permits for restaurants and businesses. So Alexandria figures that every time a new restaurant wants to open, the city can refuse to issue the permit unless the restaurant agrees to be smoke free. Existing restaurants wouldn’t be initially effected, but if they ever wanted to renovate or get their liquor license renewed they’d have to agree to go smoke free or risk getting shut down.

So How’d You Celebrate President’s Day?

So, with a holiday most associated with weird sales at the mall and made up special deals at auto dealerships.. how did you, the loyal DC Metblogs reader, celebrate President’s Day?

Gen. George Washington is celebrating his 275th birthday this Thursday, and Mount Vernon is gussying itself up for the occasion. This past Sunday, an President’s Day/Black History Month themed American Dad aired with guest shots of Abe Lincoln and the fabled Smithsonian Peanut Museum.

A number of folks from the DC area seemed to drive as far away as they could in one day and headed to an almost perfect day on the ski slopes, something January (or December, November.. oh, heck you get it) never offered. Some folks probably just bummed it at home (or at work for those private sector folks) and had their own “Butt-Numb-A-Thon” watching hours of TV or Movies. (But remember kids, you can catch all the Best Picture Nominees in one twelve hour session (yes, twelve) this Saturday at selected theaters…your own personal Oscar-themed “Butt-Numb-A-Thon”)

Feeling Chipper

When my cousin Mike told me about Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper, he did so in the same tone of voice that he uses to vehemently recommend his favorite beer or a great place to catch a pint. Something told me that he was absolutely right about the place, so my friend Jeff and I caught lunch there on Friday. How can I not love a place whose slogan is “Thanks Be To Cod”?



Please allow me to repeat that, because it bears repeating: Wow. It was very definitely the best fish & chips I’ve had on this side of the Atlantic, and quite possibly the best fish & chips, period. It’s a tiny little place, so be prepared to do the take-away thing as there are maybe 20 seats in the whole place. The ambience, though, is one of reverence for the product. These are folks who take seriously their craft of making good fish and chips. You can order by the piece, and the fries are not to be missed.

Best of all? It’s open late on the weeknights and weekends, so feel free to go out for a night on the town and then hit it up at midnight when you’re feeling the need for something to offset all the beer. Oh, and the best part? They have deepfried Snickers bars. Thanks be to Eamonn’s!

Closing Time in Alexandria

I got a call around 5pm last night from a friend who needed some emergency computer help. I was on my way home from Clarendon, but Old Town’s not too far away, is it? So I trekked on over to Old Town to help him out. We finished for the night at 2am, I got in my car and headed back to my Fairlington digs. I cut through Old Town in the rain, it’s a place I’ve always loved when the streets have a bright sheen from fresh rain, and the christmas lights in the trees are up. The Masonic Memorial at the end of King Street was still lit up, and looked amazing.

I was headed westbound on King when the light at Payne street turned yellow and I put the brakes on to stop.

Sadly, the drunk woman behind me did no such thing and slammed into me at somewhere between 10 and 20 miles an hour. I put the car in park, set the GPS back on the dash, and opened my door to see how bad she clocked me. I got out, and there was the woman, window down, screaming at me, wanting to know why I’d stopped at the yellow light. Bad enough I’d gotten a parking ticket today for not feeding my meter, I didn’t want a red light ticket on my bill, too! Don’t you hate it when the car in front of you decides not to run the same red light you wanted to?

I called the Police as she was being belligerent and screaming at me. When I read her plate number to the cops, she rolled up her window, swerved around my car and tore up King, nearly mowing down a pair of pedestrians crossing the street at West street. I confirmed the plate with the 911 Operator and saw as an Alexandria Police Squad Car nailed her right at the corner of West and King. She apparently also sideswiped a car on West Street after she made the turn to pull over.

An officer came over to get my information and take my statement, which I gladly gave, my brain still a bit shocked by all the hubbub. He asked me to come over to the assailant’s car, and we moved my still quite healthy Jetta to the scene of her arrest. When I got there, she was in the back seat of a squad car, cuffed, and screaming like a banshee. She demanded a trip to the bathroom, swore she’d sue the whole police department, and when they took her out of the car to change her handcuffs, she screamed like she was getting the Rodney King treatment, even though she was being handled quite calmly by the very professional Alexandria PD.

Not exactly how I intended to spend a Friday night after closing time, but there you have it. The ultimate irony? Her name was Angelique. Not so much.

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