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January 2005: Restaurant Eve

Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong have created the best restaurant in Alexandria. Patrons pass through a narrow alley in the center of Old Town Alexandria to find themselves in a modern though graceful space. Diners can choose between the bistro and the more elegant chef's tasting room that offers a choice of two tasting menus—one of five courses for $79, the other of nine courses for $98.

Highlights of recent meals in the bistro were a confit of pork belly, a robust oxtail ravioli, a garlicky bouillabaisse, sliced sweetbreads, and a beautifully cooked sirloin of veal. Dinner in the chef's tasting room begins with two or three gifts from the chef followed by such early courses as lobster crème brûlée with baby fennel, sautéed Moulard duck foie gras with poached pears, and ahi tuna carpaccio. Then come the likes of butter-poached halibut with lobster, mushrooms, and cream; gnocchi with roasted acorn squash and toasted pumpkin seed; and a fricassee of rabbit with yellow carrots.

Warm chocolate cake with sliced pineapple and passion-fruit bombe with chocolate mousse and praline are excellent. The wine list is very good. So is the wine service.

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