January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

Cathal Armstrong's seasonal cooking shines in this stylish bar, bistro, and tasting room.

No. 6: Restaurant Eve 

In the past two years, chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong have upped Alexandria’s restaurant/nightlife profile with the playful and delicious Restaurant Eve. More recently, they’ve added the irreverent Eamonn’s with the cocktail-and-nibble lounge, PX, above it. And the empire continues to expand: The Armstrongs are adding a dining room downstairs and a bar and lounge upstairs.

You’d think that running two extra businesses plus overseeing a remodeling might sap energy from the flagship, but Eve is as exuberant as ever. Armstrong’s sourcing from local farms is impeccable, and if he can make it himself, he will.

House-made charcuterie, ballotine of free-range chicken, confit of house-cured pork belly—all are labor intensive, and all are on Restaurant Eve’s Bistro menu. Other highlights include bacon, egg, and cheese salad, crisp Muscovy duck leg with lentils, Casco Bay cod “clam chowder,” and buttermilk panna cotta.

In the serene Tasting Room, Armstrong stretches out with complex, thoughtful cooking that knits together his Irish upbringing, his French training, and his grasp of the American culinary moment. None of it feels stagey. You can move from a Cashel bleu cheese with brown bread and smoked-ham vinaigrette to a Jerusalem-artichoke velouté with black truffles to a butter-poached Maine lobster with ginger to a molten-chocolate caramel cake without thinking about the array of influences you’ve just passed through.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.