An Early Look at Virtue Feed & Grain (Pictures)

In a historic building on the Alexandria waterfront, the successful restaurateurs Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong have opened a gastropub.

The upstairs dining room, left, and a corned-beef sandwich. Photographs by Kyle Gustafson

Virtue Feed & Grain has been open only a week, but it's already drawing big crowds to Old Town, Alexandria's waterfront. The Irish-American tavern comes from Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong and mixology guru Todd Thrasher, the team behind Restaurant Eve, the Majestic, PX, and Eamonn's. The restaurateurs refurbished a 19th century feed house for their two-level space; it's now outfitted with glass bars, lounging areas, and an entertainment room equipped with a pool table, Nintendo Wii, and 1980s arcade games such as Pac Man and Donkey Kong. They used old barn wood for floors and wall boards, and a wooden sign from the building's previous tenant—Olsson's Books and Records—is on the second floor.

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The casual spot has a menu that's a mashup of high- and low-end Irish and American comfort dishes. You'll find scallops over risotto, Wagyu hot dogs smothered in Texas-style chili, roasted bone marrow, and cheddar-and-bacon-stuffed potato skins. "Crubeens," or pig trotters, are braised for hours until tender, picked off the bone, pressed with parsley and lemon, and breaded and fried. Thrasher continued the Irish/American-hybrid theme on his drink list, which boasts pints of Rolling Rock alongside cocktails and "hoptails"—beer-based options such as the "What I Drink" with Amstel Light, lemon soda, and dark rum.

In the coming weeks, look for lunch service, a take-out window with fried chicken, outdoor block parties, a 50-seat patio, and monthly pajama brunches. Special "feasts" are also on the way, where the kitchen will put out a single item, such as steamed crabs, which will serve anywhere from two to ten people.

Virtue Feed & Grain. 106 S. Union St. (at King St.), Alexandria; 571-970-3669. Open Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11, Sunday 5:30 to 9. Upcoming hours (check the Web site for updates): Lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 4, late-night menu 11 PM to 1 AM; weekend brunch coming soon. 

Click here for the food menu.

Cocktails $8.50

My Wife's Manhattan
Makers Mark, sweet vermouth, and cherry bitters

Mojito Our Way
Mint-infused simple syrup, limes, and rum

Eve's Temptation
Granny Smith apples with apple vodka

Lemony Laurel
Roasted lemons, bay leaves, Galliano, and citrus vodka

Majestic's Hemingway Daquari
Rum, grapefruit, and maraschino

Hoptails $8.50

Hoptail With No Name
Yuzu, orange-flower water, Hefeweizen, gin, and bourbon

Smooth as Velvet
Guinness reduction, Ribena, Irish whiskey, sparkling wine

What I Drink
Amstel Light, lemon soda, and dark rum

"I Know That's Right"
Magners Hard Cider, celery bitters, cognac, and Anejo tequila

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.