Le Gaulois, the traditional French restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria is trying to breathe some life into its second floor with the opening of Bar Baudelaire.
The 64-seat space—with exposed brick, dark wood-beamed ceilings, and a slick granite bar—is sexier than the lower half of the restaurant. Bottles of wine sit horizontally in glass cases that double as partitions between the bar and the dining area.
Chef Tom Meyer, whose skills were honed by Jean-Louis Palladin at Pesce, will oversee the trendy small-plates menu, and veteran wine director Ted Wynot will keep stock of the largely Francophile wines.
Petits plats such as brandade de morue ($6)—salt cod puréed with olive oil—and a rotating selection of house-made terrines sound promising. A plate of head-on shrimp, sautéed and served over hummus ($6), sounds intriguing, too.
The menu bills itself as seasonal, but summer choices include cured duck with poached pears and green olives ($7) and mushroom-laden garlic sausage baked inside a brioche ($7)—in other words, dishes that put one more in mind of wool hats and down jackets.
There are 32 wines available by the glass and half glass. French selections are sourced from every corner of the country, but the list also includes a small range of other European labels as well as American and Australian choices. Bottles range from $28 to $150.
The bar’s Friday-night Champagne tastings and regular doses of live music will give diners a reason to venture past the restaurant’s serene garden.
Bar Baudelaire at Le Gaulois, 1106 King St., Alexandria; 703-739-9494; barbaudelaire.com.