I Wanted To Take You To Mt. Vernon…But

I wanted to take you to Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s historic home on the Potomac River but the weather did not cooperate. We really enjoyed our one day stay in Alexandria, Virginia on our way to Florida… so much that we decided to stop on our way back to New England. We made a reservation for two days at the Lorien Hotel and Spa in Old Town Alexandria. We stayed at the hotel on the first night of our trip to Florida. I was looking forward to visiting George Washington’s historic home just a few miles away but it rained. It seems that we can’t escape the rain except on our driving days…they have been dry. As soon as we get to our next destination, the weather turns gloomy and wet.

What is a girl supposed to do. You know that I am a foodie and love finding great restaurants no matter where I am in the world. My only option is to continue to sacrifice my body to added pounds and find restaurants that I think you might enjoy if you visit the area.

As soon as we arrived at the Lorien, we went for a walk because it was our travel day and it wasn’t raining. Our hotel is on King Street, the major street in Old Town.

King Street

It is fun to stroll along King Street, looking into all the windows of the boutiques, antique  shops and at the menus in the windows of the restaurants that line the street. We made a reservation at Vermilion for an early reservation the next evening…guess who took his wife there for Valentine’s dinner (the President). This trendy restaurant is a few blocks down the street from our hotel.

The President And First Lady Celebrated Valentine's Day At Vermillon

Just a block off King Street, you find wonderful historic homes. Many have been lovingly restored…others have building permits in their windows. Thank goodness people care about restoration in Alexandria.

Historic Homes

Back on King Street, we stopped to check out a tiny storefront restaurant, Hank’s Oyster Bar.We had heard wonderful things about this restaurant’s oyster happy hour. After looking at their menu, we knew that we would be staying for dinner as well.

We were standing in front of their door just when they opened and got their prime window table. This little unassuming restaurant did not disappoint. The oysters were extremely fresh…the platter contained two varieties from the Virginia waterways and one variety from Prince Edward Island.

Fresh Shucked Oysters At Hank's Oyster Bar

Our main courses were fresh seafood and they were prepared in a way that brought out their delicate flavors.

Grilled Scallops, Octopus, And Shrimp

Sea Scallops With Cauliflower Fondue, Sea Beans And Wild Mushrooms

Grilled octopus, scallops and shrimp with a watercress, red onion and fennel salad was delicious as was the sautéed sea scallops with cauliflower fondue, sea beans and wild mushrooms. A small bowl of broken dark chocolate came with the bill.

It was raining the next day and Mt. Vernon was not in our future on this trip.  Thank goodness for the internet. Within thirty minutes, we were heading to Falls Church, Va. for lunch at 2941 Restaurant which is owned by chef Bertrand Chemel. He grew up in France where he was classically trained and then moved to America where his mentor was Daniel Boulud. His cooking could be described as modern American with French and Mediterranean influences.

Maybe I should be doing a rain dance…in hopes of always finding such a great restaurant as the one we encountered on our rainy day. The dining room has a contemporary casual look with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto a beautiful wooded lake and small waterfall.

Lake View From The Floor To Ceiling Windows Of 2941

Lunch was great! We started with two “nosh” dishes…Labneh, a spiced ricotta and the black truffle mac and cheese croquettes.

Next was the “noodles” course. We had the forest delicacy which was wild mushrooms, parsnips and chervil topped with light sheets of pasta.

The Forest Delicacy

We also had the cheese raviolini with spiced cured duck leg.

Cheese Raviolini With Spiced Cured Duck Leg

We then had the “need” course. Foie gras topped veal tenderloin with sautéed spinach and sunchokes.

Foie Gras Topped Veal Tenderloin With Spinach And Sunchokes

Also, lobster risotto with foie gras.

Lobster Risotto With Foie Gras

Finally the “naughty” course, a carrot cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting with candied pecans.

Carrot Cake With White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting And Candied Pecans

When we returned to the hotel, we cancelled the reservation at Vermilion and decided to have a simpler dinner. We chose to stay at our hotel and dine at Brabo Tasting Room.

Brabo Tasting Room

It was a great choice for a casual dinner. When we arrived, we were asked if we would like to sit at the communal table to avoid a wait and it was perfect. Everyone comments on all the dishes as they arrive at the table. We had two small plates to share for appetizers and a wood fired tart for the second course.

Assortment Of Pate, Roasted Peppers, Salami, Red Onion Marmalade, Caper Berries, And Hummus

Roasted Golden Beets, Arugula And Goat Cheese

Duck Confit, Roasted Mushrooms, Grilled Radicchio Wood Fired Tart With Balsamic Reduction

Every person that works at Brabo is so friendly and helpful and that makes for a great dining experience.

Chefs At Brabo Tasting Room

The perfect ending to a day all about food.

Hopefully, I’ll return to Alexandria sometime in the future and take you to Mt. Vernon.

About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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88 Responses to I Wanted To Take You To Mt. Vernon…But

  1. Tom C says:

    Karen, I want to take your trips! Good lord that food looks sublime!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom, Thank you for your nice comment. A lot of research went into this trip but it was worth it. We have had a great time and certainly have eaten well.

  2. ceciliag says:

    Oh your appetisers look divine, that is my kind of food and those old buildings.. gorgeous, with their sweet doors.. c

    • Karen says:

      Hi Celi, Thank you for your nice comment. The architecture in Old Town Alexandria is great. Of course living in a historic house, I love seeing others across the country. Most everything is in brick in Alexandria and in New England it is mostly clapboard.

  3. lulu says:

    Boy, you manage to get to a lot of places on your travels. I’m gaining weight just following along.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lulu, You are right…we have been to a lot of places on this road trip and it has been so much fun. Don’t even talk about gaining weight. The scale will not be my friend anytime soon.

  4. You definitely made the best of the rainy weather! Your lunch at 2941 looks amazing. This makes me want to jump on a plane to Virginia.

  5. spree says:

    It must be the deep history of the area – the knowledge of all the sacrifices made by those willing to lay their lives down to further the ideals of freedom and democracy! What else but their inspiration could explain your willingness to sacrifice your body to carrot cake, duck confit and foie gras for your readers’ vicarious pleasure? How can we possibly thank you enough? ;)

  6. Oh my – the food, the views, the buildings (reminded me of some English villages, but I guess that makes sense!)…that lunch at 2941. All so, so….wow!

  7. Maureen says:

    Karen, I’ve gained 5 pounds just looking at your food journey :)

    I hope you get to blog Mt. Vernon because it’s such a fantastic peek into how the well-to-do did so well in the early days. I love the kitchen garden, the kitchen and all the outbuildings. I’d visit every year if I could.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, Thank you for your comment. I was so disappointed that we didn’t get to visit Mt. Vernon. Years back I went to an evening event at Mt. Vernon and guess what…it was raining. They had to shuttle everyone with big umbrellas to the tents on the grounds. It was why I was really looking forward to the visit this time.

  8. Mad Dog says:

    You’ve really outdone yourself this time! Beautiful town, lake and delicious looking food. I’ve just had lunch, but I’d love to taste all those dishes ;-)

  9. A_Boleyn says:

    Amazing pictures … all those houses painted different colours and that food is incredible.

  10. If you had to narrow it down, what was your favorite dish you ordered on your vacation. From the view of all of your beautiful pictures, I do not think this will be an easy choice for you to make… Take care, BAM

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bam, What a thought provoking question you presented me with. My husband and I have had so many get dishes on this trip…some simple and some very complex. There were two very memorable dishes that took many steps to completion, I’m sure. I love seafood and the butter poached lobster on a bed of corn puree at the Charleston Grill was outstanding. The buttery lobster and the sweetness of the corn was a perfect match. My husband’s favorite would have to the veal tenderloin topped with the foie gras at 2941, it was incredible. Two outstanding chefs at two great restaurants.

  11. Now THIS is my kind of foodie 24 hours! Starting with the oysters and ending with that amazing wood fired tart…and those dishes from 2941 in between (and those views, my goodness!). I wouldn’t be able to waddle after all that, but I’d be happy! Alexandria is pretty cool…haven’t been in years and years.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Actually it was over a span of 48 hours but who is counting. Believe me…we are doing a lot of waddling and are extremely happy. Do go back to Alexandria if you get a chance, we loved it.

  12. Karista says:

    Fantastic photos! And now I’m hungry. The food looked divine and I’d absolutely gain a few for the sake of all that good food. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karista, Thank you for your nice compliment. I never mind the weight gained on any trip…who knows it could always be the last one it take and I don’t want to every say “I should have”. I try to eat healthy when I’m home and the weight usually goes away pretty fast.

  13. It is indeed so nice of you to sacrifice a ittle added “measure” in order to so graciously provide us a gourmet delight! I wondered if the people at your communal table were curious about your picture taking! You are so thorough! I’m also going to be interested in “what comes next” since you’re on the home stretch! I’ve had a wonderful vacation…Debra

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debra, Thank you for your comment. I am so glad that you have enjoyed the journey with us. When we travel, we use a small point and shot camera and try to be very considerate of the people around us.

      • I was sure you were considerate and not intrusive into other’s pleasure, but I thought maybe their curiosity would still be high! Maybe you’d gain a blogging friend or two :-) Ha!

      • Karen says:

        Debra, you are right. If the people are close enough, I usually explain what I’m doing. Many times people have offered to take our picture and I have to explain that it’s the food that is important…not the two of us. Some are very interested and others have no idea what a blog is.

  14. Bonnie says:

    I’ve been to Mount Vernon several times and while it’s great, I sure enjoyed the food!! I almost inhaled those scallops right through the screen. You and your husband are my kind of travelers.

  15. What great photos of King Street. If I didn’t know any better, it would be like looking at some street in London! And that lake view is gorgeous! You’ll have to go back some time and see Mt. Vernon, the property and home are gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ducky, Thank you for your nice compliment. I think you are right…King Street could be one of the streets in London. I really hope I get the chance to see Mt. Vernon on a lovely sunny day one of these years. It is always something to look forward to.

  16. koritt says:

    Yum. Yum. Yum. Sorry to hear about the rain. Alexandria looks charming and I have to say given that I know people down in Virginia, I don’t think that I’ve ever been down to the historic part. I’m going to have to change that on my next visit.

    Hope you had a safe rest of the way home!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Koritt, If you get a chance to visit your friends in Virginia again, do try to get to Old Town Alexandria. It is lovely and just on the other side of the river from D.C. Where we stay is less than two blocks from the metro…very convenient for visiting the monuments and museums.

      • koritt says:

        Hi Karen,

        Sounds wonderful. I’ll definitely have to make sure that I get there the next time I’m down in that area. I didn’t realize how convenient the metro was…even better!

        Hope all is well.

        Koritt

      • Karen says:

        Koritt, The metro makes it so easy to get around. You can park your car at the hotel and not have to worry. All is well, thanks.

      • koritt says:

        That sounds wonderful. I really dislike having to worry about parking when I’m on vacation. Glad to hear that things are well with you. :)

  17. Juliana says:

    Hi Karen, we were in Old Town Alexandria a few month ago, but did not do as much as you did…your pictures as awesome, and I felt that I was there again…thank you!
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  18. Caroline says:

    Octopus!? Eeek! I’m such a wuss. But oh my, that cheese raviolini and lobster risotto look out of this world amazing. You’re really selling Virginia for me–I want to visit! Absolutely love the cute shops on the street…and of course the FOOD. x

    • Karen says:

      Hi Caroline, I have to admit I wasn’t very enthusiastic about trying octopus for the first time. If prepared properly, it is very tasty. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Virginia, I know you will throughly enjoy the trip. We were there in winter…you can imagine how lovely it would be on the spring or fall. The shops along King Street were great and each block had a couple of restaurants.

  19. Kristy says:

    I want to travel with you! You guys always find the most amazing looking restaurants. Speaking of…have you ever been to Charolette, NC? Heading there soon and could use a few restaurant suggestions if you have any. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristy, Thank you for your nice compliment. We had planned to stop in Charlotte on our last road trip…but it was when the whole east coast was having snowstorms. We pushed on to Richmond, Virginia to ride out the storm for four days before the roads opened back up. I really can’t complain about the rain on this trip…at least we didn’t have snow. I wish I could have been able to help.

  20. I just love the little lake–what a pretty view. Now I’m afraid hubby might have to put in a pond for me outside my window. He’ll be thrilled! (no no!)

    You must have to do a LOT of walking to work off those fabulous meals. Or are you filled with willpower and stop after a few bites?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, Unfortunately my husband and I don’t have enough willpower to stop after a few bites. I would also feel bad if the chef thought I didn’t care for the dishes So what is a girl to do but put on a brave face and enjoy. A little lake would be beautiful but don’t tell your husband I said so…you two work so hard as it is on your gorgeous property.

  21. Cucina49 says:

    You found some amazing-looking food! I can’t even pick which dish looks best, although that seafood certainly caught my attention.

  22. Looks like you still had a great time!

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    Oh, the food! Now this is the way to travel! Compare this to the sandwich and dry roasted nuts, if that, the airlines would have given you. And don’t forget the wonderful welcome the TSA would have given you before departure. No, you’ve visited some beautiful towns en route, enjoyed delicious meals, and ended your travel days in some very comfortable accommodations. Driving is “the only way to fly!”

    • Karen says:

      Thank you John, for your great comment. You are so right…flying gets you there fast but that is about all. It takes me more than an hour to get to Logan Airport in Boston on a good day. Add two hours ahead of departure time just so you can clear TSA in a timely manner and get dressed again. Wait in the crowded aisles for everyone to try and get their overstuffed roll on in the overhead. Then listen patiently as the stewardess states that the plane will not be departing for mechanical reasons and you sit at the gate for an hour and a half. Finally the stewardess announces that they are going to be kind and let you turn your cell phones back on because you need to call the airline and rebook your connection that you cannot possibly make. That is what happened to me when I went to see my mother last month. Driving was a real pleasure.

  24. I get to DC often, but have rarely gotten into Old Town – The photos really look like it’s worth a visit. You should have gone to Mount Vernon even in the rain, though. It’s exquisite.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you T.W. for your comment. We thought about going to Mt. Vernon in the rain but I would rather have my memories be of that lovely home in the sunshine with the glistening Potomac in the background. It also means that I have a reason to return to the area. See…I always look to the future. Do try to go to Old Town…both visits there were great.

  25. ....RaeDi says:

    When we lived in Yorktown, VA… I took the children to all the Presidents home that were from that state… took several different trips. Wonderful memories and we took several trips to DC. I sure miss the East Coast. Looks like you two made out so far as feeding yourselves. Everything looks so good! Love your photos!

  26. What an amazing and quaint little place, Karen. Wow, it really, really makes me want to take a driving trip there! I love Prince Edward Island oysters, they look wonderful; and the octopus looks so delicious. Thanks again for taking us along.

  27. We went there on school trips (grew up in Maryland. Mt. Vernon that is, not this restaurant. That would’ve been awesome.

  28. Purely.. Kay says:

    Just look at that amazing food. I am getting hungry just looking at it. And I love all the architectural buildings. This is a place I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos

  29. hotlyspiced says:

    What a fantastic post! It was so interesting from start to finish. I would have loved to have seen George Washington’s home though – next time! I love the look of that pretty street with all the gorgeous buildings. And those old homes are precious too. And the food! Where do I start! The ravioli pasta looked amazing as did the pizza and so much more. What a lovely time away you’ve had.

  30. I appreciate you sacrificing the pounds to share these wonderful finds. You are so inspiring a road trip this summer:) Safe Travels.

    • Karen says:

      Hi M.M., Thank you for your comment. I’m happy that you have enjoyed following our trip and it has inspired you. This would be a great road trip for you as you are so close to many of the towns that we have visited.

  31. Joanne says:

    Being a foodie is hard work but someone’s gotta do it! I’m glad you took one for the team and ate all this awesome food!

  32. Another awesome stop on your travel adventure. The food is absolutely mind blowing, everything looks so good right down to that dessert!

  33. Bonnie says:

    Hi Karen: Again, our “paths cross”. I lived in Alexandra and worked at The Pentagon after college. My husband and I were married in Old Town. We’ve made a number of trips to Mt. Vernon, the last time taking our boys. I remember it as a pleasant ten or so miles through pristine woods on the George Washington Parkway. I hope that hasn’t changed.

    Best,
    Bonnie

  34. Ya yes NOVA and Alexandria…my old home area. So glad that you were able to take in some of the food happenings in the area. My wife and I do love the Brabo Tasting Room. In fact it was one of the places we had to visit on a recent trip back. Delish!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jed, It was fun being in your old stomping grounds. One of the nice things about staying at the Lorien is that Brabo Tasting Room is right outside the door and the food is delish. We ate at Brabo on our way down to Florida and it was excellent as well. I can’t imagine how many great restaurant are in the area.

  35. niasunset says:

    Absolutely so beautiful and I dreamed to be there… Thank you dear Karen you did a great post. Have a nice weekend, with my love, nia

  36. Sissi says:

    Karen, the buildings look so cute with the different doors and window frame colours! I have never been to the US, so all your photos are one big discovery and make me dream of travelling… The meals sound perfect as all you have presented from your trip. I crave oysters so much! I haven’t had them for a year :-(

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sissi, I’m glad you have enjoyed our travels down the east coast of American and back. Perhaps someday you will get a chance to visit. I would think that since you live in Switzerland that when you do have oysters they must come from the coast of France.

  37. I’m a little annoyed at you for making me so hungry and for causing me to drool at my desk. Totally inappropriate here at work. Anyhow, I am seriously considering following in your exact footsteps for a spring vacation for my b-day. I will take the Karen recommends tour and be thoroughly blown over with delight. Maybe it will stop raining by then.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geni, I have to apologize for making you drool at your desk but I’m so happy that you have enjoyed the posts about our journey along the east coast. I am flattered that you would like to take the “Karen recommends tour”. I have confidence that you would really enjoy the excursion in the spring. With so many plants and trees in bloom, it really should be beautiful. Hopefully you will have sunny days as well. I’d love to hear from you if you do the trip.

  38. Mary says:

    What a wonderful trip. It sounds like you are having a grand ol’ time. The food looks wonderful and you make a great tour guide. Have a good evening. Blessings…Mary

  39. Charles says:

    How picturesque! The buildings look so English! They remind me of little villages in the UK, like the one my grandmother lives in – especially that shot with the houses! Lovely looking food too – Those quenelles of paté, hummus etc are making me jealous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charles, It is certainly true that we have cities that do look very English and well they should. Our countries are tied together for ever through our ancestors that established America. The presentation of all the items on our appetizer at Brado Tasting Room was just one of the reasons we enjoyed the restaurant. So many casual restaurants don’t take that kind of effort.

  40. Sunshine says:

    Ohhh dear Karen! The food looks heavenly! Of course, I would have to come over when I’m feeling faint from the lack of food! I’m quite full now that you fed me with your lovely dishes. Thank you! :)

  41. The restoration work that has gone on in the houses looks superb, it’s great to see areas being loved again.

  42. trixfred30 says:

    What a fantastic selection – particularly the tart which looks like a super-upmarket pizza!

  43. musingmar says:

    So nice to travel along with you. If I ever venture to that area I’ll definitely be referring back to your posts so I can see some of these beautiful sights and restaurants first-hand.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marlene, Thank you for your nice comment. I’m happy that you enjoyed traveling with us. If you ever do get to the Alexandria area, I know you will have a great time.

  44. Wow it all looks so good. I cant tell you how exciting it is to see all this food in American restaurants. I have enjoyed it very much

  45. Misk Cooks says:

    Oh, excellent! Someone else who loves driving holidays, and just setting off on the open road with no particular agenda. That’s the way Mr Misk and I plan (or rather un-plan) our holidays. I’m looking forward to following your adventures. :D

    • Karen says:

      Hi Misk, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. It is always nice to meet someone else who likes to travel like my husband and I do. I look forward to your return.

  46. What a lovely and quaint little town Karen. I could stay here for a while. My husband visited Mount Vernon many times as a young boy with his grandmother and his most fond memory was the smell of the boxwood. I finally got to see Mount Vernon with him and it was the highlight of our trip to Washington. DC. I love touring these kind of homes. Would also love to see Jefferson’s Monticello.

    You certainly know how to find the good spots to eat. I’m thinking you should publish your blog as a travel journal. Maybe it would encourage people like my husband to not be in such a hurry on a trip.
    Sam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sam, Thank you for your very kind comment. We loved Alexandria and will go back whenever we are in the area. It makes a great starting point for lots of day trips to all the historic towns, homes, and monuments in the area. Do try to make it to Jefferson’s Monticello some time. It is a great place to visit. I have wanted to be a travel writer for years…I’m glad you enjoy following along on our journeys.

  47. It’s fun to see all of the old homes being restored…when we drive through DC I see homes that I remember being run down with for sale signs and completely rehabbed..love it. Everything looks wonderful, but that tasting plate at Brabo looks amazing…I could eat that as my meal.

    Love Mt. Vernon, but def. not a place to go in the rain. We went last year with the girls and they still talk about it. What a great place.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Becki, Thank you for your comment. Yes, I am happy to see so many of the old homes being restored. I was involved with an organization that raised money to help restoration of historic public buildings when I lived in Florida. A subject dear to my heart. The tasting plate at Brabo was delicious. I’m hoping to see Mt. Vernon in the sunshine one of these days.

  48. Carolyn Chan says:

    Karen, your site is making me VERY HUNGRY and I am on conference calls for another 30 minutes and I still have to make my dinner !!!

  49. Amy says:

    I probably am gaining a couple of pounds just by looking at your fabulous food photos…

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  51. cabinet stew says:

    Phew! Where do I begin? What a visit to this area!! You really are a great travel and food blogger. Too bad about Mount Vernon and the rain karma, but hey, a reason to return to the area yet again!
    as for your reply comment to someone about Logan airport…all I could think is we must have been on the same flight! LOL!! you have described almost every flight out of Logan for me. I despise that airport and I live 10 mins from it and actually usually drive and hour north to fly out out of Manchester, NH – small, friendly and easy. It doesn’t hurt that my mom is 10 mins away in Bedford NH!

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